Ray Alder
II


3.3
great

Review

by Trey STAFF
June 15th, 2023 | 13 replies


Release Date: 06/09/2023 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ray delivers another chill solo release where the main focus is on his voice.

What can be said about Ray Alder that shouldn’t already be known? He’s responsible for the second phase of Fates Warning’s career which has spanned the last thirty-five years, so far. He is the voice that saved Redemption from being just another musically adept prog band with a questionable vocalist, transforming them into the powerhouse they have become today. A multi-decade career supporting those two bands should be considered prolific already, but he has found time for a few side projects as well, including his modern metal band Engine and the more traditional hard rock vibes of A-Z (featuring Mark Zonder on drums). Despite all of this, he also managed to release his first solo album a few years back. What the Water Wants was a departure from Ray’s more metal-oriented releases, but it was still really good. With Fates Warning going on hiatus (I refuse to believe they’re finally broken up), Ray has returned with his second solo album; the creatively titled II.

II features the same band line-up as his previous solo album, including touring Fates Warning guitarist Michael Abdow who once again wrote all the music for this solo release. If you heard Ray’s previous solo release, you pretty much already know what to expect – low key modern hard rock that mostly just serves as a vehicle for Ray Alder’s vocals. If there is a difference, it is that the riffs are chunkier, groovier, and heavier while still somehow managing to convey the same chill energy as What the Water Wants. The other difference is that II seems to lack that intangible feeling of experimentation I felt on the first solo album. While the first album wasn’t groundbreaking by any means, the cyclical bass lines and chill arrangements made it feel different enough, but the more traditional songwriting and chunkier guitar sound of II just makes the music feel… well, normal. Fortunately, the focus here is Ray Alder.

Any fan of Ray’s vocals should know that what truly sets him apart from other prog vocalists is the depth of emotion he brings to his performances. His voice almost always retains an intimate quality that resonates throughout whatever music he is singing over, including the songs on this album. On songs such as the seven-minute closer, “Changes”, his emotive delivery evokes a wide range of emotions, from sorrow and anguish to elation, he is able to deliver a profoundly cathartic experience. Elsewhere, on heavier tracks such as “Waiting for Some Sun”, he delivers a grit that was rarely used in Fates Warning or Redemption. Essentially, if you’re looking for an album showcasing Ray Alder as a vocalist, you’ve come to the right place – as the name on the album might suggest. Throughout this album’s fifty-one-minute runtime, Ray’s voice dominates the proceedings; from the emotive verses to catchy choruses, Ray is the star of his own show.

Ray Alder stands as one of the most prolific vocalists in the realm of progressive metal. His ability to combine technical prowess, emotional depth, and versatility makes him a true force to be reckoned with. While II might be a little more conventional than his previous solo release, Ray’s voice is still able to carry every song and make the listening experience worthwhile. Whether you're a fan of Fates Warning, Redemption, or simply a lover of catchy performances, exploring Ray Alder's II should be a must. Hopefully, though, when his third solo release comes out, he opts to play things a little less safe.



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user ratings (13)
3.3
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
June 15th 2023


20212 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4 | Sound Off

I had a hard time with this review. There wasn't really a lot to say, but I wanted the album to have something, at least.



Waiting for Some Sun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbOoZjzO_HM

Changes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMi63L5GgDg

Titan
June 17th 2023


24926 Comments


Good review Willie bro!

I will listen to this tonight, hope it’s better than Water, which it sounds like it is. I know I enjoyed the opener more that anything on that one…

Titan
June 17th 2023


24926 Comments


fun fact: 3 songs in a row all with the same 5:51 run time

Willie
Moderator
June 17th 2023


20212 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4 | Sound Off

Personally, I like his first solo album more... but not by much. They're both very safe and conventional, which is slightly disappointing, but they're still good.

Titan
June 17th 2023


24926 Comments


After one listen, I think I like this one better, but not by much. Agreed Willie, safe indeed. Unfortunately, I don’t anticipate a long shelf life.

Willie
Moderator
June 17th 2023


20212 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4 | Sound Off

No. There are a few songs on his last album that I come back to from time to time, and I can see multiple listens of "Changes", but overall I think he needs to do more next time. I stand by the rating, though.

Titan
June 17th 2023


24926 Comments


I'm pretty much agreeing with you

ChaoticVortex
June 17th 2023


1580 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sure its not hitting the heights of a Fates Warning album but I'll take anything with Alder's voice. Solid album.

Willie
Moderator
June 17th 2023


20212 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4 | Sound Off

Just to be clear, the "No" was actually agreeing with the part saying, " Unfortunately, I don’t anticipate a long shelf life." It should have said, "No, I don't think there will be."

--Sure its not hitting the heights of a Fates Warning album but I'll take anything with Alder's voice. Solid album.--

Agree with all of that. If nothing else, the Fates Warning break has spawned a lot of Fates Warning spin-off projects.

Titan
June 17th 2023


24926 Comments


'If nothing else, the Fates Warning break has spawned a lot of Fates Warning spin-off projects'

Yes but is this a good thing? Can you honestly tell me that you're able to sing an A-Z song in your head? He had the mighty Z for that one but it still isn't very good.

Willie
Moderator
June 17th 2023


20212 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4 | Sound Off

Z is the best part of that album, ha ha. It seems like they all had 'prog fatigue'. None of them have done anything too flashy.

Titan
June 17th 2023


24926 Comments


Indeed he is the best part. I do like some of these songs on here. Perhaps 1 or 2 of them will be playlist worthy…

Willie
Moderator
June 17th 2023


20212 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4 | Sound Off

All but "Keep Wandering" when on my "4-Star" playlist. That's pretty much my shuffle playlist that only plays songs I've rated four stars or above (in case it wasn't blatantly obvious).



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