|Musical Style: Gothic Progressive Metal||Produced By: The Trauma Team & Jeff King|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2007||Artist Website: Fountain Of Tears|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 54:55|
The gothic progressive metal group Fountain Of Tears can trace its roots back to the Christian metal scene of the late eighties and early nineties. Drummer Joey Daub, for example, was a member of the groundbreaking thrash band Believer, performing on the critically acclaimed releases Extraction From Mortality (1989), Sanity Obscure (1990) and Dimensions (1993). Guitarist Mike Didonato made his mark in Sacrament by appearing on its thrash influenced 1990 debut Testimony Of Apocalypse. Erik Ney was part of Sacrament as well, handling bass guitar duties on Testimony Of Apocalypse in addition to the 1992 sophomore effort Haunts Of Violence. Finally, keyboardist Jeff King was involved with the power metal outfit Sardonyx at the time of the recording of its 1994 debut Majestic Serenity.
Fountain Of Tears did not get its start until 1995 when it was founded by Erik Ney and Jeff King. With Mike Didonato, Joey Daub and vocalist Anna DeRose later rounding out its line up, Fountain Of Tears recorded the progressive hard rock of its independently released self-titled debut EP in 1999. (The EP is actually made up of 10 songs with the first five featuring DeRose on lead vocals and the same five following as instrumentals.) After the departure of DeRose, however, a new vocalist in Vonnie King (R-Angels) was recruited in late 2002 prior to the band recording a five song demo a year later. With a stable line up in place, Fountain Of Tears soon began work on its very fine 2007 full length release Fate.
Fate finds Fountain Of Tears taking a foundation of progressive rock and metal and imbuing it with dark and haunting gothic sensibilities. The end result can best be described as lush, sweeping and atmospheric, an inspired effort showcasing a sound certain to attract the interest of fans of other female fronted groups such as Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation and Nightwish. The brilliance of Fate, nevertheless, resides in its perfectly subtle melodies, the likes of quality mid-tempo tracks “Corruption”, “What Lies Ahead”, “Forever Lost”, “Jasmine” and “Fate” all giving rise to a more than ample amount of draw you in appeal. The intricate progressiveness of “Desire”, “Within My Fears” and “Ten”, at the same time, hold up equally well and stand in perfect complement to the albums instrumental pieces “Weeping Sky”, “A Descent Into The Maelstrom” and “Entropy”.
Vonnie King is a wonderful vocalist who helps to give the band its signature ethereal sound, putting forth a fitting performance that comes across powerful but inauspicious at the same time. Didonato furnishes just the right amount of rhythm guitar to push things into metal territory but not so much as to become overriding. His fluid and at times showy lead work brings out the best in several standout tracks, including “Desire”, “Falling” and “Forever Lost”. Jeff King adds the atmospheric touch on keyboards, always highlighting – particularly with his graceful use of piano – but never taking a precedence over the music. Joey Daub joins his technical style of drumming with the steady bass lines of Erik Ney to round out the rhythm section.
Production values are of a professional quality with a mix allowing all the instrumentation to cleanly stand out.
Lyrically, the material on Fate is based mostly on dreams or fantasy storylines and, as a result, is open to interpretation. Topics covered include relationships, panic attacks, the death of a friend and the struggles of life.
Instrumental album opener “Weeping Sky” commences to a door squeaking on its hinges followed by a piano and a thunderstorm raging in the background.
“Corruption” slowly toils ahead to a balanced blend of piano and rhythm guitar, not picking up in pace until gaining a hold of a chorus advancing at a scintillating upbeat tempo. Vonnie King really shines here with her gut-level vocal delivery. “Corruption” seems to be talking about an individual struggling with an addiction:
Demand release from all the wretched poison they have fed to you
It’s nothing new, it doesn’t hurt but now it’s dripping down your…
Soul is fighting to evade destruction
Set it free while you still can
Gradually fading in over its first thirty seconds, “Falling” progresses in smooth sounding fashion prior to acquiring an angelic chorus shored up by a highlighting touch of double bass. An orchestral instrumental section is carried by a fluid run of lead guitar. “Falling” deals with experiencing panic attacks:
All the lights are ablaze in my eyes I can’t see
What will keep me from falling into the sky
I can breathe only if you are here next to me
Like an angel you melt all my fears away
A pounding torrent of rhythm guitar initiates “What Lies Ahead”. Settling down to an even mid-tempo pace for its first verse, the song incrementally moves on to a flowing chorus in which an enticing environment is put into place. This is quite the melody filled number with a hook you will be challenged to rid of your mind. A broken relationship is the subject matter here:
Is it really you or is it me
Is it really gone or am I free to be
Can I walk away and still be whole
Is that piece of me still lying there inside your soul
“Forever Lost” starts to a thunderstorm that transitions to a piano. The song proceeds to flow ahead in a keyboard driven manner, the rhythm guitar not steeping forward until a chorus of a resplendent variety is obtained. An emotionally played guitar solo shores up a lengthy instrumental section. Beautiful song. “Forever Lost” also focuses on relationship issues:
I wish that I could give you hopeful thoughts
I wish I could calm your fears
But I am drifting away from where you are
In this cold light of inquiry
“Desire”, a complex track standing out with its numerous time changes, bounces back and forth between passages moving in a rollicking and up-tempo direction and those that reflect a laid back if not tranquil feel. Several seconds of the albums best lead work helps put this one over the top.
Keyboards drive the haunting instrumental “Descent Into The Maelstrom” its full length.
“With My Fears” opens quietly to an ethereal trace of piano and keyboards only to gain momentum as a crisp rhythm guitar kicks in. Gently plodding ahead in measured steps, the song transitions between passages of an atmospheric nature and others in which the rhythm guitar plays a commanding role. My interpretation of “With My Fears” is someone attempting to hide from reality:
Where do I belong – Where do I belong
Down in the earth in the dark of the night
I descend from my world into my cave
I climb from my hole reaching ever in vain
For the coming of peace into my soul
An ominous amalgamation of keyboards, drums and narration holds sway over the introduction to “Ten”. Once the rhythm guitar takes over, however, the song proceeds to navigate a maze of creative time changes, some that put in place an authoritative and impassioned setting while a more sublime aura is exuded in others.
The instrumental “Entropy” is sustained by an acoustic guitar backed by keyboards, the two continuing to lead the way as “Jasmine” gets started. Following a swirling rhythm guitar moving to a forward place in the mix, the song continues to slowly drift ahead until impetus is gained for a quickly moving chorus reflecting an infectious but temperate ambience.
“Fate”, the albums longest piece at just over seven minutes, begins its first minute and a half to ringing bells that soon give way to a melding of piano and keyboards. An edgy rhythm guitar enters the mix at the start of the songs first verse, carrying things forward with a punctuating touch until procuring a chorus standing out as a result of the inspirational manner in which it is delivered.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Weeping Sky” (1:25), “Corruption” (5:22), “Falling” (4:41), “What Lies Ahead” (5:16), “Forever Lost” (6:05), “Desire” (4:57), “Descent Into The Maelstrom” (1:01), “With My Fears” (5:44), “Ten” (6:05), “Entropy” (1:08), “Jasmine” (6:02), “Fate” (7:07)
Vonnie King – Lead Vocals
Mike Didonato – Guitars
Keyboards – Jeff King
Bass – Erik Ney, Jeff King
Drums – Joey Daub