Review Summary: A stylistic peak for the progressive metal group Fates Warning, with emotion running in every verse and flawless songwriting throughout. "Parallels" is a true classic in every sense of the word.
For any artist, the roughest course of action is a change in sound. It could be for uniqueness, or for fluidity and accessibility, but this can be disastrous to a band's career. After Fates Warning recruited Ray Alder as their new lead vocalist, they achieved mass popularity with No Exit
. Although it was only loosely tied to the band's heavy metal roots, only a fraction of that sound entered Perfect Symmetry
. The original fanbase was broken up as critics and newcomers lauded Perfect Symmetry
and it's complex arrangements, but the band's decision to push further on Parallels
was staggering to critics and fans alike. The music video singles "Eye to Eye," "Point of View," and "We Only Say Goodbye" became international hits, and the band was given a world tour. Despite it's direct approach and astute difference from any of Fates Warning's previous albums, Parallels
is structured from it's first few notes and maintained all-throughout with whirling bass drum fills, striking bass waves, and the wailing of regret all in the genre of progressive metal. Their edge is as strong as ever, and although fans of the power metal era of Fates Warning have a bone to pick with Ray Alder, the band's music reflects their past decisions and created a sense of emotional altruism that is unheard of in the metal genre. Contrary to the commercial failures of many bands throughout the nineties, Fates Warning's Parallels
was a massive success that helped shape the progressive metal genre alongside Dream Theater's Images and Words
and Queensrÿche's Operation: Mindcrime
Fates Warning obtained assistance from fellow prog metal band Dream Theater (who was just before their landmark release “Images and Words”) and collectively worked on their next releases. Released in 1991, Parallels
was a landmark of a progressive album, sparking a long line of fuel that would ignite the public. Parallels
was still considered a polar opposite to the status quo, but with trial and error the selection obtained a smooth epic rock sound complete with a solid punch of progressive elements. Not a single band member out of place, Fates Warning’s fanbase grew two sizes that day, not to mention they were honored with a world tour.
If you are familiar with the band, then you are probably aware that Mark Zonder is a rabid squirrel on the drums. He plays on his own offbeats, creates drum fills that are impossible to decipher, and stretches the atmosphere of Fates Warning greater than Scott Rockenfield and Mike Portnoy ever did to Queensryche and Dream Theater. Instead of domineering the music as he did in Inside Out
, his presence on Parallels
is beautifully connected with the rest of the band. His prowess is controlled, and vaguely reminiscent of Neil Peart through the eighties' "synth-era Rush." Matheos' guitar work is simplistic, yet affective and matches a perfect resonance alongside bassist Frank Aresti. "Leave the Past Behind" is a solid number opener for Fates Warning and Parallels
alike, and the progressive flurries may leave you deftly in need for some Promethazine to cure your motion sickness.
reflects ideas of death and regret, and everyday experience with the fact that life is short. With "Life in Still Water" the band got the perfect sequel to their previous classic “Part of the Machine”. "Beneath the dust of our days/hides the key to our emotions/and it's been a while since we've been moved/without going through the motions/No emotions…/Is there time still for us to show?/Feelings we forgot long ago"
. The song also features James LaBrie of Dream Theater fame for backing vocals. An odd quirk worth noting is the obsessive use of 2nd person in the lyrics, (perhaps even joked about in the song "Point of View", the very title itself ironic) every song except for "The Road Goes On Forever" features some variation of the word 'You.' Parallels
was a solid connection to their fans; their songwriting is nearly top notch, as is Ray Alder’s voice easily at its stylistic peak, belting out some impressive progressive melodies on "The Eleventh Hour" and "We Only Say Goodbye". As the closing track, "We Only Say Goodbye" has an incredibly memorable melody and as moody as it presents itself, it is the perfect theme to fit the new sound, the album cover, and the image and name of the band itself. With the perfect lineup of their members, Parallels
is definitely the best place for any newcomer to Fates Warning, and is always a solid place in their catalogue.