A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Prog Music And Disconnected From Fates Warning

In the Year 2000, the mainstream was ruled by Nu-Metal bands and progressive music was really at opposite ends of the spectrum.

On one side, you had the Dream Theater style of progressive music. This involved a lot of time changes, with the focus on high-octane technical musical workouts and each song exhibited a smorgasbord of riffs.

In this period, Dream Theater was also rebuilding their brand into something that matters. After breaking through with “Images and Words” in the early 90’s, they kept on moving into a more “record label” pressured sound, which alienated their fan base and even the band members themselves. Mike Portnoy expressed his disgust that John Petrucci was sent by the label to work with song doctor Desmond Child on the song “You Not Me”.

But the creative arts history is littered by artists tricked into taking the wrong path by label executives who chased dollars instead of career longevity. Bigger is merely bigger. “If it’s better”, is a debate for another day.

In the end, the best way to re-build their brand was to stand for something, instead of standing for everything. That meant that Dream Theater stood up for progressive music instead of standing up for progressive music that could have commercial appeal with the hope that it crosses over into the mainstream. And they reset their career with “Scenes From A Memory”.

On the other side of the progressive music spectrum, you had the Tool style of progressive music. This involved time changes, but the focus was on groove and atmospherics, with each song building on a unique riff or bass line or drum pattern. Tool always stood by their brand and never wavered from it.

In between you had Porcupine Tree, merging Tool like aggression with Pink Floyd like atmospherics and on the extreme end you had Meshuggah with their focus on groovy, technical polyrhythms.

The missing link is Fates Warning.

Fates Warning released an album called “Disconnected” in 2000. With “Disconnected”, Jim Matheos merged the Tool and Porcupine Tree progressive elements with the Dream Theater progressive elements and put them through the Fates Warning blender. It’s a fusion of all the best progressive elements at the time into a cohesive piece of work that can be listened to over and over again from start to finish.

With so much access these days, it’s only natural that albums are overlooked, especially albums that didn’t really set the commercial charts on fire. Hell, the press behind the album was even a whisper.

But the album sticks with me, in the same way that each lick and melody from “Images and Words” by Dream Theater sticks. In other words, both of those albums made progressive music sound simple on the ear. Other people might have the view that progressive music is about doing something different (like not following the verse – chorus structure) and pushing musical boundaries (like time signatures, exotic scales and different musical styles). I would add that making something technical sound simple to the ear should also be part of the definition.

Metallica did it with each album up to “…And Justice For All”. They got technical with each release, but it still sounded simple to the ear. Rush are the original kings of pushing the technicality with each release, until they reset their career with “Signals”. Dream Theater nailed it with “Images And Words”. Fates Warning nailed it with “Disconnected”. Tool nailed it with “Lateralus”.

Who is going to nail it next?

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A to Z of Making It, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Music Is A Long Road – A Trip Down Memory Lane with Fates Warning, Tom Petty and Dream Theater

For any artists these days, be it Bon Jovi or Metallica or Dream Theater or Motley Crue or Imagine Dragons or Shinedown or Machine Head or any new band starting off right now, they all need to understand one thing. We are living in the generation of kids born from 1997 onwards. This generation wants to consume music. Their sense of community is all online. Anyone that says they don’t have a Spotify account is not living in the modern age. These kids weren’t alive when the Record Labels ruled the day, so they have no desire for yesterday, they are all about today and what lays beyond.

For any artist these days, their whole career is about relationships. If you want an audience to invest, you need to establish a relationship. You need to make the effort. The days of touring a city based on the record sales figures for that city are long gone. Ask Dream Theater or Iron Maiden how many albums they have sold in South America? Then ask them how many people came to their shows in those countries.

Mike Portnoy stated in the linear notes on the released bootleg recording of Dream Theater’s Santiago, Chile show from June 2005 that they didn’t know what to expect from South America due to the low number if records they had sole there. They even went to the show with a cut down stage set to save money. In the end, they played to their biggest headlining audience ever.

It’s all about roots. If an artist doesn’t have any, the audience is not interested. Experience moulds the artist, it influences them. Music is an end unto itself. When done right, the sound and the feel is enough. It doesn’t need the videos, the PR sell and all the pyro that comes with the rock n roll show.

Tom Petty sang that Love Is A Long Road. That is the aim of every artist. To foster the love of the audience into a sustainable career. To paraphrase Tom Petty, Music is A Long Road. The same way that a relationship with a partner has its ups and down, so does the relationship between artist and fan. The same effort that an artist puts into a loving relationship is basically the same effort they need to put in to their music career.

The music community has shifted to being a song centric community. We just dont know it yet. The album format that used to make the most money for the record labels is almost a dead format. However artists still go back and release a collection of songs as an album.

In order for the album format to work for you, you need to create an album that is playable throughout. You need to create an album that needs to be heard over and over again. You need to create an album that stands up years after its release.

Fates Warning released an unbelievable album called Disconnected in 2000. However talk to anyone these days and it is like the band never existed. It’s been years since I’ve heard Disconnected and to my amazement, it sounds as fresh and innovative today as it did 13 years ago. Jim Matheos is the pure definition of the progress is derivative statement. He has the ability to take good things from songs that came before and mould them into something great, unique and innovative.

In the Year 2000, progressive music was at opposite ends of the spectrum. You had the Dream Theater style of progressive music on one side and the Tool style of progressive music on the other side. In between you had a band like Porcupine Tree, merging Tool like aggression with Pink Floyd like atmospherics. The mainstream was ruled by Nu-Metal bands. The missing link was Fates Warning.

With Disconnected, Jim Matheos merged the Tool and Porcupine Tree progressive elements with the Dream Theater progressive elements and put them through the Fates Warning blender.

Disconnected is a fusion of all the best progressive elements at the time into a cohesive piece of work that can be listened to over and over again from start to finish. It is a tragedy that this album is so overlooked these days. In the same way that each lick and melody from Images and Words by Dream Theater sticks in my head, Disconnected from Fates Warning does the same.

I am looking forward to hearing “Darkness In A Different Light” when it comes out on September 27. Nine years is a long time between albums. Nine years in the music business is an eternity. So much has changed. Love is a long road. Music is a long road.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

Heartist

I am listening to an EP called Nothing You Didn’t Deserve from the band Heartist. They are signed to Roadrunner. The band members in Heartist all came from older bands and older projects that did the standard grind of playing as many shows as they can. This is how the music business was run once upon a time. It doesn’t work in the current times however people still try and run it this way.

So what do the members of Heartist do? They leave those bands and get together to form Heartist.

They knew how the game is played and decided to not participate this time around. So they wrote as much music as they could before releasing any of it to the public. They sat on their EP for over a year and a half, making sure it got into the right hands at the right time. From being in various projects, they made a lot of friends through shows and networking. They put up demos on YouTube and sent them to various connections that they had been acquainted with.

They developed a strategy. They took as much time as they could to build up a buzz before they played any shows. If they just recorded their songs and released them on line, with no real demand or market to satisfy, it would have been a great waste of time. However, they waited, kept on creating that buzz and in the end the stars aligned and they got lucky.

They played their first show and Roadrunner was there, along with a few other labels. Management was also in attendance. They played one show and then Roadrunner signed them.

Is it a good thing that they are on a major metal label like Roadrunner? In my opinion, no, however it was a goal for the band to be signed by a label. You can say that being on Roadrunner has given them a chance to play with Killswitch Engage and go on tour. Could they have done that themselves? Maybe, however we will never know.

Vocalist Bryce Beckley sounds like Spencer Sotelo from Periphery. Another comparison I can make is to Chris Clancy from Mutiny Within, an ex – Roadrunner signed band. Guitarists Jonathan Gaytan and Tim Koch remind me of Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel from Killswitch Engage. Rounding out the band is Evan Ranallo on bass and Matt Marquez on drums.

For a first off release that is also self-produced, this band has potential plus. It’s heavy and progressive with good melodies/riffs and a certain range of diversity within the songs as well. However they need that one great song to hook me in and I haven’t heard it yet. This is a good thing, as they have done enough to keep me interested, wanting to hear more.

Disconnected is the opening track and it comes very close to making that connection. In an interview, on the http://highwiredaze.com/wordpress/heartist website, Matt Marquez the drummer describe the meaning of Disconnected in the following way;

“This song is about the spirit of a dead man still being stuck here and not being able to move on to the afterlife until he finds out why his life took an unexpected turn for death. He can see and hear people and try to make his presence known, but ultimately he is on his own in finding answers that could bring him closure to finally move on to the afterlife.”

Heart Of Gold also comes close to greatness. Back in the Eighties, metal bands or rock bands always had that one song on the album that was sort of called the CROSSOVER song. One that is rock or metal enough to please the rock fans, and one that could satisfy the large pop audience. This is that type of song for Heartist. It is meant for the charts and it is a good song that deserves to be on the charts. It has more integrity than what the other songs are on there. It has that Linkin Park feel and they recently released a YouTube clip, handmade using over 3000 printed images and stop motion photography.

Tangled is another song that comes close to greatness. As with Disconnected, I am hearing a Periphery connection, especially in the vocal melodies.

Rhinestone has a Dream Theater style intro that hooks me in, however it goes downhill from there and The Answer has an awesome 30 Seconds To Mars style intro, however the Chorus doesn’t take it to the next level.

Where Did We Go Wrong has an unbelievable pre chorus and chorus. The song is about losing a relationship. The kind of relationship where one party is putting all of their effort into making a relationship work and it’s just not working, while the other person is giving up and no one really understands why it is all over when it is over.

Nothing You Didn’t Deserve needed more work to it in my mind. It starts off heavy and melodic and it has some decent sections. The lyrical theme on the other hand is world class. It deals with psychosis. The male character has split personalities that are battling each other. The screaming parts are the darkness and the melodic singing is the light. It is a different twist to the clichéd heartbreak song. He gets cheated on and like all metal songs, it ends in death, so that nobody else can have his love.

Heartist are a product of their time.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories

Angeline

I like hard rock. It is the eighties child in me that I cannot escape. So I come across a band called Angeline. It is the Life: Volume 1 – EP. 4 songs to impress me. Impress me they did. So I dig a little deeper. There is an album called Disconnected that was released in 2011 and another album Confessions released in 2010.

So I want to know a bit about the band. They are from Sweden. Formed in 1987. Yep, you read that write. 26 years ago.

Initially the band was influenced by Bon Jovi, Europe, Iron Maiden and Queensryche. All bands that I like, hence the reason why the music from the band connected with me.

When the music scene changed, they reverted to a cover band. You need to do what you need to do. It’s not all about the glamour and the fame. There are highs and lows.

Promising line-up changes started to turn sour. You don’t get these kind of stories in the mainstream media. The band is still battling for recognition, 10 years after they formed. The sound also evolved to incorporate more blues. You see it takes time to find your true voice. It takes life and experiences to find that unique light of creation.

Death then came to a founding member. With inspiration lost, they reverted back to the cover band. Most bands break up. Most artists would have thrown in the towel by now. These guys are in it for the long haul. Music is their life. It is their companion. It is the air they breathe.

Then in 2004, friends of the dearly loved founding member, Sigge, who died due to heart complications made a short film about him called Sigge Stardust. This film started to get some traction at film festivals. This was the trigger that got the band to re-unite again.

You see, it was something totally different that started to bring some light to the band. It was a short movie. It was the bi-annual Sigge festival. It was the scholarship offered at the festival. It is not all about writing a song and making millions of dollars. Music is much more than that. Music is life. As Robb Flynn screams in Darkness Within,

Music My Saviour. Save Me.

The opening track Life has that AC/DC vibe in the verse that hooks me. Coming from Australia, AC/DC are gods here.

Time isn’t on our side. And Life, always seem to bring us down

How true is that statement? Time is never on our side. We are always saying, we have no time or if we had time. Life is not meant to be easy. If we could buy more time we would. It goes so quickly and then you realise you don’t have much time left.

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