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Fates Warning - Awaken The Guardian CD (album) cover


Fates Warning


Progressive Metal

3.98 | 289 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Fates Warning's last album with under-appreciated vocalist John Arch was a grand send-off, and the highly complex nature of the songs is where progressive metal really began to coalesce. After this album. bands like Queensr˙che stepped up to the plate and began to really add progressive elements to the mix. The band still owes a sizable debt to power metal bands like Iron Maiden and Helloween, but Awaken the Guardian sounds unique, mainly thanks to Arch's superb vocals and Matheos' equally stunning compositions. Some of the lyrics might sound cheesy on the first listen, but most of them use fantasy lyrics as metaphors for modern topics.

The album opens with The Sorceress, a very dark sounding song that owes a lot to Black Sabbath, and John wastes no time exerting his skill aqs he uses his voice like an instrument to propel the song as much as the riffs and kick drums. Valley of the Dolls is a look at the hair metal scene that dominated mainstream rock music in the 80s. It's a rather humorous tune that basically states these artists care more about style than the music. Fata Morgana seems to be the blueprint for early Blind Guardian. Guardian is an emotional piece that deals with Arch pleading with the listener to remember him (perhaps he knew his future with the band?). In actuality, it is a very personal piece that I believe concerns John's family, but I'm not sure.

Prelude to Ruin is a look at the effect of mankind on the planet, complete with an increasingly frantic composition to match the chaos of the lyrics. Giant's Lore is unapologetically power metal with lyrics of such a fantastical persuasion that even Ronnie James Dio would stifle a chuckle. However, the composition is incredible, but this song takes away from the progressive feel of the album. Time Long Past is an acoustic interlude that leads into the final epic, Exodus. This song captures more insane time changes, riffs and breaks in it's 8 1/2 minutes than nearly any other prog metal outfit can summon in 20 or 30. A masterful end to the album.

Although Fates Warning will never enjoy the popularity and acclaim of its contemporaries Queensr˙che and Dream Theater, it is infinitely more important than both of them. Had Fates Warning not completely thrown out the rule book with this release, QR might never have become truly progressive. Dream Theater probably would have, but they would sound radically different. Matheos is one of the best composers in metal history, and John Arch sings every song, even Giant's Lore, with a passion and conviction that is sadly often absent from prog metal (Geoff Tate is another vocalist who is a master at this). The band would become fully progressive with the next release which features current FW vocalist Ray Alder, but Awaken the Guardian is the watershed release for the band. It's not a pure masterpiece, but no self-respecting fan of prog metal can do without this.

Grade: B+

1800iareyay | 4/5 |


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