Thursday, 19 April 2012

Review: Flying Colors - Flying Colors

 Poor Mike Portnoy. Following his major public departure from prog metal legends Dream Theater and subsequent attempt to re-gain entry to the band after his tenure in Avenged Sevenfold didn't last as eternally as he had hoped. The whole surrounding drama is far from over though. We now reach the less apparently dramatic phase in which Portnoy has fully unleashed his side projects Adrenaline Mob and Flying Colors, devised purely as a way of saying "Well, screw you guys I don't need you anyway." And of course, they're both pretty awful. And so, we examine the self-titled debut from Flying Colors, what should be a fairly promising supergroup comprising of Portnoy, Deep Purple guitarist Steve Morse and many others. The resulting album is something that should be epic and results in being a very much hit and miss album.

 I'm sure it would be a lot of fun to continuously poke fun at Portnoy after all his desperate headline hogging witnessed across the likes of UltimateGuitar and Blabbermouth last year and say the album is terrible purely for his appearance on it alone, but frankly it's the performance from him and Morse that really makes the album and when drum and guitar solos are fully unleashed on this album in the likes of All Falls Down and the twelve minute epic Infinite Fire which sees the full talent of both musicians being released as scorching picking from Morse and frantic drum smashing from Portnoy make some of classiest and most gripping moments on this album and reveals both musicians prog rock talent to still be intact to a blazing extent.
 But across this album, this intense prog performance performance is basically balanced out by a musical element much more turgid. See, the musical dynamic behind Flying Colors is to incorporate elements of prog rock with more mainstream pop rock. It's actually a pretty dynamic idea which shows Portnoy and Morse stepping out of their comfort zones, which is quite admirable. While the warm Blue Ocean and Shoulda Woulda Coulda shows that the creation of gripping hooks are achievable from the band, the overall thoughts on this section of the album are that the poppier elements could have been greatly improved upon. They could have had a more pounding pop punk element behind it but instead the pop rock comes in the form of (groans)... adult alternative music. I've never had a very enjoyable time with the kind of bands that carry the term "adult alternative" (a ridiculous enough name alone) and on Flying Colors, it's no exception. Needless to say, this introduces a whole new set of irony regarding the bands name because Portnoy and Morse at their most active introduce the flying colour. The rest of the album remains pretty flat and bland. At certain points of Love Is What I'm Waiting For, Better Than Walking Away and Fool in My Heart, it sounds more like I'm listening to Take That; a true sign that the songwriting carries an overly radio-friendly ring about it that carries little soul and little swagger.
 So, the result of the result of the album shows that prog rock is still awesome and adult alternative music is still pretty pathetic. I don't think I needed a whole album to tell me that. It's a bold attempt to do something a little different in giving prog rock a poppier twist and it's quite an admirable idea being someone that enjoys a good hook in a song every now and then but it has to be done in a way more exciting than this. Sorry Mike. Once again, you continue to present Dream Theater to be doing better without you.

 Flying Colors' Flying Colors is out now via Mascot.

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