Review Summary: Fates Warning matured, and in the process kept their qualities stronger than ever.
After everything they had been through, after the polarization of their fanbase, the band members that had left, the successful and failed commercial attempts, and quite possibly the entire uncertain course of their career, Fates Warning became a serious as you could get. In essence, the band reached beyond their goals on Disconnected
, placing their strongest cathartic pulse ever into their mix of progressive metal. Ray Alder's vocals are crisp as his lyrical genius, Jim Matheos' compositions have grown deeper and more poetic than ever before, and of course, drummer Mark Zonder has exceeded his own abilities tenfold. As if it can't be stressed enough, Disconnected
is undoubtedly the strongest artistic direction of their career, expanding their musical horizons back to sprawling epics and with a writing focus on their own scars (thankfully without the same 'bottled' commercial drive as their past few albums.)
The first song itself is a wonder. “One” rocks with sounds of a machine in motion, grinding at every move and spiraling with Zonder's impressive skill to a full steam operation. It starts the album of almost too easily, snaking into the unrelenting “So”, an unnerving and simplistic track that sludges along into the second upbeat rocker "Pieces of Me," where much akin to “One.” These three songs present the pleasant psychologies of Fates Warning, something the band has always been good at creating. Things change right around the time "Something From Nothing" and "Still Remains" show up. Things get quiet for a while, and the band builds up to one momentous climax after another.
I can not ooze enough satisfaction about Ray Alder’s vocals here, specifically on "Still Remains." While he now talks in spite of Disconnected
, he actually shows more maturity here than ever before by acting as a bricklayer for the band, laying a flexible paste for the music to cement itself in. Things get even better, as Terry Brown from Rush’s production fame returns, and his production of Disconnected
is the heaviest I have heard up to this point. Kevin Moore also returns yet again as part of their collective, continuing his journey with his dark synth as if he were there all along. Fates Warning attempts to rid themselves of their recognizable piercing guitars, and letting their energy give the album a thick paste to it's sound. Their aptitude is now so perfectly one with the music that it's hard to criticize anything on the album. Every thing is exactly where it should be.
Among some of the more memorable moments of the album are Ray Alder’s powerful bellow of “Take, take, take, take from nothing, make it something”, and the ominous piano lines throughout the ending self-title piece. "Disconnected Pt.2" is where Kevin Moore stands alone on the stage, presenting a sturdy, yet haunting piano tune that resembles regret in the hearts of the listener. Of all these fluttering things to say, Fates Warning seems to have only lost one thing: The ability to keep their songs entertaining after the bridge, or “connector” of the music. The shorter songs get away with it, but on the longer pieces, the “drawn out” feeling is obvious. It's almost as if they expected us to be oblivious. Where a reflective pause was meant to be added to the song, the mood was suddenly dropped in favor for a flavorless seasoning. What truly happened here is anybody's guess, but Fates Warning can no longer seem to create an appealing bridge. Amid “Still Remains” and part of “So”, they constantly miss the mark by bee-lining for a rough finale.
So there are a few irksome areas, but in the long run there is no filler here on Disconnected
, just a few weak spots on the longer songs, and with the band carving fury into their music at every turn, they crank out the highest decibels on the instruments when they play, and they make sure to play emotionally. Adding Kevin Moore’s dark and twisted digital flavors, the air raid sirens and groove inducing bass lines all adjoin with shadows of their 'grey' past and their regrets into a remarkable record entitled Disconnected