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Fates Warning

Progressive Metal

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Fates Warning Perfect Symmetry album cover
4.13 | 470 ratings | 28 reviews | 40% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Part of the Machine (6:16)
2. Through Different Eyes (4:22)
3. Static Acts (4:28)
4. A World Apart (5:03)
5. At Fate's Hands (6:59)
6. The Arena (3:19)
7. Chasing Time (3:38)
8. Nothing Left to Say (8:00)

Total Time 42:05

Bonus CD from 2008 remaster - The Demos :
1. Part of the Machine (7:03)
2. Through Different Eyes (4:20)
3. Static Acts (4:27)
4. A World Apart (5:38)
5. At Fates Hands (6:11)
6. The Arena (3:52)
7. Chasing Time (4:06)
8. Nothing Left to Say (8:06)
9. Part of the Machine (8:03)
10. Nothing Left to Say (4:51)

Total Time 56:37

Bonus DVD from 2008 remaster:
- Allentown, PA 12/02/89 -
1. Fata Morgana (5:31)
2. Part of the Machine (5:11)
3. Silent Cries (3:15)
4. Static Acts (4:18)
5. Through Different Eyes (4:24)
- Houston, TX 4/26/90 -
6. Fata Morgana (5:31)
7. Static Acts (4:16)
8. Anarchy Divine (3:46)
9. Silent Cries (3:16)
10. Nothing Left to Say (7:46)
11. Quietus (4:04)
12. Damnation (6:30)
- Amsterdam, Netherlands 12/16/89 -
13. Fata Morgana (6:07)
14. Part of the Machine (5:17)
15. Silent Cries (3:11)
16. The Apparition (6:10)
17. Through Different Eyes (4:45)
18. Nothing Left to Say (8:01)
- Philadelphia, PA 3/27/90 -
19. The Arena (3:29)
- New Haven, CT 12/11/89 -
20. Through Different Eyes (4:01)
21. The Apparition (5:49)
22. Damnation (6:19)
23. Exodus (7:33)
24. Drum Solo (1:02)
25. Nothing Left to Say (8:11)
26. The Ivory Gate of Dreams (19:46)
- Promotional Video -
27. Through Different Eyes (4:57)

Total Time 152:26

Line-up / Musicians

- Ray Alder / lead & backing vocals
- Jim Matheos / guitars
- Frank Aresti / guitars, backing vocals
- Joe DiBiase / bass
- Mark Zonder / acoustic & electronic drums

- Kevin Moore / keyboards (5)
- Faith Fraeoli / violin (5)

Releases information

Artwork: Hugh Syme with John Scarpati (photo)

LP Metal Blade Records ‎- 7 73408-1 (1989, US)

CD Metal Blade Records ‎- 7 73408-2 (1989, US)
CD Roadrunner Records ‎- RR 9451 2 (1989, Europe)
2xCD+DVD Metal Blade Records ‎- 3984-14668-2 (2008, Germany) Remastered by Brad Vance w/ Bonus CD (Demos) & DVD (Live recordings 1989-90) plus promotional video "Through Different Eyes"

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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FATES WARNING Perfect Symmetry ratings distribution

(470 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(40%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

FATES WARNING Perfect Symmetry reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's not truly prog, but it's an excellent album .!!

It's probably the album that remarks the band effort to progressive vein. In its own style, I can see the band effort is worth as the result is an excellent album with full of energy with some prog elements. The music is not something you might expect of progressive metal vein with repeated heavy riffs. It does not mean that there is no riffs, I find some but it does not characterized the overall music of the band, especially this album. The first spin I found the album looked like a heavy metal vein at least for the first three tracks. But when repeated the spin couple of times, I could see some changes of time signatures and / or rhythm section performed unexpectedly but with a nice transition. The music of this album is probably similar to Rush and Queensryche with more progressive elements, I would say.

Musician-wise, put aside the prog ness of the album, I admire the powerful voice quality of Ray Alder that can sing with an excellent stamina for especially high register notes! His voice (in this album) reminds me to Geoff Tate (of Queensryche) voice. I do enjoy Ray's vocal quality and it sounds perfect with this album. The other musician of importance in this album is of course the master mind and songwriter Jim Matheos. It's not a matter of technical skills he delivers with this album but he has his own unique guitar style that is really "perfect" for the music of this album. Mark Zonder plays brilliant work behind the drum stools. As my prog mate put it, he has an "acrobatic" drumming style. I fully agree with him. Last but not least, there is an excellent work on bass guitar part played by JoeDiBiase. He fills in some segment in dynamic way.

Let's have a look at track level ..

The album opener "Part of the Machine" starts with a music loop / sampling followed by a blast of intro part in hard rock vein with guitar takes the lead on melody. The vocal enters the music in a distanced style with high register notes augmented with sort guitar riffs. It reminds me to the music of Black Sabbath. The music turns into short guitar solo with rhythm section of guitar as well. The rhythm then turns to form a sort of melody and accompany the vocal to increase into higher register. The music turns into quieter passage with guitar fills while voice line is still in high register.

"Through Different Eyes" starts with an ambient guitar solo with a bit of Floydian style, then it blasts off with relatively the same fast tempo as the opening track. The guitar solo at opening is stunning and provides excellent musical enjoyment. The music suddenly turns into quieter passage filled with guitar work in slow tempo. The vocal line enters in this slow tempo nicely. The music is composed tightly - in a hard rock vein.

"Static Acts" starts nicely in the vein of Saga. The vocal line enters at a quieter passage accompanied with guitar fills. The music turns into a faster tempo with high register notes of vocal line. The music flows nicely with guitar as main rhythm section augmented with keyboard sounds. Stunning guitar solo in prog style has made this track an enjoyable one to listen. It's one of my favorite tracks.

"A World Apart" starts in a mellow fashion with great voice line backed up with excellent guitar fills and acrobatic drumming style. The music flows in continuous form accentuated with guitar fills and sort of psychedelic style. It has a reat variation in terms of high and low points that can elevate our emotions toward the music. The stunning guitar solo accentuates the cohesiveness of the composition.

"At Fate's Hands" opens with a collaborative efforts of guitar, piano and violin. It provides a classical nuance of the song. Very nice opening. The vocal enters nicely after the classical outfit, backed up with soft drumming and some keyboard at background. Half way through, the music turns into a faster tempo in symphonic style. It's a wonderful passage, combined with electric guitar rhythm. The music gradually increases its complexity featuring the combined sounds of guitar, keyboard, bass, violin and drum. It's a very progressive movement and it's a prog track to the corner!

"The Arena" is a straight forward rock tune with excellent composition.The short guitar solo in the middle is stunning.

"Chasing Time" starts with a nice guitar fills in mellow style. It's a kind of ballad song or slow rock outfit with a unique singing style. Halfway through the track the band has pushed the song further into prog vein. The inclusion of violin solo has enriched the track.

"Nothing Left To Say" opened with soft riffs and stunning guitar solo in prog met vei with unique time signatures. This guitar solo has really enriched the song and gives rich textures of the song. It turns then into quieter passages with guitar fills and let the vocal line enters the music. It's a catchy vocal melody. It's a track with tight structure and wonderful composition. One of my favorite tracks.

My Recommendation

Go and get the CD! It's an excellent addition to any prog collection! Overall rating is 4.5 out of 5. However, it's too naïve for giving full five stars rating for this album. This album is really excellent. Keep on Progging .!!!

Progressively yours,

GW - Indonesia.

Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars This is a very significant record for me, it actually in a round about way opened the hidden world of prog to me. I'll tell the story in detail when I finally finish my bio. This was an important album for the band as they went in a different direction from the punishingly heavy "No Exit" to a more progressive sound. They added Mark Zonder on drums (which was huge) and Kevin Moore helps out on keys. Ray Adler's vocals are much improved over the last record, and I love the dual lead guitars from Matheos and Aresti.

Things get started with "Part Of The Machine" and Zonder's presence is felt right away with his crisp odd-metered drumming. Riffs follow as vocals come in. Check out the solo from Aresti 3 minutes in. "Through Different Eyes" has a lot of tempo changes in it. A lazy guitar solo from Matheos is great as the tempo starts to pick up and drums follow.The song slows down quikly as vocals come in. This is a really good commercial sounding song with some absolutely scorching guitar solos from Matheos and Aresti about 3 minutes in. "Static Acts" is another really good song opening with heavy drums and a cool guitar melody. There are some good riffs and passionate vocals. Lots of tempo changes on this one too. "A World Apart" features more amazing drumming from Zonder while Aresti and Matheos grind it out with guitar solos. Nice.

"At Fates Hands" is a classic FATES song with violin and Moore on keys and reserved vocals.The melody after 3 minutes is incredible.The odd-metered drumming is again so crisp and the guitar solos are accompanied with keys and then violin. "The Arena" has Adler crying out the lyrics with passion and there is a nice solo from Matheos as well. "Chasing Time" is a great ballad written by Matheos and is also the title of their greatest hits cd. This may be a mellow tune but there is a powerful undercurrent throughout it. "Nothing Left To Say" is the final and longest song at 8 minutes. Matheos and Aresti open the song with solos as Zonder pounds away. The soundscape changes to a calm atmosphere with some good lazy guitar melodies from Aresti. The song picks up again as things get more intense and Matheos lets it rip.

This is a very special album in my opinion for various reasons. And it may be called "Perfect Symmetry" but I think it's just perfect.

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars You could consider Fates Warning as an Iron Maiden clone back in their good old heavy metal days, but when the years was getting closer to 1990, Fates Warning got more complex and sophisticated, turning away from their progressive-ish heavy metal sound and heading toward their real Progressive Metal phase which stayed with them throughout their current career. I would say that "Perfect Symmetry" was their true start for them into Prog-Metal, though "No Exit", their previous release, reminds more of this one than some of their early 80's works. This one, however, stated that they would become a permanent Prog-Metal band better than "No Exit". Drummer Mark Zonder joined them for this release and does a superb job behind the kit, performing some really interesting drum fills and complex time signatures equal to FW's complex music. His tasty drumming style was perfect for FW's style and he remains one of my favorite drummers in prog-metal.

Kevin Moore of Dream Theater contributes the few keyboard parts for this album, something that was relatively new for Fates Warning at that time, but it really works well on the album. There are also violin parts here on "At Fates Hands" and "Chasing Time" putting a rather beautiful mood for the album along with the acoustic guitar parts. The album overall has a dark, but relaxing atmosphere though the more frantic parts raises the atmosphere into a more regular Prog-Metal mood. Instrumentally, this album is tight and steady, no flaws at all in the bands playing, showing that Fates Warning really are a group of great musicians. The song writing is fine as well and songs like "At Fates Hands" and "Nothing Left to say" are both among FW's finest songs. Except for that, songs like "The Arena" is more straightforward and less interesting but still very good nevertheless.

Definitely one of the most influential albums in the early progmetal scene along with WatchTower's 'Control & Resitance', and it's importance along with the brilliant music earns this one a master rating.

Review by b_olariu
5 stars Fates Warning, this band who never get the atention they deserve. Perfect symmetry is stunning as musical prestation, awesome. One of my fav albums from old prog metal. Like the title of the album this is a perfect symmetry between complex and melodic metal, every track is mindblowing, to me at least. The opening track is just super and along with At fates hands and Chasing time the best from here. Fates Warning showes us that they are among the best in this genre. Every musician is very technical as matter of dexterity and leave you brethless. All are super but Mark Zonder is not an every day drumer, is a teacher on this instrument. Nothing to add just put the hand on this one, a classic of genre like Operation mindcrime this is a masterpiece of prog metal, and deserve every atention from you. Highly recommended, Fates Warning is a very influencial band to prog metal. 5 stars without hesitation
Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Perfect Symmetry" is the 5th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Fates Warning. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in August 1989. Fates Warning was formed in 1982 under the Misfit monicker but changed to their current name in 1984. They underwent quite a musical development on the first four albums, starting out a traditional heavy metal act on "Night on Bröcken (1984)", to a US power/progressive inclined metal act on "The Spectre Within (1985)" and "Awaken the Guardian (1986)", to a hybrid US power/thrash/progressive metal act on "No Exit (1988)". Between the release of the latter two, there was a change on the lead vocalist spot as original singer John Arch was replaced by Ray Alder. A lineup change that brought a significant change to their sound. On "Perfect Symmetry" a new drummer was introduced as original drummer Steve Zimmerman was replaced by Mark Zonder (Warlord). A lineup change that would also have great impact on Fates Warning´s sound.

Stylistically the music on "Perfect Symmetry" is melodic and technically well played progressive metal. It´s in many ways a very different sounding album to "No Exit (1988)", and it´s safe to say that Fates Warning had again developed their sound greatly between album releases. First off the addition of Mark Zonder brings an off-beat fusion influenced and very original sounding drumming style to the band´s sound. His playing is subtle, clever, and very technical. Zimmerman was a rather "stiff" and standard type 80s metal drummer, and he didn´t bring anything out of the ordinary to the table, while Mark Zonder on the other hand revolutionized not only Fates Warning´s sound, but progressive metal drumming in general. Of course along with other influential drummers like Neil Peart (Rush), Rick Colaluca (Watchtower), and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater)...among others. Secondly Fates Warning had shed almost any traditional heavy metal and US power metal leaning at this point and "Perfect Symmetry" is to my ears their first "straight" progressive metal release.

The material on the 8 track, 42:05 minutes long album are all very well written and intriguing examples of progressive metal. The tracks are varied both between tracks and within tracks. It´s heavy, melodic, technical, subtle, mellow, hard edged, beautiful, and melancholic. The melancholic atmosphere actually often turns bleak, and tracks like "Part Of The Machine", "Static Acts", "A World Apart", and "Nothing Left To Say" are pretty gloomy. In the other end of the spectrum you have a track like "Through Different Eyes", which features a chorus that touches mainstream territory (a promotional video was released for this track), and the beautiful melodic "Chasing Time", which features violin parts played by Faith Fraeoli. The violin is also in use on "At Fates Hand", which also features a keyboard guest appearance by Kevin Moore (who at the time played in Dream Theater). I´d like to point out how fantastic that particular track is, but that can be said about each and every track on the album. All of them are high quality compositions and there is not a single drop in quality throughout the album. It could be argued though that "Through Different Eyes" doesn´t quite fit in with the rest of the material (it´s closer in style to the tracks featured on the next couple of album) and that it disturbs the flow of the album, but personally I think it´s great for the overall diversity of "Perfect Symmetry".

The musicianship is absolutely brilliant, with standout performances by each member of the band. I´ve already praised new drummer Mark Zonder for his skills and inventive playing ideas, but the rest of the members of the lineup also deserve a mention. Ray Alder has developed his singing style since "No Exit (1988)" and now spices up his high pitched screaming vocals with the occasional vocal part in deeper registers and more mellow singing too. His performance is relatively varied here and the diversity of the material also gives him the opportunity to show different aspects of his vocal capabilities. Main composer Jim Matheos is as always subtle guitarist number one, while Frank Aresti delivers one great lead and solo after another. The clean guitar/distorted guitar dynamic which the two of them would develop upon and perfect over the course of the next two albums, is initiated here. Bassist Joe DiBiase shines several times during the albums playing time. As an example the second time the vers is played in "Part Of The Machine", DiBiase changes his bassline and plays what sounds like a lead melody under the rest of the instruments and vocals. Still very rhythmic and relatively subtle, but important in the bigger picture.

The sound production is raw and a bit cold, which suits the melancholic and bleak material well. It´s slightly thin sounding and could have prospered from a more bass heavy mix, but overall it´s a high quality production. So upon conclusion it´s hard not to be impressed and intrigued by "Perfect Symmetry". Everything from the compositions, the production, and the musicianship, scream high quality and originality. It truly is a unique and influential release and a 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.

Review by Gooner
5 stars Along with Queensryche's _The Warning_, this is a pioneering album responsible for bands like Dream Theatre and the like. Basically the second stage of progressive metal and its development. Great production and much more *musical* than Queensryche. Sort of like a prog.rock polish of Thin Lizzy/Iron Maiden-like twin guitars of Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti but with an acoustic flare here and there making it more palatable. Quite pleasing to the ears. Ray Alder has a fine set of pipes, somewhere in between Geoff Tate of Queensryche and James LaBrie of Dream Theatre. For lack of a better term, Fates Warning is the conservative version of prog.metal. Not as psychedelic or Floydish as Queensryche and not as over the top and bombast as Dream Theatre. Fates Warning is very tasteful when they show off their chops. They show off, but it's generally part of the song and they don't overstay their welcome when branching out. Kevin Moore of early period Dream Theatre plays the keyboards on a few tracks. The highlight of this album would definitely be the intricate drumming Mark Zonder. At times he'll sound like Carl Palmer then branch out to Bill Bruford territory. Wonderful violin by Faith Fraeoli and the intro to _At Fate's Hands_. _The Arena_ is just that...a great display for such a venue. Another tasteful violin solo by Faith Fraeoli on _Chasing Time_. A great closer at 8 minutes in _Nothing Left To Say_, Ray Alder at his most impressive vocally. Very tight instrumentally throughout(an epic but feels much longer than its 8 minutes). Interested in Fates Warning? START HERE. A masterpiece of prog.metal.
Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Delivered in 1989, "Perfect Symmetry" is the album that put Fates Warning in the map of a new kind of heavy metal that this quintet precisely helped to shape: prog-metal. Actually, even though in a physical sense, prog-metal can be described as a specific way of nurturing heavy metal by melting some of its structures with those of standard symphonic rock, the fact is that as a state of mind, prog-metal is more like a hybrid of the most pompous side of heavy rock and the most robust side of progressive rock. It's only that musicians from the heavy rock field came out with this potential area of rock development first. Anyway, this album confirms Ray Alder's position in the band and welcomes master drummer Mark Zonder to the fold. The opener 'Part of the Machine' has to be definitely one of the most accomplished pieces in the entire FW catalogue, a complex rocker full of robustness and dynamics that conveniently serves as the perfect introduction for Mark Zonder's refined drumming. The truth is that underneath the catchy guitar riffs and leads and Alder's impressive singing, the rhythm duo stands out as the real hero through the track's development. The song's structure is patently mechanic, in full accordance with its title, but you can tell that there is an authentic rocking warmth all over the place. The following two tracks are more oriented toward the sort of melodic heavy metal that used to be somewhat common in the late 90s: Queensryche comes a an immediately recognizable reference, and yes, these two bands managed to pull out a whole bunch of rockers that were notably catchy yet not devoid of musical cleverness (that is, loyal to the verse-chorus-verse-chorus framework but going beyond the 4/4 routine and toying with mood variations). 'Through Different Eyes' states a fluid sequence of 7/8 and 4/4 in a very tight kind of way, while 'Static Arts' brings a special mixture of Iron maiden and classic Rush for good effect. 'A World Apart' moves away from the complex art-heavy-rock structure delivered in the previous tracks and goes steadily into the progressive thing - it is more somber and denser, which in turn helps the band to explore its dramatic side. The latter factor is helped in no small degree by the fact that guest Kevin Moore brings some effective keyboard orchestrations. (Funny how this album's year was the same for Dream Theater's debut). While they're at it, the FW guys intend to keep on pursuing this progressive direction and dig it deeper for 'At Fate's Hand', a mini- suite that has almost instantly become an undisputed classic of the 88-95 era. It starts with a sort of Renaissance feel, featuring an intro where the lovely marriage of dual acoustic guitars, violin and keyboard brings a beautiful portrait of evocative vibrations and melancholy. Alder's singing is almost whispering at times, augmenting the introspective ambiance. The song's latter half shifts toward a ceremonious manifestation of genuine prog-metal, based on a clever mixture of Rush's pomposity and Queensryeche's taste for syncope-based jams. 'The Arena' literally brings the band back down to Earth, delivering a straightforward mood, somewhere between Scorpions and your regular Iron Maiden hit- single. Though this is the most "vulgar" song in the album, it is by no means ugly or insipid: it is solidly performed, indeed, although one might as well fail to notice it openly due to the amazing richness exposed in the preceding two tracks. 'Chasing Time' moves to the ballad territory: the featured acoustic guitars find an interesting complement in the slightly ethnic flavors provided by the rhythm duo, as well as a violin solo. This song is really peculiar, bearing a unique appeal (tracks like this makes you ponder how much a strong influence FW must have been to Pain of Salvation, for instance). Had it been developed a bit longer, it might as well have grown an epic side to it. But the last epic overtone of the album is reserved for the album's closer - 'Nothing Left to Say'. Lasting almost 8 minutes, it starts with a dynamic prologue sustained on an odd time signature, with the sung section being transported on a less frantic motif. The track's development states a melodic diversity as well as an increase of the explicitness of rocking power. No other song could end this terrific album as 'Nothing Left to Say' does. "Perfect Symmetry" is the undeniable proof of the pioneering role that FW had in the conception and childhood eras of prog-metal.
Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Listening to music is a subjective experience. There's your individual taste of course but also the kind of music that you already know, the passing of time, the state of mind you're in, the mood of your cats, and so many other things that can be more decisive in your judgement then the actual music. That's why I do often talk more about myself then about the music in my reviews (yes there was a reason for it). And well, that's exactly what I plan to do here as well.

It was back in 1993 that I gave Fates Warning a first go. Being a huge Psychotic Waltz fan I simply had to check out the heroes of my heroes. I quite randomly bought a 2CD package consisting of The Spectre Within/Night on Bröcken, pretty much based on the artwork alone. Such a cool album art could only contain great music right? Well, I didn't like it a bit to say the least.

Flash forward 10 years. OSI hits the shelves and I'm in instant fan. And hey look! It's that guy from Fates Warning again. I checked out Disconnect and this time I liked it better but still it didn't really gel.

Flash forward another 6 years. I find myself reviewing on prog archives (worse things can happen to you) and other reviewers that definitely share some of my favourite artists appear to be totally into this band. So here we go for a third try, with what is recommended here as their best work.

After checking that my cable is properly plugged into my soundcard during the first seconds of Part Of The Machine, I find myself enjoying Matheos's guitar quite a lot on this one. It reminds me of Coroner's Grin. Yes that is a later album of course (subjective experience again). However, the wrought and slightly strained falsetto of Ray Alder doesn't please me much though. At least it didn't frighten me away. I adored King Diamond's 80's albums so this would sure grow right?

Flash forward a few listens and ... still ... hum, so so. This singing style really hasn't aged well over the last 20 years. I can connect with this music on a rational level but for some reason it doesn't entirely get to me. It's probably worth 4 stars but my appreciation sits around 3 stars.

Had I heard this album back in 1993, I would probably have liked Fates Warning a lot more. In any case I will sure explore and revisit some of their other albums now and let it all grow a bit on me.

To be continued...

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I enjoy both Queensrÿche and Dream Theater but can't really get my head around Fates Warning. The reason for that is probably because their music feels too bland and Perfect Symmetry is not an exception. I have difficulty enjoying these compositions due to the band's lack of a clear style or direction. Part Of The Machine features some advanced rhythmic enhancements but other than that it's just a pretty average Progressive Metal composition with typical built up and progression that I think that both of the previously mentioned bands had already perfected on their individual releases i.e.( Operation: Mindcrime and When Dream And Day Unite).

That doesn't mean that this recording is completely useless especially towards the second part of the album where Fates Warning demonstrates some very consistent moments like on tracks like At Fate's Hands and closing number Nothing Left To Say. Still even the composition that I do enjoy don't come close to the quality that I expect from one of the most influential Progressive Metal bands.

My verdict can't really be anything else than good, but non-essential since I don't really dislike Perfect Symmetry. I just don't believe that there is much here for anyone to gain who is not already a fan of the band and their work. Unless of course if you've played all of you favorite late '80s Progressive Metal albums to death and want to seek out new thrills.

**** star songs: A World Apart (5:03) At Fate's Hands (6:59) The Arena (3:19) Chasing Time (3:38) Nothing Left To Say (8:00)

*** star songs: Part Of The Machine (6:16) Through Different Eyes (4:22) Static Acts (4:28)

Review by Sinusoid
4 stars Progressive metal and me. In the past, we've not had a good relationship together. Granted, I have not heard much from the genre and consider myself no expert by any means. That doesn't matter when album after album either disappointed from spin one or gradually lost steam the more I tried to listen. PERFECT SYMMETRY changed my perspective.

For the metal, the expectation of a banshee-esque lead singer and loads of crunching guitar riffs was met. For the prog, the same could be applied to some dynamic changes, mind- boggling instrumental performances and multitudes of shifting metres. What makes PERFECT SYMMETRY good is that Fates Warning cares about the compositional quality. The solos are under some restraining order, no song exceeds eight minutes, and transitions are all fluid.

Its close resemblance (at least in my view) to glam metal gives me a few qualms, and I'll have to admit that Ray Alder's voice is hard to come to terms with. Beyond that, this is excellent for those that love complex metal. ''At Fates Hands'' is the signature song on the album with it's soft beginning section (where Alder's vocals are tolerable) and punishing instrumental climax. Other highlights include ''The Arena'', ''Part of the Machine'' (not the Jethro Tull song) and ''Nothing Left to Say''. If this is the album that reenergized my interest in prog metal, then I'd put it high on the recommendation list.

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
4 stars At fate's hands

This highly enjoyable album is rightly considered a classic of progressive Metal, or at least an important forerunner to the genre as it would develop in the 90's with Dream Theater and others. Perfect Symmetry could be seen either as an early Prog Metal album or as an influential proto-Prog Metal album. As such, Fates Warning are somewhere in the middle between (the Judas Priest and Iron Maiden inspired) Queensryche and Dream Theater. Kevin Moore from the latter group provides some keyboards to the track At Fate's Hands which is also the track closest in nature to Prog Metal as we know it today. It is also the absolute highlight of the album and an excellent song in its own right. But the rest of the album is not bad at all.

I must admit that I was not impressed by this album (or anything else by Fates Warning) on the first few listens. I gave it a rest for a long while and returned again with fresh ears a couple of years later to find, to my surprise, a great album. The energetic and complex riffs, powerful lead guitar and many nice touches of acoustic guitar, occasional piano and keyboards and even violin at some point creates a varied enough and appealing sound. The tone is dark and melancholic much to my taste. The 80's style Metal vocals is probably an acquired taste and might put some people off, but I have learned to enjoy this style.

This is perhaps not the most original and ground breaking album (especially not by the standard set by classic progressive Rock from the 70's) and to some people it might even sound a bit dated today, but this album certainly constitutes an early example of Metal being taken further than it was by the vast majority of its practitioners in the 80's. As such it was showing the way to the Prog Metal of the 90's.

Highly recommended!

Review by Warthur
2 stars Although I do appreciate most of Fates Warning's albums prior to this, I've found that I just don't see the appeal of Perfect Symmetry. Sure, I can tell that it's an order of magnitude more complex than their earlier work - thanks, perhaps, to the arrival of new drummer Mark Zonder, who shows a mastery of a range of tricky time signatures over the course of the album. But with this additional complexity also comes a certain level of obfuscation.

It's a technically advanced piece, sure, but it just doesn't move me emotionally in the way that other creators of complex music - from Atheist to King Crimson to Yes to Frank Zappa - are regularly able to. It leaves me emotionally numbed rather than evoking any response, and the riffs lack forcefulness, power, and aggression - and most metal riffs really need at least one out of those three qualities, if not the whole set. On top of that, the production is rather thin and unappealing. No, on the whole I just don't get the appeal. Ah well.

Review by Menswear
4 stars Good ol' times.

The younger generation needs to discover this album, and therefore the band. They need to know that there was life on earth before Dream Theater, Nightwish and Muse. It was a blessed time: Mtv still showed music videos (and good ones at that), Saturday Morning Cartoons never been so good (Thundercats, Transformers, G.I. Joe and Voltron) and the Nintendo Entertaining System was erupting in America with killer games.

It also was the time when you could buy this album in vinyl and prove to your school that Metallica, Guns N' Roses or Skid Row were not that good musicians after all. Thanks to Matheos and crew, we could taste fine and intelligent music: super drums a la Peart topped with Adler's Geddy Lee impersonation, good rolling bass guitar, Roland chorus effects are plenty and Kevin Moore is even giving us a taste of his talent. Yes, it's metal progressive, but metal of the 80's...a softer version of today's madness. There's even a more symphonic piece with at Fate's Hands, starting gently (but very melodically) and then curving into more known waters. By far the best track and a solid proof that Dream Theater were not THAT innovative after all.

A sound from another era, a formula from another time but a big 'I Told Ya!' from me.

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nº 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*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars First thing you notice with this album is the radical change of drumming sound and strategy. The sound is dry and quite thin. I don't hear the bass drum that well. When it comes to technique, there aren't any Iron Maiden elements any more, in fact, solely by listening to the drum track, you wo ... (read more)

Report this review (#2948269) | Posted by sgtpepper | Wednesday, August 30, 2023 | Review Permanlink

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, J ... (read more)

Report this review (#1543594) | Posted by ArtuomNechuev | Wednesday, March 23, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Perfect Symmetry" is a magical album, but, simultaneously, to be taken now with a different spirit from the 1989/ 1990. In fact, if you already have a culture on Dream Theatre to embarrass the same Theatre and Rush are trapped in your head (as Warlock) you have strange feelings that I want to ... (read more)

Report this review (#768819) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Sunday, June 10, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have been a big fan of Dream Theater for some time and more recently a big fan of some of Queensryche's work. I have discovered Fates Warning recently too. Perfect Symmetry is less accessible than Dream Theater or Queensryche, but is definitely in the essential masterpiece category. The music of ... (read more)

Report this review (#500220) | Posted by bassgeezer | Monday, August 8, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is a great record! Important to me because it started my love for progressive metal and made me discover Dream Theater (their original keyboards player guests on this)! Fates Warning are a bit forgotten nowadays but I think they belong to same league inhabited by Queensryche and the above ... (read more)

Report this review (#437403) | Posted by speak | Friday, April 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Aggressive, progressive, choppy, and dark, said the Blind man. Fates Warning follow their most progressive album "No Exit" with something that goes a step further. The playing is more complex, the vocals are more powerful and aggressive, and the overall sound is stronger and more realized. This i ... (read more)

Report this review (#199734) | Posted by Alitare | Monday, January 19, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I am new to this forum, so I would like to begin by reviewing an album that I consider "perfect." To me, Fates Warning's "Perfect Symmetry" seemed the obvious choice. First of all, I would like to comment on Gatot Widayanto's comment that the album is "not truly prog." This statement alone br ... (read more)

Report this review (#115432) | Posted by chorvath | Saturday, March 17, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is an excellent progressive metal album, very complex technically, vey original and less commercial than DT (and some Queensryche) albums for instance. These guys succeeded to create their own nice style with some root influences from Rush, Black Sabbath and Queensryche. The emphasis is p ... (read more)

Report this review (#95046) | Posted by misiu | Thursday, October 19, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars i've always enjoyed Fates Warning later stuff like A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY and DISSCONNECTED (didn't enjoy FWX don't know why) but i really thought of listening to some of FW late 80s to early 90s music since they were real big around that time starting the prog metal scene. I loved PARALLEL ... (read more)

Report this review (#73354) | Posted by Progdrummer05 | Tuesday, March 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars FATES WARNING Perfect Symmetry is one of the most excellent progressive album ever exist. The Band's really rocking. Musically, this album is 100% Progressive, 60% Technical, 70% Melodic and 50% Classical & Orchestra. Go buy this Album and explore the world of Pure Progressive Music. The voice ... (read more)

Report this review (#23431) | Posted by | Wednesday, February 9, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Fates Warning's Perfect Symmetry was my first experience in exploring Fates Warning music. At that time, I couldn't enjoy the beauty and complexity of their music. It was around 13-14 years ago when I was in the high school and music to me -at that time- meaning only fast and loud music. A coup ... (read more)

Report this review (#23429) | Posted by | Thursday, December 16, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I started listening to Fates Warning in 1984 with the 1st release of "Night on Brocken" I back then being a Heavy Metal addict was taken by the overall "Maiden-ish" fell. I lost The 1st 3 albums in 1988...Didn't listen or follow the band after that. About a year I ago I'm on ebay and see a auct ... (read more)

Report this review (#23426) | Posted by | Monday, March 22, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars much better than on the last album, this time we have some melodic prog metal , Through Different Eyes in my opinion is the best song on this record. Proportions between melodies and experiments are equal. Very good work. ... (read more)

Report this review (#23425) | Posted by l-s-d | Wednesday, March 3, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Excellent album. But is a little too technical and requires a certain level of musical maturity to understand this album. Very creative. The song "through different eyes" though simple is very profound and touches your soul. This is definately not an album that you can "just play in the baground". I ... (read more)

Report this review (#23424) | Posted by | Monday, January 26, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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