“Memoirs Of A Broken Man” by FUTURES END is one of those typical Progressive Metal albums in the vein of DREAM THEATER. Needless to say, these guys know how to handle their instruments, but like so many times before, I feel that an album in this genre has other issues to deal with. I appreciate that FUTURES END have kept the tempo up throughout the record, as low tempo is the surest path for a progressive album to fall into mediocrity. The issues that I mentioned are still present, though, and they concern the lack of directness. Thankfully, “Memoirs Of A Broken Man” is not the kind of Progressive Metal record that gets completely fragmented because experimental rhythms are constantly disturbing the melodies. The problem is not entirely absent, though. Even if the drumming is fairly restrained, that unpredictable structuring of songs that dominates this genre is present and it makes sure that many of the songs never find any real flow.
The guitar-work consists of a lot of worked-through riffing and many solo parts. Overall, it is nicely done, but the song-writing problem I complained about earlier mainly comes from the guitars. I like the bass, though. It is allowed to come to the forefront once in a while and it has a nice, compact sound to it in every song.
Sadly, I am not overjoyed with the vocals either. The vocalist uses his high register a bit too much. Not in the Power Metal falsetto way, but a bit like James LaBrie. FUTURES END’s vocalist Fred Marshall draws out a majority of the tones and goes higher in the register in the end of most lyrical lines. This vocal style also adds to general lack of coherence.
The opener “Relentless Chaos” may be the best of FUTURES END’s own songs, as they find a good rhythm and some speed to work with there. The best song on the record, however, is the cover of the IRON MAIDEN classic “Powerslave”. In that song, there is much more directness and drive from the beginning and therefore the skills of the FUTURES END members can be appreciated much more. The fact that a bonus track cover is the best song reveals that there is need for more interesting song-writing, even if “Memoirs Of A Broken Man” avoids some of the pitfalls of the Progressive Metal genre.
(Online May 15, 2010)