Fallen Fate - Into the BlackThis four-piece from the north of England are much-fancied yet still independently releasing “Into The Black”, their sophomore album. Having already toured with the likes of Onslaught and played Download twice (the only unsigned band ever to do so) I’m sure the band feel that with this album a breakthrough is near at hand.

The band’s sound is described as modern metal, which is a very vague title. What does that mean? Well, in Fallen Fate‘s case it means a mix of speed, thrash, black and power metal. Something for everyone then? Almost, almost!

The first thing thing that strikes me about the band, whatever genre it is they’re playing, is how technically gifted they are. Fallen Fate are extremely accomplished musicians – the music has power metal’s sense of theatre, thrash metal’s stacked riffs and aggression, the raspy controlled growls of black metal and the classically inspired, super-dextrous guitar fills of speed metal. ‘Grandiose’ is a word that springs to mind, and it is flashy without ever becoming too florid. Well, actually that’s a lie, but the performances are so good you don’t mind the OTT nature of it all.

The majority of this album could easily stand as an instrumental work, and personally I would probably have preferred it if it were. You see, the only thing that lets this album down is the vocals of Lee Skinner, which are one dimensional and really don’t match up to the scope and ambition of the playing. His is a sort-of mid-range commercial black metal throaty rasp, the lyrics are intelligible but all sung in the same range and style to the point where his voice just becomes like a very obtrusive tape hiss. Of course, there are points during songs where this works fine but over an entire album it is of limited appeal. There are, luckily,  backing vocals which do help to bring some much-needed touches of melody to the infernal inferno the band create.

Still, the actual music is often killer. There is a poise and confidence about the guitar playing that is a joy. Fluidity, precision and flair. The riff to ‘Last Rites’ is a typical speed metal hectic dash but is done to perfection and moves with precision into several short Dave Mustaine-ish dizzying solos and then into juddering hardcore – it’s a metal master class.

‘Into The Black’, the song, and frankly the whole album, is as intense as it is ambitious. The insane energy throughout is only tempered by atmospheric interludes between songs. The link between ‘Possession’ and ‘I Welcome the Dead’ is an especially effective piece of dramatic spookiness.

Things come to an end with ‘Vespa’, the main character in this concept album (well of course it is – it had to be didn’t it!). Unsurprisingly, it appears to be not about a scooter. This is symphonic black metal with synth strings and the Devil’s kitchen sink too. I’m afraid details are scarce as to what the concept is to “Into The Black” and Skinner‘s vocals deter me from listening too closely to find out, but judging from the soundtrack it’s one hell of a story.

P.S. You may feel the rating below is harsh after this mainly enthusiastic review, but I think Fallen Fate can go onto much, much greater things.

Fallen Fate – Official website