Album review: RAY ALDER – What the Water Want

RAY ALDER – What the Water Want

Inside Out [Release date 18.10.19]

It takes a lot of guts to step out from the safety an established band but Fates Warning frontman Ray Alder has produced an album of extraordinary depth and passion in this, his debut solo record. Filled with the power that characterizes the mothership, Alder has added extra layers that he hasn’t been able to under the umbrella of the band and the ten tracks herein bristle with a creative touch of hitherto unseen intensity.

Opener ‘Lost’ boasts the big sound of a modern prog rock behemoth, its sinewy guitar weaving around the melody just before it explodes into a shower of molten lead heaviness. The instruments dance and throb throughout, dipping in and out of the ever-changing landscape that switches between sky high and crushing earthiness. Taking a more AOR route, ‘Crown of Thorns’ sparkles with a futuristic sheen and the chorus elevates things to the sort of epic and truly ear-worm territory that makes the track something that would fit perfectly into an action movie soundtrack.

The pace slows a little with rock ballad ‘Some Days’ but this gently tapping on the brakes is welcome with a song as soaring and epic as this. Never overwrought, the production is superb and Alder’s vocals full of a rich character that suits the song perfectly. You could easily find yourself falling in love with, and to, this track. In a rush of adrenaline, ‘Shine’ soon turns the heat back up to the maximum as a truly high tensile metallic riff pounds your senses and so it goes throughout the album, a well-crafted and captivating mix of prog, metal and AOR, all slotted together for a perfect and compulsive whole. ‘Under Dark Skies’ goes down this three-pronged attack whilst ‘A Beautiful Lie’ roars with a feral energy.

It would be difficult to pick out a specific highlight on “What the Water Wants’ as each track has its own magic but amongst the glittering diamonds ‘The Road’ shines particularly brightly. A truly fascinating ballad, the track has so much going on and the layers upon layers of production add up to a whole world to dive into guitars shimmer, the vocals drip with a beautifully understated passion and the solo sublime. In this never-ending rollercoaster ride, ‘Wait’ shakes the walls as it bursts with a jackhammer force and spiraling instrumentation and the industrially heavy ‘What Water Wanted’ threatens to flatten buildings under its grinding riffs and prog rock shine.

Bringing together some of the best elements of the album as a whole, closing track ‘The Killing Floor’ is another hard hitter that combines instantly accessible melody, tough as nails guitars and vocals alongside a structure that keeps on growing and stretching out like an all-encompassing vine. The end of the album seems to come suddenly but you’ll doubtless be hitting the ‘play’ button to hear it all again. If you like you rock both gutsy and intelligent, ‘What the Water Wants’ is the perfect fit and looks to be a firm favourite in many collections for years to come. ****1/2

Review by Paul Monkhouse

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