Reviewed: May 2012
Released: 2012, Mascot Label Group/ Music Theories Recordings
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Being British this ‘u’-less colors just doesn’t seem natural, but I’m not about to debate the best option for spelling with this supergroup. Really they need no introduction, and those who want it will probably just turn to fountain-of-potential-knowledge Wikipedia, but suffice to say the line-up includes Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater) and Steve Morse (Deep Purple). Pretty high calibre then.
Not seeming content with a two-barrel approach, Flying Colors are described as a ‘virtuoso prog/pop/metal rock band’ – although metal might be stretching it though. First track in, ‘Blue Ocean’, has that deliberate jam feeling and expresses a love for progressive boogie, but at times that 70’s vibe skews a bit too far into the kind of old-school sitcom theme tune that prises stretched smiles out of everyone in the credits. I think it’s the plinky keyboards that does it – but it’s an endearing quality.
‘Shoulda Coulda Woulda’ is the probably the most traditional ‘heavy’ song on the album and one where the guitar is firmly in the driving seat. This dirty cut could easily have come from a Muse recording session – a vibe that similarly is felt on ‘All Falls Down’ (especially in the chorus vocals). It may not be in the approved list of marketable genres mentioned at the start but ‘Forever In A Daze’ is all the better for the funky swagger of its bass solo.
Flip sides of the coin are ‘Better Than Walking Away’ which is a fairly standard ballady type, and ‘Fool In My Heart’, which is a far more thoughtful and less contrived soft’un that sees lead vocal duties pretty much taken over by Mike Portnoy. In fact it’s almost too soft, as though musically something is being held back that you’d very much like to have seen brought to the table.
At 12 minutes long ‘Infinite Fire’ is a beast of a closer, but the proggy nature of the music lends itself well to having this space to breathe. The keyboard work is insanely impressive and performed with an unhurried flourish. The general competence of musical capability throughout the album, even from lesser known vocalist Casey McPherson, is very strong – but then really you’d expect that, wouldn’t you?
The problem with musicians of this presence, is the unfortunate truth that reality rarely can meet up to the full-blown and far-fetched stretches of imagination that such names together conjures. At its strongest Flying Colors does what it says on the tin in flying the flag for all the individual aspects of each artist. But there’s also a nagging sense that this feels a little unfulfilled in terms of the potential musical craftsmanship each of these players can achieve.
Mind you, Flying Colors convened for a mere nine days to compose and record this work, which makes it far more remarkable for where it does get it spot on. Even God took nearly that long to create the universe, and Earth – and he took a day off.
Review by: Kirsty Birkett-Stubbs
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