Only a very few bands have a legitimate claim to being ground breaking and help define how the landscape of progressive metal looks and sounds like these days. Fates Warning is definitely one of them, and on album number twelve they show the rest of the progressive metal community that the road to the top goes through them.
The quartet of vocalist Ray Alder, bass player Joey Vera (Armored Saint), drummer Bobby Jarzombek (Halford, Sebastian Back, Zierler) and only remaining original member guitarist and composer Jim Matheos has recorded an amazing, timeless progressive metal album that has all the trademarks we’ve come to love from them over the years.
They have somehow incorporated parts and sounds from all eras of their impressive career into one sensational melting pot. A track like “The Ghosts of Home” has some strong ties to the transitional and first album Ray Alder sang on “No Exit”, and “The Light and Shade of Things” bears some resemblance with things Jim wrote for albums like “Perfect Symmetry” and “A Pleasant Shade of Gray”, while “Seven Stars” has the connections to albums like “Parallels” and “Inside Out”. They have not forgotten the more cold and more modern, bordering to industrial influences from “Disconnected” or “FWX”, just listen to “Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen”.
The album kicks off with a song that sort of introduces everything that’s to follow; Jim’s guitars introduces us to the band, followed by Ray’s strong vocals and the album just takes off from there, Frank Aresti even performs a guitar solo on the opener as well as on “White Flag”. The album lives thru Jim’s excellent riffs, song writing and guitar soli as well as Ray Alder’s outstanding voice; he has already blessed us once this year with his smooth voice, but this is even better. And anyone who though Mark Zonder was irreplaceable will be blown away by the “new” rhythm section; extremely tight and at the highest technical level.
As I think you have gathered by now, this is a complex and innovative album, an instant classic that captures the essence of Fates Warning in one album! The eight songs on “Theories of Flight” bring up the best of the best in one of the best progressive metal bands ever, and everything just sounds and feels so right. From the brilliant riff attacks, thru the excellent rhythm section, over the majestic voice of Ray, in the hooks, in the soli, in the melodies and in the brooding presence of melancholy that has always been an important part of the sound and in the lyrical universe.
“Theories of Flight” was produced by Jim Matheos and mixed/mastered by Jens Bogren and must be one of the best metal productions I’ve ever heard: crystal clear, serpentine and modern. And just add to the overall sensational experience.
Album of the year – in my small world everything will be measured up against this masterpiece. It has surpassed all the other albums that have impressed me this year: Dream Theater, Haken, Redemption, Big Big Train, Katatonia and Anderson/Stolt and I can only strongly recommend “Theories of Flight”.
- From the Rooftops (6:52)
- Seven Stars (5:33)
- SOS (4:34)
- The Light and Shade of Things (10:14)
- White Flag (5:20)
- Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen (5:13)
- The Ghosts of Home (10:31)
- Theories of Flight (4:00)
Playing Time: 52:23
Release date: July 1, 2016
Label: InsideOut Music