In Second Nature, Flying Colors entering their 'casual dating' phase. Just as Mike Portnoy metaphored "... the first album (Flying Colors) was very much a blind date,.. now we know each other and have much more chemistry..." . Now be aware of what they called 'chemistry'. Second Nature is completely different game. The casual dating produced more hardcore prog materials by the quintet. They are still remained the same, Mike Portnoy, Morse and Morse, together with LaRue and Casey McPherson. This is the album for those who loves each of them, from DT fans to Dixie Dregs to Ayreon-like in Neal Morse's style.
"Open Up Your Eyes" is worth a note to see how progressive material may came out from their collaborations since it is in staggering 12 minutes long. This one very much Neal Morse in style. A thick keyboard leads, follows by Portnoy power drumming. Of course Steve did not stay there for nothing, he is not letting Neal get all the fun. Every notes still sounds very Steve Morse, but it is good to see him 'forced' to played in different water. Dave LaRue himself, found nothing 'new' on this as he already done it millions times, perfect groove perfect fill in every moments. The ending of this song sounds like a homage to the Dream Theater traces, perhaps Portnoy's idea.
"Mask Machine" on other is a lighter song. Casey is now backed with the McCrary Sisters to produced this ambitious song where they try to reproduced old '80s cartoon like sounds. The same distortions sounds repeated on "Bombs Away", and again away from their two previous songs. "Bomb Away" is closer and closer to rock song, with vocal came as leading voices. Duo Morse in panning distortion is also a feature here. Now, "The Fury of My Love" is closer to Dream Theater works. There is James LaBrie-things in the vocals and Jordan-things in the keyboards. Just another weird 'chemistry' from them.
"A Place in Your World" , not trying to make it up, but this sounds Steve Morse. The intro at least reminds us to Steve Morse solo portfolio. "Lost Without You" is a lovely tunes, my favorite simple song from this album. You got original drum leading song, nice song writing on this one. "One Love Forever" , a sliding guitar song in folk dancing rhythm, interesting if you got these guys doing it. And at least one dark theme song in "Peaceful Harbor", this is kind of emotional ballad we have. And at least one epic for the ending. It's like the end of jamming session, "Cosmic Symphony" is a must material where Neal, Steve, Mike, Dave unleashed their musical passion, with an interruption of Casey ever haunting vocals.
Second Nature is their casual jamming materials we might expected. It's different from their debut, where song are more vocal in nature. Second Nature come as prog in front. Good news on that, a bit of down notes is we think this albums sounds too Neal-Mike projects. Hard to evade since the duo already in several projects, in Neal Morse band and Transtlantic. As ending note, we urge Portnoy to produced his other pet project too, The Winery Dogs.
Favorite songs: all, "Lost Without You", "Open Up Your Eyes", "Mask Machine"
Metal Harem class: ********** nine stars out of ten
Flying Colors - Second Nature (2014)
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1. "Open Up Your Eyes" 12:24
2. "Mask Machine" 6:06
3. "Bombs Away" 5:03
4. "The Fury of My Love" 5:10
5. "A Place in Your World" 6:25
6. "Lost Without You" 4:46
7. "One Love Forever" 7:17
8. "Peaceful Harbor" 7:01
9. "Cosmic Symphony
I. "Still Life of the World" — 3:15
II. "Searching for the Air" — 2:58
III. "Pound for Pound" — 5:33"
Steve Morse – lead and rhythm guitar
Casey McPherson – lead vocals
Neal Morse – keyboards, vocals
Dave LaRue – bass guitar
Mike Portnoy – drums, percussion, vocals
The McCrary Sisters – background vocals on "Peaceful Harbor" and "Cosmic Symphony"
Chris Carmichael – strings on "The Fury of My Love" and "Peaceful Harbor"
Shane Borth – strings on "Bombs Away"
Eric Darken – hand drums on "One Love Forever"