Fates Warning - Topic

Fates Warning - Topic

Parallels [3 Disc] Play

Possibly Fates Warning's biggest commercial if not artistic success, 1991's Parallels was ironically also the closest the Connecticut natives ever came to sounding like their nemesis, the wildly popular Queensrÿche. Of course, most old-school fans were none too pleased about the group's increasingly concise and restrained songwriting style, but this change actually represented an important sign of maturity (if in a reverse kind of way), as it proved that the band was learning to appreciate the merits of forgoing wild showmanship in the best interest of a seamless, well-constructed song. As such, excellent singles "Eye to Eye" and "Point of View," along with beautiful power ballad "We Only Say Goodbye," brought the band more radio and MTV exposure than ever before, or after. And in keeping with tradition, the band still whipped out a few extended compositions ("The Eleventh Hour," "Life in Still Water") more in tune with its progressive metal past (and future). While definitely not the most representative album of Fates Warning's classic sound, Parallels remains an ideal first purchase for fans of traditional '80s metal. [In 2010 Metal Blade reissued the album in a Deluxe Edition with a bonus CD featuring six live tracks from the Hollywood Palace in 1992 and six more pre-production demos of album tracks. In addition, there is a bonus DVD that includes a documentary on the making of Parallels, videos for "Point of View" and "Eye to Eye," and an entire live show from New Haven, CT, in February of 1992.] ~ Eduardo Rivadavia & Thom Jurek, Rovi

The Spectre Within Play

Although Fates Warning was beginning to create their own sound as a metal band, they were still not a progressive band at this point. The bombastic pounding, dueling guitars, and falsetto singing defined this genre perfectly. Metal fans may enjoy this more than Night on Brocken, especially "Pirates of the Underground" and "The Apparition," but there is very little, if anything, for the progressive fan. ~ Robert Taylor, Rovi

Disconnected Play

Fates Warning reached a milestone in their career with the progressive metal classic A Pleasant Shade of Gray in 1997, a session that produced unyielding critical acclaim. The same acclaim should be granted for the impressive Disconnected. Guitarist/founder Jim Matheos has brought back the band's heavy sound, obviously influenced by Rammstein, which brings an added intensity. Their cerebral, moody approach continues to evolve producing fresh music unparalleled in a style filled with Dream Theater clones. Drummer Mark Zonder outdoes himself here adding to his growing reputation as a drumming legend that too few have heard of. The atmospheric keyboards and bass are supplied respectively by Kevin Moore and Joey Vera (who are not pictured with the band) who are apparently part-time members. Their contributions are equally as important here, in particular Moore who is to the band what Lyle Mays is to the Pat Metheny Group. He is equally capable of grand feats of virtuosity or creating multi-layers of atmospheric moods. Not to be overlooked is producer Terry Brown who has done for Fates Warning what he did for Rush in the '70s. This is a significant effort by perhaps the most important progressive metal band of all time. Highly recommended. ~ Robert Taylor, Rovi

FWX Play

There may be four years separating FWX from the last Fates Warning album, Disconnected, but the progression between the two releases is as fluid as the gap between the their 1988 metallic peak No Exit and 1997 progressive extreme Pleasant Shade of Gray is wide. Both of those career highs come to mind when listening to FWX, "Stranger (With a Familiar Face" and "Simple Human" in particular are distilled from a blend of No Exit's heaviness and Pleasant Shade of Gray's expansiveness. The ten-minute progressive excursions of Disconnected have been reigned in, but make no mistake, this is still a progressive affair, especially on the equally lush and pummeling "River Wide Ocean Deep" and "Heal Me," which make up for their less-than-progressive running times with aggressive riffs that make a welcome return to Fates Warning. Give Jim Matheos, Ray Alder and crew credit: there are few bands that have been around as long (twenty years for founding member Matheos and sixteen for vocalist Alder) that produce albums as consistent or inventive as FWX. ~ Wade Kergan, Rovi

Awaken the Guardian Play

Still singing about witches and devils, Fates Warning remained a metal band despite claims that this was their first progressive recording. Their aggressive sound remains from the first two efforts, and the song structures are too rudimentary to be called progressive. From this session one classic did emerge, "Guardian," a song that is still requested at their live shows. Progressive fans can skip this one too; however, metal fans are encouraged to pick it up, as it is a closet classic from the underground metal years of the '80s. ~ Robert Taylor, Rovi

Perfect Symmetry Play

This was the recording that established Fates Warning as a progressive band. Their metal influences still dominate the group's overall sound; however, Mark Zonder's unique approach to drumming adds another level of depth and credibility to the music. His double bass, odd-time introduction to "Part of the Machine" is the session's defining moment, "Through Different Eyes" is a catchy song that provides insight into the band's future pop/metal direction, and "Static Acts" still stands as one of the most aggressive songs the band ever recorded. Ray Alder's aggressive singing has a genuine quality which allows him to legitimately convey his anger and pain without sounding clichéd. "A World Apart" is one of the weaker songs here; however, there is some impressive odd-metered drumming from Zonder. "At Fates Hands" has become one of the band's classic songs, and for good reason. The incorporation of the violin and piano provide a refreshing change from the overall metallic sound. While Alder and Zonder prove here that the band is capable of achieving many different moods and sounds, the instrumental section of the song reveals that both Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti are still dependent on their metal guitar style. The most powerful song in terms of lyrics, singing, and playing is "Nothing Left to Say," which stands as the band's high-water mark. An historic recording in the progressive metal genre. ~ Robert Taylor, Rovi

No Exit Play

Usually regarded as the finest release from Fates Warning's early years, when their progressive leanings were tempered with no small amount of classic metal riffing, No Exit is a typically difficult album to come to grips with. As was often the case on prior releases, the band has a hard time reconciling its ruthless experimentation with the need to construct coherent songs, leading to any number of awkward passages in which melodies and riffs are recklessly spliced together. Still, the album is another step forward, and tracks like "Anarchy Divine," "Shades of Heavenly Death," and "In a Word" rank among the best of their career thus far. Side two is entirely taken by the daunting "The Ivory Gate of Dreams," which at over 20 minutes and eight separate parts, finds the band in its most extreme and complex progressive metal mode. Like his predecessor, new vocalist Ray Alder's piercing screams are something of an acquired taste (coming off like a less disciplined version of Queensrÿche's Geoff Tate), but the rest of the band perform to their usual high technical standards. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi

Night on Bröcken Play

A very humble beginning for this excellent progressive band. Only a couple years removed from high school, they were strictly a metal band at this point, and "Damnation" is the only song that has remained in their catalog from this session. Early recordings such as this one are the reason their name conjures up the image of a metal band. [The 2003 re-release contains a 1984 demo version of "Last Call," a live rendition of "Kiss of Death," and rehearsal recordings of "The Calling" and Iron Maiden's "Flight of Icarus."] ~ Robert Taylor, Rovi

Darkness in a Different Light Play

Progressive metal pioneers Fates Warning finally make their return to the music world with their 11th album, Darkness in a Different Light, released nine years after their last full-length. A lot has changed in the metal world since their last outing, as best highlighted by the band's switch from longtime home Metal Blade to German prog label Inside Out. With the advent of progressive extreme metal, technicality has become more the norm in the metal world, with bands pushing their playing to the limits on a regular basis. And while these bands have no doubt benefited from Fates Warning's aggressive influence on the metal world, they've lost sight of some of the classical elements of the genre. With Darkness in a Different Light, the band rolls back the clock to bring us back to a time when songs felt more like sprawling compositions than theoretical math problems, slowing things down to let the music take on a life of its own as the songs build. This creates a feeling of drama and tension that makes the songs more than just musical thought experiments on the limits of human guitar heroics. While Darkness in a Different Light has a sound that definitely dates the band, it's good to see Fates Warning continuing to do their own thing. For some bands, the impulse to try chasing down the pack might lead to a real disaster of an album, but given how far ahead of everyone else they started out, their return finds them coming back to a metal world that might have moved on, but hasn't left them behind. ~ Gregory Heaney, Rovi
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