Fates Prophecy - 24th century 3.5/5
1. Welcome to the dark future
3. Blessing way
5. 24th century
6. Beyond good and evil
7. Life circle
9. Heart, faith and braveness
10. Rock you like a Hurricane (bonus track)
Iron Maiden. You really can't be a metalhead and not love them. That's like being a cook and not enjoying food, or being a veterinarian and not liking animals. Rooting for Iron Maiden may be akin to rooting for Coca-Cola, the New York Yankees or U.S. Steel, but let's be honest: We all love Iron Maiden. But the fact that we all love Iron Maiden doesn't necessarily mean that we all love the myriad bands who have borrowed from, copied, or (to put it charitably) been influenced by 'Arry and the boys. Which brings us to Brazil's Fates Prophecy, who are almost a dead-ringer for straighter post-reunion Maiden throughout their 3rd CD, '24th Century'. The Cliff Notes version of this review is that if you love Iron Maiden (which as we've established, everybody does) and if you enjoy bands who pattern themselves closely after Maiden, then Fates Prophecy is a mandatory purchase.
Now let us dig below the surface a little bit. Fates Prophecy initially found their way into my stereo back in 1998 with their debut, 'Into the mind', which was one of the better Megahard Records releases. Both that CD and its successor, 'Eyes of truth', were solid slabs of Maiden-inspired Brazilian metal, but then the band vanished following the untimely demise of vocalist Andre Boragina. Only recently did I learn that Fates Prophecy released a 3rd full-length CD on Brazil's Hellion Records in 2005. On this '24th Century' release, guitarist/chief writer Paolo Almeida and his bandmates elevate the intensity of their Iron Maiden worship considerably. The most striking change is in the vocal slot, where new guy Sergio Vaga takes over for the late Boragina. To say that Vaga sounds strikingly close to prime era Bruce Dickinson would be an understatement, to the point where he even effectively captures Dickinson's mannerisms, ad-libs, and phrasing. Yes, there's also a bit of Joe Comeau (Liege Lord, Annihilator) in Varga's voice, but he's a fantastic Dickinson clone. Everything about the guitars screams Murray/Smith, from the old-school, thin tone, to the riffs to the harmony parts. There's a riff on here that sounds like a variant of the main riff in "Nomad". Other riffs call to mind "Wickerman" and songs of that ilk, and the harmony parts in the few faster tunes bring to mind the halcyon days of the Murray/Smith tandem. Stalwart 4-stringer Alexandre Ferreira has the Harris bass technique down pat, and drummer Sandro Muniz does a credible Nicko McBrain bit.
The songwriting also borrows heavily from the Steve Harris playbook. But which aspect of Iron Maiden, you ask? Thankfully not the interminable 9-minute epics weighed down by pointless intros, of which Maiden have grown inexplicably and unduly fond of late. Sadly not the frenzied, high-octane period of 'Number of the beast'/'Piece of mind'/'Powerslave'. Instead, what we have here is a collection of straightahead midtempo rockers, hovering in the 4-5 minute range, with just one epic 7-minute tune, replete with pointless gentle intro. In general, Almeida and his cohorts do a good job of crafting compelling hooks and arrangements that are sure to put a smile to your face, but (like their idols) Fates Prophecy have a tendency to be a bit too repetitive with their choruses, which are repeated ad nauseum in nearly every song. The funny part of this CD is that after 45 minutes of unadulterated full-on Maiden tribute, Fates Prophecy close out this recording with a cover song from ... wait for it ... the Scorpions ("Rock you like a hurricane"). How's that for a curveball?
I've always felt that the most effective Maiden clones (if you will) are the bands that took the Iron Maiden blueprint and added their own special twist to it. Wolf's early CDs blended a burst of adrenalin, an unabashed sense of recklessness, and a penchant for Mercyful Fate with their Iron Maiden adulation. Aria incorporated Eastern European melodies and Russian lyrics into their brand of Maidenisms. Finland's Machine Men went with the 'Chemical wedding' vibe rather than the usual 'Powerslave'-isms. What individual stamp do Fates Prophecy place on this work? To be honest, not much. Everything on here (with the exception of the Scorps cover) reeks of Maiden. They ape their heroes quite well, don't get me wrong, but the total lack of independent creativity renders Fates Prophecy a tribute band in everything but name. Given the band's obvious talent, I'd love to see them inject some element of themselves into their next CD, melding the full-on Maidenisms with some Brazilian fire and power to create a sound all their own. For now, I'll recommend '24th Century' with the caveats outlined above.
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