RAY ALDER – II (Album Review)

Review of the new album from Ray Alder – II

by Kyle Graves

Most know Ray Alder as the singer of stalwart progressive metal titans (and, in fact, architects of the genre itself) Fates Warning. He was also the vocalist for the equally amazing Redemption for 5 albums starting in 2005. He’s rarely worked outside of the confines of a band setting, until that is, 2019’s What The Water Wants (his solo debut). 2023 sees the release of his follow up effort simply entitled “II”.

On that debut album, Ray wanted to somewhat distance himself from his prog past. This new release, however, see’s him returning to his progressive roots and in a decidedly heavier direction. Alder has an uncanny knack to take a two syllable word and make it 7 or even 8 syllables with beautiful melody, power & finesse. His style is truly unique and undoubtedly has influenced countless modern day progressive singers, either directly or indirectly.

Once again, the band consists of Mike Abdow (Fates Warning), Tony Hernando (Lords of Black) and Craig Anderson (Ignite). The latter’s drumming is rock solid & creative, but enough can’t be said about the amazing guitar work on this album. From killer riffs to velvety smooth & sometimes blazing solos, it’s all here. Abdow & Hernando show off their considerable six string skills as well as playing bass on their respective tracks.

Listen to Ray Alder on The Prog Report podcast.

The album opens with the dark, brooding 1st single “This Hollow Shell”. There’s something dark & mysterious here that sets the tone for the album. Ray’s voice is in top form out of the gate, alternating between a whisper & a scream at times. Next up, we have the burner “My Oblivion” with a great driving beat and a solid guitar crunch.

Absent for awhile in the evolution of the Fates Warning catalog, vocal harmonies eventually returned and they work to great effect here as well. Songs like “Hands of Time”, “Silence the Enemy” & “Those Words I Bled” benefit greatly from these vocal textures.

“Keep Wandering” is a really cool atmospheric departure that showcases Alders voice in a whole new way. No longer reaching for those stratospheric notes of his youth, he now embraces & utilizes his lower register w/ fantastic results. “Waiting For Some Sun” is also a standout track for its killer guitar work, its overall progressive nature & even the use of electronic synth sounds. This track may well end up on my Best Prog Songs of 2023 list, it’s that good.

The album closes on a real high point, in the track “Changes”. For those of us old enough to have followed Ray’s career, it’s easy to relate to this song on multiple levels. As Alder wails “changes!” the listener is reminded of people, places & seasons of their own life that have been left in the past. The power and emotion of Rays vocals scream with urgency and remind us “though the feelings remain, it’s never the same”.

One also gets the sense that Alder himself is changing…embracing his progressive past and forging his own path.
With his main band all but hanging it up, it seems that Ray Alder is taking charge of his musical future & laying the groundwork on “II”. In the final track he proudly & prophetically declares “when the story ends, another begins!” This a fantastic sophomore effort and hopefully one of many more solo releases to come.

Released on June 9th, 2023 on InsideOutMusic

RAY ALDER – “II” (51:20)
1. This Hollow Shell (06:02)
2. My Oblivion (04:36)
3. Hands Of Time (06:08)
4. Waiting For Some Sun (04:29)
5. Silence The Enemy (04:41)
6. Keep Wandering (05:51)
7. Those Words I Bled (05:51)
8. Passengers (05:51)
9. Changes (07:45)

Pre-order here:


Support The Prog Report

If you like what we do please support us on Ko-fi


Subscribe to our email list: