Fates Warning
Awaken the Guardian


5.0
classic

Review

by Sir Grigor Domashevich USER (16 Reviews)
January 18th, 2007 | 146 replies


Release Date: 1986 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Fates Warning stop being completely Iron Maiden-influenced and take a step into the once uncharted, prog metal territory.

When 80s metal is mentined in your no-less-than-geeky discussions about metal, what comes up? Metallica? Megadeth? Pretty thrashy stuff right there, which isn't suprising; it's what the metal scene in the 80s is known for. But what about the progressive metal side? Or maybe the power metal side? Big names won't come up, unless you think of Rush as progressive metal, or the few early power metal bands such as Blind Guardian. But, Fates Warning is a band that few would know about.

Fates Warning at this point is:
John Arch - Vocals
Jim Matheos - Guitars
Frank "X" Aresti - Guitars
Joe DiBiase - Bass
Steve Zimmerman - Drums

Fates Warning is a band with too many genres to list. They're progressive. They're thrash. They're power metal. They're heavy metal. (Though they're considered progressive metal by most Fates Warning listeners.) It's always been this way, at least starting with this album. Before Awaken The Guardian's release in 1986, they were criticized as being an Iron Maiden copy. However, with this fresh new album, they develop a more distinct sound with their thrashy riffing, progressive time signatures, and power metal-like lyrics, become less and less like Iron Maiden with each release. It's unfortunante that such an album like this didn't rise to the top at all. The culprit for this dilema? An insane number of classic metal albums came out the exact same year. Unfortunantly, the release of Awaken the Guardian was completely overshadowed by the unveiling of Metallica's Master of Puppets, Slayer's Reign in Blood, Megadeth's Peace Sells...But Who's Buying? and Iron Maiden's Somewhere In Time to name a few. 1986 was obviously one of the biggest years in metal ever, but Fates Warning's Awaken The Guardian deserve to be part of the onslaught of metal classics?

What this album has is variety. It has some very thrashy songs, like "Valley of the Dolls". Throughout the album, it shows not only the progressive music people know Fates Warning for, but the strong, heavy, crunchy thrash riffing 80s metal itself is known for. There is not a song here without the unnatural flowing progressive beats, such as in the strong opener "The Sorceress". But it's not just the genres driving the moving music in Awaken the Guardian; the instrumentals are wonderful as well. The drumlines can range from nothing short of complex to full-out double bass as in "Prelude to Ruin". The bass cuts through the mix just right so it doesn't overpower the guitars, but is still heard. The guitaring, especially the riffing in some of the heavier. thrashier songs, is somehow manages to combine utmost complexity with driving thrash riffing. It's done just right so that the music still flows, even with the changing time signatures throughout. The vocals too, while high-pitched, blends with the music wonderfully most of the time.

No, Awaken the Guardian is not all thrashy, showy riff fests. There are Opeth-esque acoustic melodies and fills scattered throughout the album, especially in "Guardian". There are also other slower-tempoed songs throughout, such as in "Time Long Past". These songs, unlike Symphony X's slower ballads, have enough energy to keep them from getting boring. I've also noticed that the slower songs on this album aren't as progressive as they are in the heavier songs on here. However, you should listen to Awaken the Guardian for the ballads; the heavy, energetic songs outnumber the slow, ballad-like songs.

You might be asking at this point "Are there even any negatives to such a great album like this?" From my point of view, there are none at all. But i'll bring up a couple of issues some people may have with this album. Both are a shoutout to you Iron Maiden fans out there. This will sound like Iron Maiden. You can hear a strong Maiden influence in there, though the Maiden influence doesn't overshadow the Fates Warning sound. One more thing people might have an issue with is with the vocals. They sound almost identical to Bruce Dickinson, so unless you don't like anyone else sound like Maiden other than Maiden themselves, you should be okay with this anyway.

Pros:
[+]All songs are fantastic
[+]Complex, yet catchy melodies
[+]Strong talent in all intruments

Cons:
[-]Some will not like the strong Iron Maiden influence
[-]Some will not like Dickinson-like Vocals
[-]Erm...nothing else

All in all, this album is nothing short of a classic. This album deserves to be up alongside the great albums that came out in 1986. I'm still stunned that this was a fantastic random CD buy. In fact, I was even more impressed that I got the album itself and 2 additional discs for only $15 at Best Buy! (You can buy the whole thing yourself on Amazon.com for $19 if you can't find it.) Despite the strong Iron Maiden influence in the album, this is definently an album worth the space in your 512mb Apple iPod shuffle or your 30 gig Creative Zen Vision: M, or even your CD player (you can throw out that Manowar CD that was in there before).

Recommended Songs: Fata Morgana, Valley of the Dolls, Guardian

A little note to people buying the big 2 cd and 1 dvd set: you'll find out that a certain popular progressive metal band that has "Dream Theater" in their band name is nuts over Fates Warning, especially a certain drummer whose last name is Portnoy...



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user ratings (191)
Chart.
4.2
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Lunarfall
January 18th 2007


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Tried to break away from the traditional song-by-song review with this. I'd like some feedback on how I did with this style.

scpttrerulz
January 19th 2007


130 Comments


Good review.... sadly so far its suffered more or less the same indifference as my disconnected review. For some reason, people here seem to have no interest in one of the pioneers of the prog scene. :|

scpttrerulz
January 19th 2007


130 Comments


Good review.... sadly so far its suffered more or less the same indifference as my Disconnected review. For some reason, people here seem to have no interest in one of the pioneers of the prog scene. :|...

edit: oops ... second submissionThis Message Edited On 01.19.07This Message Edited On 01.19.07

Lunarfall
January 19th 2007


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, that's too bad, because this is really a great album.

Lunarfall
January 19th 2007


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Come on, surely this review would spark some interest in the band?This Message Edited On 01.19.07

Lunarfall
January 20th 2007


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Hmm, maybe I should put some songs up.

Doppelganger
February 14th 2007


3124 Comments


Hmm, different vocalist from the new stuff. That's one of the things that put me off most. Maybe I'll check this album out.

Lunarfall
February 14th 2007


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Just be aware that the vocals are very Dickinson-like and you'll be fine.This Message Edited On 02.16.07

Doppelganger
February 14th 2007


3124 Comments


Um, yeah. I just listened to Guardian and it dominated everything on FWX to an extroardinary level.

Altmer
September 9th 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is another album I need to get.

Lunarfall
September 15th 2007


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is probably the best album any prog metal band has ever done, even 21 years later, except for maybe Blackwater Park. You have to get it.

Also, there's 2 versions out of this CD; one is a double disc (the album and a bunch of demo stuff) and one is a triple disc (same plus a live DVD). The latter is only $4 more, but the DVD isn't very good; it's just a live bootleg with alright sound and video. Either one is fine, but I'd rather get the double disc version if I didn't have this.This Message Edited On 09.15.07

KYZAR
February 9th 2009


513 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Come on, surely this review would spark some interest in the band?"

yup it did for me, love prog- ...well all metal really, will pick this up.


Lunarfall
February 9th 2009


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good to see that more people are taking notice of this forgotten gem.

Willie
Moderator
February 10th 2009


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I just listened to this again. I really wish I could rate this a "5" but "Prelude to Ruin" and "Giant's Lore (Heart of Winter)" just aren't up to the same standard as everything else.


Digging: Mors Principium Est - Dawn Of The 5th Era

Thrasher86
March 17th 2009


181 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Was at a record store by my house that was closing and they had Perfect Symentry there on vinyl for $4 and my Dad said he rembered hearing about these guys but he didn't rember anything by them. Anyway he bought it and we listened to it and I loved it, very similar to Queensryche and another progressive thrash band Sanctuary, if you like this check them out.

Willie
Moderator
March 17th 2009


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Perfect Symmetry is awesome. I just recently reviewed the re-release of that with a better sound and a DVD disc. I wish they had made another album similar to that one. If that's the only one you've heard and then you hear this one you're going to think you've got an entirely different band... and you almost have (Different drummer and vocalist).

Lunarfall
March 17th 2009


3179 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I still need Perfect Symmetry.

Thrasher86
March 17th 2009


181 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah. Hence my name I am a huge 80's and early 90's thrash head, but I love some of the hair and prog. metal stuff as well. So if it has prog. vocals and thrash guitars omg that would be the shit. lol

Willie
Moderator
March 17th 2009


16149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So if it has prog. vocals and thrash guitars omg that would be the shit.
I wouldn't say this one has thrash guitars but they're definitely much more metal, with a prog edge musically (and definitely vocally)
I still need Perfect Symmetry.
Yeah you do

Thrasher86
March 17th 2009


181 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, sounds bad ass. Time to hit the music store and see if they have this.



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