FATES WARNING – “THEORIES OF FLIGHT” – A MASTERPIECE OF PROGRESSION
They always say that slow and steady wins the race and that is the case with Progressive Metal pioneers Fates Warning. Being a fan of the band since 1988 when I first heard the “No Exit” album, I have seen the steady progression that keeps a band relevant even during these days of popular music with no substance and very little staying power. Progressive Metal has had a strong following since the mid to late 80’s and the genre has these guys to thank for it. Their newest progressive masterpiece “Theories Of Flight,” takes off from the start and elevates itself into the stratosphere, musically.
I am always excited when a new album is released and it’s hits our store. Especially when the album is from a band that I have enjoyed since my youth and when “Theories Of Flight” hit, I could not get the celeophane off fast enough. I don’t like to review any album until it’s actual release date out of respect to the artist, but I have to admit that I do listen and I was sent straight to progressive rock paradise with “Theories.” From the opening track “From The Rooftops,” which begins with the mellow, eerie, off time beat that is the Fates signature, then kicks solid into a heavy, double time and more aggressive tune. With Ray Alder sounding assertive, yet melodic on this one, combined with the ever flowing rhythm of Joey Vera and Bobby Jarzombek and the text-book Jim Metheos groove, the album hits a home run from the start and keeps the hammer down. Track 2, “SEVEN STARS” is vintage Fates and really takes me back to the “Parallels” and “Perfect Symmetry” albums; bringing the sound and feel along with a modern day steroid boost. The song got me from the first listen and is now an all-time favorite Fates song. “Theories” is a bit of a time capsule opened with a touch of the bands past, but it also is quite possibly the bands heaviest album and that is exemplified with “SOS,” track 3. The guitar starts in the distance and then comes Ray Alder with the eerie vocals of a great storyteller introducing a classic tale. The band comes in with a heavy, progressive metal drive that just blasts the listener into orbit, then brings them back slightly with a slow and eerie mid song break before launching another assault. Each track offers something new to the listener and it’s subtlety is pure perfection. Track 4, “THE LIGHT AND SHADE OF THINGS,” starts with the soothing vocals of Alder that eases you to a state of melancholy; a slow journey before the off time beat hammers in and the band pounds out another rhythmic gun shot. This is the albums mid-point and I am amazed that 4 tracks have almost convinced me that this is the best Fates Warning album to date; will the next 4 sew it up? I did not answer that question until “WHITE FLAG” kicked in and my volume went to 11. Just a full out onslaught of speed and melodic progression that only Fates can deliver. This is a slightly heavier album, but the melodies are perfectly blended and I don’t want the magic to stop. It does not. “Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen” begins with the driving Matheo’s guitar drivin to the timely rhythm of Vera and Jarzombek. This track offers the heavy sound and really touches on the mega talent of these musicians. The changes are amazing, but they never offset the flow of the song and the ride is like hitting the Autobahn at full speed yet still being able to enjoy the scenery. Track 7, “GHOSTS OF HOME” begins with a lullabye-like intro then launches into more of the classic rhythm, double bass drums kicking in full march and grooving guitar. This tune is the test to the listeners ear as it combines the twists and turns and progressions that make the band so unique. “GHOSTS” is a (10:31) tune that just goes down like a slow shot of gin. Knowing that all good things must come to an end, Track 8 “THEORIES OF FLIGHT” wraps up a great album with a instrumental gold bow. The guitar opens with an eerie solitude and steps up with a nice drum fill and Joey Vera thumping a slow yet driving bass line. It ends a journey that I will stand in line to take again and again and again.
“THEORIES OF FLIGHT” is just a flat-out awesome album and in a long line of tremendous FATES WARNING albums – ONE OF THE BEST – after all how could I ever pick a favorite from these guys?