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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

Fates Warning official website

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Awaken the Guardian LIVE - 2CD/1DVDAwaken the Guardian LIVE - 2CD/1DVD
Metal Blade 2017
Audio CD$15.19
$16.63 (used)
Awaken the Guardian LIVE [Blu-ray]Awaken the Guardian LIVE [Blu-ray]
Metal Blade 2017
$13.97 (used)
Theories Of FlightTheories Of Flight
Limited Edition
Inside Out Music 2016
Audio CD$8.56
$8.61 (used)
Parallels - Expanded EditionParallels - Expanded Edition
Extra tracks · Remastered
Metal Blade 2010
Audio CD$14.97
$14.96 (used)
Awaken The Guardian - ReissueAwaken The Guardian - Reissue
CD+DVD · Remastered · Extra tracks
Metal Blade 2005
Audio CD$12.95
$12.20 (used)
Perfect SymmetryPerfect Symmetry
Metal Blade 1994
Audio CD$8.18
$4.00 (used)
Night on BröckenNight on Bröcken
Remastered · Extra tracks
Metal Blade 2002
Audio CD$11.98
$20.45 (used)
Inside Out - Expanded EditionInside Out - Expanded Edition
Extra tracks
Metal Blade 2012
Audio CD$14.34
$9.95 (used)
Pleasant Shade Of GrayPleasant Shade Of Gray
Metal Blade 1997
Audio CD$9.65
$2.65 (used)
Perfect Symmetry (Expanded Edition)Perfect Symmetry (Expanded Edition)
Extra tracks · Remastered
Metal Blade 2008
Audio CD$12.94
$7.85 (used)
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FATES WARNING discography

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

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

2.66 | 132 ratings
Night On Bröcken
3.48 | 168 ratings
The Spectre Within
4.00 | 250 ratings
Awaken The Guardian
3.90 | 225 ratings
No Exit
4.16 | 372 ratings
Perfect Symmetry
4.13 | 348 ratings
3.57 | 195 ratings
Inside Out
4.18 | 351 ratings
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray
4.08 | 322 ratings
3.37 | 206 ratings
3.89 | 275 ratings
Darkness In A Different Light
3.92 | 235 ratings
Theories Of Flight

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

4.37 | 81 ratings
Still Life
3.94 | 7 ratings
Awaken the Guardian Live

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

4.42 | 12 ratings
Live at the Dynamo
4.81 | 29 ratings
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray - Live (VHS)
4.25 | 20 ratings
The View From Here
3.76 | 38 ratings
Live In Athens

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

4.32 | 38 ratings
Chasing Time

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

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


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Inside Out by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.57 | 195 ratings

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
4.13 | 348 ratings

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
4.16 | 372 ratings

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*)

 Disconnected by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.08 | 322 ratings

Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

4 stars Well, 'A Pleasant Shade of Gray' appears to have been a hit with fans, so why not continue in that direction? With the single guitar/keyboard approach that incorporates more ambience, as well as a beefier production that gives the band a heavier sound, 'Disconnected' picks up right where its predecessor left off.

It seems odd for a progressive metal album to be considered "stripped down", but that's exactly what we have here. With the songwriting being the main focus, and not the performances of individuals, there is some solid music that lacks a lot of the shredding musical virtuosity associated with the genre. And it's a refreshing change.

That's not to say these guys are slouches! Guitarist Jim Matheos can write some very interesting guitar riffs, and drummer Mark Zonder is an absolute beast. Neither man afraid to stray away from standard 4/4 time signatures and go completely bonkers in some places, yet with riffs that don't come anywhere near to being too flashy or overbearing. When you include eerily compelling keyboard work by Kevin Moore (yes, THE Kevin Moore), it makes for an all-round solid package by one of prog metals pioneers.

Songs like 'One', 'So', 'Pieces of Me' and the absolute gem of the album, the 16-minute 'Still Remains', make this an essential progressive metal release, especially for fans who are growing weary of excessive soloing and musical indulgence.

 Inside Out by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.57 | 195 ratings

Inside Out
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

4 stars The follow-up to the highly successful 'Parallels', 'Inside Out' is almost identical in sound and style to its predecessor, so much so that it is often regarded as "Parallels Part 2", though I find it is an unfair assumption as this album does contain material of some merit, even going as far as to say it's some of the bands tightest and most consistent songwriting.

Musically, this album follows on where 'Parallels' left off, which a strong emphasis on duel-guitar melodies that allow both players to shine, Mark Zonder's incredible drumming that adds so much flavor to the music, without dominating or taking too much spotlight, and Ray Alder's vocals which truly peaked here, especially in terms of range and capability.

The production is neat and tidy, with no musician being given preference. It does a good job of being a metal album, while also emphasizing the melody of the band.

With songs like 'Outside Looking In', 'Monument', 'Pale Fire', 'The Strand' and 'Face the Fear', it's clear that 'Inside Out' is an underrated classic, which is often overshadowed by the strengths of what came before. It's got some of the bands strongest material and is definitely a worthy addition to the collections of metal and prog fans.

 Parallels by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1991
4.13 | 348 ratings

Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

4 stars 1991's 'Parallels', which was my introduction to Fates Warning, is a continuation of where the band had been going with previous album 'Perfect Symmetry'. The power metal influences of their early days were long gone, replaced by a more technical and methodical approach, and with more emphasis on melody than speed.

I was fairly new to progressive metal when I came across Fates Warning, a band who were influential in the genres early days. Being a fan of bands like Dream Theater and Symphony X, I assumed the key element was technical virtuosity (and a keyboard player!). So it was a change of pace when I first stumbled across this album.

While the musical acrobatics won't impress as much as the aforementioned groups, it's the bands commitment to strong songwriting that carries them. In particular, Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti's guitar playing is impressive, especially when using distorted and clean sounds simultaneously. 'Eye to Eye'. 'Point of View', 'Life in Still Water' and 'The Eleventh Hour' are all examples of this bands solid chemistry, with plenty of tasty guitar riffs, interesting harmonies and powerful vocals all on display.

'Parallels' is a great album, and a good starting point for newcomers to the band. Heavy enough to appeal to metal fans, melodic enough to appeal to rock fans, and ambitious enough to interest prog fans, it's an easily accessible album that can be enjoyed by everyone.

 Disconnected by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 2000
4.08 | 322 ratings

Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars As with A Pleasant Shade of Gray, Disconnected had Fates Warning working as a core creative trio of Alder, Matheos and Zonder, with Joey Vera and Kevin Moore working on a guest musician basis. Whilst some prefer the preceding album, I admit that I quite like this release.

On the surface, it comes across as one of those millennial "Oooh, the Internet is scary, will it truly offer us a closer connection to each other or will it all leave us more disconnected and isolated?" concepts that proliferated back in that slice of time after the Internet had become ubiquitous but before Facebook and other social media platforms had definitively answered the question. ("Yes, the Internet will connect you to other people and their innermost thoughts and feelings. You will quickly get sick of them.")

The genius of the album is that rather than approaching the subject like they have an axe to grind, or limiting themselves to that narrow concept, Fates Warning instead take it as a jumping-off point to explore all sorts of different types of interpersonal connection and disconnection, being wise enough to realise that actually, interpersonal connection tends to pan out differently for different people. Some songs, such as One, outright celebrate the emotional bonds between people - others note how they can be mentally draining and sometimes you *need* your alone time to recharge your batteries, whilst others are sung from the point of views struggling to reach out.

It's kind of like its Rorscharch blot of a cover. Some might see it as capturing two people seeking intimacy but being blocked from it by the very devices they have chosen to apply to themselves (or have been forced to by circumstance); I see it as a happy scene of two gasmask fetishists finding each other in a world where it's never been easier to find someone who shares your kinks.

Musically, we're dealing with a nicely matured version of the 1990s Fates Warning sound, the band entering the new millennium with the confidence to simply sound like themselves and not worrying about then-current trends in metal. (Then again, given the rise of nu-metal between Pleasant Shade and this, deciding not to go down that route may have been a no-brainer - I've got nothing against nu-metal, but I can think of few styles less compatible with Fates Warning's approach). The combination of all these features makes Disconnected, for me, the best Fates Warning album since No Exit.

 Inside Out by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.57 | 195 ratings

Inside Out
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Fates Warning's Inside Out takes the overall compositional approach of Parallels and gives it a rather more harsh and edgy production style, which feels like an attempt to hop on board the sort of grimier aesthetic that had become popular in the mid-1990s. Between this and the fact that this doesn't really show much development over Parallels (to the point where if you presented this as a collection of off-cuts from the Parallels sessions, perhaps with a remix to suit the smoother production of that album, you could probably persuade people that was the case), and this just doesn't feel like such an essential part of the Fates Warning discography.
 Awaken The Guardian by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1986
4.00 | 250 ratings

Awaken The Guardian
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by Caleb9000

5 stars As odd a choice as it would seem, Awaken The Guardian has been my favorite album from this outing since the first time that I heard it. The material that this band issued with John Arch is often mistakenly written off as "generic 1980s power metal", when nothing can be farther from the truth. While largely void of Jazz influences, in contrast to later outings from Fates Warning and other progressive metal bands, this album invents a sound of its own, evident in the guitar and bass work, drumming patterns, and especially the vocal performance, which I will dive into later.

This is an album that takes multiple listens to fully understand, even for a fan of progressive metal, due to the jarring alterations, production and off-kilter vocals. Despite all this, it rarely becomes dissonant, and once fully understood, I failed to realize what put My off about it for a while. The atmosphere of this record is so strong that I failed to realize how I wasn't immediately sucked in. But this is an album that is meant to be listened to multiple times to understand, and this cannot be achieved with a soapbox mindset (until afterwards, of course).

The music of this records gives you quite literally anything that one could desire in Heavy Metal, each in different moments, yet still flowing together in its mystical, fantastical atmosphere, always with off kilter, progressive tendencies and it never uses the same ones over and over again. Each moment has its own unique spin without sounding remotely confused. Tracks like "Valley of the Dolls" and "Prelude to Ruin" boarderline on Thrash Metal quite often, while still containing multiple shifts in mood and tempo, without being forced. "Fata Morgana" has an epic power metal feel that puts the listener into an uplifting mindset, as does the ballad, "Guardian", which has a rather dark chord progression when you strip it down of its additional accessories, but those are able to make it sound so beautiful that one doesn't even notice, finishing with a faster, thrasher pace. "Exodus" is a song that captures the essence of fantasy itself, despite the fact that the lyrics have nothing to do with fantasy. The chorus is mesmerizingly epic, taking you to worlds of your wildest dreams. There's even a softer, more acousticly driven section that makes me feel as though I'm floating down a river in a cave, with Arch singing me to sleep.

Speaking of Arch, he is one of the most unique vocalists that I have ever come across. While he seems to have the influences of vocalists like Dickinson and Halford, but he also seems to have studied Indian music, as his vocal melodies have many similarities to that style. He makes both apparent by making his vocal melodies as intricate as possible, as well as sounding rather odd and twisted, sometimes making him sound haunting to the ear, but it still flows so beautifully that it's able to fit the diversity of the music. His tone is also unique, but an acquired taste. It puts strong emphasis on nasal and chest, which actually annoyed me at first listen. However, with each listen that I took part in, I grew to adore his voice. He is also a brilliant lyricist (all of the lyrics on the album are written by him). They cover a wide range of topics, including social commentary, history, fantasy, philosophy, disability, love, social commentary, even hating glam (though it is done in such a genius way that I can't even complain). He uses metophor that relates to the other varying topics throughout the record, making it impossible to understand the meaning without reading through it with sharp concentration. His qu with words invokes emotion in ways that I cannot describe, but there is one thing that I must point out. In one instance, he uses alliteration. "Blasphamous black bible bias, you betray bigotry".. I've never heard anyone else do that on any other piece of music that I've ever listened to!

This is an album that triggers many different emotions, each at different times, but at its end, it leaves you with an astounding feeling of absolute triumph, amazingly without any epic speed metal (there really isn't anything over 100 bpm on here). With brilliant usage of odd time signatures, sneaky use of acoustics, as well as astonishingly vivid atmosphere, this album is an absolute wonder of a journey that never even gets predictable or gineric for one second. Definetly the magnum opus of Fates Warning's career, the greatest power metal album ever made, and one of the greatest albums of all time.

 A Pleasant Shade Of Gray by FATES WARNING album cover Studio Album, 1997
4.18 | 351 ratings

A Pleasant Shade Of Gray
Fates Warning Progressive Metal

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 122

'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray' is the eighth studio album of Fates Warning and was released in 1997. The line up on the album is Ray Alder, Jim Matheos, Joey Vera and Mark Zonder. The album had also the participation of Kevin Moore, Bill Metoyer, Lydia Montagnese, Lindsay Matheos and Terry Brown. This is the first Fates Warning album with Joey Vera. The former Armoured Saint bassist was recruited to substituted their previous former bassist Joe DiBiase.

Fates Warning is perhaps the only progressive metal act that helped develop this genre from the 80's to this time, but they have always been overshadowed by their contemporaries. In the 80's everyone had their attention focused on Queensryche and Crimson Glory, and the 90's saw Dream Theater and Symphony X dominating everything in that area. And, while very few bands have managed to maintain their consistency, always putting out quality material, carving their own little niche in the ever-growing genre, many of them went for the easy way out after scoring one or two major albums. For Fates Warning, on the other hand, it was a slower, but perhaps safer, process of growing and establishing themselves as one of the greatest progressive metal bands of all times. Unfortunately, this is an underrated band.

Matheos is also an underrated musician. His genius is always passed up for some reason. He wrote all the lyrics and composed this entire album on his own. What's more is that he hasn't taken the easy way out laying down some meaningless riffs and solos throughout this album. On the contrary he only plays few solos on the entire album. These solos are slow and minimal but emotionally charged at the highest level possible. Alder does his best vocal performance ever here. He stays comfortably in his own range and delivers the tunes with passion, emotion and conviction. Vera had just joined the band and this was his first stint with the band but he fits in perfectly in Matheos' song craft. Zonder is best known for restraining himself when necessary and always giving the song what it needs.

Finally, we have Moore. His presence on the album makes all the difference. Fates Warning had never used keyboards and piano this effectively before, but for an album like this, no one would have been a better choice. Moore's minimalist playing and the heavy atmosphere that covers the tunes delicately complement the songs very well. He particularly shines on this album. I really think this is the best album with Moore, as a guest, in his post 'Awake' musical career.

About 'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray', Matheos said that the genesis of the album was a departure from their previous two albums. For him, apart from 'Parallels' and 'Inside Out', all their albums have sounded different. 'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray' is really very different from most progressive metal albums of the 90's. There is little to no effort made to make the listener's head spin with unnecessary technical prowess. You don't get dizzy listening to it trying to keep up with various poly-rhythms, countless notes squeezed into a scale played mindlessly fast on the guitar or a singer constantly exerting himself just to remain in his highest range possible. All these aspects have no purpose on this album.

'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray' is presented as a whole, parted in 12 songs. Or, if you want, you can call it a conceptual album. Fates Warning explores a darker side of the progressive rock music. The lyrics are great and the tone of the music fits the concept perfectly. Each part flows into others quite well. The pace of the album is slow and the entire album is very moody due to its extreme progressive nature. The main feeling all over this album is the 'gray-ness'. Reading the lyrics, you could be intrigued by the statement of what really is the concept of 'pleasant'? And what is this about this 'shade of gray'? I really think that the 'opposition of the contraries, gray and pleasant' is solved, in the end of the album. Emptiness, confusion and desolation, are things which lead us to a sort of desperation. But, finally, 'face to face we'll awake/ to see another day' is a kind of thing that gives us a new hope. It's like a nightmare, which finally ends. Moreover, this sensation is clarified by the clock ring in the end of the album. It's like in the beginning of the album of Dream Theater, 'Awake'. The final result is that the mood these guys managed to create is really wonderful.

Conclusion: If 'Inside Out' was a kind of continuation of 'Parallels', in musical style, 'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray' is something new compared to its predecessors. No, not fundamentally new, but still the changes are substantial, in my humble opinion. This album is a must listen for any truly fan of progressive metal, or simply any music fan who enjoys contemplating real music. 'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray' is a unique album by a unique band. The listener must simply keep in mind that it's not meant as a catchy sing along or as background music. Sometimes I wonder why this band is so underrated. It's really a shame. Everybody who likes this genre should check this band out. This album could be a very good introduction to this great band. For me, this is one of the jewels of the progressive metal discography. I even dare to say that this album is a classic in the progressive metal field. I know this isn't consensual, but it's what I think.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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