Fates Warning
A Pleasant Shade of Gray


3.5
great

Review

by Adriana/Reverse Perpendiculars USER (25 Reviews)
July 20th, 2011 | 18 replies


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 released A Pleasant Shade of Gray to mixed reception that grew into a collective underground aura of acclaim. Many fans and critics alike are still divided and/or undecided by the Connecticut group's constantly changing sound from the street DIY metal of No Exit to the machine pulse of Perfect Symmetry and to the sudden commercial sound on Parallels and Inside Out (the latter of which arguably contained some of their best and worst material). However, they would take this even further now, and from the start of "Part 1" is a slip of electronic vibes and dark wave influences via Dream Theater's ex-keyboardist Kevin Moore. Fates Warning wasn't progressive enough for the last half-a-decade so they took it up a notch, having Zonder skip across his drum set so intricately that it was as almost off putting to listen to. Think even more complex than "Part of the Machine." We're talking about mind-numbing beauty here in the form of progressive metal, and not everyone could handle that in 1997. 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 you could guess most progressive metal concept albums are, this one revolves namely around a person who is haunted by some form of cathartic thoughts and a severe account of regret. A Pleasant Shade of Gray explores it through his dreams - tales of depression and a person's mentality and conscience throughout 12 untitled tracks that leave it up to you, the listener, to dissolve as you see fit. Be prepared to turn on that mental "wallowing in your own sins" switch in your brain as Fates Warning scrapes across a multitude of depressive impulses, attempting to squish them coherently as a single epic. Alder’s singing is uniquely articulated yet again throughout the performance and Kevin Moore is likely responsible for the sudden atmospheric over metal approach, but the whole affair is so far off the musical genre that it could hardly conform to any genre if it weren't for Matheos' edgy riffs and Alder's familiar attitude. The performance is somber and mechanical, and seemingly pieced together during a confusing time for the band. This is not the album you are supposed to jam to, or rock out to, or even express your anger with. Don't drink to this either, it will only make you feel worse. "Part IV" is a perfect example of what I'm getting at. There is just an overwhelming mindset of loathing the state of life in general at work here. No hope. And for that matter A Pleasant Shade of Gray is not exactly a fun record. It's a droll record to those who left the bandwagon when Alder joined and its even disturbing to those that enjoyed Parallels. During production the melodies had became increasingly difficult to create, leading to the band often being unhappy with themselves.

Although the bands most impressive moment here isn't instrument-wise as they obviously proved their talent in back in the late 80's, it paints a comparable line between their fans, themselves and the music that presents this a classic among concept albums. 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 insistent on rejecting the listener, but its worth is mind blowing (see the last two minutes of "Part V" and "Part VIII" (or Bleed I and Winter Solstice by some fans)) And while it wouldn't do any good to bash the underdeveloped nature of the album, many fans have no doubt appreciated the approach taken with the band in that manner.

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 point is quite possibly that anguish and the expression and truth that come from regret are the most beautiful and powerful things there are.



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user ratings (158)
Chart.
4.1
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


7878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Almost used the phrase “Way back in the nineties”, then I made myself sad.

Digging: Sharon Van Etten - Epic

Jethro42
July 20th 2011


13099 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


7878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

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





Jethro42
July 20th 2011


13099 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


7878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

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


1728 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


7878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh it is. thanks guys

Drsmith4
July 20th 2011


1728 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


7878 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fixed

scissorlocked
July 21st 2011


3519 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

definitely their most moving album



good work with the review man

KILL
July 26th 2011


74378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh you reviewed this sweet m/

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
July 27th 2011


6755 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: The Membranes - Dark Matter/Dark Energy

tiesthatbind
August 10th 2011


7382 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is really good.

ksoflas
November 22nd 2012


678 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


12664 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Your review's link is on wikipedia

facupm
June 16th 2014


10032 Comments


must listen to this

KILL
June 17th 2014


74378 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

DUDE



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