Much like the character of Greek mythology, Fixed fate’s narratives on “Icarus” feature protagonists trying to rise above their lot in life with varying degrees of success. The bluesy nature of the album lends to its appeal for these stories of the downtrodden, the lost souls searching for meaning. His poetic lyricism works wonders and his voice conveys entire lifetimes with such ease. Stylistically rooted in the blues, he incorporates elements of grunge, metal, folk, and hard rock into a cohesive fiery whole. By far the soul of the album rests with the undeniable talent of Jon Bessette, whose vocals and guitar work simultaneously define the sound.
Fixed fate draws heavily from Alice in Chains, in particular their “Jar of Flies” era output. Jon Bessette’s anguished, mournful voice incorporates lessons learned from Layne Staley. Subject matter too oftentimes has a darkened beauty behind it while the stately riffs ride on high behind it. Dense layers swirl about in a fantastic haze which can range from the intimate to the anthemic, sometimes within a single song. An awe-inspiring range also takes a bit from elements of early metal, such as Master of Puppets Metallica for, like them, these pieces grow and unfurl into regal processions. Whatever the precise influence, these songs remain their own, with Fixed fate’s only demand that they be played loud in order to appreciate their sheer force of nature zeal.
A spacious western affect opens the album up with the intensity of “The Degenerate”. Vocals seem to rise above up into a seemingly endless geography. Guitar work proves to be pure fire for the mixture of the electric and the acoustic make it a colossal undertaking. With “A Perfect Circle” a spirit of contemplation takes hold, as the feeling of togetherness radiates throughout. There’s almost a hint of hope within the verses, but it always remains just a glimmer. The dreamy hues of “Route 29” capture big sky country perfectly with its endless opportunity and simultaneous suffocating enormity. Reassurance ties together the intimacy of “Safe Travels” by far the beating heart and soul of the album. Never rising up in volume there is a steadiness to it, a hypnotic trance to the acoustic guitar.
Rhythms keep on growing and growing until they consume everything in their path on the wild-eyed mania of the aptly named “Flying Through”. A crazed laugh seems to weave itself through the chaotic energy of “The Tar Pit” with its mixture of calm and industrial churn, never neatly falling one way or the other. Underpinning the acoustic with sheer electric fury is the nimble finale of “Pennies” where Fixed fate has it both ways – both the spaghetti western affect alongside elements of paranoid thrash thrown in for good measure.
“Icarus” reveals a tremendous amount of talent for Fixed fate and prove them to be a band worth paying attention to.