Release Date: 18th October 2019
Label: Inside Out
Formats: CD, DL, LP
Progressive metal takes a backseat as Ray Alder branches out in solo mode.
Alder is now a veteran of three decades as the frontman of Fates Warning. Perhaps it’s no surprise then, that he wants to find out and show what it’s like to be the master of your own destiny. To be fair, the apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree as What The Water Wants finds him in the relative safety of his comfort zone. If you’re already a fan of Fates Waring, you can feel some security that your man hasn’t sailed into unchartered territory.
While Fates Warning have taken a breather, Alder has been writing with the band’s touring guitarist Mike Abdow, along with longtime friend Craig Anderson drums and bassist and FW fan, Tony Hernando of Lords Of Black An impressive mix emerges from whatever speaker system you have set up, courtesy of Simone Mularoni whose own band, DGM amongst others, benefit from a sensitive and sympathetic set of ears.
Between them, the quartet has delivered a set loosely based on the theme of water, the album title tweaked from one of the songs to avoid the inevitable ‘title track’ tag. It reflects different moods and styles of the writers. Much less of the metallic direction with which he’s normally associated, there’s a disciplined restraint about the whole album with an emphasis on the quality of the song rather than instrumental prowess.
After an intro of Lost where the mood is accompanied by a rich and full soundtrack, it’s a couple of basslines that stand head and shoulders in leading Crown Of Thorns and Some Days. More familiar ground is trodden in the much heavier Shine, yet a track that retains a melodic vein even in the squalling lead break from Abdow before a thudding rhythmic instrumental section. An early and possible album highpoint.
A Beautiful Lie and Wait show a similar confident swagger and sandwich the concession to a bit of schmaltz that The Road provides. In The Killing Floor, they’ve provided the album’s tour de force and a song that brings the curtain down in truly grand style. Mean, moody and possibly even magnificent, it seals the deal with all four bringing their chops to the party. The only possible complaint is that we might have preferred to hear a more dynamic finish rather than the long fade out.
Ray Alder may have sold himself a little short when he talks of What The Water Wants as an understated “interesting and fun.” A genuinely worthwhile excursion from the day job.
Watch the lyric video for the title track here: