Fates Warning - Awaken The Guardian
Metal Blade
Heavy/Power Metal
8 songs (47:46)
Release year: 1986
Fates Warning, Metal Blade
Reviewed by Khelek
Archive review

Fates Warning is a band I had always heard much praise given to, but never got the chance really listen to their albums. Awaken The Guardian is the band's third studio release and definitely a worthy successor to the classic The Spectre Within in my opinion. The guitar riffs are faster, heavier, and overall just more memorable. The high-pitched croons of John Arch fit perfectly with the epic-sounding songs, and he really knows how to create some catchy vocal melodies. Sadly this would be the last album to feature his singing, the vocal duties being taken over by the very capable Ray Alder on the next release. This album showed the world that Fates Warning was a serious player in the young world of power metal. This is a band that certainly does not get enough credit today, as few who were not actually listening to metal in the 80s have heard of them, myself included.

The voice of John Arch is arguably at its best on this album; very clear and high, fitting the music perfectly. This is heard first on The Sorceress which showcases impressive guitar work and songwriting ability. It's just catchy enough to keep my attention the entire time, but has an air of mystery about it. The riffs that begin Valley Of The Dolls are heavy and energetic with a bit of speed/power metal energy. The high pitched vocals of Arch soon come in as a contrast and fit quite well once again along with melodic yet heavy guitars. The guitar soloing on this song is also excellent. Guardian is one of my favorites from the albums with its soaring guitar leads and catchy passages with the usual superb vocals. This is an epic song that current power metal bands should be taking their cues from. This is how you craft a song with real feeling. The mournful guitar melodies are unforgettable as are the quick guitar riffs and drumming. Giant's Lore is very catchy and has a definite fantasy feeling to it; a mystical quality that I really like. The riffs are heavy and memorable, but the vocals of John Arch take center stage once again with their infectious catchiness. His voice is like a dynamic instrument with which he can really keep the listener's attention. The album ends with another epic-length track in Exodus, which begins with some energetic riffs and the usual melodic guitar lead comes in soon after them. While not quite as catchy as some of the other songs on this album, it still keeps the listeners attention with heavy riffs and memorable melody.

While this album was the end of the popular John Arch era, Fates Warning would go on to release even more successful albums and go in different directions with their sound. This album represents the beginning of that transition, the music remaining heavy where it mattered but incorporating more melody and storytelling elements. Songs like Guardian and Prelude To Ruin show this transition towards longer compositions that take the listener on a journey. This is truly a great accomplishment in metal at a time when few bands were willing to write this kind of epic music. Arch also uses his vocal ability to its fullest extent once again, his vocals blending at times with the melodic guitars, but also remaining unique and enjoyable. An excellent, timeless album that more metalheads should be familiar with.

Killing Songs :
Valley Of The Dolls, Guardian, Giant’s Lore (Heart Of Winter)
Khelek quoted 93 / 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 - Night On Brocken reviewed by Khelek and quoted 80 / 100
Fates Warning - The Spectre Within reviewed by Storm and quoted CLASSIC
Fates Warning - FWX reviewed by Marty and quoted 86 / 100
Fates Warning - Disconnected reviewed by Claus and quoted 80 / 100
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