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Released: 2002, Hook N Mouth Records
Anyone remember Fates Warning guitarist/lyricist Frank Aresti? He was in the band for a good decade before exiting after the band’s INSIDE OUT opus. Satan knows what he’s been up to since then, but in 2002 he signed on with Hook ‘n Mouth records and released his debut solo album, the oddly titled DRAGONSPOON. When I first heard about this disc, I had high hopes of more progressive metal brilliance of the kind that has come to be associated with Frank’s name. I’m sad to report that I only got about ¼ of what I was looking for.
Dragonspoon is a somewhat bizarre and jarring mixture of rock, progressive metal, industrial, pop hooks, and assorted electronic bleeps and bloops. On its own, it’s not that weird, but coming from a guy like Frank Aresti who has been associated with some of the best metal songs created in the last 20 years, it’s a definite change. “Just to Feel Alive Again” opens the album with some electronic keyboard noises before opening into what I consider to be the best riff on the album. The song is definitely not prog, but it IS an extremely catchy riff-rocker. From there the album leaps between a number of different moods and styles, but thankfully Frank never forgets the focus: the guitars! Unfortunately they are industro-produced and sound like they belong on a Marilyn Manson or Nine Inch Nails album. Still, you can’t deny the coolness of the more metal songs like “Breakout” and “Devil Gone Too Far”. Even the more popish “Moving in Stereo” is catchy as hell.
The problems start when the music begins to wander away from the metal into dance beat territory and wandering “mood” songs, like the lame “Conjuring Grace”. Quite honestly, Frank doesn’t have the voice to pull off these songs, as he sounds very forced and thin a lot of the time. He needs the huge back drop of crashing guitars to cover up his vocal flaws.
This is indeed a strange album, an interesting one, but ultimately I’d call it a failed experiment. If this music is indeed where Frank’s musical heart lies, I wish him all the best, but it just isn’t my thing. Adventurous metal heads are thoroughly encouraged to check this out.
1)Just to Feel Alive Again
2)Devil Gone Too Far
3)Smoothing the Way
6)The Winding Ring
8)Deep Blue Sea
9)Moving in Stereo
12)My Favorite Stain
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