"Superholic" (Metal Blade; 2002)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

I was pleasantly surprised when I heard Engine’s self-titled debut back in 1999 which I basically termed "hard rock without pretentiousness." That statement remains true for Engine’s second effort, "Superholic."

Again, I find it somewhat odd and disconcerting that I am listening to Ray Alder's voice in a decidedly non-Fates Warning kind of sound. Alder's trade of supple vocal lines of his performances in Fates Warning for the powerful force of his voice in Engine is quite the trick. Alder's vocals are up-front and center on nearly every single track, often pushing the tracks to new spaces and occasionally pulling the songs back to more familiar areas. Alder reins in the force of his vocals in numerous spots ("I Know" is a prime example along with "1 a.m.") to allow the songs and lyrics to take on added dimensions. While I always think of Alder's best performance as the one he provided for "Perfect Symmetry" back in the late '80s I certainly appreciate what he's providing for Engine. 

But Engine isn't just about Ray Alder. Bernie Versailles lends his considerable guitar skills to both songwriting and performances. As with the 1999 debut, Versailles tackles a wide variety of hard rock forms without succumbing ancient clichés or recent trends – quite the feat. Versailles manages to find grooves for all of the tracks and fits in perfectly with the rhythm section of the incomparable Joey Vera and steady Pete Parada. Tracks like "Save Me" and "Home" find the foursome of Engine humming like a well-oiled machine.

Curiously, a cover of The Cure's "Fascination Street" is added – I say 'curiously' because it smacks you right upside the head and leaves you wondering whether or not The Cure's song has been hijacked and transformed into something new without losing the impact of the original.

"Superholic" is a solid 'sophomore' effort from these metal veterans who have created something different and engaging outside of their regular bands.

"Superholic" will often find a place in my CD player.

"Superholic" was produced by Joey Vera.

Engine is Ray Alder on vocals, Bernie Versailles on guitar, Joey Vera on bass, and Pete Parada on drums.

For more information visit http://www.metalblade.com/bands/Engine/

"Engine" (Metal Blade; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Ray Alder's side project, Engine, is a hard rockin' debut that leaves overt progressive roots behind, yet still manages to throw a few curves at the listener. As a member of Fates Warning, Ray Alder has always taken a backseat in the songwriting department to allow Jim Matheos' work to take center stage. Ray Alder's chance in the sun as the primary songwriter with Engine is not wasted - Alder is ably assisted by his current Fates Warning bandmate Bernie Versailles in crafting crisp nuggets of glorious sound and emotion.

If you like hard rock without pretentiousness then Engine should meet every high expectation that you might have without falling too hard for trendy sounds. One of the most interesting things about listening to the disc is that it is odd to hear such a familiar voice in a different setting. Hearing Ray Alder outside of Fates Warning throws the brain's synapses for a loop. Overall, the music has a much heavier groove than recent Fates Warning, yet the impact of the disc is more insightful than melancholy.

"Monster" opens the proceedings with grand emotional impact - fear and desperation are evident in Alder's voice while Versailles flexes his musical chops. The somber "Falling Star" shows Alder at his most vulnerable while the emotional "Bear Your Cross" provides ample opportunity for Alder to let his voice be an instrument in its own right.

"I Don't Need" is a fairly straight ahead rocker, yet the vocal delivery is twisted enough to gratify Fates Warning fans looking for something left of center. The rhythm guitar of "Teach Me" sounds a bit like the Deftones, but rocks in its own special way. "Alone" and "Taste" are solid, yet unspectacular.

Alder's greatest vocal performance on the disc is "Tree Of Life." The music fills every crack and crevice while the vocal melody simply engulfs every available auditory space. Alder gets great mileage from his expansive and flowing delivery of the line "If you were born another time" which describes the roles destiny and fate play in the circumstances that create us. The sledgehammer heavy "You're Awake" ends the disc in slamming fashion.

Engine is Ray Alder on vocals, Bernie Versailles on guitar, Joey Vera on bass, and Pete Parada on drums. Alder is the vocalist with Fates Warning; Versailles is the rhythm guitarist with Fates Warning but has worked previously with Agent Steel; Vera is the bassist for Fates Warning and has previously worked with Armored Saint and Lizzy Borden; and Parada has worked with hardcore rockers Face To Face. 

Joey Vera adds production and engineering credits to his resume and does a good job keeping the band energized and focused - this results in a kinetic motion and a tight performance. The incomparable Bill Metoyer handled the mixing duties; Metoyer has worked with Slayer, Trouble, Fates Warning, Flotsam & Jetsam, Corrosion Of Conformity, and Sacred Reich.

Visit the Metal Blade homepage at http://www.metalblade.com or Engine's section on the Metal Blade site at http://www.metalblade.com/bands/engine to learn more about Engine's debut effort.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Revised: 17 Jul 2022 13:29:13 -0400 .