Original link – http://myglobalmind.com/2016/06/22/fates-warning-theories-flight-review/
By Chris Martin
After a nearly decade long silence for Fates Warning, three years ago the band released Darkness In A Different Light which wowed fans and critics alike with an album that was a brilliant compliment to an already incredible catalog of music. It opened with a ferocity that was much needed after a fairly subdued album in FWX in 2004. There were so many angles of DIADL though, it truly was a stunning album. When I heard the news that in three years the band would be releasing a brand new album, shortly off the heels of announcing a couple of one-off shows featuring the Awaken the Guardian era version of the band and a magnificent album from Ray Alder’s other band Redemption, I was shocked and excited all at once. Scoring tickets to the soldout ProgPower show coming up in September in Atlanta alone was an accomplishment and the making of a dream come true, but the music of The Art of Loss blew me away so much too. Of course, being a huge FW fan anything they do is probably going to be something I will enjoy to one degree or another.
As I listen to Theories of Flight (having only heard one track prior,) the album starts off very slowly, but only the first couple of minutes. After that it jumps in full force with, believe it or not, a bit more intensity that the opener of Darkness In A Different Light offered in “One Thousand Fires.” “From the Rooftops” is a hauntingly quiet piece that builds to a ferocity not seen since Disconnected, however not nearly as dark. One of the things that jumped out at me about this album is the wealth of melodic positivity going on.
This is an aspect of the band that has always been majorly appealing to me, in particular during the Alder years, but frankly has been missing a bit in the last few releases with only hints (though some of those hints being quite strong) that I am stoked to hear back in a bigger way. Not to say that it is a happy sounding album, just that some of the darkness seems to have lifted. Ray’s voice is still magical (yeah, I said magical, deal with it.) As one of my favorite singers of all-time, it’s awe-inspiring to hear him in excellent form. The guitar work of Jim Matheos is nothing short of stunning, combining driving crunch, aerobic solos, and brilliantly executed riffs, as well as haunting acoustic bits that set up such compelling emotions, that carry the eight tracks contained. With one of the most superior rhythm sections with Joey Vera on bass and Bobby Jarzombek on drums that bring it all together. Don’t think that there is a lack of prog on Theories of Flight. On the contrary the album contains two ten minute epics with “The Light and Shade of Things” and “The Ghosts of Home,” but Fates Warning are masters at weaving prog masterpieces that are easily accessible to people that may not want to listen to their metal with a calculator, even doing so on the shorter tracks. This is where the melodic guitar hooks of Matheos and vocal abilities of Alder truly shine.
This could easily rival any of the albums in my top tier of Fates Warning releases. This album hearkens back to their classics like A Pleasant Shade of Gray and Parallels, both very different albums from each other, but both typically regarded as the best examples of what has made Fates Warning such a longstanding and well-respected band in the metal world- APSoG offering their most progressive moments and Parallels their most melodic and accessible. Theories of Flight has taken those two albums and created what may very well be their most perfect album, melding prog and melodic into a cohesive sound while maintaining the growth the band has achieved on each new album. Even though this album is melancholic in many respects (an emotion not unfamiliar to the FW sound,) I can’t help but feel a sense of hope as I listen to this album over and over. I think it will very much please longtime fans and will most definitely create new ones.
Written by: Chris Martin