By Dave DiMartino
Updated June 11, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

While his ex-partner Jimmy Page gets pummeled by some critics for cloning Led Zeppelin via Coverdale/Page, former Zep singer Plant won’t arouse anyone’s wrath with this wonderfully textured and mature solo album, his best ever. Why isn’t this a retro showcase like Page’s? Maybe because where Page and Coverdale so transparently opted to ape Led Zeppelin’s stooopid factor- blunderbuss guitars, thumping drums, and standard lemon-squeezing howls, Plant knows Zep’s real staying power came via its sonic sophistication, and he provides the same here. You can hear the difference in the sometime jarring blend of acoustic and electric guitars, or the screwily skewed mixture of rock riffs, harmonica and organ on ”Promised Land”: Unlike Page’s sludge-filled opus, Fate Of Nations wasn’t tailor-made to radio format and has modern written all over it. At a time when alternative metal bands really do wish they were Led Zeppelin — when Zep bassist John Paul Jones can proudly produce the Butthole Surfers, of all people — give Robert Plant his due for one ripping album.