Fates Warning
A Pleasant Shade of Gray



Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With an intricate account of depression, A Pleasant Shade of Gray is a consummate masterpiece of contemporary songwriting, a concept album unlike any other that shows pain can be beautiful.

From a hazy mood and a depressive heart, Fates Warning originally released A Pleasant Shade of Gray to mixed reception. Many fans and critics alike were still confused from the band's consistently changing sound from the machine pulse of Perfect Symmetry to the sudden commercial sound on Parallels and Inside Out (the latter of which arguably contained some of their best and worst material). However, a dark wave influence combined with it's introspective lyrics and moodiness had left many in disgust. It wasn't until later that people began to regard A Pleasant Shade of Gray in a more positive light, and its popularity subsequently grew as the album is now considered inimitable in the progressive genre.

As a concept album revolving namely around regret and dreams, A Pleasant Shade of Gray explores the depths of depression and a person's mentality and conscience throughout. The actual story is left up to the listener, with a progression of the person's thoughts to keep the music in tune with said listener's emotions and past regrets almost as an enjoyment, sort of a "wallowing in your own sins" kind of approach. Presented throughout 12 unnamed tracks, it flows coherently as a single epic, touching on various depressive impulses, ranging from suicidal breakdowns to apathetic feeling. The progressive feel is still as intact as ever, Zonder’s random drum fills are hard to replicate and Alder’s singing is uniquely articulated yet again throughout the performance. Kevin Moore of early Dream Theater fame also has a role on the album, and is likely responsible for the sudden atmospheric over metal approach. Although the bands most impressive moment here isn't instrument-wise, it paints a comparable line between their fans, themselves and the music that presents this a classic among concept albums.

During production the melodies had became increasingly difficult to create, leading to the band often being unhappy with themselves. It's hard not to connect that difficulty to the to the music itself. From the crackling cloud that starts off ‘Part I’ to the nine minute finale ‘Part XII’, this entire album is not something you can love at first sight. The accessibility is harsh despite it's fluidity, almost insistent of rejecting the listener. Its power is almost a process to obtain, but its worth is mind blowing and is very much parallel to an introverted thought process. Many fans have no doubt connected with the band in that manner. There is distress, revelation, and hopefulness as well as hopelessness.

And I know we can't turn back all the years
Time reflected in a shade of gray
But I often wonder what could have been
And I still hold on to yesterday


For progressive fans this is a near perfect album, but to a few it will seem irrational and bland. Fates Warning doesn't try to impress with wankery. The key point is that the anguish of regret is beautiful, a shade of gray can be pleasant indeed.

So where do we begin
And what else can we say?
When the lines are all drawn
What should we do today?




Recent reviews by this author
Dream Theater AwakeHole Live Through This
Dream Theater OctavariumDream Theater A Dramatic Turn of Events
Primus Green NaugahydeQueensryche Empire
user ratings (141)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
Voivod STAFF (4.5)
Fates Warning 8th album can be seen as the epitome of what Fates Warning do better than anyone, from...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Parallels
July 20th 2011


6641 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Almost used the phrase “Way back in the nineties”, then I stopped and had a long talk with myself.

Jethro42
July 20th 2011


12478 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review Sonic. I love this album, the only one I know along with Disconnected.
If this is their 2nd magnum opus, what would be their first one?

Parallels
July 20th 2011


6641 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

their first would be perfect symmetry. I love disconnected as well, i'm looking forward to it.



Jethro42
July 20th 2011


12478 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice. I'll be sure to check that one out. I'm looking forward to read Disconnected, your next one I presume.

Parallels
July 20th 2011


6641 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

thanks jethro, yeah it will be most likely

Jacquelyn
July 20th 2011


33 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Love the review

Drsmith4
July 20th 2011


1715 Comments


"Progressive Endeavors Pt.8"

You titled your review...what a progressive move. I listened to this on and off during my prog phase. I remember it being pretty good.



Parallels
July 20th 2011


6641 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oh it is. thanks guys

Drsmith4
July 20th 2011


1715 Comments


I tried getting back into prog today with the new Fair to Midland album, but it wasn't that good.

Oh, yeah, and good review - - pos. A few minor flaws throughout, like "much likely," but all around worthy of a pos. And a hell of a lot better than the bulk of the daily user submissions.

Parallels
July 20th 2011


6641 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

fixed

scissorlocked
July 21st 2011


3511 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

definitely their most moving album

good work with the review man

Digging: Traumprinz - All The Things

KILL
July 26th 2011


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh you reviewed this sweet m/

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 27th 2011


6198 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

For this album, the new wave influences combined with it's moodiness had, frankly, left many in disgust

There aren't any "new wave" influences here, imho.


What is great about this is that it leaves the true story up to the listener

What is great about this is that the interpretation of the concept is left solely on the whereabouts of each listener.


During production the melodies had became increasingly difficult to create, leading to the band often being unhappy with themselves

I don't quite follow the meaning of the sentence.



Good review, although you could be a lot more "tighter"/"leaner" with respect to the meanings of each paragraph, have a pos.

Digging: Aeon Sable - Visionaers

tiesthatbind
August 10th 2011


7375 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is really good.

ksoflas
November 22nd 2012


397 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Your review is nice but imho you should reconcider your rating.
A 3,5 is way too low for an album of this calibre.

OmairSh
June 2nd 2013


11547 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Your review's link is on wikipedia

Digging: Freak Kitchen - Cooking With Pagans

facupm
June 16th 2014


8028 Comments


must listen to this

Digging: Dissect - Swallow Swouming Mass

KILL
June 17th 2014


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

DUDE



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy