by Victor Giol
Being a fan of long time American progressive metal pioneers, Fates Warning, it was only natural to make assumptions of what their long time vocalist, Ray Alder’s solo album “What The Water Wants”, would be. Working on this over a long period of time with two different guitarists has resulted in a familiar yet varied and fresh effort from one of prog metal’s most recognizable voices. To hear Ray Alder explain how this came together, you can listen to The Prog Report’s Top 5 Fates Warning songs here.
These collections of 9 songs bring out the vocal spectrum of one of the most recognizable and long standing prog metal vocalists over the last 30 years. Simone Mularoni (DGM, Sweet Oblivion) brings his sound engineering expertise to the mix which delivers the usual clear, clean and distinctive style which allows the heaviness and power of the instrumentation be in perfect balance with Alders iconic voice.
The opening track, “Lost” starts with Abdow’s soaring guitar line while the bass and drums set the foundation. Establishing this as a solid rock album, the chorus delivers a soaring melody with Alder’s powerful voice. The second track “Crown of Thorns” starts with a gentle slap bass line which carries the motif through the song. The guitars play a cool gliding melody during the verses and come together powerfully for the chorus. Alder’s vocals are fitting right in with a smooth and powerful delivery. “Some Days” is a groovy slower song which which Abdow’s guitar effects are on display. There is a great change in dynamic between the verses and the chorus. Alder does a great job with the lead and harmonizing vocals. Additional tracks like “Under Dark Skies” and “The Road” provide Alder the opportunity to showcase his vocal range over slower, more ballad-style grooves.
“Shine” is the first song featuring Hernando’s guitar work. His contribution to the track results in a heavier and riff driven piece which features harmonizing guitars accompanying Alder’s vocals. The guitar solo precedes a rhythm guitar breakdown which gets your head banging. “A Beautiful Lie” and “Wait” are the other songs in which Hernando plays the guitar and bass. Along with “Shine”, these songs bring a heavier, metal sound to the album. These songs provide electric guitar goodness with solid riffs and shred-solos. This is part of what makes the album a difficult one to pin down as far as style. The audio spectrum has a lot of variation which keeps the ears fresh.
The final tracks (not counting “The Road” (acoustic version) bonus track on the limited edition Digipak), “What The Water Wanted” and “The Killing Floor” are a great collaboration of Abdow’s guitar versatility and Alder’s already established range and power. The songs have a great dynamic changes which keep the listener entertained. Mularone’s mixing mastery is appreciated as the wide variety of styles are presented with a terrific audio environment.
Alder’s longevity, vocal consistency and reliability are what make this solo effort a very enjoyable listen. It is a refreshing yet familiar musical experience which will please many long time fans. Add this excellent album to a very long list of top notch prog albums of 2019.
Released on October 18, 2019 via InsideOutMusic
Key Tracks: Crown of Thorns, Shine, What The Water Wanted
2. Crown Of Thorns
3. Some Days
5. Under Dark Skies
6. A Beautiful Lie
7. The Road
9. What The Water Wanted
10. The Killing Floor
11. The Road (Acoustic Version) * Bonus Track
Ray Alder – Vocals
Mike Abdow – Guitars/Bass
Tony Hernando – Guitars/Bass
Craig Anderson – Drums
Mixed by Simone Mularone
Produced by Ray Alder
Get the album here: