I tend to find that the music that strikes me deepest is that which I relate to the most, that which I have in one way or another lived through. Of course, there is always the kick ass tune that gets my blood pumping, or the epic instrumental that scrambles my brain with its intricacy, one of those songs that are designed solely to make me look incompetent in public as I try to rock out it. Then there are those that serve as mere background music as I tend to the more mundane task of life and living. Every once in a while though, there is the album that pushes all that bullshit aside and goes right to who I am. It’s not a rarity by any means, I have had countless albums in my life that have achieved this. Quadrophenia, Clutching at Straws, Subterrenea, and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence all fit the bill. I’ve even reviewed a few here: The Deadstation’s Episode 1, Beyond the Bridge’s Old Man and the Spirit, and The Omega Experiment all come to mind. Another debut album has come out that falls right in line with this group, the stellar first effort from Fanticide, The Fall of Grace.
Fanticide is the one man project of Adami Gordon. All of the instrumentation, with the exception of a few select solos, is done by him. Vocal duties are carried out by a wonderfully talented cast of signers, most of whom the different characters were written specifically for. Initially Fanticide was more just for the sake of music in a variety of styles, but when Adami committed to a storyline and decided to write a concept album, as he says,” And found it to be the most natural writing I had ever done.” Folks, this isn’t just pillow talk. Listening to this album in its entirety, it is blatantly clear that this style of writing is where Gordon feels most comfortable. Fanticide’s Facebook page describes itself as “Creating music that tells a story”, a horrendously gross understatement here. With a bit of attention on the part of the listener, Fanticide is fully capable of drawing its audience into the story of Grace and her struggles with heroin addiction.
Musically, the album falls mainly in the prog rock to prog metal category, though a multitude of other styles are brought into play. If you are looking for the technical prowess and instrumental wankery that a lot of the prog tends to be associated with, you will be hard pressed to find it on this one. The music is solid, structured, and most importantly, it all serves a purpose. There are very few wasted notes on this album, they all add to the color and flavor of whatever trial Grace is facing in the course of the album. From the first song, Corruption of Innocence, the music serves as the scenery for the story. Opening with harmonized vocals, a soft and ominous bass with delicate guitar strums serve as the canvas for our introduction to Grace, sang wonderfully by Maura Murphy(Aura) who from note one to the end of the album makes a solid and passionate performance. She talks of how she feels “no one can know me, no one can see me…”, the typical isolationist attitude of an addict, lost even to herself. Here the Drug is brought in, played by Joel West(Illusion’s Fate), who is brilliant in his haunting performance. This is also where Adami’s writing skill takes hold, using the different characters to portray the different emotions and states of mind of Grace.
To be honest, it’s the overall construction of the album that makes it shine. The blending of the solid musical structure, the play and interplay of the various characters as they portray the different phases of Grace’s struggle, and the intimate and honest portrayal of the story itself. I have more than a passing knowledge of addiction and the struggles involved, and though every case is a life upon itself, the base mechanisms are covered with heart and passion via Grace. The first disc covers the downfall and the seemingly bottomless pit that is addiction. Aside from the opening track, the song Watch Me Fall really emphasizes the really brutal nature of Grace’s descent. A powerful and forceful number musically, with direct and relentlessly pounding chords, the music beats in the hopelessness of the situation, and the use of Guilt(played by Gregory Felton) lays in the total defeat that Grace has submitted to. This leads wonderfully into the second half, and the stronger half in this reviewers opinion.
The second half opens with Intervention, a spoken word piece that alternates what is assumed to be family members laying claim to their part in Grace’s fall as they try to shake her out of the cycle she is trapped in. What they do succeed in shaking loose is Rage(played by Emily Lazar of September Mourning). Lazar, I must admit, is Rage personified, and she nails the outrage felt by what seemed to Grace not only a threat to her addiction, but also the betrayal of her family. In all honesty, the addict will blame anything to protect the addiction, and Rage hits this perfectly. A few tracks later, Fanticide creates perfection in song with Abandoned. This is where Grace is looking for a higher power, a god to help her through her battle. Having fought this battle myself, all I can say is that Fanticide hits this one perfectly, this could have been my song a while back. Moving and powerful, it is Maura Murphy at her strongest on the album, her vocals laced upon Adami’s hesitant and ominous music creates the emotional impact of the scene so powerfully, I am still moved every time I listen to it, especially when the marching tones take over and the Drug creeps back into the story, and into Grace’s life.
There is such a tremendous amount of depth to this story, and it’s all told from a viewpoint of honesty and experience. I can’t divulge into the story too much, for starters I have to leave something for you the listener to discover, and also, the deeper I dig, the more brutally personal the struggle becomes. When a work of art hits home and makes one reflect on their own life, that is art done to perfection. Adami, and his cast of brilliant vocalist, do just this. His intricate and well thought songwriting, his detailed musical structure, and the wonderful performances of all the players, make The Fall of Grace a concept album of tremendous power. This will be a hard debut to top, but I do hope that Fanticide will try, I’d love to take another dive into a story from this brilliant musical mind.
Check out Fanticide’s music at their Bandcamp page here… http://fanticide.bandcamp.com/