Fair To Midland - Fables From A Mayfly
When you hear a bunch of noise about a band before spending any time with their music, the tendency is seeing your expectations raise or lower, depending on your personality. Personally, mine lower, knowing my tastes are most often far from the mainstream. All the buzz surrounding Fair To Midland could be a double-edged sword for any band. But this Texas alt-prog rock outfit are seeming to handle it all in stride, taking the praise and direction of System Of A Down's Serj Tankian humbly. Under his Serjical Strike label they've released their debut full-length, Fables from a Mayfly. I'm here to say all the hype is justified, and that we may be looking at the next big powerhouse of progressive music.
What Fair To Midland play, specifically, is a melodic blend of hard rock often bordering on metal, a blend that utilizes sharp tonality, epic songwriting, soaring power-metal vocals and metaphorical, bombastic lyrics. The entire affair reaches for the heavens, each song put together with progressive intent. They fall somewhere between Tool's guitar-driven approach, TMV's chaos-prog approach, Coheed's subtle vulnerability and innocence, King Crimson's classic-prog and some modern alternative rock influence. Opener and first single "Dance of the Manatee" instantly gets you caught up with it's sturdy riffs and wonderfully diverse vocal textures. Vocalist Darroh Sudderth has impressive range and brings together wide-open, epic soaring vocals reminiscent of power metal's finest, along with rougher more middle-ranged shouting, softly spoken passages and many points in between. Songs like "Vice/Versa", "A Seafarer's Knot" and "A Wolf Descends Upon the Spanish Sahara" fully showcase all of the band's diverse talents. Only a select few of the tracks fall short of the rest, small faults indeed because there isn't a truly bad song here. My favorite has to be the hyper-intense guitar-driven "Upgrade^ Brigade", which really rolls along before drifting into a mellow piano interlude, only to dive right back into the fire.
What is it about progressive music that feels so right? When Fair to Midland put their pens to paper in preparations for this record, I imagine their main challenge was culling together their combined musical influences and trying to find that middle ground you hear so many bands talking about. Fables from a Mayfly IS that middle ground, a perfect landscape of musical ideas brought together by able-bodied musicians. But it's also something more. It carries with it an essence of knowing superiority, a confidence that shines through every song. Catch them on their current tour with Chevelle; live, I doubt even the sky would limit Fair to Midland.
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on 2008-05-10 X_NaStY Said:
This is easily my favorite album in a LONG time. I bet I've listened to it probably 50 times. Every single song is amazing. One thing I think that keeps me coming back is the fact that all the songs are very different. A lot of bands' songs sound more or less the same. With Fair To Midland, it's like a whole new adventure every time the song changes. I want to see these guys live.