As The Joker kicks in on the back of an atmospheric intro, it’s easy to dismiss Chicago-based Fire Garden as just another decent prog metal band with a good tune, operating in the wake of the mighty Dream Theater.
The guitar sound of linchpin member Zee is uncannily Petrucci-like, the keyboards suitably Rudess-esque, the drumming quite Portnoy-ish. Keep listening, however, and you’ll think again. Over the course of Sound Of Majestic Colors the band draw on a much wider pool of influences, and their music begins to reveal real depth and range. There’s a touch of Porcupine Tree about Alone, a suggestion of latter-day Spock’s Beard in Endless Memories (gorgeous acoustic guitar solo here) and in the ballady Far from Grace. Even when the band settle into a more metal groove there are occasional hints of Dio-era Sabbath, and a bit of Metallica too. This is Fire Garden’s first ‘full’ album but, with a balanced and well-honed production and a lead vocalist who plays to his strengths, they sound like a far more experienced band. This is a dramatic sonic, compositional statement from some gifted performers. GMM