DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT
Fates Warning are a band that has a ton of talent, but it's never been realized by the masses for one reason - they were always a bit too crafty for their own good. In many ways, they remind me of a better musical version of bands like Rush or Dream Theater. While the band is clearly filled with musicians that are as talented as any that are working today, they almost always over-extended their chops both musically and in writing material to a point that the masses just couldn't easily consume and "get" what they were about. The result is that they never got big while other bands raced to the top of the niche they fall into. The results have been releases like AWAKEN THE GUARDIAN, DISCONNECTED and A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY; albums that their core audience love, but just didn't have any real "hit" potential to break them past their niche audience. DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT is their most straightforward effort since they debuted in the 80s, but it's a little too late at this point. That said, this is a seriously solid Fates Warning album.
Shades Of Remembrance
For years and years, there have been many progressive metal bands that have struggled to be heard. For many, they never get the chance, and therefore never truly get out there. For others, their sheer will to be known pushed them to be discovered by fans. With progressive metal, it's difficult to really make a statement about your sound. Everyone looks and claims to sound like the next Fates Warning, Dream Theater or Queensryche, but with such lofty names to put as an equal to yourself, the actual music behind it lets you down somewhat. For Cleveland's Shades Of Remembrance, they can loosely claim the name Fates Warning as somewhat of an influence, but ultimately they are not a good counter to any of those named bands. While VEIL is a very good release, it's not really comparable to big name progressive metal bands. They are much more metal; more gritty and more raw then the uber polished approach the bands listed about have exhibited. Don't take that as a bad thing either, as it's refreshing to hear powerful progressive playing without some studio engineer "cleaning it up". This is a solid listen.
...and once again I prepare for the argument that I always have when writing a review of a new Dream Theater release. It's the argument that I always make, and that every one of you musicians out there that worship this band always fight me tooth and nail on. That argument is simple - that Dream Theater are the most talented, and yet most undisciplined band in the history of recorded music. There is no person in their right mind that will say that they aren't a collection of some of the most talented virtuoso performers on the planet. With all their talent though, they are simply not disciplined enough to write songs that aren't bloated, pompous and designed to be more of a showcase of their musicianship than to creating something instantly memorable to anyone but their hardcore fans. There's a reason that casual fans don't know that they ever had another song after "Pull Me Under" - it's the lack of discipline in their songwriting to write concise, brilliant songs. They have brilliant performances all over each and every release, but few brilliant songs. I'd argue that Mr. Big was a much better band. They are a band of equal talent individually, but were also a band that honed their individual talents to create a lot more memorable songs. Let the hatred begin!
I make no bones about it. I'm not a Dream Theater fan. To be blunt and to the point, I've always appreciated the immense talent they have as individual musicians, but I've always found them to be the single most undisciplined songwriters in the history of heavy metal. They have always written bloated songs that are more focused on getting everyone's individual parts into each song than on writing a cohesive 4-6 minute song that's digestible to the average metal fan (such as I am). That's just my opinion, and I'm sure the throngs of DT loyalists out there will react with their typical "you don't know shit, that's why they're brilliant" response. So be it. I won't convince you, and you won't convince me...so we leave it there. That said though, I've been a big fan of vocalist James Labrie's solo efforts since he started putting them out. Specifically with his release ELEMENTS OF PERSUASION which featured the killer song "Freak", Labrie has proven to be solid for a more traditional listener such as I am. With IMPERMANENT RESONANCE, Labrie has once again put forth a solid effort.
If you've followed along with the whole Queensryche saga over the last few months and you are a fan, you are almost embarrassed to claim that fandom in public at this point. For a band that was once so proud of the fact that they were above the fray of their contemporaries, it's just flat out embarrassing to see the sad division of a band that was once so creatively excellent. Now, we have two Queensryches out there. The first one, made up of the "rest of the guys" and new vocalist Todd LaTorre, have proclaimed a return to the classic sound of the first five releases. They have been somewhat classier than Geoff Tate during the whole split, but at the same time haven't been shy to point fingers and make their private legal battle with Tate immensely public. Whatever, I guess...everyone's got to get the word out about their project. As for vocalist Geoff Tate...well, he's kind of gone insane the last few months publicly. Over the last few months, we've heard everything from why it was alright to spit in the face of his former drummer, rants from the stage where he told fans of the band that they suck, and yes, even stereotyping talk about the man's dick size. Certainly, the legacy has taken a lot of tarnish during this time.