Author Topic: [Music] Michael Abdow - Heart Signal (2020)  (Read 63 times)

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Offline Mebert78

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[Music] Michael Abdow - Heart Signal (2020)
« on: November 18, 2021, 02:08:39 PM »
Artist: Michael Abdow
Album: Heart Signal
Release date: April 24, 2020
Rating: 9/10

If I told you that a guitarist with a legendary progressive metal band released a solo album that was one of the best of 2020, you'd likely think I was referring to John Petrucci of Dream Theater.  But I'm actually talking about the incredibly talented Michael Abdow of Fates Warning, who has shown he can hang with any guitarist in the genre on his latest record, Heart Signal.  Yes, Abdow (or Ab-wow, as I sometimes call him) has most certainly arrived.
Before proceeding, I should note that I'm a big fan of progressive metallers Fates Warning, and I generally love everything its members have done both inside and outside of the band.  However, I was definitely skeptical of the young Adbow when he first joined the group as its touring guitarist in place of longtime axeman Frank Aresti in 2013.  I knew nothing about the baby-faced musician and naturally had little expectation for him, but he swiftly won over me and tons of other diehard fans with his humble demeanor and impressive performances of the band's classic songs.  He also showcased his kick-ass shredding skills with a blistering solo on Fates Warning's 2016 headbanger, "White Flag," as well as his five-star songwriting skills on Ray Alder's solo effort, What the Water Wants, in 2019.  Since then, I've come to expect terrific things from the capable Abdow.  And, if you ask me, the up-and-comer has unequivocally delivered with this splendid collection of eight instrumental songs featuring drummer Shawn Deneault (Santa Mamba) and Tony Franklin (Blue Murder, The Firm).
The disc's first track, "Weight of the World," starts with a slow build and leads to some killer grooves that'll have fans tapping their toes for over 12 minutes.  It's the record's longest song and has everything from soaring melodies to tender elements, such as the sound of laughter from Abdow's baby daughter Nora.  It gives me chills with each listen.  Apparently, this tune illustrates in its four parts the path that a listener might traverse in their own journey through understanding their perceptions in life, according to Abdow.  "The song was difficult to write initially because I didn't understand the direction it wanted to take," Abdow recently told the website antiMusic.  "In my experience, every song writes itself.  It's just a matter of whether or not you as the artist are open to shepherd it home."  Well, the adept Abdow shepherded home this gorgeous gem like a seasoned composer, in my opinion.  Nicely done, Michael.
But the epic opener is only the beginning.  The title track, "Heart Signal," then slows it all down with Abdow's tasteful playing transporting me to a new world.  Next, he continues to demonstrate his versatility and virtuosity in "We Live Here" and "Heavy Drifter," which both have superb music videos.  I recommend checking them out on YouTube.  The former is a mid-tempo rocker with top-notch technical execution by Abdow, while the latter has some sweet keyboard work reminiscent of Jordan Rudess in the instrumental supergroup Liquid Tension Experiment.  Adbow, it seems, can do it all.  But let's not forget the phenomenal contributions of Deneault or Franklin, whose musicianship bring the disc to another level.
Abdow also serves up catchy chugging riffs on "The Hand That Takes," pretty piano parts on "Cherry Blossom Descent," and thrilling finger gymnastics on "Synthetic Origins."  The disc ends with the gifted trio firing on all cylinders amid some tricky time signatures on the very entertaining "Nature of Play."  By the last note, I feel like I've experienced an inner journey, which is actually Adbow's goal.  "The journey is simply realizing all you thought you were, are, and will be is actualized within the present moment," Abdow wrote in the liner notes.
All in all, Abdow cements himself as one of the great guitarists in today's progressive metal scene with Heart Signal.  It also leaves me wanting more from him whether it's through an increased role in Fates Warning or another solo effort from himself or Ray Alder.  Until then, I'll be excitedly exploring his three previous releases.  Keep up the good work, Mr. Ab-wow.

- Michael R. Ebert (
« Last Edit: November 21, 2021, 10:52:21 AM by Mebert78 »
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