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Course Of Fate – Mindweaver Award winner

Course Of Fate
by Santiago Puyol at 06 April 2020, 12:55 PM

Following in the footsteps of their inspirations, "Mindweaver", the debut full length of Norwegian Progressive Metal band COURSE OF FATE, is a concept record in the vein of Rock Operas such as "The Wall", "The Final Cut", "Operation Mindcrime" or "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory". The classic Prog Rock melodrama is quite apparent on this 45-minute musical journey, even if packed into a Modern Prog Metal sound overall. It is coming on May 15th 2020.

The story goes more or less like this: man sees the imminent end of the world, man starts a cult of sorts trying to avoid it, and man loses everything and questions his sanity. The music fits the fantasy concept flawlessly, showing enormous emotional range, keeping the protagonist always a character to root for, even when he messes up.

"There Is Someone Watching" is a brief nostalgic and ominous intro track, with some layered guitars, pounding drums and dramatic vocals. It eases the listener into the record and vaguely prepares the territory for the first proper track, "The Faceless Men, Pt. I". A Post-Metalish intro with tasteful, textured guitar work, throws you directly into this proggy and sci-fi sounding villain song. Those faceless men that are always watching the protagonist are up to no good and downright terrifying. The track has strong IRON MAIDEN-vibes, especially from the sci-fi, "Somewhere in Time" era.

"Endgame" comes next, painting vivid images of the apocalypse. It has a very modern sound, weaving in electronic and synth elements are perfectly, as embellishments to the “organic” instrumentation. The lyrics conjure walls closing in, waters flooding fields and cities, and the sky falling. A soft, jazzy interlude in its middle section makes for a nice change of pace, adding colour to the track. A powerful chorus stays in mind long before the track ends.

After a lengthy instrumental intro, filled with melodic and soft passages, "Utopia" truly arrives. The music goes nicely with the theme of a man maybe losing his mind and growing a cult or following to his ramblings about the end of the world. The soft passages evoke an otherworldly feel, at times borderline euphoric, while the heavier sections have a sinister undertone to them, as if pointing to something Machiavellian and evil. Some technically impressive work here, especially the guitar tapping and soloing, as well as complex drumming by Per-Morten Bergseth.

"The Walls Are Closing In" is a short interlude with lone acoustic guitar and a few sung lines that feels extremely melancholic and gloomy. Pure loneliness. A moment of respite before going into "Wolves". The wolves here represent mental health issues, a strong metaphor for sure. The track features some tribal drumming, manic riffing and weird flanger effects on both the guitar and vocals, adding a layer of lunacy. The songwriting is brimming with tension, moving between a somewhat luminous chorus and dark verses. The shredding guitar solo shows this dichotomy. A nasty synth solo by Carl Marius Saugstad highlights his technical chops and outstanding choices when it comes to tone and colour.

Charming acoustic guitar, piano and synthesized strings appear on "Drifting Away". Eivind Gunnesen’s conversational vocal delivery conveys real vulnerability. There is a raw power in this lovely ballad, filled with regret and a sense of loss. The second half of the track goes full PINK FLOYD, especially on the guitar tone, quite reminiscent of David Gilmour’s.

Closer "The Faceless Men, Pt. II" flows perfectly from previous track, crossfading in an interesting way. An epic closer that plays a bit with time signatures and tempos, shifting through various sections. The first section of this nine-minutes-and-a-half track is possibly the heaviest on the album, featuring some nasty and sick riffing, reprising Part I as well as other earlier motifs from other songs. Daniel Nygaard’s bass gets to shine, considering it stays mostly on the background –sometimes lost in the mix– in previous tracks. The length of the track allows the whole band to show off their talents. DREAM THEATER’s influence becomes more apparent here, mostly on the instrumental sections.

COURSE OF FATE deliver a great concept record here. Even if the story is in itself interesting, the album is a fun listen regardless of whether you follow the concept or not. It carries more of an emotional punch when you pay attention, though. Moreover, the album flows quite nicely as a whole, and it is meant to be listened to on in its entirety. The musicianship is top-notch, there are clear hooks here and memorable sections, and the production is mostly adequate. Overall, a strong debut that promises a lot of great things to come from COURSE OF FATE.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. There Is Someone Watching
2. The Faceless Men, Pt. I
3. Endgame
4. Utopia
5. The Walls Are Closing In
6. Wolves
7. Drifting Away
8. The Faceless Men, Pt. II
Eivind Gunnesen – Vocals
Kenneth Henriksen – Guitar
Marcus Lorentzen – Guitar
Carl Marius Saugstad – Keyboards
Daniel Nygaard – Bass
Per-Morten Bergseth – Drums
Record Label: ROAR! Rock Of Angels Records


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Edited 12 June 2021

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