Although the female-fronted German band Effloresce released this EP back in 2009, Shades of Fate is currently being promoted, probably in connection with the upcoming release of their debut album Coma Ghosts which will hit the streets in February this year.
And I am actually sympathetic towards this strategy, because this EP does not deserve to be cast into oblivion. Taking their starting point in the type of progressive metal for which Dream Theater and Fates Warning paved the way two decades ago, Effloresce delivers progressive metal with a Gothic touch. Sacrificing some of the technicality of performance that characterize many acts in the progressive metal universe in the name of mood and emotional expressivity, Effloresce have produced a fairly original piece of work in Shades of Fate.
Now, the complexity is there. I mean the average song length is around ten minutes, and every song is complex in structure and full of moves and passages, some of which are aggressive, some of which are darkly psychedelic, some of which are mellow, some of which are lush, some of which are minimalist, and some of which are more in the vein of alternative metal. Thus, the three tracks are quite dynamic and rich in expression, and there are complex time signatures other advanced elements plus non-metal element such as the use of the flute, which appears in 'Sunset in the Snowdome'. So, there is no doubt that this is complex and progressive metal for the thinking person, but it never becomes too technical or too quirky and, consequently, quite accessible.
There are no major flaws on the album. The vocals, I must admit, do not appeal to me, as they are mostly on the soft and gentle side. A personal preference of mine when it comes to female vocalists in metal is more rockish vocals, and there is not a lot of belting on this album. Still, Nicki Weber is a very talented vocalist, and she does a good job with the vocals (she actually does a lot of death growling on the EP), and no-one can take that away from her.
One thing that is a problem, I think, is that the production seems a bit imbalanced with the guitars and drums being really loud - which is perhaps one reason why the vocals come across as weak every now and then. It should be mentioned that the bass is audible, so we are not dealing with an ...And Justice for All-case here. And, I think that a lot of people will actually like the unpolished sound of the album.
Sophisticated and dynamic, Shades of Fate is a fine and quite original progressive metal release which should appeal to both fans of progressive metal and Gothic metal. If Coma Ghosts is going to be along the lines of Shades of Fate, then things definitely look promising.
1. Birds of Prey
3. Sunset in the Snowdome