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Fates Warning - Awaken The Guardian CD (album) cover


Fates Warning


Progressive Metal

3.90 | 216 ratings

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3 stars Awaken the Guardian is the third album from american heavy/ progressive metal band Fates Warning. The two first albums Night on Bröcken and The Spectre Within are not very impressive seen from a progressive point of view. Pretty runn of the mill early eighties heavy metal albums which were heavily influenced by the great NWOBHM bands from that time Iron Maiden and Saxon. What made those two albums stand out just a bit from the many other albums in that genre from that time is the outstanding frontman John Arch. His controlled high pitched vocal style is outstanding and very distinct. To the untrained ear his style is probably reminichent of most other progressive metal vocalists but listen more closely. He is fantastic.

Awaken the Guardian was released in 1986 and simply blew Fates Warning´s two previous albums away. The music hasn´t changed dramatically but the small changes are vital and means that this album is much more accomplished than it´s predecessors. One of the features that really helped Fates Warning achive succes with Awaken the Guardian is the fact that the production on this album is pretty good for the time. Today this sound doesn´t seem very good but back then this was a pretty good production. Another reason for the succes is that lead guitarist Victor Arduini left the band after The Spectre Within and Frank Aresti replaced him as the new lead guitarist in Fates Warning.

The music is a bit more sophisticated than your average heavy metal music but when you listen closely you´ll hear that this is not much more than basic heavy metal. It´s not neccesarely a bad thing. In this case it actually fits the music well that there are no complex progressive playing. What there is in large amounts is nerve and great power all led by John Arch high pitched vocal attack. Songs like The Sorceress, Valley Of The Dolls and Giant's Lore (Heart of Winter) are actually very hard and heavy songs. There are some pretty edgy riffing there that I greatly appreciate. There is also time for some semi-ballad acoustic moments in a song like Guardian which is another thing John Arch also masters fully. Great emotional song. Besides the at times edgy guitar riffs there are also plenty of melodic leads and solos. Just listen to the intro to Fata Morgana.

The musicianship is good with the double melodic guitar attack from new man Frank Aresti and main composer and guitarist Jim Matheos. Joe DiBiase is a very good bassist who also deserves praise while the drumming style by Steve Zimmerman isn´t really that exciting today. Again this style is typical for the eighties. John Arch has been mentioned and I won´t use more time to praise him even though he deserves all the praise he can get.

The production is as mentioned good for the time but seems a bit stuck in the eighties today.

The cover art is a typical fantasy like eighties cover.

This is another album I never really gave the chance and regret I didn´t. As I have listened more closely to this album to make this review I have found so many positive things about it that I feel like a child on christmas eve. Well not quite but this is a very good heavy metal album and progressive metal fans who would like to hear how it all started should pick this one up as this is one of the eighties heavy metal albums where progressive tendencies starts to sneak in. Awaken the Guardian might deserve a 4 star rating but on the other hand there are things like the badly aged drumming and the eighties production values that drags the album down to a big 3 star rating. This is very recommendable though.

UMUR | 3/5 |


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