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FATES WARNING

Progressive Metal • United States


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Fates Warning biography
FATES WARNING was founded as a heavy metal band, but after a few albums, their progressive tendencies started to emerge. While retaining elements of their metal heritage, their music grew increasingly complex, with much longer tracks and interesting interwoven melodic elements added. They merged their love of YES and RUSH, by combining elements of pure metal, classically inspired crescendos and interludes with jazz fusion like chops. FW has been largely responsible for the infusion of progressive thinking into heavy metal music, unlike its co-founding compatriots of progressive metal, DREAM THEATER. So give yourself the chance to live an emotive experience unlike anything else.

Like KING CRIMSON, the evolution of FATES WARNING can be split into many different period. "Awaken The Guardian" (1986) showed the band's music to be more progressive and complex that first impressions had suggested. "No Exit" (1988) was a ground breaking album for the band as they further explore the realms of progressive metal with the 21 minute long "The Ivory Gate of Dreams". This was followed by "Perfect Symmetry" (1989), considered by many to be the band's most Progressive rock-driven release. The compilation, "Chasing Time", is a great place to start. However, 1998's "A Pleasant Shade Of Grey", which consists of a single 40-minute song, is clearly the best place for a Progressive rock fan. The album start off slowly and needs several careful listenings to be fully appreciated; but then, since part. "Still Life" appeared the next year, and "Disconnected" followed two years later. And now let's wait for their 2003 release.

See also:

- John Arch
- Chinese Firedrill
- OSI

Fates Warning official website

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Theories Of FlightTheories Of Flight
Limited Edition
Inside Out Music 2016
Audio CD$11.89
$11.11 (used)
Darkness in a Different LightDarkness in a Different Light
Inside Out Music 2013
Audio CD$10.14
$11.95 (used)
Spectre WithinSpectre Within
Remastered · Extra tracks
Metal Blade 2002
Audio CD$7.35
$7.84 (used)
Awaken The Guardian - ReissueAwaken The Guardian - Reissue
CD+DVD · Remastered · Extra tracks
Metal Blade 2005
Audio CD$10.60
$8.41 (used)
Night On BrockenNight On Brocken
Metal Blade
Audio CD$6.94
$5.29 (used)
FWXFWX
Metal Blade 2004
Audio CD$5.39
$2.94 (used)
Pleasant Shade Of GrayPleasant Shade Of Gray
Metal Blade 1997
Audio CD$7.08
$2.09 (used)
DisconnectedDisconnected
Metal Blade 2000
Audio CD$7.33
$3.41 (used)
Inside Out - Expanded EditionInside Out - Expanded Edition
Extra tracks
Metal Blade 2012
Audio CD$11.43
$9.90 (used)
No Exit: 25th Anniversary EditionNo Exit: 25th Anniversary Edition
Remastered · Extra tracks
Metal Blade 2007
Audio CD$10.43
$49.00 (used)
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FATES WARNING discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

FATES WARNING top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.67 | 125 ratings
Night On Bröcken
1984
3.47 | 158 ratings
The Spectre Within
1985
3.97 | 238 ratings
Awaken The Guardian
1986
3.92 | 218 ratings
No Exit
1988
4.14 | 355 ratings
Perfect Symmetry
1989
4.12 | 321 ratings
Parallels
1991
3.57 | 181 ratings
Inside Out
1994
4.14 | 329 ratings
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray
1997
4.08 | 311 ratings
Disconnected
2000
3.35 | 197 ratings
FWX
2004
3.91 | 261 ratings
Darkness In A Different Light
2013
4.10 | 119 ratings
Theories Of Flight
2016

FATES WARNING Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.38 | 75 ratings
Still Life
1998

FATES WARNING Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.36 | 11 ratings
Live at the Dynamo
1998
4.80 | 27 ratings
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray - Live (VHS)
1998
4.28 | 18 ratings
The View From Here
2003
3.76 | 35 ratings
Live In Athens
2005

FATES WARNING Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.30 | 36 ratings
Chasing Time
1995

FATES WARNING Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.83 | 6 ratings
Misfit (Demo)
1984
3.14 | 7 ratings
1984 Demo
1984
3.50 | 6 ratings
Dickie (Demo)
1985
3.78 | 9 ratings
Pale Fire
1994
3.90 | 10 ratings
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray: Part II
1997

FATES WARNING Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Theories Of Flight by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.10 | 119 ratings

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Theories Of Flight
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by Einwahn

4 stars All those of us who love Prog Metal owe so much to this pioneering band, and to see them (a) playing with such power after so many years, and (b) topping the Prog Archives charts is just great. 'Theories of Flight' continues in the same relatively conservative style as the previous 'Darkness in a Different Light'. Both albums are straightforward guitar burns, ToF I think having an even faster average tempo. These are superb musicians and it is hard to see how any metal fan would not enjoy ToF. For myself, Fates Warning peaked artistically in the millennium-period albums with the extra dimension of Kevin Moore's keyboard contributions (i.e. 'Gray' and 'Disconnected'). There isn't quite enough flair in ToF for the fifth star, but this is an album that is going to get a lot of time in my audio systems.

Verdict: a superb band and a superb album.

 Theories Of Flight by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.10 | 119 ratings

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Theories Of Flight
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

4 stars Fates Warning is a rare prog metal band without the musical cheese. The word to describe their music is... certainly not harsh. Bleak? No, serious would be the word. Even the albums have such scientifically-inclined names as Theories of Flight or Darkness in a Different Light. Fates are famous for incorporating complex riffing and drumming patterns in a concise pop song length. Theories continue with the thick guitar sound of Darkness, but there's an effort to make the music sound more commercial, with the prog power metal-like shifts between softer and harder parts, hooks galore and guitar solos, bringing the band closer to the sound of such more commercially successful outfits as Dream Theater, Symphony X and even Iron Maiden.
 Theories Of Flight by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.10 | 119 ratings

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Theories Of Flight
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by DeepPurplePL

5 stars Music tablet slowly dissolving in my ears and Dream Theater's nightmare.

That is a very good album and it seems that FW have musically still 'something to say'. I was not impressed by the album teaser available on tube and I think I will avoid listening to 30 seconds excerpts taken out of context in future. I was not impressed after listening to the album once. But I took time and "Theories of Flight" are growing every day. The real Killer is "The Light and Shade of Things" the best over 10 minute long piece since "Child in Time". The main strength of FW (apart from obvious technical skills) is ability to compose music. These guys are nor in their 20's anymore but they are musically young at heart and this album is the best source of evidence. They are not 'speeding', no showing off, every element has its place in this beautiful musical puzzle. I also adore last track that reminds me Kevin Moore's Chroma Key. What an atmosphere, what a climate. I wish there was 40 minutes of music like that even if it would not be classic FW. All other tracks are very good, but 'Like Stars Our Eyes Have Seen' and 'The Ghosts of Home' excel. That is a pity this band is a little bit underrated. I said that many times before that Fates Warning is King Crimson of prog metal genre and I sustain that opinion. Why Dream Theater nightmare? Because DT are speeding last 15 years but create little music. Thank you FW and see you (again) on tour. Bless ya.

 Theories Of Flight by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.10 | 119 ratings

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Theories Of Flight
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by javajeff

5 stars With 12 studio albums, what do you expect from a band often described as pioneers of Progressive Metal? Jim Matheos can do no wrong as he continues to innovate while keeping the core Fates Warning sound. These guys are great musicians, and Theories of Flight sounds like seasoned veterans at work. Ray Alder's vocals sounds terrific, and he performs with a tremendous amount of emotion. I thought he sounded great on the Redemption album The Art of Loss earlier this year as well. The rhythm section of Joey Vera on bass and Bobby Jarzombek on drums deserve kudos since they sound perfect. The sound quality is excellent, and this release just flat out rocks! Like all Fates Warning albums, this one is so addicting it just begs to be listened to. I enjoy every track, and it flows like something I have listened to for a decade. If you are a fan of Fates Warning, Progressive Rock, or Progressive metal then this is an excellent addition to your collection.
 Theories Of Flight by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 2016
4.10 | 119 ratings

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Theories Of Flight
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by ArtuomNechuev

5 stars Another Outrageous Album.

Although I've been listening to Fates Warning just a bit less than a year, great adoration and respect have appeared in my mind and soul. Obviously, the band led by it's eternal mastermind Jim Matheos shows the real progress in their music and attitude to its composition and performance. And the situation has carried on through the whole career. None of their albums I can name weak (even Night On Brocken and FWX). So Theories of Flight is no exception. It is a mystery to me how Jim Matheos manages incorporate contemporary elements, develop musically and lyrically, but preserve his own style and old spirit. The songs on the album (written mostly by Jim Matheos) are elaborated even more thoroughly than on the previous album and include interesting structures and multiple tempo and time changes. There a lot of heavy and intricate riffs with the use of counterpoint like in White Flag, beautiful flying melodies like in the title song, enough mellow places with clean and acoustic guitars like in The Light and Shape of Things, catchy choruses like in Seven Stars, clever and sincere lyrics in every song. Vocal delivery by Ray Alder is both highly emotional and powerful as always. Solos by guest guitarist Mike Abdow and long-time previous Fates Warning member Frank Aresti represent a great blend of melody and technical skills and fit perfectly in the songs. Boby Jarzombek weaves an incredible wave with his quite professional and sophisticated drumming which expands songs significantly. And of course Joey Vera delivers some prominent and well-fitting bass lines. The general expression from the album - excellent. Four and a half stars.

 Awaken The Guardian by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.97 | 238 ratings

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Awaken The Guardian
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Awaken the dark prog metal

4.5 stars

Undoubtedly my favorite FATES WARNING album. Last opus with vocalist John Arch, "Awaken The Guardian" also marks the end of an era for the band. Musically, the style is the same as its predecessor's, "The Spectre Within", however even more inspired and lyrical. 80's fantasy / sci-fi heavy metal featuring tortured melodies and unexpected breaks at its best, alternating with softer acoustic passages. The presence of duelling guitars like IRON MAIDEN increases the sound depth. However, this time the band goes a step further than their initial British influences in terms of complexity and darkness, while staying relatively accessible.

The first half of the record is simply flawless. "The Sorceress" is an efficient dark metal opener with many melodic variations. The guitars weave a web sometimes reminiscent of CELTIC FROST. "Valley Of The Dolls" is a heavy metal song, with dark aggressive passages. The heroic "Fata Morgana" is really great. A bombastic tune with a catchy lyrical melody. To let the listener breathe, the mid-tempo "Guardian" features an acoustic introduction and displays a melancholic softer ambiance.

The second half is more about atmospheres and less punchy. The trashy "Prelude To Ruin" is a weaker track, sometimes difficult to follow, whereas the dark mid-tempo "Giants Lore" possesses an haunting atmosphere. "Time Long Past" is mainly a short pretty acoustic piece. The ending song, "Exodus", is the longest of the record. Pure progressive metal, featuring numerous rhythm changes and alternating fast aggressive passages and slow moments. A very good conclusion for this somber journey.

Despite weaker moments in its second part, "Awaken The Guardian" is a very good album, dark and complex. Surprisingly, this opus is also suitable for FATES WARNING newcomers, or just for MAIDEN fans who don't know this underrated band. An tortured nightmarish trip into distant unexplored planets, and an essential listen for progressive metal lovers!

 Perfect Symmetry by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.14 | 355 ratings

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Perfect Symmetry
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by ArtuomNechuev

5 stars Simply a cornerstone of Progressive Metal.

Sincerity, intelligence, creativity and hard work create a superb blend that results in such masterpieces. That time Fates Warning finally completed their classic line-up, consisting of Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti on guitars, Ray Alder on vocals, Joe DiBiase on bass and of course the new comer and real drum-wizard - Mark Zonder. This bunch of highly talented musicians composed and recorded the album which is a very important part of world's heavy and/or progressive music and which I consider the first pure Prog Metal record. It's hard to convey emotions that I experience while I'm listen to this album. All that that sincerity I've meant deeply touches and penetrates my soul along with unique and haunting atmosphere, so that this music completely fits my inner world and my musical ideals and opinions. Perfect Symmetry is a brilliant example of how heavy and punchy music based on riffs interlaces with atmosphere, melodies and emotional load. Moreover, some kind of cold atmosphere dominates the most album. Therefore, the music on this record just splendid and it's totally devoid of pomp, pretence and instrumental self-admiration being rather complicated and catchy simultaneously. Technical and compositional abilities of band members are obvious, however the musicians don't exaggerate at all playing all the parts coherently in appropriate places and not striking the listener with endless fast passages like some prog bands which are tend to do it occasionally. In addition not only the music is excellent, it's about lyrics too. They are quite intelligent, sincere and touch upon the most acute problems of human world - internal personal issues (like reality perception, self-awareness and so on). In other words, they are directed to incite listener to think. Production is also excellent with all instruments being heard distinctively and cohesively at the same time. And the rhythm section isn't suppressed at all, which can't but make glad such a bass-and-drums fancy as me.

But it's enough describing in general, so let's move on to the compositions. 1). The very first composition is called A Part Of A Machine. It starts with sounds of moving parts of great machine with guitar riff accompanied by drums on backgrounds. Than the band fully join with riff in 7/8. Outstanding drumming skills of Mark Zonder strike the ear immediately. The song features a signature harmonized solo in the beginning (the same in the end) and then proceeds with several tempo, time signature and tonality changes which emphasizes progress in songwriting of Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti. Joe DiBiase delivers absolutely stunning bass line in 2nd verse. Concerning the vocals - Ray Alder at his best absolutely with all that screams and emotional mellow singing. The song bears very dark mood and in some parts is even aggressive. The lyrics deal with the problem of being blended with mediocre and dull ruck, and being too weak and shallow to think and see the truth. Perfect onset. 2). The second song is the album's single and a kind of radio hit, if it can be said. Another beautiful creation of Jim Matheos. Through the different eyes is not very long and complex in structure and music (however chorus in 3, 3, 3 and unexpectedly 4 - very creative), but utterly melodic and possess very catchy chorus. It is lighter than the rest of the album with some melancholic and a bit soothing mood and marks the band's transition to their future style expanded on Parallels. Mark Zonder and Joe DiBiase create interesting polyrhythm in verses. Also song features rather memorable solos, the first one by Jim Matheos and especially the one by Frank Aresti with all his tapping and legato stuff. Again very sincere vocal delivery by Ray Alder with some intricate melodies on verses and touching yet quite complicated lyrics by Jim Matheos. To my mind lyrics concern the issue of memories of something light and true buried in the past. People again in grow, start to think in different ways and try to find things (relations, feelings etc.) they have lost, but It's impossible to go back. Clearly a highlight of the album. 3). Third one is Static Acts. Lead by taut yet dynamic dual harmony on guitar again in 7/8. The most memorable harmonized part on the album. Mr. Zonder again shines implementing double strokes and syncopes. Frank Aresti performs a very beautiful and technical solo laid upon Jim Matheos flying clean sound. The song is notable for it's heartrending and strained atmosphere and seems to be the most aggressive on the album. Ray Alder emits awe-inspiring yells and punch up the choruses which go in contrast with his gloomy flows on verses. The song is about faceless crowd which suppress any display of individuality and diversity. 4). A World Apart is the album's fourth composition unfairly unheeded. To me it's mood is the darkest and most sombre on the whole album which partly courtesy of Jim Matheos utilizing the tritone in heading arpegio in 9/8. It can sound funny, but first of all I remember it's unusual and absolutely incredible drum patterns. So it's probably the best display of Mark Zonder's abilities and skills among the other songs. In vocals there are over and over tons of sincerity and melody by Mr.Alder. In other words all musical components are out of discussion. Lyrics are turning around people's approach to the world they live. Leaving for today and caring for futile and frivolous things leads to domination of "malignant minds" and downfall of the world. 5). The fifth piece of the album At Fates Hands deserves to be named masterpiece by right. It's introductory part bears nearly classical music feel. Very calm, unhurried and a bit intricate melody is produced by fascinating interweaving of violin, piano and two guitars and creates somnolent soundscapes of hope and something bright. Kevin Moore's contribution is absolutely an integral part of this song as Faith Fraeoli's one with violin. Without these musicians it would be impossible to transmit completely that emotional load that resides in beautiful passages of At Fates Hands. After quasiclassical beginning, the song flows into more melancholic mood which is deepened with Ray Alder's musical narration. The sense load of lyrics consists in feeling of inevitability of fate and vain efforts of resisting it (and once lyrics mention the blindness of ruck). This part goes through a couple of tonality changes and then tempo changes and enters gloomy arpeggio of Jim Matheos. And then begins the musical insanity. Tons of riffs and melodies with lashings of time signature changes and several changes of tonality is accompanied by incredulous drumming, punchy keyboards and clever bass lines. There you have it all including harmonic dual leads and riffs and even harmonized solo on guitar and synthesizer. This part as though shows turbulent flows of fate (or destiny if you like) which direct our lives as it thinks fit. Doubtlessly the highest point of the album. 6). The song number six is called The Arena. Although being in general more straightforward metal track with harmonizing guitars it's not deprived of some curious riffs with shifted accents, nice bass lines and signature acoustic guitar of Jim Matheos on the backgrounds. Also the song features one of the highest and most powerful performances by Ray Alder. Lyrics tell us that people are too shallow and easy blinded by superficial aspects of life. They can't control their thoughts properly so they are "led and fooled". 7). Chasing Time is the seventh track with quite haunting atmosphere first and foremost created by calm sound of acoustic guitars. Ray Alder completely succeeds in conveying sadness and melancholy singing so emotionally that I nearly shed a tear. Then a violin creeps into quietly and sadly. It intensifies the emotional flow of the song and after raise in song's tempo and mellow guitar solo based on flageolets which interweaves with heart-stirring bass solo by Joe DiBiase it assumes the leading role and flows accompanied by acoustic harmonized guitars. The lyrics deal with the problem of being deep in vain dreams, especially of a future. It's hard to cope with the reality, but dreams of the future are continued despite the fleeing years of life. 8). The concluding track is epic 8-minute Nothing left To Say which obviously is another irrefutable prog masterpiece on the album. It starts with stunning guitar leads layed upon heavy and complicated riff with shifted accents and changing time signatures. Then the song slows down and transits in melancholic clean-sound passages while Jim Matheos shows all the subtleness of his playing in the slightly overdriven melody. Bass and drums manage to play quite sophisticated yet rhythmically congruous lines. I even can say that Mark Zonder really helps to create the atmosphere of the song. Ray Alder is absolutely sincere and dynamical as always. Vocal performance in the more intense and fast middle part reach the climax with Ray's high-pitched screams. Musically the main riff in the middle section resembles Iron Maiden style but with more different guitar parts, with additional quarters and darker mood. After a couple of verses and breaks Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti combine their efforts into wonderful harmonized solo - one of the best twin harmonic leads I've ever heard (really!). At the end the song slows down and melancholic mood returns and Ray Alder gives a final touch almost whispering final words. About lyrics: this time Jim Matheos slightly another theme, however with similar overall mood. To my opinion they are about trying to find one's own way through life, losing the true reason for all the actions and efforts and final disillusioning with the achieved goals 'cause they turn out to be superficial.

And in conclusion there's nothing left to say for me but praise and recommend this record again and again.

 Disconnected by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.08 | 311 ratings

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Disconnected
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "Disconnected" is the 9th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Fates Warning. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in the US and through Massacre Records in Europe in July 2000. The band was down to a three-piece on "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray (1997)" and continues with the same constellation here. Ray Alder on vocals, Jim Matheos on guitars, keyboards (additional), vocals (additional), and sequencing, and Mark Zonder drums. Session bass is again handled by Joey Vera (Armored Saint), and Kevin Moore (Dream Theater, OSI) also delivers keyboards on "Disconnected" like he did on the predecessor.

Fates Warning has made it a habit changing their sound between albums, and very few of their albums sound alike, although they all sound unmistakably like Fates Warning. "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray (1997)" was yet another intriguing new stylistic change and an almost hour long concept album to boot. Not surprisingly though "Disconnected" sees Fates Warning change direction again, altough the shift isn't as dramatic as it was between the last two albums.

The music on the album is progressive metal with an occasional alternative rock/metal edge. There is a strong ambient element on the album too, and Kevin Moore's keyboard contributions are considerable throughout the album. While he also played an integral role on the sound on "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray (1997)", I'd say this is the first Fates Warning release where the material couldn't stand alone without keyboards/sequencing/sound effects.

"Disconnected" features 7 tracks and a full playing time of 51:30 minutes. The opening track is a short intro, but the remaining tracks are regular songs. "Something From Nothing" and "Still Remains" both exceed the 10 minutes mark, and the latter is actually quite the lengthy piece clocking in at 16:08 minutes. The remaining tracks are between 4 and 8 minutes long. The tracks are as mentioned drenched in keyboards, but meaty guitar riffs, heavy bass, and groove laden and technically intriguing drumming, are also part of the sound. Ray Alder's vocals are as distinct sounding as ever, and his delivery is strong and passionate. The vocal melodies aren't as instantly catchy as they were a couple of albums back, but that's not a surprise, as monotony in that department was also a part of the vocal style on "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray (1997)". Backing and harmony vocals are again only used sparsely as are guitar solos.

The album features a heavy, clear, and powerful sound production, which suits the music well (there's even what I'd call a futuristic sound to it), and upon conclusion "Disconnected" is quite an interesting album. It's pretty unique within the band's discography but also in progressive metal in general. To my ears it's more interesting than enjoyable though, and going through the tracklist there are actually only a few tracks where I find the melodies to be particularly strong. It's like Ray Alder insists on singing non-melodic and at times close to dissonant vocal melodies, and it takes it's toll on the catchiness of the music. "One" is a pretty great powerful track and "Still Remains" also has it's moments (although it does feel a bit disjointed) and so do "Something From Nothing" and "So". The aggressive "Pieces of Me" doesn't work that well and the ambient atmospheric instrumental "Disconnected (Part 2)", which closes the album, sounds like something off an OSI album. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

 A Pleasant Shade Of Gray by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.14 | 329 ratings

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A Pleasant Shade Of Gray
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray" is the 8th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Fates Warning. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in the US and through Massacre Records in Europe in April 1997. There have been two lineup changes since "Inside Out (1994)" as longtime bassist Joe Dibiase and lead guitarist Frank Aresti have jumped ship. The three remaining members (vocalist Ray Alder, guitarist/main composer Jim Matheos, and drummer Mark Zonder) opted to continue as a three piece but they are joined here by session musicians Joey Vera (Armored Saint) on bass and Kevin Moore (Dream Theater) on keyboards/piano.

"A Pleasant Shade Of Gray" is a concept album where all tracks seque into each other to form a 58:38 minutes long piece. The tracks are titled "Part I", "Part II"...and so forth. The atmosphere is bleak and reeks melancholy. Often delivered in a sort of monotone fashion which further emphasize the gloomy atmosphere. Monotone in this case doesn't mean non-melodic or anything like that, but the music on "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray" is still a far cry from the very melodic and to some degree sing along friendly last couple of albums.

There are actually quite a few differences between the music on this album an the music featured on "Parallels (1991)" and "Inside Out (1994)". On those two albums Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti explored and perfected their distorted/clean guitar style, where they would compliment each other playing clean and distorted guitars in layers. It's a rather distinct sounding guitar style, which is abruptly ended on "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray" as Fates Warning opted to continue with only one guitarist. The loss of Frank Aresti also means that "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray" features very few guitar solos, which has otherwise been a trademark of Fates Warning's sound on all seven previous studio albums. Another feature which has changed significantly compared to the last couple of albums, is the sparse use of backing and harmony vocals. On "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray", we're predominantly exposed to Ray Alder's naked voice.

What the listener gets instead is a more riff heavy sound (the bass is generally also more heavy than in the past), with a lot of keyboard contributions from Kevin Moore. The keyboards generally play a big role on "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray", with both electronic sounds, mellow piano parts, lead keyboard parts, and atmosphere enhancing floating chords. While there are several heavy riffs featured on the album, it's generally a very dynamic release, which shifts between distorted and clean guitar parts and heavy and softer atmospheres. There's also an ambient element which at times reminds me of "The Wall (1979)"-era Pink Floyd.

Fates Warning has opted for a pretty cold and clinical sounding production, which also sets "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray" apart from it's predecessors (especially the voice production sounds vastly different). It's a very well sounding production though. Powerful, detailed, and professional.

Upon conclusion the material on "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray" is of a high quality. It's memorable, intriguing, and adventurous. The overall concept and the way the tracks seque into each other doesn't always work as well as it could have, and to my ears there is a greater compositional coherence on the first part of the album compared to the last part, which sounds a bit more disjointed. Had the piece ended after the thrilling and emotional finale climax of "Part VI", it would have been an almost perfect progressive metal epic, but instead Fates Warning decided to continue the track for another 25 minutes or so. And don't misunderstand me here, because those last 25 minutes are absolutely stunning in their own right (the 9:18 minutes long closing "Part XII" is for example quite a brilliant mini epic on it's own), I would just have prefered that those last parts of the long concept piece had been broken down into individual tracks instead. I think it would have worked better. When that is said "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray" is still an incredibly unique sounding release filled to the brim with high quality material, high level musicianship, and a well sounding production. A 4.5 star (90%) is fully deserved.

 Night On Bröcken by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1984
2.67 | 125 ratings

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Night On Bröcken
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

3 stars Back in the early 80's when the metal world was going crazy for the rise of thrash metal and the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal), a new, Connecticut-based band quietly unleashed this gem upon the world, to little or no mainstream recognition; Fates Warning were laying down the blueprint for what would become progressive metal.

Sounding almost identical to early Iron Maiden, 'Night on Bröcken' takes most of its influence from the NWOBHM, with melodic, galloping guitar riffs, choc-full of harmonies and duel-guitar leads. Vocalist John Arch even sounds like Maiden's Bruce Dickinson at times. But with some interesting song arrangements and a few odd time-signatures thrown in, Fates Warning were laying down the foundations that bands like Dream Theater and Queensr˙che would build upon to make prog metal what it is today.

Fates Warning would certainly go on to release better albums than this, but this is a good, solid debut, with some memorable songs and some catchy hooks. Sadly, this record hasn't really stood the test of time, as it's mostly forgotten about today. But if you like NWOBHM or you're interested to hear the roots of progressive metal, then it's worth keeping an eye out for.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to E&O Team for the last updates

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