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Fates Warning - Theories of Flight CD (album) cover


Fates Warning

Progressive Metal

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5 stars Another Outrageous Album.

Although I've been listening to Fates Warning just a bit less than a year, great adoration and respect have appeared in my mind and soul. Obviously, the band led by it's eternal mastermind Jim Matheos shows the real progress in their music and attitude to its composition and performance. And the situation has carried on through the whole career. None of their albums I can name bad (even Night On Brocken and FWX). So Theories of Flight is no exception. It is a mystery to me how Jim Matheos manages incorporate contemporary elements, develop musically and lyrically, but preserve his own style and old spirit. The songs on the album (written mostly by Jim Matheos) are elaborated even more thoroughly than on the previous album and include interesting structures and multiple tempo and time changes. There a lot of heavy and intricate riffs with the use of counterpoint like in White Flag, beautiful flying melodies like in the title song, enough mellow places with clean and acoustic guitars like in The Light and Shape of Things, catchy choruses like in Seven Stars, clever and sincere lyrics in every song. Vocal delivery by Ray Alder is both highly emotional and powerful as always. Solos by guest guitarist Mike Abdow and long-time previous Fates Warning member Frank Aresti represent a great blend of melody and technical skills and fit perfectly in the songs. Boby Jarzombek weaves an incredible wave with his quite professional and sophisticated drumming which expands songs significantly. And of course Joey Vera delivers some prominent and well-fitting bass lines. The general expression from the album - excellent. Four and a half stars.

Report this review (#1583133)
Posted Sunday, June 26, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars With 12 studio albums, what do you expect from a band often described as pioneers of Progressive Metal? Jim Matheos can do no wrong as he continues to innovate while keeping the core Fates Warning sound. These guys are great musicians, and Theories of Flight sounds like seasoned veterans at work. Ray Alder's vocals sounds terrific, and he performs with a tremendous amount of emotion. I thought he sounded great on the Redemption album The Art of Loss earlier this year as well. The rhythm section of Joey Vera on bass and Bobby Jarzombek on drums deserve kudos since they sound perfect. The sound quality is excellent, and this release just flat out rocks! Like all Fates Warning albums, this one is so addicting it just begs to be listened to. I enjoy every track, and it flows like something I have listened to for a decade. If you are a fan of Fates Warning, Progressive Rock, or Progressive metal then this is an excellent addition to your collection.
Report this review (#1584611)
Posted Saturday, July 2, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars Music tablet slowly dissolving in my ears and Dream Theater's nightmare.

That is a very good album and it seems that FW have musically still 'something to say'. I was not impressed by the album teaser available on tube and I think I will avoid listening to 30 seconds excerpts taken out of context in future. I was not impressed after listening to the album once. But I took time and "Theories of Flight" are growing every day. The real Killer is "The Light and Shade of Things" the best over 10 minute long piece since "Child in Time". The main strength of FW (apart from obvious technical skills) is ability to compose music. These guys are nor in their 20's anymore but they are musically young at heart and this album is the best source of evidence. They are not 'speeding', no showing off, every element has its place in this beautiful musical puzzle. I also adore last track that reminds me Kevin Moore's Chroma Key. What an atmosphere, what a climate. I wish there was 40 minutes of music like that even if it would not be classic FW. All other tracks are very good, but 'Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen' and 'The Ghosts of Home' excel. That is a pity this band is a little bit underrated. I said that many times before that Fates Warning is King Crimson of prog metal genre and I sustain that opinion. Why Dream Theater nightmare? Because DT are speeding last 15 years but create little music. Thank you FW and see you (again) on tour. Bless ya.

Report this review (#1585753)
Posted Thursday, July 7, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Fates Warning is a rare prog metal band without the musical cheese. The word to describe their music is... certainly not harsh. Bleak? No, serious would be the word. Even the albums have such scientifically-inclined names as Theories of Flight or Darkness in a Different Light. Fates are famous for incorporating complex riffing and drumming patterns in a concise pop song length. Theories continue with the thick guitar sound of Darkness, but there's an effort to make the music sound more commercial, with the prog power metal-like shifts between softer and harder parts, hooks galore and guitar solos, bringing the band closer to the sound of such more commercially successful outfits as Dream Theater, Symphony X and even Iron Maiden.
Report this review (#1586600)
Posted Monday, July 11, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars All those of us who love Prog Metal owe so much to this pioneering band, and to see them (a) playing with such power after so many years, and (b) topping the Prog Archives charts is just great. 'Theories of Flight' continues in the same relatively conservative style as the previous 'Darkness in a Different Light'. Both albums are straightforward guitar burns, ToF I think having an even faster average tempo. These are superb musicians and it is hard to see how any metal fan would not enjoy ToF. For myself, Fates Warning peaked artistically in the millennium-period albums with the extra dimension of Kevin Moore's keyboard contributions (i.e. 'Gray' and 'Disconnected'). There isn't quite enough flair in ToF for the fifth star, but this is an album that is going to get a lot of time in my audio systems.

Verdict: a superb band and a superb album.

Report this review (#1597369)
Posted Saturday, August 13, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars This stunning of an entry, this far into their career? (and never mind that each member is close to 50-years-old or older)

I'm shocked and more than pleasantly surprised.

Ray Alder's vocal work here is impeccable- just slightly more mature than albums 20+ years ago but trust me, he brings home the goods here.

And that doesn't mean that every other band member here is not coming to the plate in full form - they are.

Above all, like I've found with this year's output from favorite prog-metallers - Haken - the songwriting here is flawless. No filler, no cheese-ball nonsense; just stunningly listenable, memorable melodies and song structures (thank you, Jim Matheos!). I'm picking up a slight OSI strain to some of the songs, too; e.g. check out the closing 30 seconds or so of "Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen."

And as opposed 2016's silly, Sound of Music-esque inane, painful, unlistenable drivel album (which prog metal band am I referring to?) what you'll find here is simply good music.

Five unabashed stars.

Report this review (#1631166)
Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2016 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Theories Of Flight" is the 12th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Fates Warning. The album was released through InsideOut Records in July 2016. It´s the successor to "Darkness In A Different Light" from 2013 and the second album after their 9 year long recording break since "FWX (2004)". "Theories Of Flight" features the exact same lineup who recorded "Darkness In A Different Light (2013)": Ray Alder (vocals), Jim Matheos (guitars), Frank Aresti (guitars, although only a couple of leads), Joey Vera (bass), and Bobby Jarzombek (drums).

Stylistically "Theories Of Flight" is pretty much a continuation of the progressive metal style on "Darkness In A Different Light (2013)". It´s generally a bit more melodic and to my ears also slightly more memorable, but the overall concept is similar to the predecessor. Heavy intriguing guitar riffs and rhythms, melodic solos, beautiful acoustic/clean guitar work, and Ray Alder´s strong emotive vocals in front (often featuring harmony and choir vocals).

The album feautures 8 tracks and a full playing time of 52:17 minutes. Both "The Light and Shade of Things" and "The Ghosts of Home" are around 10 minutes long, but the remaining tracks feature more regular lengths (from 4 to 6 minutes). The material is very well written and the combination of relatively straight forward and catchy tracks like "Seven Stars", "SOS", and "Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen", and the longer more complex tracks like the two above mentioned, and album opener "From the Rooftops", works really well. Now that I´ve mentioned almost every track featured on the album, I can just as well mention the remaining two. "White Flag" is a powerful track with a commanding vocal delivery by Alder and the title track, which is the album closer, is an atmospheric instrumental, which ends the album in great style.

It´s overall a very dynamic and adventurous album. One moment it´s melodic and beatiful and the next a bit darker and heavy. The trademark sophisticated Fates Warning groove, which features a lot of off-beat rhythm patterns and chord strokes, is also present and accounted for. The musicianship is on a high level on all posts. Alder is as mentioned an incredibly skilled and distinct sounding vocals, who can sing both emotive mellow parts and louder more aggressive ones (for the style), with equal passion and conviction, the rhythm section play varied and powerful, and the guitars both play melodic and heavy. The guitar solos deserve a special mention. They are played with a lot of attention to tone and feeling, and they are also pretty varied.

"Theories Of Flight" features a warm, clear, and powerful sounding production, which suits the material perfectly, and I actually have a very hard time coming up with any issues regarding the album. To my ears it´s their best release in years, which is especially due to the increased focus on melody and accessibility that Fates Warning have here. A focal point which has not affected how heavy and powerful the music is, and that´s usually a hard balance to strike. A 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

Note: There´s a limited edition 2CD/2LP version available, which features 6 bonus tracks. Acoustic versions of the band´s own compositions "Firefly", "Seven Stars", and "Another Perfect Day", and acoustic covers of "Pray Your Gods" by Toad The Wet Sprocket, "Adela" by Joaquin Rodrigo (with Alder singing Spanish language lyrics), and "Rain" by Uriah Heep. While acoustic renditions of existing non-acoustic material aren´t always the greatest idea, Fates Warning pull if off with ease. Beautiful acoustic guitar arrangements and a Ray Alder in vocal top form, ensure that these bonus tracks are well worth purchasing the limited edition for. I especially enjoyed "Firefly", "Another Perfect Day", and "Rain", but the remaining tracks are also of high quality.

Report this review (#1635612)
Posted Tuesday, October 25, 2016 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. This is the second album in a row that FATES WARNING has had the same lineup of Matheos, Aresti, Vera, Adler and Jarzombek. And this album also follows the same path as the previous album "Darkness In A Different Light" from 3 years earlier only I feel this one tops it. We get plenty of heaviness and I even thought of IRON MAIDEN a few times. The rating wasn't easy as I feel this album reaches highs that I haven't heard from them since their "Disconnected" record although unlike that album there are some not so great moments although they are few. Also I think it's a step below that ARCH/ MATHEOS album. Still I'm really impressed with this album and the performances of each member as a 4.5 star rating would suggest.

"From The Rooftops" opens with drums and atmosphere as soaring guitar leads join the relaxed sound. Ray's reserved vocals arrive before 1 minute then some more of that melancholic soaring guitar. A change after 2 minutes as we get crushed with heaviness as Ray spits out the lyrics. I like the section starting 3 1/2 minutes in as we get an IRON MAIDEN-like sound including the vocals. Ripping guitar after 5 1/2 minutes as they kick more ass. "Seven Stars" starts off sounding pretty amazing instrumentally, it's heavy with guitar over top. The vocals join in as it settles back some. A classic FATES WARNING chorus here as I'm singing along with Adler. There's a nice guitar solo 3 minutes in.

"SOS" opens with guitar grinding away as emotional vocals join in then it kicks in hard. Riffs galore at times and this would sound awesome live, a barn-burner. An atmospheric calm arrives 2 minutes in as Ray returns with those emotional vocals. "The Light And Shade Of Things" is dark and laid back with atmosphere as soft vocals arrive. It's building some 1 1/2 minutes in but not much until we get hit with a wall of sound 3 minutes in. Oh my! The chorus before 4 minutes is heavy and catchy with vocals. It's pretty intense after the chorus as Ray sings with anger. The chorus returns then we get a heavy bass/ drum section then it settles with relaxed guitar expressions. The chorus is back then they kick it hard again 8 1/2 minutes in before it settles to end it.

"White Flag" is a top three for me. A heavy intro as passionate vocals join in. What a kick-ass tune! How uplifting is this after 2 minutes as it settles back a little. So much emotion for me. A killer instrumental section arrives after 3 minutes. "Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen" is another top three. An all out assault from Jarzombek on his kit as Adler joins in with attitude. It doesn't change much on the chorus other than Ray's vocals aren't as mean sounding. It's not nearly as heavy 2 1/2 minutes in but that doesn't last for long. Intense is the word 3 1/2 minutes in.

"The Ghost Of Home" is my favourite song on here. Samples of different spoken words and sounds last for about a minute then it all stops as vocals and intricate guitar take over. it kicks in hard bringing MAIDEN to mind before 2 1/2 minutes. Vocals before 4 1/2 minutes as it lightens. Love Vera's bass lines here, so upfront. I also like when Adler cries "Home again! Home again!" then it settles some after 6 minutes. It's so uplifting after 7 1/2 minutes then it ends with a heavy duty section. "Theories Of Flight" is the interesting closer bringing to mind the "Disconnected" album with all the atmosphere. Samples to start in that atmosphere before some guest female spoken words arrive and she will come and go with them as she tells the story. The tempo picks up before 2 minutes in this instrumental section then a calm follows. More spoken female words then the intricate guitar returns. The guitar cries out 3 minutes in then more spoken female words and intricate guitar. This is just outside of my top three.

Just an excellent Prog-Metal album and I think I'd rank it fourth or so when it comes to their studio albums, not counting that ARCH/ MATHEOS recording of course even if that seems like a legit FATES WARNING album.

Report this review (#1639840)
Posted Saturday, November 5, 2016 | Review Permalink

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