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Fates Warning - Perfect Symmetry CD (album) cover

PERFECT SYMMETRY

Fates Warning

 

Progressive Metal

4.15 | 392 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 139

'Perfect Symmetry' is the fifth studio album of Fates Warning and was released in 1989. The line up on the album is Ray Alder (lead and backing vocals), Jim Matheos (guitar), Frank Aresti (backing vocals and guitar), Joe DiBiase (bass) and Mark Zonder (drums). The album had also the participation of Kevin Moore (keyboars) and Faith Fraeoli (violin).

In a career spanning more than 25 years, many critics will dispute that Fates Warning has been one of the most influential progressive metal bands. Some of them would even go further. Their ability never to allow their music to stagnate, constantly evolving by embracing innovative additions to their sound, makes them, perhaps, the most influential band in the genre. It was because of them and some other bands that progressive metal genre appeared and it was because of 'Perfect Symmetry' that the band's more modern progressive direction was established.

Fates Warning's 'Perfect Symmetry' is a truly historic album and one of genre defining recording in progressive metal. Which is also true is that up until the late 80's, a term as 'progressive metal' didn't even exist. It could be easily argued that 'Perfect Symmetry' and Voivod's 'Nothingface', both released in 1989, are the first albums that marked the birth of really heavy, crushing metal elements blended with progressive music. We can even say that Crimson Glory with 'Transcendence' and Queensryche with 'Operation: Mindcrime' have did it in the previous year, in 1988. But the most important of all is that the music of Fates Warning is metal with serious progressive overtones. From a historical context, 'Perfect Symmetry' ranks right on top of the list as one of the most influential progressive metal albums ever.

'Perfect Symmetry' has eight tracks. The first track 'Part Of The Machine' written by Matheos is the opener of the album and is very much in the band's early style. It's a heavy metal song with a clear progressive bent. The central melody is subtle and rather dominated by the main riff. Repeated listens can unravel the great complexity of all arrangements all over the track. The second track 'Through Different Eyes' written by Matheos was chosen as the single. It has a lovely bluesy guitar opening and represents a new departure for the group with the melodic rock riff and catchy chorus. Alder moves away from the screaming, angry, high pitch he utilised previously. This track would be right at home on 'Parallels'. The third track 'Static Acts' written by Aresti is a kind of a transition track, where the older styling of the first song, and the melodic rock influences of the second are combined. With the advantage of retrospect and the enhanced sound, there is a real power and intent shown by the offbeat drumming, superb melodies and some of the best riffs the band has ever created. The fourth track 'A World Apart' written by Aresti takes the transition a stage further, into a totally new sound for the group. This represents a work in progress. This is the first sense of the more introspective progressive mood that would appear later on their eighth studio album 'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray'. The fifth track 'At Fates Hands' written by Matheos, Aresti and DiBiase provides one of the most beautiful, poetic moments from the band's discography, with the acoustic guitar, violin, exposed voice and heavy use of the snare in the opening of the song. The heavier extended instrumental section and a return to the initial refrain later in the song are really excellent. Again very much the style that dominates in 'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray'. The sixth track 'The Arena' written by Aresti represents a return to the older style of music of the group and is as welcome as seeing an old friend and a nice dose of power. Alder also returns to the higher octaves. The clear melodic guitar work makes this track an effective metal anthem in live sets. The seventh track 'Chasing Time' written by Matheos isn't a million miles away from the style of their recent album, 'FWX'. Alder's emotive voice dominates this ballad where the acoustic guitar and for the second time a violin carry the delicate melody. The eighth track 'Nothing Left To Say' written by Matheos is as the cover and title suggests, there's a consistent theme of modern technology and fear of conformity and individual isolation. You have to wait until 'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray' until the band truly masters the art of matching musical mood with lyrical expression, but on the whole it's already very well executed here. This is really a great track.

Conclusion: 'Perfect Symmetry' represents quite an interesting change of the musical direction for the band. It's a very key album in the evolution of progressive metal and essential to anyone who is interested in finding out the roots of this ever changing genre. I also usually recommend this for starters, after 'Parallels' and 'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray', of course. This album when looked at as a piece of progressive metal has it all. It's got catchy hook laden metal in 'Through Different Eyes', it's got two breathtaking prog epics in 'At Fates Hands' and 'Nothing Left To Say', aggression in 'Static Acts' and balladry in 'Chasing Time'. If you are at all interested in the progressive metal sub genre or if you want to hear a mature, intelligent heavy progressive metal album I suggest you get out and listen to this now. You really need this album as an addition to your progressive path. 'Perfect Symmetry' is the right album for you.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |

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