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Fates Warning - FWX CD (album) cover


Fates Warning

Progressive Metal

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1 stars Well, how should I comment this new output of them? I'd like to say they became a bit old, not so much regarding power, but more in regards of inspiration. The first song is still quite good with a nice acoustic intro,but starting from track #2 they're sounding more and more like Tool. And I have to say it's a bit weak from an already very settled band to try to emulate the style of a much younger one and trying to find more fans in the younger generation by this. Nothing against trying to be "up-to-date", but this usually implies as well to go more for what's trendy and commercially successful. Maybe the reason why I don't like the record very much is that I don't like Tool's style at all. But even as a fan of them I would not buy it, because then I'd rather go for the original. For me their biggest masterpiece is still "A Pleasant Shade Of Grey", which was a real artistic work in progressive rock/metal. That one I'd recommend to all fans of excellent prog metal. But "FWX" I can only recommend to fellows who like to have a very modern album by them which is compatible with MTV program. For me the pinnacle of this band has been passed since a long time and what I can hear here has not to do anything with that band Fates Warning I know from the 'good old times'.
Report this review (#33060)
Posted Thursday, October 14, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars Being an "old school" Fates Warning fan ("The Ivory Gate of Dreams" is still their best composition, I don't care if you don't like heavy music), it has been hard to keep following the band. I actually much prefer Alder's (/w Vera) Engine albums (which "Crawl" on this new album sounds like it could have been an Engine track, to be honest) over the current FWX. Personally, any prog-rock fan should be more interested in Porcupine Tree, than Fates, because Fates "Matheos" Warning are just missing something to make a solid, interesting album. Now, it's not that I only like heavier music, because my favorite FW tracks are actually "The Road Goes on Forever", "Chasing Time", "Island in the Stream", "Part IX", although after the afore mentioned TIGoD, "So" is my favorite track of the post-metal FW era.

As for FWX, I do like the fact they went back to songs, instead of the 15-25 minute ramblings, because Matheos just can't seem to pull it off and make you care about the music over a really long track. As much as I like Alder's voice on heavy tracks, I've never thought his voice fits prog-rock, as well.

The only real track I care about on FWX is "A Handful of Doubt", which fits well along with my favorite Fates tracks listed above. I do like "Stranger", too, something retro about it I find catchy and "Crawl" is a good rocker for the car, if not prog-ish.

Of course, for 1997-2004 Fates fans, all that I just wrote I'm sure will be considered blasphemous. That's cool and if so, you probably (will) love this album, and I have no problem with that at all.

However, if you are like me, though, and really don't know what to make of Fates over the past seven years, you should check out Dead Soul Tribe's latest offering, "A January Tree", which is amazing - the updated "Just Like A Timepiece" is worth the price alone, in my opinion.

Report this review (#33062)
Posted Thursday, October 21, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars We'll its been 4 yrs in the making. This album is solid. As with prog in general it takes a while before you can truly appreciate it, ie: train of thought. Plainly, this album is a mature, well-thought, stuctured, ambient, and lyrically sound. This is accessible without tying to be. Its a progression and with prog, there is new things to find everyday. I have been listening to this for 2 straight weeks and its truly wonderful, somber yet hopeful at the same time. I recommend Left here, River wide ocean deep, another perfect day, doubt and wish in that order. This is not groundbreaking for the band, no ASPOG, still remains, etc. etc., its just a coming together and a its pertty great.
Report this review (#33063)
Posted Friday, October 22, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Oh my god i truly love this anbum! Very intuitive, as always with this band, one can almost go a bit spoiled..Jim Matheos is one of the worlds greatest songwriters. Not the best album they have made thou. My Favourite is to this day still Perfect Symmetry. Best song is i think "River wide, ocean deep" and "A handful of doubt". Favorites ever is "Trough different eyes" and "The Road Goes on Forever." I hope to hear many more albums from this band in the future! Blessings peaople!!
Report this review (#33064)
Posted Saturday, October 23, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars


Based on my experience with progressive music, there are three categories of prog albums based on my listening experience. Category A is the album that blew my mind at first listen and it became my all-time favorite and I kept on playing the CD at my player on and on. Examples of this Cat A includes: Marillion (Fish era), Arena, IQ, Dream Theater, post Syd Barrett Pink Floyd, Yes "Fragile", Yes "Going For The One", Yes "Drama" etc. Category B is the album that was hard for me to accept at first listen but it grew with number of spins and by (typically) spin number 8 (eight) it became my favorite. This album of Fates Warning and also "Disconnected" fall under this category. Other examples include: Gentle Giant (except "Civilian"), Yes "Tales from Topographic Ocean", Yes "Relayer", Pain of Salvation "Perfect Element Part 1" and "Remedy Lane", etc.. Category C is the album that did not attract me to have other spin due to weak composition (lack of structure or melody) or lack of originality of its music (too much influence of other bands). I don't want to give examples of this, actually, as it would create further controversy with other prog listeners. But I have to be honest as I experienced it myself. Examples: Jump (a group that was coached by Mark Kelly), Landmarq "The Vision Pit", RPWL "God Has Failed", first three albums of Spock's Beard, Grey Lady Down, Thieve Kitchen "Argot" (this album is overrated? Dunno). Albums under this category may move to Category B. Disagreement with my view is welcome as we are talking about prog, aren't we?. It's not prog at all if I do not welcome any disagreement or differing views.

Album Review

As for FWX album, my chief reason of putting it under category B was that I did not get used to the kind of music these guys were playing. It was a bit "weird" for me as it's not typical progressive metal music like Dream Theater or Symphony X where I was familiar with. That's why this album did not attract me at all at first listen. It has grown significantly after fourth spin and I can assure you that this album deserves more than four star rating actually. But, I don't want to be that naïve to give five star right away.

If you expect that this album is typical prog met vein with heavy rhythm and riffs, you will be dissatisfied and most probably you do not want to give another chance of listening. You must be open mind with its music, try to accept whatever sounds and melodies the band is playing and have multiple spins if you can not enjoy at first shot. You will then, hopefully, find the beauty of Fates Warning music as I have experienced with this album as well as "Disconnected". In a nutshell, the music of this album is like an "atmospheric progressive metal" with strange (but stunning) guitar, dynamic drumming and high register voice line. I'm really amazed with the musical quality of this album; it's an excellent one!

The album kicks off with a simple acoustic guitar in ambient style as an intro of "Left Here". The music flows with electric guitar and drumming plus bass line followed by a distanced voice line. There is a symphonic nuance indicated by keyboard sound at background. The drumming style is unique and very noticeable throughout the track. The distorted guitar is long sustain, free form open passage with sort of unusual signatures.

"Simple Human" blasts off the music in "almost" similar vein of prog met music with relatively heavy riffs but the music suddenly turns quieter with unique singing style backed with great bass line. Yes, the bass line is noticeable in this track - it forms like a simple and soft riffs for the music. The guitar is now played differently with some rhythm style plus effects. This track might be accessible to any prog metal fans.

The third track "River Wide Ocean Deep" starts off with simple music with percussion and keyboard sounds accentuated with nice female chanting (really great chanting!) that accompany the male voice line. I observe the long sustain distorted guitar with beautiful effects during this intro part. The voice turns to higher notes backed with dynamic drums and guitar effects. Oh man .. I scream aloud when I listened to this track. What a wonderful song this one is!!

"Another Perfect Day" was I thought a ballad song when I listened to the opening guitar rhythm. But it turns to a powerful guitar riffs in fast tempo that suddenly turns quieter with the voice line entering the music. The interlude part with lead guitar combines the prog metal music with classic rock sound.

"Heal Me" opens with a slow tempo voice line backed with simple guitar fills and bass guitar. The keyboard sound projects a symphonic nuance of this track especially when it's accompanied with a tape loop of drum sound. The full music then follow with great drumming and guitar. The transition piece with tape loop is then follow with fast tempo music in full scale with high register vocal. It's a stunning composition and it will favor most of prog metal lovers. I love drumming work, it's so powerful. The use of acoustic guitar with dynamic drumming during transition / interlude part has enriched this song.

"Sequence #7" is a short instrumental song that contains sound effects and distortion with accentuated bass line, simple guitar fills and distanced voice. It reminds me, for some reason, to some pieces in Porcupine Tree "Stupid Dream" album. It flows seamlessly to next track "Crawl" with medium tempo. Again, I'm fascinated by the drumming sound and distorted guitar.

"A Handful of Doubt" offers another style of music in mellow style at first half. The opening guitar fills and bass line work really well for the singer to enter the music. The last half of the track features full music with faster tempo and high register. Simple yet enjoyable track. Next track "Stranger (With a Familiar Face)" seems to me like a straight forward hard rock tune with some progressive touch especially the drumming part. It's an excellent track though.

The concluding track "Wish" is another excellent track The voice line starts something different: using lower register than any other tracks. Unusual with other tracks, the piano is used beautifully in this song (sounded weird to me: progressive metal with piano? - but it's nice with this track).

Overall Conclusion : Buy this CD. Rating: 4.25 /5 - it potentially might grow to 5 in the future. Keep On Progging! - GW, Indonesia.

Report this review (#33066)
Posted Saturday, January 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars It took a lot of time and effort for me to get used to the present style of this band. Albums like Disconnected or The Perfect Symmetry did not really ring a bell of excitement, though were at least accepted as worthwhile releases. But this one changed it all. Definitely their most mature album up to now and probably one of the best albums I have heard over the past years. What might seem a slow pace of music and vocals crawling on the background on previous albums, now comes in a perfect sense and gives you the thrills of an outstanding album. All tracks are really great on this one, but well, there are some like Another Perfect Day, Wish or A Handful of Doubt that I found myself listening again and again, after having finished the album for the second time. 4 stars here, just because this album is outstanding, yet not standing equally in the comparison to mostly past albums of progressive music.
Report this review (#33067)
Posted Thursday, January 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, when I first listened to this album I found everything that Disconnected leave unfinished. Down tempo guitars, a very complex drum rithm and a sadden voice. Fates Warning might be the most underrated band because they deserve way more that they have. And that kind of feellings you may find in their music. Matheos Unltd. writes dark, unvisionary and faded lyrics and his partner Adler adds his unique voice to accomplish this unfinished and empty feelings. FW draws sad stories and sad emotions. But they are still great and I love them for make me feel that.
Report this review (#33068)
Posted Thursday, February 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars this is another great album by Fates Warning, in my opinion, they have never put out anything other than a great album. I will admit, at first I wasn't very impressed, the cd sat in my car for a month or two. But when I popped it in again and started listening to it, I realized that It was very good and just took some getting use to. Ray Alder is singing as good as every, the musicianship is excellent, and I can't wait for the tour. Fates Warning has alway been very underrated and I guess that's how it will always be. Most people don't have the musical intelligence for this kind of music anyway. To them, if it isn't on mtv it must not be any good. If you want to hear great music pick up FWX,and any thing else FW has done.
Report this review (#33069)
Posted Friday, February 4, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars For many years, Fates Warning was an enigma to me. I was sufficiently prog savvy to know the name, and had heard one rather pedestrian live track. But that really was the extent of it. Then, in 2002, things changed. I listened to 'Disconnected'. I was astounded. I was blown away. I needed more. And so I began to explore the back catalog of this amazing band. Then I explored some of the side projects. And I just listened to the music. And listened. 'Disconnected' became easily one of my most played albums. But something was missing. In the interim there was no news of a new Fates album. And I craved that excitement that comes from anticipating a new album from a favorite band.

Once the announcement was made that Fates Warning was in fact back in the studio and working on their 10th album the celebration could begin. The release of the first single "Simple Human" on their web page fueled that already bristling excitement and energy. It was a polarizing track though. Many fans found it too simple, to much like Ray's side project Engine. Others found it aggressive, gritty, and powerful. I fell into the latter category, and that low quality download was played time and time again. Upon release my hands literally trembled as I opened the CD and put it into the stereo. And I was greeted by a choir of crickets. Then entrance of the entrancing acoustic guitar was all it took. I was hooked. This was new Fates Warning.

'X' is a carefully measured album, both heavier than and not as heavy as its predecessor. Jim Matheos, the true mind behind Fates, proves that he is capable of writing music that both embraces and defies current trends in rock and metal. Some of the songs could very easily fit into the playlist of any modern metal radio station, while others would never make it. The album is very deceptive. On the surface it seems rather simple and accessible, but the rich depths of music that are present are only discovered after repeated and careful examination. The guitar is aggressive when it needs to be, careful at other times. A nice balance of electric and acoustic guitars complement many songs on 'X'. Joey Vera is solid on the bass, as he always is. And Mark Zonder turns in another subtly brilliant drum performance. But I cannot talk about Fates Warning without praising Ray Alder's talent. His voice on this album is excellent. Age has made his voice more rich and full, and that is apparent on this album. Easily one of my favorite vocalists, Ray's voice, coupled with Jim's powerful guitars really drive this album forward.

Tracks to catch: "Left Here" is heady, complex progressive metal tune that is sure to confuse some folks. But those with a penchant for something more than your standard song will find this a moving, powerful gem. "Simple Human" is a driving, gritty, aggressive song that begs for some head banging. "Crawl" is a deliciously cynical tune, one that I can't help but scream along with. "River Wide, Ocean Deep" utilizes Middle Eastern overtones to enhance an already potent song. "Heal Me" is quite possibly the most powerful song I have heard in years. Absolutely stunning.

Report this review (#36566)
Posted Wednesday, June 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars When i first started to listen to FWX my first impression was this is going to be a fantastic album due to great opening track 'Left Here', but track two 'Simple Human' i felt had a poor opening riff followed by vocals which just didn't seem to suit the song and as the song continued it didn't seem to improve. Track Three 'River Wide Ocean Deep' i liked alot and my favourite track so far, but the next song 'Another Perfect Day' was better with an opening riff no one could dislike and a great driving chorus. Track five 'Heal Me' is one of the highlights of the album a nice soft opening with just the guitar, vocals and a bit of bass and as it progressives becomes a bit heavier . It returns to the opening guitar again for about 20 seconds to lead it into a huge riff which continues into the rest of the 7 minute song. The rest of the album was a pleaser to listen to especially track 8 'A Handful of Doubt' which is another highlight of the album and continuing to the last track Fates Warning new addition is a very well worked and great new album.
Report this review (#44406)
Posted Friday, August 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I heard on the new Fates Warning album, I was really excited of having it. And when I got the CD, at first, I was a bit disappointed. Maybe I was just used to listening to prog metal the way like Drram Theater is playing it. But then again after frequent plays, I have learned the deepness of album. It not just the heavy intricate guitar riffs plus complex drumming that makes a prog album great. I think the strongholds of this album are the moods it take us - from heavy and aggressive "Left Here" and "Simple Human" to the slow and restful "River Wide Ocean Deep". And the pattern repaets until the concluding "Wish". My favorite song here is of course "Another Perfect Day". Songs like this is what I miss with Fates Warning... and also the beautiful guitar solo. This album also proves that Ray Alder is truly one of the greatest prog metal vocalist. For me, this is their greatest album. Heavy yet mature, lyrically genuis. A collectible for a prog metal fans.
Report this review (#46478)
Posted Monday, September 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is not the Fates Warning I expected to hear! It kinda reminds me of Dream Theater's Octavarium and Tool's Lateralus when i first gave this CD a spin. I was a bit dissapointed. The music in this album didnt really catch me at first.. but it kinda grew on me as i gave it a couple more listens.What i really liked about this album are the overdubs (cricket sounds were cool,and sequence # 7), some light acoustic guitar thingy, the sound effects (does have some industrial kinda feel),and the heavy bass and guitar riffs, which for me, saved the whole record.Lyrics are great too (esp. "Heal Me")! Indeed a new Fates Warning has emerged!
Report this review (#54250)
Posted Tuesday, November 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Definately not a perfect X (ten).

FWX is as the name suggests, the tenth release from Progressive Metal pioneers Fates Warning. The album features many tones similar to what many Fates Warning fan would expect, but that's kind of the problem. The tracks sound more like songs that didn't make previous albums like a Pleasant Shade of Grey. Fates Warning dosen't seem to be doing anything new or interesting.

The album is structured more like a standard Heavy Metal album than a Progressive Metal album. Progressive Metal is a great genre because the listener wants to hear what's next in the song, not what the next song is. This album does not fullfill that wish. The song structure is simple and unimaginative, kind of like the tones on the album.

The guitars are not doing anything too melodic or too great. Matheos stick much more to a standard rythymn guitar style of playing than lead melodies that he's so known for. The tones are excellent, they are clear with good attack, but there's not really much playing.

The vocals by Ray Alder are probably the spectacle of this album. The vocals are clear and poweful. Alder's voice is qutie variant (the rest of the band isn't). The vocals are really the only reason to listen to this album. The listener may not care much for the album, but no one can deny the quality of the vocal performance on this album.

The bass is simplistic, but it's very present in the mix. It certainly has a role in the album, but it's still not much more important than it is in most metal bands.

The drums are a letdown. The beats are standardized and uncreative. They do follow the format of the album for the most part, a format that's repeatative and boring.

The production is excellent, but that has to be expected from a band as big as Fates Warning. The tonality is excellent for all insturments, but the music just doesn't do the production justice. Usually it's the other way around, but Fates Warning have managed to sound better than they really are.

It's not worth three stars, but it's not a total loss. Chances are some Fates Warning fans will find something they like here, but most mid-level fans won't care too much for this one. Two stars seems like the proper rating.

Report this review (#64785)
Posted Saturday, January 14, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars FWX is one of the best prog metal albums you'll hear, along with the exceptional A Pleasant Shade of Gray. These guys make music, they don't care if some... guy has not enough gray cells to understand what they say, they make their statement anyway, and they do it with mathematical precision, great guitar work, bass, keyboards and drums, outstanding vocals, very good lyrics and inspired composition. It's frustrating to see excellent albums being "hacked" by one dude or another... The word for FWX is "brilliant". If you like true prog metal, buy this album. If you like "U2" (no offence), don't buy it. I would give it 6 stars, but the maximum allowed is 5, so 5 stars it is...
Report this review (#73583)
Posted Thursday, March 30, 2006 | Review Permalink
PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars On a perfect day the river is wide and the ocean deep ...

FATES WARNING is one of my favourite Prog Metal bands - maybe not typical for this subgenre (so I'm not an expert). I like Ray Alder's voice because she's not so rough or harsh - perfectly harmonizing with the melodies. Yes - their music is very melodic provided with fantastic hooklines (what I've heard from the band so far). And they often have a psychedelic touch within the songs.

For example the short Sequence or River wide ocean deep which starts very melancholic with decent spacy guitars, synthy soundscapes and some female oriental background vocals. After a while then it changes into a frantic mood - staccato drums, heavy riffs and above all Alder's emotional vocals - a perfect song! Another perfect day remembers me much at Porcupine Tree. But nevertheless a wonderful song with transitions to classic heavy rock. The closing Wish with sentimental piano additions is another highlight of this album.

Furthermore it's not necessary to mention all the other songs - there are no losses. 'FWX' is recommend to fans of melodic prog metal and art rock.

Report this review (#81588)
Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is FATES WARNING's tenth studio album and their twentieth anniversary as a band. I don't think there is any doubt that the band was filled with confidence as they recorded this album having just completed a successful tour with QUEENSRYCHE and DREAM THEATER the year before. They even produce this album themselves as Jim and Ray took on that responsibility. I love the cover art of an older couple sitting on their lawn chairs watching a tornado out in the field. The band thanks former lead guitarist Frank Aresti (nice), Mike Portnoy, Nick D'Virgilio, Bernie Versailles and Nick van Dyk. Like on the "Disconnected" album Jim and Ray share the song writing duties while Jim takes care of the music. On a sad note this will be Mark Zonder's last album with the band. This record has a similar sound to "Disconnected" but it's more straight forward with shorter songs, some being almost radio friendly in the verse, chorus, verse mode. I have to say the song writing is again steller. Jim plays keys as Kevin Moore is not involved in this one, so there is less keyboard work as well.

"Left Here" opens with the sounds of crickets as gently played guitar comes in. It starts to build as synths and drums arrive followed by the grinding guitar of Matheos. Zonder and Matheos are amazing ! Some beautiful guitar melodies to end it. "Simple Human" comes out swinging and someone is going down. This song is both heavy and catchy. "River Wide Ocean Deep" is dark with lots of atmosphere to open, a lot of tension as well. A female vocal melody comes and goes. The song breaks out a couple of times with some scathing guitar to end it. The lyrics are very interesting about three different women or three different moods of the same woman. In the first verse she has loving eyes, open arms and a soothing voice. In the second verse she has vacant eyes, withered arms and a thundering voice. In the third verse she has wild eyes, clutching arms and a drowning voice.

"Another Perfect Day" has an uptempo intro that settles down to a pleasant, feel good song. Nice. I am reminded of PORCUPINE TREE as the guitar is strummed before turning heavy. "Heal Me" is ballad-like for 2 minutes (Ray does a nice job) before turning heavy with Vera and Zonder shining brightly. "Sequence #7" is an instrumental with samples and programming like OSI. "Crawl" is a good one with heavy bass, guitar and drums. "A Handful Of Doubt" is a good mid-paced tune with some heaviness that comes and goes. "Stranger (With A Familiar Face)" is more uptempo with a blistering guitar solo from Jim. This song smokes ! "Wish" has a steady rhythm with some keys from Matheos. More scorching guitar.

Overall a great record that doesn't live up to "Disconnected" but has some fantastic songs on it anyway. "River Wide Ocean Deep" is probably my favourite with "Left Here" and "Another Perfect Day" rounding out my top three for now.

Report this review (#128977)
Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Could still have had more!

It's good listening to a new album from a band that started my interest in this style. This is a strong album with a bit more focus than their last. I found Disconnected a little bit too, well, disconnected. There seemed to be a bit too much of a lame-ish Tool influence and the songs went on too long. A Pleasant Shade of Greyand Parallels are their defining works, and this sits in the middle of those sound wise.

This cd starts out superbly building to a great chorus with harmony vocals. Question: Why is this the only song with backing vocals? It really makes it, and much of my greviances would be unfounded if tracks 2, 7 and 9 (the faster rockier numbers), and even a few other songs had an interesting range of vocal or guitar melodies. Instead, Ray Alder shifts between his mellower vocal style and a vocally trained yell (ie. not the raw emotional style that ruins your voice). I wish he would put the tight undies back on again occasionally and use variation of pitch and delivery a bit more.

Ok, back to the album, the production is good, Jim's guitar sound has always perplexed me, but on this album it sounds good. Use of a 'twin guitar' attack also adds to the interest. Another Perfect Day is a catchy simple verse-chorus song and is perfect because of that. Handful of Doubt is another strong track. The longer songs on this album don't lose you, there's something interesting enough going on throughout.

Overall, a good album worthy of a listen, but I would prefer a bit more depth of melody and maybe a few twidly guitar bits.

Report this review (#173890)
Posted Saturday, June 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Let's start saying that FWX is for Fates Warning a great step back! We're very far from their last two masterpieces A Pleasant Shade Of Grey and Disconnected. I think that the main reason of this is the absence of Kevin Moore, who collaborated with them on the last two albums. In fact the role of keyboard player in FWX is entrusted to the guitarist Jim Matheos. And there's a strong difference between giving the keyboards to a professional keyboardist (who also played in the most influent prog-metal band, Dream Theater) and giving them to a guitarist! The consequence is that in this album the keyboards don't play an active role and are used just to produce electronic effects and a few backgrounds (on tracks such as Left Here and Heal Me) and keyboard solos are totally absent. But also the complessive sound of this release is a demonstration of the intention by the band to get back to an easier sound. Most of influences come from nu-metal and alternative metal, more than progressive metal. Songs such as Crawl and Strager (With A Familiar Face) are too simple and banal, and it seems like they're trying to make their sound a bit commercial. But it doesn't mean that it's not a good album; there are some good songs such as the powerful Simple Human, the psychedelic River Wide Ocean Deep and the conclusive Wish with a lovely piano solo in the middle.

I'm sorry but I can't give more than 3 stars... I think they had to recruit Kevin Moore or an other keyboardist as a Fates Warning to go on by walking the way of A Pleasant Shade Of Grey and Disconnected... and maybe they would made another masterpiece!

Report this review (#184124)
Posted Tuesday, September 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars |D| Possibly one of my (brother's) worst blind purchases of prog metal.

It seems that reviewers are overall split pretty evenly on whether this is a quality release or an uninspired flop of an album. While I wouldn't say this is a complete disaster, I definitely belong more in the group of the latter. This was also, unfortunately, my first full fledged Fates Warning experience, which made me think I didn't like this pioneering prog metal band for a bit of time until I discovered more of their discography.

Really, objectively, this is a pretty decent album in terms of how the instruments are together, music theory wise. Many of the instrumental passages are almost up their with that of their earlier work with Parallels and Perfect Symmetry. But there are two major things make this album fall flat on its face. Most prevalent are the fail-tastic vocal melodies, which are some of the worst I've heard so far in prog metal. On many tracks we have an energetic riff from the guitar with long, slow moving vocal parts that seem completely out of place with everything else that's happening with the instruments. Just listen to the chorus of the second song, Simple Human; "yeah ah yeah" lasting almost a full two measures over energetic fast moving part. It just doesn't fit. I don't mind Alder's voice itself, but his singing style sounds more like that of those obnoxious alternative rock bands from the nineties, as do some of the guitar parts. The second big thing that I dislike is the overall predictability and repetitiousness of the music overall. On one hand, the band incorporates many great progressive nuances in this album, but the basic parts are overused at best, and are not very interesting to begin with. Usually a track starts with a nice intro, but once the verse and chorus set in, I feel like I've heard the whole rest of the track already, and usually I actually have.

When doing my recent objective listen before this review, I'd listened to the first three tracks and couldn't figure out what exactly about it made the music as weak as I had remembered it. Then upon hearing Another Perfect Day, the only track I'm really fond of on the album, it became abundantly clear; it really did have to do with the quite terrible vocal melodies. And other than the also decent Heal Me, this was how the rest of the album was. Had they been written differently, this could have been a quite powerful and enjoyable album, and it's too bad such a menial thing should bring down the quality of an entire work, as it does for me. I especially disliked Simple Human, River Wide Ocean Deep, and Crawl, which really did sound like simple alternative rock with slight progressive nuances.

Really this isn't a complete disaster of an album, particularly with some quite competent instrumental sections, but there was little I can say I really enjoyed from the album other than Another Perfect Day (especially that great chorus!). The vocal melodies and predictability just ruin it for me overall. Thus, I simply can't recommend this album to anyone but Fates Warning fans alone.

Report this review (#226138)
Posted Sunday, July 12, 2009 | Review Permalink
1 stars Too much like OSI.

So this was my 2nd Fates Warning album, after Awaken the Guardian, and my visceral first reaction was, "what's all the fuss about". It was alright, but it never grabbed me. It wasn't until after I heard the other albums and then Fates Warning became one of my favorite bands and Matheos became my favorite guitar player.

I know that following Disconnected is no easy feat, but this is such an odd direction. Each song is brooding and somewhat meandering. Nothing really complex or Epic along the lines of "Still Remains". Its sounds so much like OSI, I would swear Moore was on the album, but he's not. I'm not gonna do a song break down as they blend so much into one another, and that's really the problem, nothing stands out on its own. Also, Not having Terry Brown on as producer this time is a real shame as his absence is really felt. What really hurts is that Fates Warning has been consistently making excellent albums (Including insideout) since the The Spectre with-in, up until FWX which really sticks out as that weak link in the chain.

On a side note, the album art is so, so and the title FWX is a little "meh" and cliche. At the end of the day it feels like the called this one in. Also, the video for simple human is kinda lame. Ray Alder in a tie sitting in a apartment, just not doing it for me.

At this point, I do enjoy FWX when in the right mood. but it really is way too much like OSI. As of today, its been over 6 years since this album came out and it would be a heinous crime for a band as good as Fates Warning to end on such a low note.

Report this review (#300029)
Posted Tuesday, September 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars Fate's Warning is my favorite progressive metal band. I love all their material until that point. This album is bad, It's not even prog. but an ordinary Rock album, yes the musicianship is great. Mark, Jim and Ray do what they do best. but the songwriting and the compositions simply dont stand up. They were once the pioneers of Progressive Metal, on this album they sound like they've given up and went mainstream. I don't think they should release another album(even though Ray is doing great in Redemption and Jim is kicking-Ass with OSI). We all just want to remember the good old days, and they don't need to embrace them selves anymore.
Report this review (#372522)
Posted Tuesday, January 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
2 stars Running out of steam

FWX (or Fates Warning Ten) is Fates Warning's latest album to date and represents the late period of the band's diverse career. As such FWX is most similar in style to Disconnected and A Pleasant Shade Of Gray but inferior to those in quality. It is not a bad album in its own right, but it is clear that the band was running out of steam at this point and the album does sound rather uninspired compared to previous albums. Indeed, I would say that FWX is the least good of all the Ray Alder-era Fates Warning albums. So, I don't think it was a coincidence that the band decided to stop after this album and that there has not been any more Fates Warning albums since. In 2003 (the year before the release of FWX) Jim Matheos reunited with original Fates Warning singer John Arch to record Arch's solo EP A Twist Of Fate and the two epic songs found on that EP sound very much more inspired than anything from FWX. Maybe this was what motivated Matheos to put Fates Warning on ice and record a full length album with Arch in 2010?

The album starts on a high note with its best track, Left Here. This song has about the same quality as the average song from the previous two albums, but the rest of FWX is weaker and it tends to become a little bit samey towards the middle. The band sounds a bit tired and uninspired even if they have not lost they vocals and instrumental skills and talents. There is a nice acoustic touch to some songs and some electronic touches, but very little in terms of adventurous song structures and the like.

If Fates Warning will ever record another studio album together, I hope that it will not be similar to this one but rather a return to the sound of the band's classic period in the late 80's and early 90's.

FWX is recommended only for fans and collectors of the band, but they will surely enjoy it to some degree as did I.

Report this review (#570788)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "FWX" is the 10th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Fates Warning. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in October 2004. "FWX" was recorded by the same lineup who recorded the two predecessors "A Pleasant Shade of Gray (1997)" and "Disconnected (2000)". This time around Kevin Moore (Dream Theater, Chroma Key, OSI) doesnīt guest on keyboards though. The keyboards and the programming are instead handled by guitarist/main composer Jim Matheos.

While the music on the two predecessors is among the most progressive the band have yet released, "FWX", for the most part, follows a different route. The album is generally more vers/chorus oriented and thereīs a slight alternative influence on the album too. To my ears Some tracks sound closer to Ray Alderīs and Joey Veraīs side-project Engine than they sound like Fates Warning tracks. A track like "Another Perfect Day" reminded me quite a bit of Enchant, so "FWX" is generally a bit of a different sounding Fates Warning album.

The album is well produced although I think Ray Alderīs voice features a somewhat unpleasant metallic production. But thatīs been the case on the two precessors too. Whatīs more disturbing is the quality of the vocal melody lines, which are not very catchy. That worked alright on the more progressive predecessors because the quality of the music was so high, but here the instrumental part of the music too often falls into anonymous territory. The musicianship is as always on a very high level, but itīs not often the bandīs great skills are put to their full use.

So overall "FWX" is a bit of a disappointing release by Fates Warning. Itīs a bit hard to follow what the band were aiming at with the album but the bottom line is that it isnīt really working. "FWX" features glimpses of greatness and there are definitely both memorable and enjoyable parts on the album, but they are generally few and far between. Still a band like Fates Warning never fall flat on their face even on an album where they donīt deliver their most well written or interesting material, so a 3 star (60%) rating is still deserved.

Report this review (#1298938)
Posted Thursday, October 30, 2014 | Review Permalink

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