When you’re in a “big” band (I am guessing here given that I have never been possessed with anything remotely resembling “talent”), it must get quite restrictive. Certainly, Fate’s Warning’s various members have all dabbled in side projects. Jim Matheos has given us with the wonderful Kings Of Albion, with Steve Overland, Jory Vera has collaborated with everyone, and now Ray Alder, the band’s singer, is stepping into the spotlight with his second solo album, simply titled “II.”

Once again, Alder has joined forces with guitarists Mike Abdow (a touring member of Fate’s Warning) and Tony Hernando (of Lords Of Black), but this album delves much deeper into personal and revealing territory compared to his previous work. The tracks on “II” showcase a range of emotions, that maybe weren’t there before.

“This Hollow Shell” sets the tone with its brooding verses that explode into a chorus, accompanied by a masterful guitar solo. “My Oblivion” presents an intriguing mix of dark verses and an AOR chorus, creating a captivating contrast. In “Hands Of Time,” there’s a sense of underlying unease that permeates the song.

“Waiting for Some Sun” begins with a stripped-down opening but gradually introduces a modern tinge, displaying Alder’s versatility. Surprisingly heavier than expected, “Silence The Enemy” delivers a punch, juxtaposed neatly by “Keep Wandering” which takes a gentler approach, showcasing Alder’s prowess in balladry.

With “Passengers,” the album takes on a widescreen feel, effortlessly creating an epic atmosphere. And finally, “Changes” ensures the album concludes with its most intricate and longest piece,

But what drives an artist to embark on a solo project? Is it not simply a desire, a need to create? In the track “Those Words I Bled,” Alder sings, “It becomes a burden I can’t share,” expressing the weight of his creative process. “Those words I bled, until my heart runs out.” So, what does a songwriter do? They lay it all on stage, capture it on tape, and share it with the world. That’s precisely what Alder has accomplished with “II.”

Rating 8.5/10

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