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CD REVIEW: Fate's Maze - Gothic Dreams

By: Cyrus Rhodes



Artist: Fate’s Maze

CD: Gothic Dreams

Label: Independent Artist

Website: http://www.fatesmaze.com/

Genre: Classic Rock, Jam Band

Sounds Like: King Crimson, Chris DeBerg, Elvis Costello

Technical Grade: 8/10

Production/Musicianship Grade: 6/10
Commercial Value: 5/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 7/10
Performance Skill: 6/10
Best Songs: Happy Enough Song, Hideaway, Whatever

Weakness: Winded songs, winded catalogue, Engineering aspects (Mix), Dated Sound



Fate's Maze is based in the Twin-Cities metro area of Minnesota in the USA. The name "Fate's Maze" is a metaphor for life. Life is a maze. Your path through life is determined by the choices available to you (circumstance) and the choices you make (free will). The music is melodic, dramatic and thought provoking. Songs range from the more standard structure & instrumentation for rock/metal to the more unconventional, including some spoken word and sound effect samples for dramatic effect.

The CD kicks things off with “Thinking of You” a rocking intro piece that serves up steady rock rhythm, against infectious vocal vibe with catchy vocal groove from Carlson. Track 2 “I love the Nights” keeps things moving with methodical piano driven intro against soothing beat painted against hooky melody, and a brilliant melodic vocal performance. This coupled with mesmerizing lyrical content makes for a very interesting musical statement. Track 3 Nosferaru” serves up psychedelic blues-rock groove that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition with hypnotic musical flow against a grand slam chorus. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical soundscapes reminiscent of such classic acts such as Chris De Berg, King Crimson, The Flaming Lips, Elvis Costello, Beck, and even Nick Cave, and R.E.M. Right from the start you will notice rich musical textures overflowing everywhere, full of passion, variety and strong melodic structure. The songs themselves are addictive, and packed full of zany and entertaining lyrical content and subject matter that simply cannot be faked. The music itself is an impressive blend of rock, alternative rock with just a dash Industrial and Ambient Rock. Along the way besides the typical 4 piece standard you will notice well placed percussive accents and electronic beats, impressive sampling touches, piano, organ, keyboards, solo guitar, well placed harmonies all built on a solid low end rhythm section foundation. Carlson makes no attempt at sugar coating the truth via his music, instead he lets it all hang out with reckless abandon and trippy lamentation. His voice works well within the confines of this upbeat yet psychedelic catalogue. I might add he takes some impressive vocal risks throughout the CD as well. No doubt Carlson can hold his own vocally, as I didn’t fail to notice a few well-placed harmonies and impressive falsettos that lets it all hang out. Enter Carlson’s musicianship and production virtuoso - equally as impressive. From striking Gothic Dreams” to rocking “The Viking Age” to dynamic “Find a Way” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 14 “Night Rising” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber. I especially enjoyed the 4 cover songs on the CD: Kings and Queens”, Paint it Black,” The Prophet”, and “Castle Walls”     

This is not the best mix I’ve ever heard. More specifically the vocals sound extremely loud, odd and disproportionate to the rest of the music. I kept reaching for the volume knob because the vocals sat so hot within the mix. Overall the CD sounds a bit amateurish and all over the place on my high end speakers and lacks continuity track to track, Looking now at the liner notes it was Tracked and  Mixed by one entity  (Audio Addiction). This is typically a big “no no” in the recording Industry. Each production phase must be handled by a separate music professional in order to maximize the checks and balances between engineers. The impact this will have on the overall production value cannot be overstated. All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. I also noticed a few timing issues throughout. Some of the aforementioned issues are not typical for Gold Standard CD releases. Many of aforementioned including a dated sound effect the CD's overall marketability.

Gothic Dreams by Fate’s Maze is an impressive musical production from start to finish. It’s strong suit – the amazing creative genius of Tim Carlson. He possesses enough musical talent and songwriting prowess to be extremely dangerous. The music is clean, goes down smooth, and is full of amazing musical soundscapes that come at you from every direction. The messages are passionate, honest, and amazingly witty - all from a brilliantly zany perspective. The true meaning of some of these songs is buried deep within the lyrical content and is not so easily pinned down the first listen. I really admire artists out there who are themselves and just let the chips fall where they may. Praise goes out to the artist that can show us something real and genuine beneath their veil of vanity. Fate’s Maze is one of those artists/bands.

Cyrus Rhodes


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