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Fates Warning - Parallels CD (album) cover

PARALLELS

Fates Warning

 

Progressive Metal

4.14 | 267 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

bleak
4 stars From the mid to late 80's, Fates Warning released five albums of masterful progressive metal, a few of which (namely 88's No Exit and 89's Perfect Symmetry) could be considered genre classics. Combining technically proficient musicianship with strong compositional construction, Fates Warning rose to the heights of progressive metal splendor, sharing company with the likes of Dream Theater and Queensryche. For their sixth album, however, they had chosen to present their musical ideas in a less complex, more straightforward and accessible form, a move that seemed to parallel that of other 80's thrash/progressive bands such as Voivod, Oueensryche and Metallica, who also stripped down their approach when the 90's began. It was also a move that did not find favor with some of the band's longtime followers who felt that Fates Warning had gone the dreaded "sellout" route.

While such opinions are understandable on one hand, it is also shortsighted when taking into consideration the skill and conviction with which the material on Parallels is delivered. While there are no 20 minute epics or complex song structures to be found on the album, the band's trademark sense of dynamics and knack for potent song writing, not to mention their stellar instrumental skills, are on display throughout. What the band seemed to have aimed for here is a concentration on mood and atmosphere, as there is a definite feeling of despair and longing throughout these songs as well as within the lyrics. Musical passages of a more reflective, contemplative nature are in abundance working in conjunction with the deeply introspective lyrics. But this is in no way easy listening, as the material is heavy with a brooding emotion, inspiring one to dwell on some of life's more serious aspects.

Of important notice is the fact that guitarist Jim Matheos is responsible for writing the entire album, music and lyrics, and the rest of the band do an admirable job of carrying out Matheos's vision. Vocalist Ray Alder turns in an incredible performance, singing every line with passion and conviction, forsaking most of his high-pitched wail in favor of a more suitable midrange, making it hard to disagree with the notion that this man is one of the most impressive vocalists the metal scene has ever had to offer. Despite the more streamlined approach of this material as compared to past works, drummer Mark Zonder nevertheless keeps things interesting with his amazing percussion skills, spicing up even the simplest of passages with tricky cymbal detail and offbeat rhythms. Zonder's intelligent playing, along with the always impressive guitar work of Matheos and Frank Aresti and solid bassist Joe Dibiase, is enough to carry one through this album. However, just as vital are the feelings and atmospheres present in songs like "The Eleventh Hour", "We Only Say Goodbye", "Don't Follow Me" and "The Road Goes On Forever". The end result is a mature album of utter class.

bleak | 4/5 |

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