Man, I’ve been kind of hesitating on this review. Fates Warning is such a huge band for me. Their catalog is probably one of the classier ones in metal and they are one of those few bands that has managed to create their own unique sound over the years. You can pretty much count on that when they release an album it is going to be chock full of creative musical ideas and intelligent and emotive lyrics.
Now, that being said, I’m not giving a band a free pass simply because of the goodwill they have garnered with me. You’ve got to merit each album on its own. So, in all honesty, this feels a like a middle of the road release by the men of Fates. That’s not to say there are some extremely bright spots on here (I’ll get to that later). I think overall I liken this one quite a bit to 2013’s Darkness in a Different Light. That album just kind of sat there for me and really never lit much of a fire under me. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t quite live up to the standard Fates set for themselves. I really feel the same sort of way about this latest album.
My first impression is that this one is really a much more straightforward Fates Warning album. There’s not a whole lot of serious progression or risk taking going on with these songs. Perusing the liner notes, it does appear that this album is very much a team effort between Jim Matheos and Ray Alder. Album opener, The Destination Onward, starts things off in the right direction with some clever riffs and Alder’s ever-reliable croon. But there are some downright stinkers on here, especially in the ballad department. Now Comes the Rain and Under the Sun sound like cuts that could have been left on the floor during the Inside Out sessions. When Snow Falls sounds like they are trying to recreate the vibe of a Road Goes on Forever, but it just doesn’t quite reach the level of magic of that song. On the positive side, you got a great, hard-driving lead single in Scars and The Way Home showcases that classic start/stop odd timed riffs that Fates is famous for.
Now, overall, I feel this album would have been solidly placed in the mediocre category save for the second to last cut on the album, The Longest Shadow of the Day. This might well be the best song written this year. This song really feels like it is one where Fates is flexing it’s creative muscle and I really wish a lot more of the album was in this vein. From the downright Floydian opening segments to the crescendo building sections when the vocals kick in, this is a prog opus in the best possible way and a hell of a way to close up the album.
All in all, I have to put this one in the decent category. The bright spots are very bright, but they are kind of tarnished by the paint-by-numbers feel the remaining songs contain. Good, but not great. And from this band, I expect great.
3.5 flip flops out of 5