Ok. So everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE is falling all over themselves trying to heap seventeen tons of praise on the new FATES WARNING album Theories of Flight (out now, InsideOut Music). I get it, really I do. But when you start bandying about phrases like, “Every bit as good as Parallels and Inside Out!”, and “Even better than Darkness In a Different Light!” I can only say, “Slow down, you move too fast.” Obviously the three other albums I mentioned are flat-out masterpieces in my book, with Parallels being my all-time favorite, and this new one is very, very good as well. A tiny bit uneven at times, but still.
The record itself was a bit of a grower for me. As we all know, my rule is to never write a review until I’ve given it three full spins so I can see if there’s something that I missed, or to make sure I love it as much the third time as I did the first. I just didn’t get all that excited about Theories of Flight until that all-important third spin. However, there were a couple I really got into right out of the gate. “White Flag” is seriously heavy, with crunching guitars from Jim Matheos and seamless bass work from Joey Vera, the two playing off of, then running alongside one another. The guitar solos on this track damn near set my computer on fire as I sat listening!
Bobby Jarzombek is once again showing why he’s the perfect drummer for FATES WARNING not only on the tune I just mentioned, but also on “Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen”. He is that perfect blend of heavy-hitter and technical genius, which is why he’s been one of my favorites since 2000. Ray Alder…do I really even need to? The man is an INCREDIBLE vocalist, and he is still doing things with his voice that most of us can only dream of. Don’t believe me? Listen to him sing on “Seven Stars” and you will. This was my runaway favorite from day one, with “SOS” not far behind it.
When it comes to sprawling epics, these guys are right there with IRON MAIDEN as the only bands who do it right time and time again. And on this album we get not one, but TWO 10-minute plus numbers, “The Light and Shade of Things” and “The Ghosts of Home.” The former definitely embodies that Parallels-era sound, so this was another winner for me. The latter is also quite good, but not nearly as memorable. Opener “From the Rooftops” is the one that will throw the most people for a loop, because of its subdued start. That doesn’t last though, and soon everything kicks in with some nasty riffage and more of Jarzombek’s controlled chaos on the drums.
All told FATES WARNING did a great job with Theories of Flight. It is a very good record that progressive metal fans are already lapping up in droves. To be honest, I enjoyed most of it immensely. Sure, there were a few spots that didn’t exactly get my motor running, but those were few and far between, and more often than not were just brief moments in a couple of tracks. So, I may get crucified for not giving the disc a perfect or almost perfect score, but I don’t give a shit. Because as much as I really like the album, it didn’t hit me right away like the other ones I mentioned did. And I keep things honest. Either way it is still very, very worthy of your time, so go and get it right now.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Seven Stars”, “The Light and Shade of Things”, “White Flag”, “SOS”