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Fates Warning - Awaken The Guardian CD (album) cover

AWAKEN THE GUARDIAN

Fates Warning

 

Progressive Metal

3.97 | 238 ratings

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UMUR
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Awaken the Guardian" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US heavy/power/progressive metal act Fates Warning. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in November 1986. A lineup change has taken place as guitarist Victor Arduini has been replaced by Frank Aresti. "Awaken the Guardian" would be lead vocalist John Arch last album with the band before he too would depart.

Listening to "Awaken the Guardian" it very much feels like the natural successor to "The Spectre Within (1985)", just featuring a more sophisticated songwriting approach and an even more skillful performance of the music. Stylistically the music is on the border between traditional heavy/power metal and guitar/vocal oriented progressive metal (even bordering thrash at itīs hardest moments). In other words a very early example of progressive metal. A music style Fates Warning would further explore and develop upon on subsequent releases. The band are generally very well playing even though Iīve never found Steve Zimmermanīs drumming particularly tasteful. Instead itīs the melodic guitar leads and harmonies, the hard heavy metal riffing, and of course the high pitched and ornamented singing by John Arch, which elevate the bandīs music to exceptional heights, along with the clever and intriguing songwriting.

Arch deserves a special mention and all the praise in the world for his performance here. He is gifted with one of the most unique and powerful voices on the scene but itīs how he uses his voice that makes him so special. Every note is sung to itīs limits and twisted and turned in every possible direction. Sometimes it sounds like he is improvising and if thatīs true, itīs madness in this type of music. It speaks volumes of how great he is, that he has the energy to put on a performance like that in music this demanding. His performance is brilliant throughout but the highlight is his delivery on "Guardian".

All 8 tracks on the 48:04 minutes long album are very well written and performed though and itīs actually only the sound production that holds "Awaken the Guardian" back a slight bit. The guitars feature a thin sound, and the drums and bass arenīt that well sounding either. Itīs not really a surprise considering the date of release, but on the other hand Iīve listened to quite a few better produced releases from the same year, so this one has always left me unimpressed. Thankfully the material and the instrumental and vocal performances are of such high quality (although the drumming doesnīt add much positive to the music), that the quality of the sound production doesnīt overshadow the fact that "Awaken the Guardian" is an excellent release on other parameters. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

UMUR | 4/5 |

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