For a band in existence since 2001, France’s Eternal Flight are not exactly the most prodigious of bands when it comes to making albums, with their latest, Retrofuture, being only their fourth release, coming after 2011’s Diminished Reality, Elegies and Mysteries (also known as DREAMS).
Musically, Retrofuture comes over as a mix of the traditional hard rock of bands such as Judas Priest and Savatage, and the more adventurous and challenging music of Opeth and Dream Theatre. But, for a band who’ve made their name playing melodic power metal, this is an album likely to appeal to fans of Prog rock as well as fans of the power metal Eternal Flight are known for. Songs like ‘Nightmare King II’, following on from ‘Nightmare King’ on their 2011 album, are more prog than power metal, and a song which comes close to being like Nightwish. In parts, this album is an engaging listen, with some fast and hard riffing and the occasional attempt at subtlety, on power ballads like ‘Routine Of Darkness’. All the songs on the album were written by vocalist Gerard Fois, who said of the writing process “..the goal was to be more direct but without losing originality, keeping it complex and melodic but, at the same time, without too many songs over five minutes, and it came like this in a pretty natural process”.
He can’t be accused of not writing about and tackling big themes head on either. Not much moon in June here. The lyrics on this album deal with topics such as Human Emotions (poison, Journey), The End of the World (Pandora’s Box), Sex (Succubus), Genetics and Eternal Life (Retrofuture) and Children at war (Angels of violence).
There’re some good songs on the album, notably ‘Succubus’ and ‘Poison’, and there are some breakneck guitar runs, but what takes the edge off the album is the nature of the vocals. Gerard Fois may write the songs but, for them to be projected, Eternal Flight really do need a vocalist who can carry the tunes. ‘Nightmare King II’ is a powerful track, though Gerard Fois’s vocals simply don’t convey the power of the music. Similarly, on title track ‘Retrofuture’, which wouldn’t look out of place on an early Dream Theatre album. The band also has a keyboard player, but he’s well back in the mix and only on two tracks can he be heard.
It’s unlikely this album will push Eternal Flight any closer to the big league than they already are.