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FATES WARNING

Progressive Metal • United States


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Fates Warning picture
Fates Warning biography
Formed in Hartford, USA in 1982 - Still active as of 2019

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. The biggest change would see ALDER replacing ARCH on vocals. "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, 1997'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. "Still Life" (live album) appeared the next year, and "Disconnected" followed two years later.

While the 1989-1996 era (MATHEOS, ALDER, ARESTI, DIBIASE, ZONDER) established the band as one of the "big-three" of progressive metal, "A Pleasant Shade Of Grey" is considered by many one of the band's finest moments. The same line-up (VERA replacing DIBIASE and ARESTI having left the band) would go on to produce "Still Life", "Disconnected" and "FWX" (in 2004), arguably one of their weakest albums. Nearly ten years later and with band members occupied since in other projects (OSI, ARCH/MATHEOS, REDEMPTION) FATES WARNING would return with "Darkness in a Different Light" (2013) and the critically aclaimed "Theories of Flight" (2016), with ZARZOMBEK joining the band in 2007 and ARESTI returning betweeen 2005-2016. In March 2016 the "Awaken the Guardian" lineup (ARCH, MATHEOS...
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FATES WARNING discography


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

2.64 | 147 ratings
Night On Bröcken
1984
3.46 | 190 ratings
The Spectre Within
1985
3.99 | 277 ratings
Awaken The Guardian
1986
3.91 | 251 ratings
No Exit
1988
4.14 | 413 ratings
Perfect Symmetry
1989
4.12 | 380 ratings
Parallels
1991
3.55 | 213 ratings
Inside Out
1994
4.17 | 401 ratings
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray
1997
4.10 | 352 ratings
Disconnected
2000
3.36 | 222 ratings
FWX
2004
3.88 | 299 ratings
Darkness In A Different Light
2013
3.95 | 275 ratings
Theories Of Flight
2016

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

4.31 | 91 ratings
Still Life
1998
3.93 | 16 ratings
Awaken the Guardian Live
2017
4.60 | 17 ratings
Live Over Europe
2018

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

4.82 | 30 ratings
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray - Live (VHS)
1998
4.31 | 13 ratings
Live at the Dynamo
2000
4.18 | 22 ratings
The View From Here
2003
3.78 | 41 ratings
Live In Athens
2005

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

4.23 | 40 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
3.50 | 7 ratings
1984 Demo
1984
3.50 | 6 ratings
Dickie (Demo)
1985
3.94 | 9 ratings
Pale Fire
1994
4.22 | 10 ratings
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray: Part II
1997

FATES WARNING Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Disconnected by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.10 | 352 ratings

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Disconnected
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 331

'Disconnected' is the ninth studio album of Fates Warning and was released in 2000. The line up on the album is Ray Alder, Jim Matheos, Kevin Moore, Joey Vera and Mark Zonder.

Fates Warning was founded in 1983 and is seen by some as the band that started the progressive metal sub-genre. They're one of the quietest progressive metal bands around. They have a very good and strong following of fans, but they aren't very well known and popular by listeners of metal, like Dream Theater is. Fates Warning is a true progressive metal band that values the music first. These guys are into making solid songs and albums, effectively using their individual talents without however, showing off in the process. This is a special and original prog metal band, indeed.

Fates Warning has made it a habit changing their sound between albums, and very few of their albums sound alike. Still, they all sound unmistakably like Fates Warning. Their previous album 'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray' was yet another intriguing new stylistic change and an almost hour long conceptual album. So, not surprisingly, 'Disconnected' sees Fates Warning change their direction again, although the shift isn't as dramatic as it happened in some other cases.

Like its predecessor, 'Disconnected' is a conceptual piece. It's not some head-trip, just another album about life and society. So, most should be able to relate to it. What is interesting is that the band refrains some of the material on the album, almost as if it were once cycle that begins and ends in largely the same, dull pallor. This is manifested by the two parts of 'Disconnected'. The album's theme is about being disconnected from people and society, and so, the feeling of being lonely and abandoned runs throughout the entire album. Therefore you shouldn't expect a lot of joy and happiness, either lyrically or musically, when you are listening to the album. There is a lot of atmosphere on this album as well as heaviness. It's amazing music that can be described as intelligent and where each note is where it belongs.

As far as music is concerned Fates Warning writes progressive rock songs full of melodies, emotion, attitude and groove on this album. Interestingly, 'Disconnected' has its share of heavy moments, which of course are always welcome, in a band like this. The music on 'Disconnected' is truly progressive in nature as it connects with the listener well. The mood effectively changes from one song to the next. 'One' and 'Pieces Of Me' are the up-tempo tunes of the album, thus being in a way the two potential hits. 'So', 'Something For Nothing' and 'Still Remains' are much closer to the standards set by the prog metal sub-genre both in feel and length. Personally, I find both, lengthy and shorter songs, to work well together, allowing 'Disconnected' to have a wonderful flow, when listened from beginning to end.

'Disconnected' has only seven tracks. It contains some of the lengthiest and most complex tracks that Matheos has ever penned, with 'Disconnected', Pt.1 and Pt.2, being album opener and closer. As always, his compositions are intelligent and the band behind him is equally competent. Vocalist Alder once again proves to be a key element in the unique sound of the band. It's quite hard to describe each piece on the album individually but it seems 'Disconnected' made a unified statement with lyric heavy songs and emotionally charged instrumentation. The band's solid rhythm section, consisting of Zonder and Vera, investing a different level of credibility to the song craft of Matheos and the trio successfully create the musical tapestry surrounding Alder's vocals. Zonder's odd-metered drumming once again relying heavily on intricate cymbal work is further developed by Vera's throbbing bass lines. Matheos seems to experiment with Fripp's influence adding more riff-based textures to his songwriting. He doesn't play any extended guitar solos, but his work is dense and blends nicely with other instruments. Once again, Moore plays keyboards, as well as piano and computer synthesizers, and his atmospheric touch creeps into each track, and gradually all this, add a blurry grey colour to the album. I always was a great fan of his keyboard working. Again he shines within this band.

Conclusion: 'Disconnected' has excellent compositions and where 'Something From Nothing' and 'Still Remains' are the absolute highlights. There's a sad note to most of the songs, but never to the point of becoming depressive. Production and sound quality sometimes have a bit of a mechanical quality to them, but I think this is in keeping with the line of the album and thus is probably intentional. I can admit 'Disconnected' it's a hard album to get into, but it's dangerously perfect and contains millions of variations and textures as major ingredients which other bands could only dream of let alone incorporate in their own songs. This album blends all the elements that I love about progressive rock music. Obviously, this is a band very concerned with songwriting and arrangements, unlike so many of today's prog metal bands, who take guitar riffs, double bass, drums, speed and so-called complexity as starting points and worry about the quality and originality of their songwriting, only later. So, overall, it still remains an impressive album for me.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 FWX by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.36 | 222 ratings

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FWX
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

3 stars Released in 2004, 'FWX' is the tenth studio album by progressive metal pioneers Fates Warning, and much like previous releases 'A Pleasant Shade of Grey' and 'Disconnected', it shows a band who are continuing to develop and experiment, with more focus on a heavier sound and more traditional song-structures.

Unlike its predecessors, there's only a minimal use of keyboards and sequencing here, which is a shame as I felt on the last two albums that the band had a great and well-rounded sound, and I was hoping they'd continue in that vein. Especially as, instead of relying on tried and tested prog metal traits such as excessive flashy guitar solos, there was a heavy emphasis on atmosphere, and a fantastic interplay between guitars and keyboards, working together instead of trying to out-perform each other in shredding competitions.

However, this is still a good release, and Fates Warning's "less is more" approach works well for them here. Sole guitarist Jim Matheos can write some incredible and compelling riffs, Ray Alder's powerful vocals suit the heavier style of the album, and the simpler arrangements make the songs easier to digest. The polished production gives the music a loud and vibrant sound too.

Overall, 'FWX' is far from Fates Warning's best album, but tracks like 'Heal Me', 'Simple Human', 'Crawl', 'Stranger (With a Familiar Face)' and the haunting and melancholic 'A Handful of Doubt' are all worth checking out, and given time, this album can grow on you, it just depends on whether you have the patience to let it or not.

 Live Over Europe by FATES WARNING album cover Live, 2018
4.60 | 17 ratings

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Live Over Europe
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by MaxnEmmy

5 stars To my taste, this band is much more organic and enjoyable compared to other bands in this genre. The absence of keyboards is a plus, as some prog metal bands tend to rely on too much schmaltz with their electronic oscillators blips and bleeps. I prefer the keys/guitar balance achieved by Redemption which happens to have employed the same vocalist for many years. The setlist is heavily weighted toward newer material which is appropriate. It should be noted that the vocals and guitar on this live recording are excellent. Overall nicely balanced and heavy. The band knows how to write and perform hard rock/metal with a melodic sense and shows why they have lasted for decades in a fickle industry of hyped up acts which are more superficial. 4.5 stars.
 Chasing Time by FATES WARNING album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1995
4.23 | 40 ratings

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Chasing Time
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Chasing Time" is a compilation album by US progressive/power metal act Fates Warning. The compilation was released through Metal Blade Records in July 1995. Fates Warning were formed under the Misfit monicker in 1982 but changed their name to Fates Warning in 1984. Up until this release they had released seven full-length studio albums. Each of those albums are represented with at least one track on "Chasing Time" (some with more). In addition to the original studio tracks "Chasing Time" also features a two previously unreleased tracks in "At Fates Fingers" and "Circles". The former is an instrumental and re-arranged version of "At Fates Hands" from "Perfect Symmetry (1989)" while the latter was recorded in 1993 but shelved. Some parts of the track would later appear as part of other tracks on "Inside Out (1994)". On a maybe less interesting note "We Only Say Goodbye" from "Parallels (1991)" appears here in a remixed version.

So "Chasing Time" is more or less a best of compilation with a few rarities thrown in to make it a worthwhile purchase for the hardcore fans of the band too. The latter part of the band´s audience need not go out of their way to get "Chasing Time" in my opinion though, as the rarities are only moderately interesting. "Chasing Time" is more a release for the casual listener, who gets an easy way to get into Fates Warning without having to listen to seven full albums of music, and for that purpose the compilation works really well. You get a fairly good idea of the music style on each of the band´s releases. The tracklist is not chronological, which might confuse new listeners, but to my ears the choice to arrange the compilation like that actually works pretty well. You can always argue if the right songs where picked for the tracklist or not, but as it is it´s a pretty good presentation of Fates Warning up until 1995. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Live Over Europe by FATES WARNING album cover Live, 2018
4.60 | 17 ratings

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Live Over Europe
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by javajeff

5 stars If this ends up being the Fates Warning swan song, it will be a perfect ending full of stellar performances. With several sing along moments with the crowd, I am sure people had a blast at this concert. The sound quality is excellent, and the collection of songs in this juggernaut will keep Fates fans satisfied for years. You get a double album with well over two hours of music, and what is most important about this release is that it contains live tracks from their most recent studio release Theories Of Flight. So you get live releases of Seven Stars, From the Rooftops, and the incredible The Light and Shade of Things. The future of the band is unknown at this time, and Ray Alder has a new album coming this month with Redemption. With Theories Of Flight being so good late in the band's history, it would be great to see them continue on with more studio releases. Anyone new to the band can start here since this can act as a Fates Warning compilation. Then possibly work backwards with Theories Of Flight, Parallels, Perfect Symmetry, and my favorite, A Pleasant Shade of Gray. For Fates Warning fans, this is a must get. Many of the songs reside on some of the best Progressive Metal albums of all time. However, it is hard to give a live album masterpiece status. Consider this rating as where it stands in relation to other live albums.
 Awaken The Guardian by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1986
3.99 | 277 ratings

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Awaken The Guardian
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by Crimson Guardian

5 stars "Awaken the Guardian" was a revolutionary record for heavy metal, one of those records that helped to change the way of considering the genre forever, as well as one of the albums that literally started Progressive Metal. Along with the coeval "Rage for Order" of Queensrÿche, but, unlike the latter - who experimented on a hi-tech and futuristic sound, - Awaken the Guardian went deeper, effectively breaking the classic heavy metal form and deflecting it towards the Baroque of progressive. A Baroque intended not as empty pomposity, but as an artistic idea instilled in the music. In 1986, simply no one in metal (apart from the thrasher Watchtower, but in another way, more on the rhythmic deconstruction typical of fusion) sounded like Fates Warning. A heavy/power metal transcended in progressive metal: complex, articulate, difficult, twisted and quite unique. The remains of Maiden (audible in songs like Fata Morgana) are precisely such: reflux, remains, echoes of a classic heavy metal that is, in practice, transcended, exceeded and diverted (see - for example - the emblematic Prelude To Ruin).

Fates Warning had already started their progressive revolution with their previous record, the relevant "The Spectre Within" (1985), in which heavy metal was taken to excess, with songs that formed complex mini-suites composed of numerous time changes and daring vocal lines. However, although it was already an unusual and particular album, it was still too conceived in the classic heavy metal style (halfway between heavy metal and prog metal) and the singer John Arch, although he managed to find his own style, still too much debtor - in some songs - of Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden. But it's with "Awaken the Guardian" that the decisive leap takes place, an incredible leap that definitively projects us into the world of progressive metal (the style can be defined as progressive power metal), in the concrete sense of the term: the songs present a twisted and convoluted structure (forming a configuration of "songs in songs"), complicated riffs follow one another over many time changes (on odd time signatures) and intersecting with abstruse, tortuous and imaginative vocal lines (John Arch is halfway between Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden and Jon Anderson of Yes, using his voice as a real instrument to create a specific mood), the lyrics are symbolic, allegorical and profound (with the use of figures of speech such as alliteration); but everything manages to flow in a fluid way, a shimmering becoming between arcane and nostalgic, magical and dark , dreamy and melancholic moods. Although the album is not openly a concept, it is almost a thematic concept with the idea of the "Guardian" that goes through (almost) all the songs. The "awakening of the Guardian" would probably mean the strength to continue living despite everything, to face the fears and adversity, both concrete and existential (finding the meaning of being in the world).

Basically, an absolute masterpiece of Progressive Metal and Heavy Metal (as well as US Power metal), a unique and unmissable record that has helped to change the world of metal forever.

 Awaken the Guardian Live by FATES WARNING album cover Live, 2017
3.93 | 16 ratings

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Awaken the Guardian Live
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Seems like a long time since I've done so much fist pumping and head-banging while driving my car, talk about distracted driving! FATES WARNING is my favourite Prog-Metal band and John Arch is right at the top as one of my all-time favourite vocalists. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of one of the greatest Prog-Metal albums ever created in "Awaken the Guardian" the band decided to bring back the original lineup and do a couple of shows. One in Germany at the "Keep It True XIX 2016" festival and one in Atlanta at the ProgPower XVII festival. You can get the deluxe version which features both concerts but with pretty much the same set list except for one song switched out, or the double disc that I have of the German show which has the complete "Awaken The Guardian" album played live on disc one and the encores on disc two which feature two tracks from the debut "Night On Brocken" and two from the followup "The Spectre Within".

They stay fairly true to the original songs and if you know the album "Awaken The Guardian" then you will experience that same dirty, muddy and heavy sound that fans heard back in 1986. John would leave after this album and eventually audition for DREAM THEATER who had just lost their original singer. John would later appear on stage with FATES WARNING in 1994 then disappear from sight. That is until a call from FATES WARNING lead guitarist Jim Matheos asking John if he'd be interested in singing for a new project he was putting together called OSI. Hard to imagine Arch singing with that band but anyway he declined but his interest in singing became renewed and he contacted Jim about doing some recording. Mike Portnoy wanted in and add Joey Vera(FATES WARNING) on bass and we were blessed in 2003 with a John Arch solo album called "A Twist Of Fate". And it's a 5 star monster in my opinion. By the way Arch and Portnoy were friends before DREAM THEATER was even a band.

Arch would later join Jim again for that ARCH/ MATHEOS album that kicked some serious ass. I have to say that Arch simply blows me away with his vocal melodies or wordless melodies whatever you want to call them. He's part Cheyenne and I don't know if that's part of it but I love when he does that. It's a big reason why THE PINEAPPLE THEIF's "Your Wilderness" was so amazingly good because Bruce decided to add a lot of vocal melodies. I won't bore everyone with a track by track review since I've reviewed all of these songs at some point in the past. The two that stand head and shoulders above the rest off of "Awaken The Guardian" are "Guardian" and "Prelude To Ruin" and yes that's where all my carrying on took place usually while driving my car(haha). I love that they included four songs from the first two albums for the encore even though both of those recordings are only 3 star works in my opinion. "Damnation" is absolutely stunning and one of my favourites from them. It's all good though as Arch, Matheos, Aresti, DiBiasi and Zimmerman put on one heck of a show. Congrats guys! What a performance! The album cover is gorgeous as well as they change it up a little from the original.

 Inside Out by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.55 | 213 ratings

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Inside Out
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nº 141

When progressive rock appeared during the early of the 70's, it contained elements of hard rock, but few bands crossed the line into heavy metal. This all changed during the 80's, when bands such as Queensryche, Dream Theater, Crimson Glory, Watchtower and Fates Warning merged their love for Yes and Rush and with a great admiration for Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. These bands were responsible for creating, developing and popularizing the progressive metal genre.

This Fates Warning's 1994 release continues the style of their previous studio album 'Parallels', which made the group more known to audience all over, getting radio plays and appearing as their most commercially successful album to date. With 'Inside Out' they tried to continue this road, but the album never achieved the same attention as its predecessor had. It combines the heaviness of traditional heavy metal bands such as Iron Maiden with some lush, heavy rock melodies and a constant flow of progressive ideas. 'Inside Out' displays the band's mid-period style. It's often linked to their classic 'Parallels' album. Even Matheos sustained that idea in an interview. He said that all Fates Warning albums are somehow different and that 'Inside Out' is the only who followed the same steps of 'Parallels'.

'Inside Out' is the seventh studio album of Fates Warning and was released in 1994. The line up on the album is Ray Alder (vocals), Jim Matheos (guitar), Frank Aresti (guitar), Joe DiBiase (bass) and Mark Zonder (drums and percussion).

'Inside Out' has ten tracks. All tracks were composed by Matheos, except 'The Strand' composed by Aresti and Matheos and 'Down To The Wire' composed by Alder and Matheos. The first track 'Outside Looking It' involves sad, sailing melodies and a similar rhythmic mechanism to the verse of the previous album's opener. It's a solid track with enough variety in the drumming and riffs to please. The second track 'Pale Fire' is another of those single worthy tracks very similar to 'Through Different Eyes' from 'Perfect Symmetry'. Lyrically, 'Pale Fire' is quite a success, for the chorus evokes a pretty powerful image that haunts long beyond the closure of the music. The pretty mesmerizing words and maybe an unintentional soliloquy show maybe the band's direction in the future, in the 90's. The third track 'The Strand' creates an almost folkish platitude through in its sombre, bluesy rock verse. But I like the bouncing bass rhythm and it builds to another great chorus part, which simply rages into existence like many of the better moments of 'Perfect Symmetry'. The fourth track 'Shelter Me' feels very similar to 'Pale Fire', but it lacks to it the staying power of that track and the title and chorus feel perhaps a little too accessible. Anyway, the music is pleasing enough for my ears. The fifth track 'Island In The Stream' is a big rock ballad that has much in common with 'The Road Goes On Forever' from 'Parallels'. It's immersive and pretty for its acoustics, piano and atmosphere. It starts out perfectly calm and relaxing, and progresses beautifully into a chillingly heavy latter half of the song. It has a perfect performance of Alder, he sings with a lot of passion, the guitars are breathtaking and tug at your heart and the keyboards add a final perfect atmosphere. The sixth track 'Down To The Wire' develops through the verse, though the chorus reminds me of a more rocked out spin on 'We Only Say Goodbye' of 'Parallels'. The seventh track 'Face The Fear' is an awesome track with great passages throughout of the song and is especially emotional. It begins with a flow of shining melodies that transform into a pretty complex pattern, with acoustic cleans and a beautiful melody under Alder's vocals. The chorus is likewise interesting. The eighth track 'Inward Bound' is a brief, bluesy atmospheric instrumental. It's almost a linking track between the previous and the following track. The ninth track 'Monument' is the best track on the latter half of the album, cautiously escalating into an insanely catchy hook after 2:00, which rekindles the atmosphere of 'Perfect Symmetry'. It's a classic that seems to be a crowd favourite for their live shows. It's the heaviest and progressive song on the album. The tenth track 'Afterglow' is a nice closing for the album. It's a brooding acoustic piece laden in slim electric melodies and an eerie narrative, interspersed with happier bits and a quiet momentum.

Conclusion: Basically, this is another solid release by Fates Warning. Overall, it's not Fates Warning best album but there are a bunch of tracks which could easily hold their own in a 'Best Off...' collection from the band. But, the fact that it's one of the less celebrated Fates Warning albums only underscores the band's enduring legacy. It's maybe the less complex album of their progressive career but it still is a great work. There are too many songs here I just can't do without. Fates Warning here invested on a heavily and accessible sound. So, I'll end my review by saying that this is an album that falls between the progressive and the mainstream rock category. For some it's confusing but for others it can be interesting for the very same reason. But, if one thing we can't deny, is that 'Inside Out' is a professional and mature work from a very strong and important progressive rock/metal band. This album comes highly recommended.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Parallels by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1991
4.12 | 380 ratings

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Parallels
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 140

"Parallels" is the sixth studio album of Fates Warning and was released in 1991. The line up on the album is Ray Alder (lead vocals), Jim Matheos (guitar), Frank Aresti (guitar), Joe DiBiase (bass) and Mark Zonder (drums and percussion). The album had also the participation of James Labrie (backing vocals) and John Bailey (computer sequencing).

Fates Warning is probably the earliest example of the merging of the Progressive musical approaches of bands such as Rush and the heavy metal genre as pioneered by some other bands. They have had sort of an unofficial rivalry with another pioneering band of the progressive metal genre, Queensryche. However and according to the critics, their music is actually about as comparable as night and day. While the Seattle based quintet was mixing keyboards in and delving into political concepts, this group of musicians from Connecticut dealt mostly with mystical themes. Anyway, this album is somehow a bit of a departure from that approach in favor of a more philosophical approach.

When in 1991 Fates Warning created "Parallels", we can say they created one of their best, most important and coherent albums. Their sound keeps evolving through time, providing the progressive metal field with unique and astonishing moments. "Parallels" is, in my humble opinion, a great place to start with Fates Warning, especially if you've never heard them before. I feel that "Parallels" marks their perfect transition from their old school roots to their more atmospheric experimental progressive phase. This album lies somewhere in between with guitarist Matheos focusing his attention and power on more concise songs, developed melodies and mapped out compositions.

"Parallels" has eight tracks. All tracks were written by Matheos. The first track "Leave The Past Behind" is a very Rush like piece, with sparkling acoustics that slowly build into a steady, captivating bass and the mechanical guitar chords of the prior album. The chorus is fairly obvious, but certainly a winner if you are a fan of "Perfect Symmetry". It's an effective opening track and very comfortable too. The second track "Life In Still Water" seems anything but still, as the volley of lush chords and Zonder's electronic drum fills splash about the surface. The latter half of the verse is great, for the ringing guitars that sear over the shaking bass, and it builds to an appropriate chorus climax. The third track "Eye To Eye" forges a resonant intro with more of the brazen acoustics and calm but hooky metal rhythm ensues, a precursor to the tranquil lament of the verse. Again, the chorus feels predictable and subdued, and there is simply nothing else here of note except a very safe lead. The fourth track "The Eleventh Hour" is the lengthiest track on the album and arguably one of the best. The curtains part for a lurid dreamscape of sombre, shining cleans and effects, while Alder embarks on a journey of escalating isolation. Just before the 3:00, the hard chords arrive and herald an epic stream of melody. But the best moment of the song is beyond 6:00, with an excellent guitar pattern that plays off the central rhythm. The fifth track "Point Of View" represents a familiar pattern with the melodic, urgent chords over the potent, but understated rock beat. It's a decent tune, and in particular I enjoy Alder's performance in the chorus, an edgy banshee keening its message through a still night. The sixth track "We Only Say Goodbye" is another excellent track and it's almost embarrassing to say it because it sounds a bit pop. It's a super calming and catchy song. It seems to be a song made to some sort of massive US radio presence. I can almost picture that all Fates Warning fans being sick to death of hearing it on every classic rock radio station in their region. However, it remains a great track. The seventh track "Don't Follow Me" puts us back on the path to the band's previous album, with a huge, forward melody recalling "Through Different Eyes" or "Static Acts", parting for another of the band's safe, moody verses before a decent chorus and great spry lead guitar. The eighth track "The Road Goes Forever" concludes the album with an opening that is filled with guitar fills produced from two guitars plus voice line. It's the wonderful combination of guitar sounds that helps enrich this song. This is almost a track in the feel of a power ballad. It's a great ending for the album.

Conclusion: "Parallels" is an album highly accessible to fans of metal outside of progressive circles. Some fans of progressive metal might be a bit disappointed with this one, but it has a lot of the same strengths that "Perfect Symmetry" has, just in a set of songs with simpler structures and less odd time references. This is where people no longer ignored the fact that an album could be both progressive and melodic at the same time. "Parallels" is a good album to get into Fates Warning. If you like this, you'll love their 1994 release "Inside Out" as well. If you, however, want something heavier, all you need is to go backwards and pick up "Perfect Symmetry". That should give you some idea of this amazing band's growth and metamorphosis. Then you can concentrate on their earlier 80's releases and late 90's greatest masterpiece, "A Pleasant Shade Of Gray". Anyway, there are no bad albums of Fates Warning, really.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Perfect Symmetry by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.14 | 413 ratings

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Perfect Symmetry
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

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*)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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