FABULAE DRAMATIS — Solar Time's Fables (review)

FABULAE DRAMATIS — Solar Time's Fables album cover Album · 2017 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
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Fabulae Dramatis are a multi-national, Belgium-based avant-garde/progressive metal band formed in 2011. Their theme is story-telling through lyrics the myths and and beliefs of world cultures. Fabulae Dramatis was founded by Colombian-born Isabel Restropo when she recruited Hamlet of Transport Aerian and Colombian-born guitarist Daniel Dias to work on some material she had originally written while performing in a metal band in Honduras. Along with a host of guests, they released their debut album "Om" in 2012. Five years later, with a six-piece band in place, the sophomore album "Solar Time's Fables" was released.

With a bigger budget and two producers, the sound of the new album was seen as improved over the first. In my opinion, the album's sound quality is terrific. In fact, such quality is necessary to capture the charm of Fabulae Dramatis' music. Metal at heart, the band explore well beyond the traditional confines of a metal album by incorporating various instruments such as sitar, harmonium, saxophone, and djembe. But that's only part of what makes the band's songs and music special. On this album, there are four lead vocalists: Wesley Beernaert (growls and clean vocals), Isabel Restropo (classical/operatic vocals), Isadora Cortina (classical/operatic vocals and harsh vocals), and Hamlet (clean and harsh vocals). With each vocalist providing two different vocal styles, the songs benefit with a variety of voices and vocal expression. So, with a triad of diverse vocals, diverse instrumentation, and heavy metal, Fabulae Dramatis have established themselves as a band doing things differently. One could also point out some hints of Hamlet's prog noir style emerging here and there.

The first four tracks, showcase the band's metal side but with their other two talents strongly represented, particularly in the vocals. "Agni's Dynasty (Fire I)" was the first single and has a video on YouTube. For me, these first four tracks are an excellent welcome to the band and brings me back to the growled vocal style that I really got into the previous year. From "Sirius Wind" we take the first of many steps outside of metal. Clean guitar and saxophone are joined by bass and drums and then Isabel's vocals. There's almost a Renaissance (the band) feel to the song yet in an eerie and mysterious tone.

"Coatlicue Serpent Skirt (Earth)" opens with a suggestion of something different yet again but after 55 seconds the guitar leads us into another metal rocker with soaring vocals. Then there's "Nok Terracottas (Mud)", a short but once again haunting track with Isabel's beautiful voice and her whispers, "Sculptured figures talk". The song is a second diversion and although it is short, it is welcomed.

"Forest" is an instrumental track which is soothing and interesting. We get to hear Isabel's sitar playing on here. This is followed by "Roble Para El Corazon (Wood)" with an accordion intro and a kind of southern European serenade that becomes a bit more metal as the song progresses but still the melody of that accordion keeps its place. "Smoke for the Clouds (Anhuiran's Water)" reminds us that the band is very capable of being a melodic death metal band when they are up for it.

The final track "Barren (Gravel)" features some excellent vocals by Hamlet plus a duet by both classically trained women. It is slow, mournful, and powerful.

"Solar Time's Fables" has a terrific balance of metal and exotic sounds. Each song is created with some connection to an old myth or story, and as I mentioned above, having the variety of vocals on this album really adds to the freshness and intrigue. Unfortunately, "Om" is not easy to find on CD, but the download is available. I've been enjoying "Solar Time's Fables" for the last few weeks now and the album continues to captivate me.

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12 months ago
The first album should be rather different from the second. "Om" was recorded with band members and guests sending in recordings from all over the globe. Hamlet (bass/vocals), who is also a producer, was asked to produce the album but stressing the avant-garde side of the band. For "Solar Time's Fables" a six-piece band was formed and they collaborated in the studio together. As well guests contributed but this time outside producers were brought in and the album was given more emphasis on the metal side. Whether you will like it or not, I cannot guess, but the two albums are different.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
365 days ago
I do know many but you've been doing a great job at reviewing bands i don't! I listened to their first album last night. It has issues. Hoping the second is better :)
365 days ago
Looking at your reviews, Mike, I know you know way more bands than I do. And yet the prog and metal universes are just so expansive. It's often overwhelming to think of how much good music remains undiscovered.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
1 year ago
Sounds interesting. Yet another band i've never heard of!

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