Fates Warning
FWX


3.5
great

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
November 15th, 2007 | 57 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Fates Warning continue to change with every album, this time streamlining their sound and increasing their moody nature.

This album sucks in so many ways. It isn’t as progressive as Perfect Symmetry, nor is it as heavy as No Exit, nor is it as experimental as A Pleasant Shade of Grey, in fact it isn’t even as catchy as their commercial breakthrough, Parallels, and don’t get me started about all the ways it’s nothing like their phenomenal album Awaken the Guardian. In case the score in the corner hasn’t tipped you off, I don’t really believe this album sucks at all, and I don’t see how people into this band can use the reasoning I wrote above to think that it does. Despite the fact that all those comparisons to their other albums are true, this is still a solid release and shows a continued evolution from one of the leaders of the Progressive Metal movement.

This album shows another side in the continuously changing style of Fates Warning. It shows a streamlining of all their modern day ideas into one cohesive and moody offering. Yes, the riffs and overall musical style are more straightforward, and yes the Industrial influence of the past few albums has subsided into the background a little, and Ray Alder is definitely showing a lot of restraint vocally, and there are literally almost no guitar solos to be found, but cohesiveness and restraint are not reasons to call an album bad. The quality comes in the superb way in which the album as a whole conveys a sense of moody unease. The quality is also shown in the way the band exercises restraint and never throws extraneous parts and solos into the song just to show off how many notes they can play in a minute.

Some have also lamented the lack of any real “Progressiveness” (relating to the genre of music) on this album, but for those that don’t see it; you only need to look a little harder. Starting with the most blatant example, we have the drumming of Mark Zonder. The man is literally one of the best drummers out there, capable of playing amazingly technical patterns while still maintaining a steady rhythm as well, and that hasn’t suddenly changed on this album. Another example is a little harder to hear if you’re not paying attention because it comes in the form of the subtle attention to detail that went into this album. It was mentioned that the Industrial influences have subsided a little, but their effects are still noticeable. They’re used to accentuate a guitar riff, or add to the moody atmosphere during the quieter sections of the album. Also, the musicianship of this entire band is still on display, not in the way they shred on their instruments but in the way they don’t shred all over the place, in the way they construct a song, in their use of subtle nuances, and in their mastery of conveying an atmosphere through music.

Their literal progressiveness is shown by their continued willingness to expand their sound further and to experiment a little. For the expansion in their sound you need look no further then their first single, “Simple Human” which is probably the heaviest song they’ve written since anything from No Exit but is also one of the most straight forward rockers in their career. It has a few different energetic and heavy riffs (for Fates Warning), accentuated by subtle Industrial sounds, and Ray’s vocals sounding more vigorous and urgent then they have in a while. The songs “Crawl” and “Stranger (With a Familiar Face)” follow in similar footsteps with the latter being even more aggressive then the other two.

The experimentation in their sound is best exemplified by the song “River Wide Ocean Deep” which starts off sounding like it is going to be just another solid, moody song with its clean guitar sound, and more subtle electronic noises, but then the quiet wail of a woman fades in and out of the music. It’s a subtle addition, but it’s new for them, and also goes a long way towards pushing the atmosphere of the song to a much higher level. Another good example would be the album closer, “Wish” which is another slow brooding song, but it introduces a rhythmic feel to the song due to the Industrial sounds, and the repetitiveness of the guitar melody.

That is where a lot of the experimentation comes in, from their continued attempt to push the moodiness of the songs further and further. It comes from a lot of quiet subtle guitar melodies and the way they interact with the vocals and electronic sounds, it comes from the somber tones used, the emotion present in the vocals, and the way they use the heavier parts to accentuate the feelings in the song instead of as just a means to beat you over the head with aggression for aggression’s sake. So, yes, this album isn’t like any of their past ones for all the reasons already listed, but because of that it sets its own standard. This album is the most emotional and moody album in Fates Warning’s vast catalog, and because of that it takes more patience to get into due to the subtle nature required to convey that moodiness… but it is worth that patience.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
November 15th 2007


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm not usually one to write a review for an album that already has one (I've done it once before now, in 39 reviews), but these guys are one of my favorite bands, and while this isn't their best album... it's not a 2 either.

Digging: Necropoli - I

Jim
November 15th 2007


5110 Comments


This album sucks in so many ways

never thought i'd see a review with a rating of 3.5 begin with a sentence like that! but you explained it well.

TimeToTurnTheTide
November 15th 2007


208 Comments


Nice review. I'm interested to hear some of this if the drummer blokey is as excellent as you claim.

I tend to find a lot of "Progressive" bands that get rave reviews on this site are just unlistenable because of the vocal style; but "restrained" sounds appealing to my earsThis Message Edited On 11.15.07

Willie
Moderator
November 15th 2007


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Nice review. I'm interested to hear some of this if the drummer blokey is as excellent as you claim.

I tend to find a lot of "Progressive" bands that get rave reviews on this site are just unlistenable because of the vocal style; but "restrained" sounds appealing to my ears
Unfortunately some of his best drumming is on the albums where the vocalist isn't quite so restrained, but he is still excellent on here too.
The vocalist still has the higher register voice of the average Progressive Metal band, but he doesn't try to hit really high notes, and he has a nice lower range as well (not as good as Geoff Tate's though).

TimeToTurnTheTide
November 15th 2007


208 Comments


Just hit up the bands myspace site. This is a lot better than i thought it would be. Whenever i hear progressive on this site i just think of all the BTBAM comments and reviews and stuff. I checked them out and thought it was terrible. But this is restoring my faith in the progressive label lol

Willie
Moderator
November 15th 2007


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn, if you're thinking of BTBAM and not liking it, but you do like this, then you should check out Porcupine Tree, Riverside, and Abigail's Ghost.

TimeToTurnTheTide
November 15th 2007


208 Comments


Well this Jarzombek character is alright isnt he!

I've some PT but none of the others. i go through phases of that sort of stuff. Maybe i will treat myself after i have written my dissertation allowance for the day!

Willie
Moderator
November 15th 2007


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well this Jarzombek character is alright isnt he!
Yeah, that guy is awesome too.
Have fun with the dissertation.

TimeToTurnTheTide
November 15th 2007


208 Comments


Ha! whoops i was supposed to be looking at Mark Zonder. I went on their Myspace page and ended up looking at Jarzombek. Error

No one could have fun doing my dissertation but thanks all the same

Willie
Moderator
November 15th 2007


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ha! whoops i was supposed to be looking at Mark Zonder. I went on their Myspace page and ended up looking at Jarzombek. Error
He's their touring drummer since Zonder left the band after FWX... he's a capable replacement for sure. I thought maybe there was a youtube video of Fates Warning live with Jarzombeck or something, and that's what you were commenting on.This Message Edited On 11.15.07

BallsToTheWall
November 15th 2007


44388 Comments


Another great review, never heard these guys.

Digging: Carissa's Wierd - Songs About Leaving

botb
November 15th 2007


9677 Comments


These guys are another fairly good prog rock/metal group. if you like dream theater, into eternity, opeth, stuff like that... check em out. while they aren't as good as some of those bands, they've put out some pretty ace stuff.

Doppelganger
November 15th 2007


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Your reviews rawk, man.

Willie
Moderator
November 15th 2007


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Your reviews rawk, man.
Just so you know, I didn't think there was anything wrong with your review or have some arrogant attitude where I thought I could do better... I just really like this band and thought that the other perspective on this album should be presented as well.

Wizard
November 15th 2007


19407 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Willie,
Excellent review and I love your taste in music! This album is awesome, but certainly not as good as previous works (not that it sucks or anything hahaha). Your review did this album well and described everything I like about it perfectly. I have to admit, I liked Ray Alder's side project Engine. Unfortunately he only released one album by them. Thats the band that got me hooked onto these guys.

Digging: Khonsu - Traveller

Doppelganger
November 15th 2007


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Aside from the fact that yours is better, I never thought that. In all seriousness, your reviews are great.

Wizard
November 15th 2007


19407 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Doppleganger, your review of this is well done too (I just read it)!

Willie
Moderator
November 15th 2007


15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I have to admit, I liked Ray Alder's side project Engine. Unfortunately he only released one album by them. Thats the band that got me hooked onto these guys.
Actually Engine have two CD's and they're both really good.

Also, he's the vocalist for a band called Redemption which is even better (Check out their newest album, The Origins of Ruin).
Aside from the fact that yours is better, I never thought that. In all seriousness, your reviews are great.
Ok, I couldn't tell if your first comment was sarcasm or not... and I didn't want this review taken that way.This Message Edited On 11.15.07

Wizard
November 17th 2007


19407 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I will certainly check out that second Engine album. I don't remember what Redemption sounded like (the one time Ive listened to them), but I think I need to check them out again.

DaveW
December 6th 2007


15 Comments


I don't have FWX yet, but this review has certainly persuaded me to get it. My favorite FW album is A Pleasant Shade of Gray by the way.



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