Monday, June 17, 2002 @ 8:37 AM
(Metal Blade Records)
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On their self-titled first offering a couple years ago, Engine proved a side project involving prominent musicians from previously established bands could create their own identity and push the envelope that much further than their past would allow.
Superholic picks up where it left off and wastes no time building speed by way of four-on-the-floor riffing and disturbing thought patterns. Far flung from their "classic" metal motifs, individually, Engine is four talented musicians that have achieved excellence in their own right and, unlike the many "side" projects that materialize on a whim, die out with a whimper and are never heard from again, the foundation's here for future success and creative excellence.
Superholic is atmospherically deviant from its own predecessor, which is to say as much of a leap as the original was in '99 from listener expectation, this one's a step further out into modern rock elementalism and individualistic performing talent -- Alder's vocals remain a highpoint in low places, a defiant departure from the soar and swoon technique that first set Fates Warning a new standard, again, he doesn't fail to impress. "Losing Ground" opens with a resurgent groove and rhythmic gut punch that'll meet head on and blast through Corporate Rock makeovers, while "The Perfect Star" highlights the melodic mid-tempo strength all participants have previously drawn from; “Superholic” is a whisper to a scream standout housed in staccato-like suddenness that slowly draws you in then goes for the throat the minute your back's turned-and amongst their finest in backup vocs.
Here's one for the highlight reels -- an unsuspecting cover of The Cure's "Fascination Street" from their classic Disintegration, and further indicative of the diversion and diversity Engine seeks to accentuate as they bully an otherwise innocent child of a song with Pantera-like blows! They opted to include behind the scenes photos in place of lyrics which is a detriment, as often, Alder's vocs are buried behind a wall of sonic fury.
There are fleeting moments of compassion, however, in and around and occasionally altogether for the two-plus "I Am" ballad, yet we need not be reminded of the more chaotic persona unleashed once the pistons start firing. Superholic is a vibrant and vicious visionary of a record that artfully manages ability with modernity, something very few have successfully accomplished.