FLYING COLORS — Flying Colors (review)

FLYING COLORS — Flying Colors album cover Album · 2012 · Non-Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
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)
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