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Fair To Midland - "Fables From A Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True" (CD)

Fair To Midland - "Fables From A Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True" CD cover image

"Fables From A Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True" track listing:

01. Dance Of The Manatee
02. Kyla Cries Cologne
03. Vice/Versa
04. The Wife, The Kids, and The White Picket Fence
05. April Fools and Eggmen
06. A Seafarer's Knot
07. A Wolf Descends Upon The Spanish Sahara
08. Walls Of Jericho
09. Tall Tales Taste Like Sour Grapes
10. Upgrade^Brigade
11. Say When

Reviewed by on April 23, 2008

"Fair to Midland has more in common with alt-rock bands, such as Trapt or Hoobastank, than any metal act, but 'Fables From A Mayfly' is worth a listen just to hear Sudderth sing."

Dallas' Fair to Midland was signed to Serj Tankian's Serjical Strike label in 2006 and released their major label debut, "Fables From a Mayfly," the following year. Their sound can best be described as prog-rock with metal influences, despite being named best metal act by the Dallas Observer in 2007. They recently completed consecutive North American tours opening for Chevelle and Serj Tankian and are scheduled to play the Rock Im Park festival in Germany this summer.

"Fables from a Mayfly" opens with the first single, the guitar-driven "Dance of the Manatee," which displays lead vocalist Darroh Sudderth's impressive vocal range. He seamlessly transitions from soaring vocals to low growls throughout the song and may be one of the best new vocalists in rock music. The keyboards and guitars serve as a backdrop for Sudderth's vocal acrobatics, alternating between mellow verses and power chord driven choruses. By the time one has listened to the third track, "Vice/Versa," the band has established a heavy-soft-heavy formula throughout the album that is only interrupted by the eclectic, circus-like ending to "April Fools and Egg Men." "Dance of the Manatee" ends up being the standout track from the album, as the rest of the album blends together like chapters in a book, fitting given that the lyrics read like old time fables.

Guitarist Cliff Campbell and Matt Langley on the keyboards create complex soundscapes that complement Sudderth's singing, particularly on "A Seafarers Knot," where the use of digital delay guitar combined with keyboards builds a wall of sound. Guitar solos are absent from the album with the exception of the final track as Campbell focuses on arpeggiated rhythms interspersed with nu-metal style riffs. The bass and drums are forced into the background but closer listening reveals some fine musicianship on the part of Jon Dicken and Brett Stowers. The closing song, "Say When," highlights the strengths of the band, beginning with a synth intro and slowly picking up the tempo with some tremolo guitar and great interplay between the bass and the drums, before fading out with a haunting doom metal-inspired ending.

Fair to Midland has more in common with alt-rock bands, such as Trapt or Hoobastank, than any metal act, but "Fables From A Mayfly" is worth a listen just to hear Sudderth sing. The band's live shows are highlighted by Sudderth's on-stage antics and his vocal range is just as impressive in concert.

Highs: Darroh Sudderth's striking vocal abilities carry this disc.

Lows: The group's formulaic songwriting gets wearisome at times.

Bottom line: Intricate instrumental work combined with superb vocals make this album worth listening.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)