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4.06 | 15 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2012

Filed under Non-Metal


1. Blue Ocean (7:05)
2. Shoulda Coulda Woulda (4:32)
3. Kayla (5:20)
4. The Storm (4:53)
5. Forever in a Daze (3:56)
6. Love Is What I'm Waiting For (3:36)
7. Everything Changes (6:55)
8. Better Than Walking Away (4:57)
9. All Falls Down (3:22)
10. Fool in My Heart (3:48)
11. Infinite Fire (12:02)

Total Time 60:26


- Casey McPherson / Vocals, Guitars, Keyboards
- Steve Morse / Guitars
- Dave LaRue / Bass
- Neal Morse / Keyboards, Vocals
- Mike Portnoy / Drums, Vocals

About this release

Released by Music Theories.

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Flying Colors is the self-titled debut album from progressive rock supergroup Flying Colors. The album was released in 2012. Flying Colors features both Neal Morse (ex-Spock’s Beard) and Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater), both of whom make up 50% of another prog supergroup, Transatlantic. The duo has made some excellent prog together in the past both with said band and Neal’s solo albums. Joining the usual partners in crime are Steve Morse (Deep Purple), Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs) and Casey McPherson (Alpha Rev), who is perhaps the most wild card member of the group, being more associated with alternative/indie rock than the other four members with their prog backgrounds.

The music of Flying Colors is primarily progressive rock, but it also draws very much on hard rock. The first two tracks on the album, Blue Ocean and Shoulda Coulda Woulda, showcase both of the sound’s that Flying Colors play, with the first being a progressive rock song of the breed I’d expect of Neal Morse, albeit less symphonic, and the latter being a much more direct rocker. Considering Mike Portnoy’s involvement there are no traces of metal within the album, though All Falls Down comes close. What heavy parts there are in the album are very much hard rock orientated, and the album also has something of a commercial rock feel to it, possibly from Casey McPherson’s influence. I can honestly see fans of popular rock acts like Foo Fighters enjoying what Flying Colors does as much as fans of Neal Morse’s solo prog albums. Metal fans following Portnoy however need to look to his other post-Dream Theater band Adrenaline Mob to find any metal, although for all intents and purposes Flying Colors are the more accomplished and satisfactory project to my ears.

Casey McPherson handles most of the vocals on the album which is another reason why I called him the wild card of the group. With a voice like Neal Morse in the band the logical assumption would be that he would front the group, and I was surprised as any when McPherson was announced as the main vocalist. Neal still performs some vocals on the album, as does Mike Portnoy, but Flying Colors aren’t leaving any doubts about who their frontman is. Against expectations this is a move that has paid off, as McPherson handles the hard rock and progressive rock parts as well as each other, and is an exceptionally gifted vocalist to boot. I do of course love those moments where Neal Morse suddenly bursts out of nowhere just to remind us that he’s there, as in Everything Changes and just to stir things up a bit Mike Portnoy takes a more central vocal role during Fool In My Heart.

A varied and consistent album, Flying Colors as I have already said impressed me the most out of Mike Portnoy’s post-Dream Theater bands, although anyone following him that has been waiting for a new progressive metal band is still waiting in vain. Fans of Dream Theater should find Flying Colors a lot more pleasing than the more simplistic heavy/groove metal of Adrenaline Mob however, and I also expect fans of the other musicians in this group will also find it an excellent album, I just focus on Portnoy because I write for metal sites, for people who are most likely most interested in what the ex-Dream Theater drummer is up to these days. No matter the perspective I take though, Flying Colors worked together really well as a supergroup and an exceptional rating for their debut is easily deserved.


(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven ( on 09/09/12)
Ever since Mike Portnoy left Dream Theater, he has been jumping to band and projects like a flea sucking the blood out of a family. His first bit of music drumming on Neal Morse's Testimony 2 was flawless as ever. His other project Adrenaline Mob was a bit of a bland metal band esque project, but I do admit, there was some not too bad songs.

Now this one was a bit different. When hearing of the project, I had known mostly all the guys involved except for Casey McPherson (and the bassist...but no one cares about the bassist, unless it was Geddy Lee or something). So I listened to Alpha Rev, and being a lover of pop music, I really loved his band, and especially his singing voice, so I knew a pop influence would be very much present in this album.

So yea...pop and prog can be a bit of a mixed bag. But to me...the popiness of prog at times is what makes me love it as a genre. And this album proves it.

This band basically has the perfect formula. Casey McPherson is an amazing lead vocalist with a voice that automatically grabs your attention. Mike Portnoy is one of the best drummers on the planet. Steve Morse is one of the greatest guitarists on the planet. Neal Morse is the most underlooked songwriters in the prog community and his keyboard skills are always overlooked and he's a genius in my opinion (good to know there is no Jesus babble on this album). And the bassist, bla bla bla.

The songs speak for themselves. The songwriting is just incredibly strong with no flaws. Nothing feels forced and every song is different, with the album showing many different styles. I enjoyed this album so much, and it definitly is one of the best albums released this year.

1. Blue Ocean ? A great opener to the album. Quite a powerful track with some great vocal moments. 9/10

2. Shoulda Coulda Woulda ? This song surprised me, especially at how much of a "rocking" song this is. Such a great chorus. Bit cheesy, but totally worth it. 10/10

3. Kayla ? One of the best songs on the album. One of the catchiest songs on the album and one of the tracks of the year in my opinon. 10/10

4. The Storm ? A bit of a chessy ballad, but it's still pretty cool. A nice chorus...still very cheesy though. 9/10

5. Forever In A Daze ? One of the best songs on the album in my opinon. Such a killer song and such a rocking moment of the album. Very kick ass song in my opinion. 10/10

6. Love Is What I'm Waiting For ? This is a very Beatle-esque song, and to me it's a bit annoying. It's alright I guess, but a bit too cheery for me. 8/10

7. Everything Changes ? A nice longer and more interesting moment on the album. Pretty intricate song at parts. 9/10

8. Better Than Walking Away ? One of the best ballads on the album in my opinion. Such a great chorus and some amazing vocals from Casey. 10/10

9. All Falls Down ? Now this song surprised me. A prog metal song on the album with some dramatic Queen moments. And hearing fast double bass pedals was rather interesting. 10/10

10. Fool In My Heart ? Sometimes when Mike Portnoy does some lead vocals, it grinds my gears a little. But this surprisingly was rather nice. 10/10

11. Infinite Fire ? A great epic ender to the album. Sadly I would've liked a little bit more of a poppy edge to it, but it's interesting to hear Casey tackle a prog epic. 9/10

CONCLUSION: I really wasn't interested in this album at all. Then I listened to it. And now I will eat my hat. Nom nom nom. (p.s. I hope these guys make another album)

With a star-studded lineup of progressive rock veterans and a talented young frontman, the debut effort from American supergroup Flying Colors quickly became one of my most anticipated releases of 2012. The premise behind this project was rather interesting - putting a pop singer alongside virtuoso instrumentalists is bound to produce interesting results, and Flying Colors is certainly a unique album, especially considering what may be expected from the musicians involved. The presence of members and ex-members of Spock's Beard, Transatlantic, Dream Theater, Deep Purple, and Dixie Dregs would lead me to expect something in the jazzy progressive metal spectrum, but the album instead sounds like a meeting ground between alternative rock, hard rock, and modern progressive rock. Although a few aspects of the album may have fallen a bit short of my expectations, Flying Colors still stands as a very fun and impressive listen.

For those unfamiliar with Flying Colors, this project was conceived by producer Bill Evans in 2008 with the intention to create 'new-fashioned music the old fashioned way'. This idea eventually evolved into Flying Colors - a band consisting of Mike Portnoy on drums, Dave LaRue on bass, Neal Morse on keyboards and vocals, Casey McPherson on lead vocals, and Steve Morse on guitar. If you're anything like me, your 'prog senses' should've immediately started to tingle as you read that lineup - and rightfully so. This is a supergroup of truly monumental proportions, but as it turns out, this fact is a bit of a two-fold. On one hand, you'll most certainly be treated to top-notch and highly professional musicianship, but on the other hand, many listeners may have unreasonably high expectations. I think I went into Flying Colors expecting a masterpiece on par with the best material from Spock's Beard or Dream Theater, and while this isn't the case, I don't think that was the intention of the musicians either.

Flying Colors is deliberately different from any of its members' main projects - the listener here will be treated to an interesting mix between alternative rock-influenced melodies, heavy riffs, and progressive rock flourishes. Although Flying Colors would not sound out of place in the collection of a fan of classic progressive rock, it's a much more 'modern' sounding effort than anything you may have expected from the musicians involved. This is a very melodic, song-oriented album that brings groups like Muse to mind, but the bluesy guitar flourishes and proggy outbursts do set Flying Colors apart from anything else I can think of. While the album may not be flawless, I do think that the musicians attempted something unexpected with this project, and they did so with a pretty good hit-miss ratio.

Where Flying Colors feels a bit too much like a 'side-project', however, is in the songwriting department. Although the entire album is certainly well-written from an objective point of view, Flying Colors rarely aims for the level of excellence that one may expect from this observation. Apart from the energetic opener "Blue Ocean", which features some spectacular vocal melodies, and the brilliant closing epic "Infinite Fire", most of the album feels rather safe and homogenous to these ears. That's not to say that this is a poor record by any stretch - actually, the vast majority of the album is quite good (though I could've easily done without the banal pop melodies in "Fool In My Heart"). Flying Colors simply lacks the brilliance that one would expect from such a project, and while there may not be much to complain about apart from the rather predictable melodies, I can't say I was blown away by the debut effort from Flying Colors.

Flying Colors simply feels like a lot of missed potential to me - if the band expanded a bit more upon their strengths (like the jazzy guitar sections, hard rocking riffs, and progressive song structures) and left behind some of the decidedly homogenous pop melodies, this debut could've felt a lot more worthwhile in my eyes. That said, a lot of this is a matter of personal preference, and I know quite a few folks who enjoyed this one more than I did. Flying Colors is an interesting experiment with some untapped potential, but with a bit more refinement, I could see this collective producing some excellent music in the future. Let's hope that we get to hear more from this quintet in the coming years!

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