Fates Warning - FWX
Metal Blade
Progressive Metal
10 songs (52'12)
Release year: 2004
Fates Warning, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Marty
The longevity of a band like Fates Warning is an anomaly in today's strictly sales driven music business and it may be a long time before we see a band like this enjoy a long and successful career. In this day and age very few labels would ever invest the time and money to nurture a band's talent like Metal Blade has done with Fates Warning. The music business is all about the here and now and if a band fails to sell a decent amount of CDs for whatever reason, they are dropped like a stone from their label. Existing for almost 20 years and with a loyal fan base, Fates Warning has enjoyed great success worldwide and has always had strong label support. They are a unique band that has the talent and ability to make some great quality progressive yet heavy music album after album. Fates Warning were playing progressive metal long before bands like Dream Theater ever existed and are a big influence on the current exploding progressive metal scene. Some may argue that they are the ones that actually laid the groundwork for what is progressive metal nowadays. Despite releasing some classic albums (Awaken The Guardian, No Exit, Parallels and A Pleasant Shade Of Gray etc.) Fates Warning has never quite risen above a cult band status. Four years after the somewhat modern and industrial flavored Disconnected, a tour last year with Dream Theater and Queensryche seems to have rejuvenated this band. Fates Warning presents us here with their tenth album FWX, an album that still has some of the modern edge of Disconnected but with a mix of the classic Parallels album and A Pleasant Shade Of Gray and an overall heavier sound. FWX unlike more recent efforts, avoids the lengthy conceptual pieces instead, opting for more shorter and concise songs.

The introductory notes to any Fates Warning song whether it be charging riffs or quiet acoustic guitar, instantly set the mood and tone for the entire song. This aspect of their music is something that has made me fan of this band for many, many years and is represented quite well with just about every track on this new album. The heavy and abstract sound that is such a staple of this band's sound makes appearances on many tracks with several tracks such as Simple Human, Another Perfect Day, Crawl and Stranger (With a Familiar Face) having a more in-your-face and tougher sound than is the norm for their music. Many tracks alternate between quieter acoustic and heavier atmospheric passages all with the great and strong voice of long-time vocalist Ray Alder. The strength of the songwriting and arrangements is evident with every track on this album as recurring themes often are used to weave in and out of the mix of the songs. The brilliant compositional ability of original guitarist Jim Matheos is in full form on this new album as well. Haunting and bursting with lyrical imagery, many tracks slowly build from breathy quiet to thundering heavy all the while keeping the mood and atmosphere of the song consistent. There's a certain catchiness to this album that's been missing for a while and it can be attributed to the arrangements and choice of riffs as well as Ray Alder's rich and emotional vocal style. Every song is a cohesive idea that slowly evolves and overall, the flow and feel of this album is much like some of their more classic albums. The arrangements and quality of the songs really shows the experience that this band has in doing this sort of music for so long. Fates Warning material overall has a more darker and moodier tone than most prog metal bands and this aspect is played to perfection on this album. Jim Matheos' Rush flavored guitar sound is killer on this album and although it usually is for most Fates Warning albums, it sounds exceptionally "fatter" in tone a way up in the mix than normal. There's a diminished keyboard presence as Kevin Moore, who has provided keyboards for the last few albums, doesn't appear on this new album. The keyboards on this album are provided by Jim Matheos and are often just layered into the mix for atmosphere.

Drummer Mark Zonder announced his departure just after the completion of this album after 15 years in the band and with bassist Joey Vera being busy with Seven Witches, Anthrax as well as being a member of Armored Saint, you wonder what the future of this band will be. Vocalist Ray Alder has just recently joined a band called Redemption and Jim Matheos is getting busier with side projects. I hope that they keep Fates Warning alive as the quality of this new album shows that the fire is still there and that they can still deliver a great album. FWX may not quite be a masterpiece as compared to other albums in the band's catalogue but it's still a quality one at that. I hope this isn't the band's swan song but if it is, it's a very fitting one.......

Killing Songs :
River Wide Ocean Deep, Another Perfect Day and Heal Me
Marty quoted 86 / 100
Jeff quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by Fates Warning that we have reviewed:
Fates Warning - Darkness In A Different Light reviewed by Joel and quoted 90 / 100
Fates Warning - Awaken The Guardian reviewed by Khelek and quoted 93 / 100
Fates Warning - Night On Brocken reviewed by Khelek and quoted 80 / 100
Fates Warning - The Spectre Within reviewed by Storm and quoted CLASSIC
Fates Warning - Disconnected reviewed by Claus and quoted 80 / 100
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