Review Summary: Minor misgivings about the narration should not detract from a good solid album of heavy prog.
There could be endless reasons why somebody would use an alias Natural Drummer, but Sam Fishman has a very obvious one - he started out as a drummer in high school, studied drumming at university and throughout his musical career performed on drums in any musical genre imaginable. On End of Time, his sixth solo project (three singles and three albums) in a span of just two years he tackles a bit more than just drums, placing his main instrument where it belongs - in the rhythm section.
Taking a look at the cover, you would get the idea that what you will hear is a death metal onslaught that would either delight or horrify you, depending on your taste or distaste for the genre. And while Fishman obviously prefers his music here to be on a bit heavier side (try ‘Omens’, for example), the sound and scope of his music lies somewhere between his beloved Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree (the closer ‘A Short Dream Revisited’), and Godsmack and Sevendust, with whom he shared the stage. In a way, you could file Natural Drummer’s sound as heavy progressive.
Fishman uses the narrator format to connect the musical pieces and connect the dots in his story, which comes in as handy, but can also at moments detract from the enjoyment of music. Thematically, Fishman tries to cover a lot of ground - from handling feelings to texting while driving to mass/wrongful incarceration.
While the album might seem thematically disparate, Fishman's heavier tendencies somehow keep things tied in. A lot of this is to be credited to his obviously carefully selected participating crew, with the guitarists Alex Goldenthal (lead) and Kurt Wubbenhorst (guitar and bass) excelling. Of course, being a drummer, Fishman does show what he knows, particularly on ‘Final Distance To The Clock’.
While there are some minor misgivings (the album could have done with less narration), End of Time is an album that fans of both heavy and progressive genres should take a careful listen to.