Fates Warning

Awaken the Guardian
(Metal Blade - 1986)
Probably the second most important pioneers in progressive metal. By today's standards of this genre, this album doesn't quite impress me as much as it did then but it still has a lot of advantages and is very good. The main one being that it has an 80's sound with lots of the speed/thrash heaviness that prevailed at the time yet the compositions are epic. This is a melodic yet heavy non-keyboard prog metal release sounding a little like a heavier (older) Queensryche mixed with Iron Maiden. The only problems with this are the vocals (yes, high-pitched) which sound too thin and nasal but if you can get past that, the music is superb. The lack of keyboards is pretty unique for this style and lends it a thrashier sound. The riffing patterns change often and are interesting, and the vocal and guitar interplay is pretty unique and often give a feeling that they are out of tune with each other. A great album but the vocals lower the rating somewhat (they changed vocalists right after this album). Most people consider this to be their best.
No Exit
(Metal Blade - 1988)
A new vocalist here with a much deeper voice yet sometimes sounds like he is trying to fill in Arch's extremely high voice. So the vocals improved greatly, often sounding like Tate (Queensryche), yet the music has gone a step down. Probably their heaviest album, yet there is something missing. The guitars are heavier sounding and the stronger drums and production enhance this but I find myself losing interest often. One thing I have realized with Fates Warning is that they are probably the most 'true' progressive band having a unique and not so accessible vocal arrangement which doesn't just follow the instruments, but often goes off on its own, adding a whole new dimension. That together with the inevitable many changes and strange timings is probably why this band never got too popular. But then again, nobody knows what progressive means anymore so you may ignore what I just said. This album uses a lot of good acoustic guitars in the music and it has some really great tracks but I still find it hard to recommend. But what the hell, I got it as a free bonus cd together with 'Awaken the Guardian' and it is still growing on me.

The Last Exit 1996-

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