Reviewing Flying Colors: Nothing - and everything - you'd expect

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Abr 24 2012, 3h21

Here's nothing you’d expect from a prog supergroup – and yet still it's incredibly satisfying

I was stoked when I first heard about the new prog project called Flying Colors. How could I not be? Some of the biggest names in the progosphere were collaborating in a never-before seen lineup, and the implications were mind-blowing.

We’d already seen what songwriting genius Neal Morse and top drummer Mike Portnoy had created together in Transatlantic and in Neal’s solo efforts. When you add veteran guitar legend Steve Morse and his Dixie Dregs compatriot Dave LaRue, you know they’re brewing something special.

The album met most of my expectations, and circumvented the rest of them by going a completely different and delightful direction.

First, Casey McPherson, the young and relatively unknown vocalist, brings a fresh sound to a genre that, frankly, isn’t known for showcasing vocal talent. His voice is a nice departure from Neal’s somewhat stale delivery.

As for the music, it’s hard to categorize. It’s clearly an amalgam of guitar-based Dixie Dregs style fusion and driving melodic hard rock, Neal Morse style. As the songs progress, it’s abundantly clear who wrote what.

The album’s highlight, Kayla, is an outstanding example of dynamic vocal, guitar and drum interplay, ranging from soft introspection to anthemic climax.

If one track could be considered "epic," it's Infinite Fire, which thoroughly uses up every last moment of its twelve minutes to showcase each player's amazing talents. The overall composition has Neal Morse written all over it, but it also accommodates the band's considerable individual talents. Particularly blazing here is Dave LaRue on the bass.

On a final note, it's clear that the production of Flying Colors was rush job. The label's website (http://mascotlabelgroup.com/mlg/artists/flying-colors/) states that "Parts were selected based on feel, and left raw instead of using the standard practice of extensive digital editing to produce 'perfect' music." As a result, some of the tracks sound rather muddled and tinny.

While Flying Colors can’t be classified as progressive rock in its purest form, it’s brilliant enough to earn a place among the year’s best progressive-related efforts. Here’s hoping this first Flying Colors effort isn’t the last.

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