Album Review ? A Chinese Firedrill: Circles

As latter-day Fates Warning drifted further from traditional progressive metal, so, too, did band bassist Joey Vera. In fact, collaborations with ambient-rock artists such as OSI and Chroma Key have propelled Vera in challenging new directions. There’s even a song on Circles, his latest solo album, subtitled “Ethereal.”

By issuing Circles under the odd moniker A Chinese Firedrill instead of his own name, Vera (who sings and plays all instruments, save drums) maintains a comfortable distance from his association with Fates Warning, as well as Armored Saint and Anthrax.

Circles spins an array of vintage and contemporary influences ranging from Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel to Porcupine Tree and Tool. Rooted in organic instrumentation with the occasional David Gilmour-inspired guitar solo, these songs swirl around Vera’s dusty vocals, which recall Kevin Moore (OSI) and Ty Tabor (King’s X). And despite averaging longer than seven minutes each, they never seem to run out of sonic ideas.

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