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Fates Warning - Awaken The Guardian CD (album) cover

AWAKEN THE GUARDIAN

Fates Warning

 

Progressive Metal

3.98 | 289 ratings

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Caleb9000
5 stars As odd a choice as it would seem, Awaken The Guardian has been my favorite album from this outing since the first time that I heard it. The material that this band issued with John Arch is often mistakenly written off as "generic 1980s power metal", when nothing can be farther from the truth. While largely void of Jazz influences, in contrast to later outings from Fates Warning and other progressive metal bands, this album invents a sound of its own, evident in the guitar and bass work, drumming patterns, and especially the vocal performance, which I will dive into later.

This is an album that takes multiple listens to fully understand, even for a fan of progressive metal, due to the jarring alterations, production and off-kilter vocals. Despite all this, it rarely becomes dissonant, and once fully understood, I failed to realize what put My off about it for a while. The atmosphere of this record is so strong that I failed to realize how I wasn't immediately sucked in. But this is an album that is meant to be listened to multiple times to understand, and this cannot be achieved with a soapbox mindset (until afterwards, of course).

The music of this records gives you quite literally anything that one could desire in Heavy Metal, each in different moments, yet still flowing together in its mystical, fantastical atmosphere, always with off kilter, progressive tendencies and it never uses the same ones over and over again. Each moment has its own unique spin without sounding remotely confused. Tracks like "Valley of the Dolls" and "Prelude to Ruin" boarderline on Thrash Metal quite often, while still containing multiple shifts in mood and tempo, without being forced. "Fata Morgana" has an epic power metal feel that puts the listener into an uplifting mindset, as does the ballad, "Guardian", which has a rather dark chord progression when you strip it down of its additional accessories, but those are able to make it sound so beautiful that one doesn't even notice, finishing with a faster, thrasher pace. "Exodus" is a song that captures the essence of fantasy itself, despite the fact that the lyrics have nothing to do with fantasy. The chorus is mesmerizingly epic, taking you to worlds of your wildest dreams. There's even a softer, more acousticly driven section that makes me feel as though I'm floating down a river in a cave, with Arch singing me to sleep.

Speaking of Arch, he is one of the most unique vocalists that I have ever come across. While he seems to have the influences of vocalists like Dickinson and Halford, but he also seems to have studied Indian music, as his vocal melodies have many similarities to that style. He makes both apparent by making his vocal melodies as intricate as possible, as well as sounding rather odd and twisted, sometimes making him sound haunting to the ear, but it still flows so beautifully that it's able to fit the diversity of the music. His tone is also unique, but an acquired taste. It puts strong emphasis on nasal and chest, which actually annoyed me at first listen. However, with each listen that I took part in, I grew to adore his voice. He is also a brilliant lyricist (all of the lyrics on the album are written by him). They cover a wide range of topics, including social commentary, history, fantasy, philosophy, disability, love, social commentary, even hating glam (though it is done in such a genius way that I can't even complain). He uses metophor that relates to the other varying topics throughout the record, making it impossible to understand the meaning without reading through it with sharp concentration. His qu with words invokes emotion in ways that I cannot describe, but there is one thing that I must point out. In one instance, he uses alliteration. "Blasphamous black bible bias, you betray bigotry".. I've never heard anyone else do that on any other piece of music that I've ever listened to!

This is an album that triggers many different emotions, each at different times, but at its end, it leaves you with an astounding feeling of absolute triumph, amazingly without any epic speed metal (there really isn't anything over 100 bpm on here). With brilliant usage of odd time signatures, sneaky use of acoustics, as well as astonishingly vivid atmosphere, this album is an absolute wonder of a journey that never even gets predictable or gineric for one second. Definetly the magnum opus of Fates Warning's career, the greatest power metal album ever made, and one of the greatest albums of all time.

Caleb9000 | 5/5 |

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