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Fatal Opera – The Eleventh Hour (Reissue)

Fatal Opera
The Eleventh Hour (Reissue)
by Erik Akos at 01 February 2018, 5:18 AM

FATAL OPERA were a relatively short-lived band in the 90s formed by ex-MEGADETH drummer Gar Samuelson after he parted ways with the Thrash giants. His post-MEGADETH band are known for the incorporation of Jazz Fusion into their base Thrash/Speed Metal style and have released 2 albums before Gar’s unfortunate death in 1999. Previously I had the chance to review their self-titled record, which I found to be a really captivating mix of Speed Metal and Jazz, with a bit of actual Thrash; although I did not much enjoy the production (which I though was unfitting) and the unnecessary vocals. Is The ”Eleventh Hour” any different? Let’s find out boys and girls.

The record kicks off with some chilling flute work and what I think are some sounds of nature before the percussion kicks in, and then the bass, and fuck, those guitars… Honestly, it is one of the best intros I have ever heard. And then… the vocals. The vocals on this album are a bit better, but still not really there; and unfortunately, they never get there. For example, a song I'd highlight is "Once I Was a Fly", it's seriously one of the most emotionally authentic happy songs I have ever heard, AND one of the only exceptions where the vocals aren't annoying or redundant, but actually add some flavour to the overall sound. Another example of this is "Dredges (The Truth)", where Andy Freeman’s performance slightly reminded me of Mike Patton.

In regard to the music the album has mostly the same musical positives that ”Fatal Opera” brought to the table, but with a quite different approach. They left in the Jazzy stuff (like 80% of it) and went quite strongly towards outright Thrash/Speed Metal, especially in the second half. Is that good? Well, since in my opinion Jazz is at least 10000000000 times superior to Thrash/Speed, no. What's more, I also enjoy the band's own Jazz style that they utilized in their debut, so it's not just that I'm biased against Thrash/Speed. Other than that, the record, songwriting-wise, is a lot more focused on entertainment (and to a certain extent, catchiness) than being musically compelling. And there's nothing wrong with that; I guess they wanted to have a lot more fun and make more entertaining music, and they certainly succeeded in that.

The album's ballad, "Inside Outside" is: a) strangely placed in the tracklist, (it's track no. 5) and b) no…just no. Ballads are usually focused on vocals, but since the vocals are the weakest aspect of ”The Eleventh Hour”, it was destined to fail from the start. Weak song. The following track, however - a cover of THE BEATLES’ "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" is something truly amazing and absurdly beautiful. I know it sounds cliché and obvious, but a good cover is making a song yours while staying faithful to the original creation. That's what a great cover is.  And that is EXACTLY what FATAL OPERA did, to the fucking letter. It's innocent bliss and soul and…ah, I just love it. It is easily one of my favourite tracks on the disk. Other than that, there’s not much else to highlight, or even talk about. I already said everything about the record’s musical quality and directions, and the vocals, which have improved, but not by much.

I’d recommend this album to anyone who liked the first one, because I sure did. I must say, I enjoyed this journey of Gar’s last band, and I think that FATAL OPERA is a band worthy of such a man’s legacy. May your music stay alive, and your soul rest forever.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Would You?
2. Nothing Is Everything
3. Once I Was A Fly
4. Indiscretion
5. Inside/Outside
6. Lucy In The Sky
7. Wrist Twister
8. Mindfuck
9. Dredges (The Truth)
10. Three Steps
11. The End Of Me
12. My Psychiatrist
13. Devil Monkeys
14. Calling Of Lotar
15. Guilded Splinters
Andy Freeman – Vocals
Billy Brehme – Guitars
Stew Samuelson – Guitars
Travis Karcher – Bass
Gar Samuelson – Drums
Record Label: Divebomb Records


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Edited 27 October 2021

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