Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Album Review: Fatal Fusion - Total Absence
After a two minute instrumental opening that introduces the album with a marching drum-beat and organ swells, we hit the meat of the record. "Shadow Of The King" is the stereotypical Egyptian motif, but it's a trope that usually works. It's just different enough that it makes almost anything sound more dramatic than it would with a more standard scale being used. There's a feeling that isn't entirely removed from "Stargazer" to the song, but the band lacks the fire and flare that Rainbow used in creating their masterpiece. Neither the riffing here, nor the vocals, can reach the heights they would like the song to achieve. It's a decent piece of music, but you can hear they wanted something truly grand, and just aren't quite capable of pulling it off.
There are moments on the record that could be the building blocks of something great. The dark riff leading into a flute line in "Forgotten One" is the kind of musical bit that twists what you expect on its head enough that it's inherently interesting. But the rest of the song lets it down, not delivering anything else of note. It's almost as if the band decided that once they had the one riff to build from, the rest of the song didn't matter.
But the biggest issue with the album is that the vocals kill it. The vocal lines aren't particularly memorable to begin with, but the actual performance isn't up to par. Not everyone is a great singer, I know, but a band needs to know when a member isn't good enough to put on record. That's the case here. Whatever little momentum some of the songs can get going, the vocals are like quicksand, trapping them and dragging them down into the abyss.
While I appreciate the vintage sound that Fatal Fusion is trying to bring back, and I think sonically the album is quite interesting, it lacks the songwriting to be anything but a nostalgia piece. Prog lets you get away with more self-indulgence than most genres do, but you still have to produce songs that have something to say, and something to offer. Fatal Fusion doesn't do that here, and the album suffers for it.