In David Cronenberg's 1986 classic remake "The Fly", scientist Seth Brundle (played by Jeff Goldblum) radically scrambles his molecular DNA with that of a common housefly during an experiment in teleportation that goes horribly awry. When the two occupants of the telepod disintegrate - then reintegrate in an adjoining pod - the end result is a fusion of man and fly.
In nuclear physics, nuclear fusion is a reaction in which two atomic nuclei collide at a very high rate of speed and join to form a new type of atomic nucleus.
And in musical terminology the word fusion is applied to the mixing of genres like jazz, funk, rhythm and blues, and rock, creating a sub-genre commonly known as jazz/rock fusion.
Now remaining within the field of music - specifically progressive rock - lets apply the basic principle of fusion with the nightmarish scenario of Cronenberg's movie and cram members of the British bands IQ and Arena into Seth Brundle's teleportation device along with the Swedish band members of Anekdoten and Anglard.
When the smoke clears what emerges is a fusion of bombastic neo-prog and ominous doom drenched atmospherics ... a Fatal Fusion.
Fatal Fusion is an exceptional crossover/neo-progressive band from Oslo, Noway. The band members include: Knut Erik Grøntvedt (vocals), Erlend Engebretsen (keyboards), Stig Selnes (guitars), Lasse Lie (bass), and Audun Engebretsen (drums and percussion).
Fatal Fusion draws their inspiration from an amalgamation of progressive and heavy metal pioneers of the 70s' like King Crimson (quite evident in their heavy use of the ominous Mellotron throughout the recording), Genesis, Camel, The Nice, Kansas, Pink Floyd, Rush, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin; 80s' neo-prog groups like IQ, Arena, Pallas, Pendragon, Spock's Beard, Magnum, and Fish-era Marillion; prog/metal groups like Dream Theater and Iron Maiden, plus the rich and moody textures of Sweden's Anekdoten and Anglard.
"The Ancient Tale" is the second release from Fatal Fusion. Their well received 2010 debut "Land Of The Sun" got the band nominated for Best Debut Album by Prog Awards, and helped to establish Fatal Fusion as one of Norway's up and coming prog/rock bands.
And now with the 2013 release "The Ancient Tale" Fatal Fusion can close the gap between themselves and Norway's other established rising stars Wobbler, Gazpacho, Magic Pie, and Airbag.
Although Norway seems to export the greatest number of black/prog metal artists, they also have a history of producing some excellent progressive bands like White Willow, Arabs In Aspic, The Windmill, Kerrs Pink, Lucifer Was, The Third And The Mortal, Fruitcake, and a personal favorite The Brimstone Solar Radiation Band. There must be magic emanating from Norway's midnight sun.
The music on "The Ancient Tale" combines elements of 80s' arena rock, jazz, blues, heavy metal, a bit of funk, 60s' psychedelia, and pastoral symphonic prog ... once again the word fusion comes to mind.
Keyboardist Erlend Engebretsen surrounds himself with an arsenal of keys recreating the classic analog keyboard sound of 70s' era prog: Mellotron, Hammond organ, and soaring MiniMoog. My first inclination was that he was using analog keys but after watching a few clips on YouTube that's not the case. But let me assure you, what-ever keyboard and faux Mellotron sample he is using is imperceptible from the real thing. And probably a damn site more dependable.
The coarse vocal style of Knut Erik Grøntvedt has more in common with vocalists of alternative grunge bands like Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilot or Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam than we're usually accustom to hearing from prog-rock bands.
If you like thunderous epic prog, "City Of Zerych" is like a Boris Vallejo sword and sorcery painting come to life - complete with conquering warrior hero and vanquished Evil Lord.
"The Divine Comedy" is an extended instrumental with a varied tapestry of shifting moods and regal majesty, accentuated with grandiose Mellotron choir washes, soaring synths, and inspired guitar from Stig Selnes. Very cinematic in scope.
"Tears I've Cried" has a great Pink Floyd "The Wall" vibes running throughout. About midway through the song a beautiful acoustic guitar and harpsichord duet adds an unexpected Baroque flavor to the tune before ending with a flourish as Grøntvedt's impassioned vocals are reminiscent of Procol Harum's Gary Brooker.
Two words that aptly describe "The Ancient Tale" are 'power' and 'passion'.
The commanding gruff vocal styling of Knut Erik Grøntvedt provides a very unique signature to Fatal Fusion's spin on symphonic prog.
"The Ancient Tale" is retro without sounding stale, and should gain favor among aficionados of cinematic epic prog.
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on April 3rd, 2014