As a popular and increasingly crowded form of progressive music, the realm of prog metal has expanded far beyond it’s underground roots, now flowing into parts of the indie mainstream. Bands like TesseracT, Animals As Leaders, and Periphery have all captured the hearts of listeners who otherwise wouldn’t have much to do with the prog metal scene. For it’s concentration on feeling and atmosphere over everything else, there have been legions of bands that have come to try their hand at fashioning some Prog metal of their own; some going on to do beautiful things, but many falling into a passive state of mediocrity. Hailing from Pescara in Italy, young metallers Fake Heroes show a measure of promise beyond many of their peers, and although this charming debut album has a fair deal of flaws to its name, there’s the undeniable feeling that with a little extra polish, this talented act could do amazing things.
Throughout the course of the band’s sophomore album Clouds, Fake Heroes cycles through sounding like alot of the giants that made the genre so popular to begin with. While the sound here isn’t incredibly unique however, Fake Heroes impresses with some very keen performing skills. The fact that such young artists can put a cohesive piece of work together is a feat all its own. Each musician here is very inspired at playing his respective instrument. On a particularly impressive note is the skilled percussive work of Michele Santoleri, who for such a young musician, earns alot more emphasis and attention for his work than many other established drummers in prog. The guitars and bass work here is a bit more conventional for the genre, but very well done. Soaring guitar atmospherics of the trio Gianni Vespasiani, Simone Del Libeccio and Francesco D’Amario tear through the sound, being held down tightly by the catchy bass playing of Francesco Gentile.
The songwriting here ranges from decent to excellent. The TesseracT-style ambiance of “Visionary World” is a beautiful opener to the album, and leads in well to “On the Hill,” which is one of the most catchiest tracks here and most accessible, thanks in no small part to the sensible rhythm section. “Lifelong Addiction” is a pretty typical prog metal track, but packs some nice guitar beauty into the five minutes. Next is by far the most energetic and peppy track; “Skyline.” Here, the pumped up speed works quite as well as the reflective pace of the other tracks, and it’s a interesting dose of caffeine on the album.
Anyone who has looked at the track listing and will instantly have their attention caught by the existence of the title track. While the prospect of such a piece is obviously exciting, the reality is that “Clouds” did seem to do what the title suggests; it lulled with into a drowsy state. The almost five minutes tune has quite a few very powerful sections; the track feels like the most cohesive piece, and there is nothing to be added here. “As The City” does leave off on a good note however; the last few minutes are greeted by the introduction of some very nice violin flourishes which add to the epic feel that seemed to be lacking throughout a fair deal of the track.
Following such a piece is generally a very difficult task for a song to accomplish. Ironically, the following “Beast Inside” doesn’t only merit more love from me than the title song it trails, it is without a doubt, my most loved piece on the album. Wearing the influence of rock legends Alice in Chains on their sleeve, Fake Heroes fashions a rocking piece that truly would not sound out of place as a song on one of Alice in Chains’ albums. With an organic production quality that seems to evade the rest of the album, it seems clear that if Fake Heroes continues to delve out pieces of quality like this one, they will eventually have a masterpiece on their hands.
As it stands, Fake Heroes has crafted an impressive recording with their second album. While prog metal does seem to be an increasingly tired style of music, this band definitely deserves recognition for their work, and despite not having found a unique voice for themselves yet, each member of the band proves through their skill that they have what it takes to make a real mark on the scene.
Clouds by Fake Heroes is available now from Bandcamp.