Century Media [Release date 1.07.16]
Those of you who have been following Fates Warning’s career as closely as I do remember damn well the almost decade-long period we had to suffer until 2013’s “Darkness In A Different Light” finally saw the light off day (pun intended).
With that fact firmly in mind, one would expect to have to cope with another similarly long period of inactivity before these wizards of Progressive Metal would decide to bring to life their next musical offspring, however, it seems that the gods of music have decided to be kind to us as “Theories Of Flight”, the band’s twelfth studio album, is here for all of us fans of quality music to eagerly devour.
Most of us would surely have been more than pleased if “Theories Of Flight” was to simply move in a path similar to that of 2004’s “FWX” (2004) and it’s above-mentioned predecessor, however, this time round Jim Matheos and Co have really managed to ‘push the envelope’ so to speak by one of the best albums in the band’s career. Why is that, one might ask?
Well, simply because this is the first time on record (pun intended) that all the different elements which make Fates Warning’s music so damn special combine in such a clever and well-balanced way, creating in the process eight technically and emotionally stunning compositions – compositions whose DNA structure carries the same genetic instructions used behind stunning albums like 1991’s “Parallels” and 2000’s “Disconnected”.
Impressed? So you should be!
No composition better demonstrates the perfect cohabitation between moody and heavy elements in this great album than the first track “From the Rooftops”. Opening with Alder’s moody vocal lines and supported by Matheos’ equally melodic guitar harmonies, this seven minute opus soon acquires a more dynamic character, courtesy of a massive repetitive riff and Bobby Jarzombek’s intellectual/bombastic drum beats.
Simpler in its structure and based on simple-sounding vocal lines “Seven Stars” will demand you attention from the word ‘go’ (check it’s amazing sing-along refrain) while the follow-up “SOS” will provide more moments of jaw-breaking technical dexterity by every single member of the band.
Fates Warning always achieved maximum impact with their music when performing lengthier material and “The Light And Shade Of Things” is here to prove the validity of the said argument. Opening with several dark/melodic nuances, a massive repetitive riff soon raises the song’s energy levels to dangerous heights before Ray Alder delivers one of the most inspirational vocal lines of his entire career – a refrain that is bound to stay with you for a long, long time.
“White Flag” is another song filled with clever guitar melodies, dynamic drum parts and sing-along vocal melodies while the words ‘heavy’ and ‘intelligent’ acquire a whole different meaning when it comes to the mid-tempo piece “Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen”.
The second ten minute composition of the album, namely “The Ghosts Of Home”, is another collection of brilliantly crafted themes and ideas while the same-titled “Theories Of Flight” concludes the album in a truly emotional and much welcoming manner.
Having known Jim Matheos for many years now, and been given the chance to talk to him about the ways that he creates his trademark compositions in many different occasions, I am sure that, time permitting, he would have wished to have done a few things differently with regards this eight track gem.
Now, is this was my baby, I would not have changed a simple thing in it!
“Theories Of Flight” is an amazingly-balanced record – an album where every little theme and idea helps in providing the listener with a complete and utterly satisfying musical experience and one which its creator will find very hard in surpassing, if even reaching, with future releases. Even though we are only approaching the end of July I believe that I have already found my album of the year – what about you? *****
Review by Ioannis (John) Stefanis
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