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Fates Warning - FWX CD (album) cover

FWX

Fates Warning

 

Progressive Metal

3.35 | 158 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I used to hate Fates Warning. I used to despise this band and mainly because of its singer, Ray Alder, whom I used to find annoying and comepletely worthless. I wrote my first-ever review for this website with an album by this outfit as target (A PLEASANT SHADE OF GREY). I gave it three stars, and I bashed the singer and criticize Matheos for his alack of vision, of musical taste. That was a year ago.

Fast-forward till 2007. I've heard all the 4 FW's albums I own again. I still find Alder's voice slightly annoying, but not nearly as much as before. But it's my attitude towards the music that has changed the most: now I like it, I find it interesting, exciting, true prog-metal. Though I said in my earlier review that I liked Zonder's drumming and Matheos' playing a lot, I also said that the man had no song-writing skills and that the track lacked structure, melody, hooks. That was erroneus.

I've asked the Administrator to delete my review of APSOG from the Archives for it was a bad review, written after just ONE listen to the album in question. Nowadays I don't do things that way, and my feelings towards the record have changed, too. So, with this new perspective in mind, I'll procede to give my comments about Fates Warning latest release, FWX.

The album has a slightly different sound than the one FW had us used to. The songs are simpler, and the riffs are more... how could I say it... "grunge-ish"? Yes, that's a good way to say it. Many of the songs bear a light resemblance to the sound of bands like Soundgarden. Gone are the Iron Maiden or strictly metal references, we won't find here any track that reminds us of PARALLELS or PERFECT SYMMETRY. Instead, we got a few passages that sound like Tool, some sound a little like space-rock, but the overall quality of the band is still there. Zonder's drumming is still amazing, top-notch, classy; he never over-plays but restrains himself to a proper use of the hi-hat and cymbals; Matheos' guitars are as unique as always, and the bass does a good job. But what about my former "musical-enemy" Ray Alder? Well, I have to say that, even though the music at times is not up to par to earlier albums, Alder gives us his best performance yet, without relying only in that annoying "last note sustaining" of old and now trying to actually sing, put some melody into his work. I still have some issues with his voice, but I can bear it now.

Left Here (9/10)An acoustic beginning that sounds very close to the start of Transatlantic's "We all need some light" leads us to a strange Pink-Floyd-ish part that suddenly turns into a metallic affair; very melodic, focused start. Distorsion and effects act as background for Alder's appearance. This is not your PARALLELS' Fates Warning. This is something else. The song grows until it reaches a very good chorus, a desperate, hopeless cry. Great song. Could've been a 10 with a little more dynamics.

Simple Human (7/10)A weird song for FW. The chorus sounds a lot like Soundgarden or some grunge band. The main riff is nothing special, nor is the chorus. But the song works.

River Wide Ocean Deep (7.5)Some notes in the guitar that are so dark we think some death-metal is lurking around the corner. Of course when the effects appear that notion fades off our minds. The start of the song is slow and almost percussion-less (if we don't count the machine behind) The drums and heavy guitars appear at around the 4:00 minute mark, with a powerful marching rhythm. Soon the song is over. Not terrific but good.

Another Perfect Day (9.5/10), the highlight of the album. The acoustic start gives the idea of a ballad, but soon enough the guitars announce a hard-rockin' grungy riff. The main verse is quite melodic, atmospheric, just ethereal guitar chords with Alder actually SINGING here (I applaud that). Then the catchy magnificent chorus, full of energy. An excellent song, with hooks and twists that are sufficient to grab my attention. Energy, that's the word. Driving energy.

Heal Me (7/10) the album becomes an uneven ride after the last song. Alder continues to amaze me by singing like a good singer, not just yelling, but it's MAtheos who can't hold my attention. His songwriting skills are not so evident in here. This song has an arabic riff that sounds a little like "Home" in ultra-masterpiece SFAM by a certain New York band. With time this song grows on the listener and becomes interesting. It's too long for its own sake, but it's good.

Sequence #7 (?/10) one of those instrumentals that nobody understands the point behind including them in the album, besides the band members of course. Very futuristic, electronic, mechanized, like a computer at work. Too short, too unimportant. it was going to be good, but as is the case with many of these "segues", they are just transitional pieces.

Crawl (5/10), with no pause we are into the 7th song, which starts with a rather weak riff. This track sounds "southern", to use an expression. What I mean is, this sounds a little like influenced by dixie-land music, dirty motor-bike rock n' roll, only much slower and uninspired. I dislike that kind of bluesy, southern rock n' roll, but if we add boring riffs to the formula, we have the weakest track in the album. At least it is short.

A Handful of Doubt (8/10) A "Tool-ish" start makes way to a good melodic section with Alder showing me he can be a good singer. The song is moody, dark, (well, the whole album is pretty dark). At around 3:00 minutes the hard part kicks off, with a riff that sounds pesimistic, desolate, even "post-metal-ish" at times. Not a bad song. And very good after that last track.

Stranger (With a Familiar Face) (6.5/10), finally, some speed! the riff is nothing spectacular but it works. Good bass work. This sound a lot like Soundgarden, we only miss Chris Cornell here. The chorus in particular reminds us a lot of the Washington State band. It's just a song. Average.

Wish (9/10), we had to wait till the end of the album for another shining moment. Some very obscure, depressing clean-guitar chords set a mood of pessimism. Alder does a good job of keeping that sad vibe intact. Then the drums and a muted guitar riff join the vocals to create a sedated, not-a-chance feel of utter resignation. The piano addition is welcome to add to the melody. At the end Matheos performs a good solo and the song goes into hard-rock mode, though it is short-lived, for the grey atmosphere comes back again. Outstanding song.

This is, in the end, a good album but this great band that is Fates Warning. I would've given it 4 stars but the album, because of the weak tracks, is difficult to swallow in an entire listen without having the impulse to press the "skip" button once or twice.

So how come I said Fates Warning has won me over and I'm still giving them just a 3? Well, this is the review for FWX, an album that a year ago would've earned a 2 or even just 1 star by me (not really... I can distinguish 1 star albums from the beginning, not one has ever become interesting even after more than 10 listens. But maybe one day.) About A PLEASANT SHADE OF GREY I will soon write, but I'm sure it won't get the same 3 stars I gave it months ago. That album is almost a masterpiece. This one, well, is good. Could've been much better.

Recommended for: Prog-metal fans. Fates Warning fans. But beware: this is not your fast, maiden-ish FW of old. Fans of prog-grunge (whatever that may be?!?) may like this album also. fans of good rock in general. Man, it's not even too metallic!

Not recommended for: People that can't stand Fates Warning of course; people that dislike metal, though this album is, I insist, not overly "metal"; people that hated the grunge-era, when a bunch of Seattle bands kicked the crap out of hair bands and made a revolution in mainstream rock...

... and, believe it or not, I thank them for that.

The T | 3/5 |

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