Ray Alder – “II”

Fates Warning Ray Alder returns with his second solo album, aptly titled “II.” It’s safe to say if you enjoyed his first solo album “What the Water Wants” or any of his latter day work with Fates, you will find plenty to enjoy here. He has the same cohorts as the first solo album on “II.” Fates touring guitarist Mike Abdow and Tony Hernando of Lords of Black co-wrote and played on their respective tracks. Craig Anderson does another great job on drums too.

It’s not a Fates album but with Ray’s voice, they certain have that same vibe. “II” might be a bit heavier and even darker than his previous work which was Ray’s goal. Most of the album was written with Abdow, though the three tracks that Hernando wrote the music for are all REALLY good.”Hands Of Time” and “Silence The Enemy” are both solid and melodic. The former has less of a power metal vibe than the material Hernando wrote for the first album. “Silence the Enemy” has a groove and a great chorus. While the closing track “Changes” is epic and easily my favorite song on either solo album. I make a point to reference the guitarists and their songs because there is a definite difference in style and approach.

As for Abdow’s share, the second single “Waiting for Some Sun” is a good song but the borderline djent riff on the verses is a bit annoying. The song has plenty of melody to cover for the overly angular riff. The opening song and first single “This Hollow Shell” is an excellent song. A slow building song with a big, powerful chorus. It’s a definite Fates-ish song. Nothing wrong with that. To prove the point that “II” is darker and heavier, the riff on “My Oblivion” is heavy as fuck. But it doesn’t lack melodies and hooks. A favorite track for sure. This one would translate well in a live setting. “Keep Wandering” is a low key burner of a song, not a ballad. It’s got a mood and vibe to it that sets it apart from the rest of the album, plus a great solo from Abdow.

Down side? “The Words I Bled” doesn’t quite land for me, a mid tempo number that doesn’t quite know which way to go. The next track “Passengers” is decent with a good riff but not only is it similar to the previous track, it’s actually the same exact length, 5:51. It’s definitely the better of the two. But the album is capped off well with the aforementioned “Changes” which has color and shade like any great Fates track would. This is great stuff right here and Ray sounds amazing. The chorus will have you singing along.

Like I said, if you are a Fates Warning fan, you will need to buy this album. If you are a fan of melodic prog metal, “II” stands on its own without needing Fates Warning to sell it. And how does Ray Alder still sound this amazing? Unbelievable. We might never get another Fates Warning album but for me, of all the side projects to emerge from band members lately, “II” stands above all of them.

Rating: 9/10

1. This Hollow Shell
2. My Oblivion
3. Hands Of Time
4. Waiting For Some Sun
5. Silence The Enemy
6. Keep Wandering
7. Those Words I Bled
8. Passengers
9. Changes

Label: Inside Out Music
Release Date: June 9, 2023

About Rob

I have been a fan of progressive metal and progressive rock for most of my life. My music collection is insanely large. My passion for life is music...progressive music!
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