Review Summary: Your favorite regular breakfast, done in life-altering fashion.
Let's say you like eggs and bacon.
Imagine you like fried eggs and bacon, done just the way you
like it: which could be, say, juicy but crispy on the edges, a bit of smoked flavor, just the right amount of salt and pepper, on a pan or maybe even grilled in the oven. The occasional fried tomato and mushroom to go with it – no!, just focus on the egg and bacon. A nice white coating on the yoke. Might as well scramble the eggs from time to time, why not. That buttered toast to boot. You've been through this a thousand times by now. You know you like it and you know how you like it, and of course you've learned to prepare it just
right yourself, according to your
taste. Nothing out of the ordinary here. It's not even your favorite dish, and it most certainly is not the most sophisticated or tasty dish on the planet. That's not even the point. Point is, eggs and bacon done your
way will always be that one reliable meal to get you up and prepped for a demanding day, or get you consoled and recharged when the night, people, life, or the world have once again failed or exhausted you. When all else fails: eggs and bacon to the rescue.
[Incidentally, if you're vegan, let your mind devise a favorite, well-spiced, routine combination of smoked tempeh or tofu with fried shiitake mushrooms. But on with the eggs & bacon analogy now.]
The plot thickens. You're abroad, visiting friends, or staying at a hotel, preparing to speak at a conference, maybe. You've got up in the morning to a familiar, delicious smell. Someone has prepared eggs and bacon for you. Only this time is special. There's something different. All the regular ingredients are there, but there's a new dimension to it. You thought you knew eggs and bacon intimately, only up until now you never knew they could taste this
good. How in the world is this possible? It's an eye-opening experience. Epiphany. New textures of taste have been revealed to you. This is another level of eggs and bacon: only now
do you see what eggs and bacon can truly be.
And such is the case with Forté's 1992 full-length debut Stranger than Fiction
: a formidable serving of power/speed/thrash metal by four masterful instrumentalists, that compresses unmatched levels of energy into just 34 of the most impactful minutes in the genre.
So on a scale of eggs & bacon (or tempeh & shiitake) how far does this go, you might ask? Instead of an elaborate analysis, let me just leave you with these two pointers:
- If Metallica's Kill 'Em All was already like Diamond Head's Lightning to the Nations on steroids, imagine Metallica's Justice-age version of "The Prince" at 1.5 speed to get an inkling of this album's overall vibe and prowess.
- If technical hair metal were a legitimate genre, this album would be one of the few places it would be allowed to exist and express itself freely (yes, Van Halen, I am in fact looking at you).
Taken at face value, to place Stranger than Fiction
in the same league with the late 80s-early 90s output by top-tier acts such as Toxik, Realm and Annihilator is no exaggeration at all. History and irony, however, have appointed to Forté the less desirable, but no less legendary status of an underground favorite.