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I was seriously disappointed when Mike Portnoy parted company with Dream Theater, such was his contribution to, and enthusiastic presence within, the band. And, for me, music aside, he was always the sincere and charismatic backbone of their public face. However, the increasingly prolific musician's post-DT output has consistently impressed, so had he not left said band, he wouldn't have been able to spread his musical wings as much as he has into other areas of diverse sonic expression. And we probably wouldn't have this gem of a band, within which he plays alongside other luminaries - namely, Dave LaRue, Neal Morse, Steve Morse and Casey McPherson.

Following on from the eponymously titled debut two and a half years ago, their sophomore full-length offering has been appositely named 'Second Nature'. Mixing up prog rock idioms of yore with a more contemporary, forward-thinking dynamic, 'Second Nature' is loaded with melodically wondrous charms. Songwriting of the highest order reigns supreme throughout, and the band's players have succeeded in crafting a fine balance between their virtuosic skills and compositional accessibility. Songs' twists and turns (be they time signature changes, stylistic divergences, or refined bursts of virtuosity) are blended to perfection within the compositions. I'd say this is partly due to the melodically absorbing nature of the material (strong, original melodies are prevalent during the entire album), and partly because of the discernible musical chemistry between the highly skilled players. These are men who have been there and done it many times over; they all know the score and don't need to prove their virtuosic worth... albeit this is virtuosity exemplified. In other words, if you can play your balls off through technical mastery without actually drawing attention to such, then that's of far more worth and affectively engaging than in-your-face virtuosity. And the interplay between each musician is stunning, and stunningly natural; their musical chemistry shines through each and every song.

I've always made a distinction between generic and genuinely progressive music - that is, music that imitates prog motifs from back in the day, and music that continues to actually progress something. Flying Colors sit somewhere between the two camps. However, prog semantics aside, what resides at the core of 'Second Nature', and its true essence, is some amazingly penned tunes and the refined execution of these; so the actual nature of its progressive proclivities is of little relevance. This is emotionally moving and engaging music to be enjoyed on its own captivating terms. Impressive stuff.
Music Theories Recordings
Review by Mark Holmes
6th October 2014
1) Open Up Your Eyes
2) Mask Machine
3) Bombs Away
4) The Fury of My Love
5) A Place in Your World
6) Lost Without You
7) One Love Forever
8) Peaceful Harbor
9) Cosmic Symphony
"...the interplay between each musician is stunning, and stunningly natural; their musical chemistry shines through each and every song."