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Fates Warning - No Exit  CD (album) cover

NO EXIT

Fates Warning

 

Progressive Metal

3.87 | 179 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "No Exit" is the title of a very important album in Fates Warning's history - first of all, it is the first album with Roy Alder on the lead singer's role; it is also the effort in which the FW sound that took a string of three albums to develop and endeavor finally achieved its definitive shape. Regarding the latter factor, this is where the band generated the capitalization of the epic metallic ambitions that the following two studio albums would epitomize in full splendor. The album opens up with a brief exposure of dark doom in the namesake prologue: the Gothic guitar textures and sinister singing properly elaborate a gloomy atmosphere with eerie undertones. Next is the first proper song, 'Anarchy Divine', which serves as the impressive presentation letter from the new kid in the band: Roy Alder shines right from the first sung lines, with the instrumentalists building a complex development of riffs and unusual time signatures. In fact, you can tell that the whole band as a unit shines more brightly than ever. 'Silent Cries' comes next, starting with a solid attack during the first thematic riff, but soon enough the track reveals itself as a more complex exhibition of prog-metal inventiveness. Just by listening to the sequence of these first 3 pieces you can hear the furious birth pains of the genre as a robust musical path, and let's consider that we are talking about material that doesn't even complete an 8 minute span altogether. By all means, it is quite clear that the progressive (and metallic) sub-genre was born as a mature being itself. 'In A Word' instills a more ceremonious mood in the album's framework. This piece is closely related to the band's earlier material, as well as Di'Anno-era Maiden and late 80s Queensryche: the final result bears a distinguished mood to it, although I can't help feel a bit frustrated at the premature arrival of the fade-out. This track surely deserved a more epic delivery? but what do I know anyway? The album's first half ends with 'Shades Of Heavenly Death', the longest piece comprised in it. Now? this is epic! With a sort of speed that equals anything done by Metallica or Megadeth at the time yet with a more polished approach and a more accomplished compositional drive, the FW guys move steadily and enthusiastically through various moods and motifs that merge passion and darkness in a most dynamic way. The dual acoustic guitar interventions some time after the 4 minute mark (plus a mysterious chorale) are spine chilling, not interrupting but complementing the overall explicit energy. Once again, a fade-out settles the score but this time I feel that the piece has been properly completed. The album's second half is occupied by the suite 'The Ivory Gate Of Dreams', which can be tentatively described as the "missing link" between Iron Maiden's 'Ryme Of The Ancient mariner' and Dream Theater's 'A Change Of Seasons'. The opening verses consist of a beautiful prelude on classical guitar. It doesn't take long before the full band stages a clever metallic attack (Zimmermann's finest hour, IMHO) divided in various series and featuring varying levels of rocking power. At the 6'30" mark, a slow section intrudes and states a reflective note for a brief moment before a new electric section gets in ? anyway, the reflective ambience remains intact. The suite's lyrics are also some of the best ever in FW's history: "Ivory towers appear beyond the gate / Invisible fortresses of escape / Traversed by ramparts made of hopes and fears / Impervious to reality" ? poetry!! Want some more poetry? Check this: "When reality obscures the dream / Makes the mind a grave of memories / That wander like the lonely breeze / Whose whispers echo through ruins rust / Of towers torn and dreams turned to dust". Lovely!! The magical introspection of the 'Whispers on the wind' section segued to the previous section's radically abrupt end beautifully signals the image of a person's awakening. There is also poetry in this sort of instrumental arrangements. In fact, at this point, the piece escalades toward an impressive climax that gives enough room to Alder's highlighted singing. The suite ends where it began, a classical guitar epilogue as serene as it is touching. It makes total sense: a lovely closure for a lovely groundbreaking album.
Cesar Inca | 4/5 |

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