Review Summary: It may not be their most progressive endeavor, but that doesn't mean it isn't thoroughly entertaining.
It's a wonder that Fates Warning's pulse is this strong at this point in their career. The band seems incapable of making a bad record with Jim Matheos as the lead songwriter, and after a four year hiatus they still managed to throw a great deal of power into FWX
. In fact, it gets a bad rap because it is less progressive than it's bombastic predecessor Disconnected
. For this reason FWX
is a new evolution into Fates Warning's constantly evolving sound, and comparisons to any contemporaries here are completely unwarranted.
Unfortunately it also signals the end of drummer Mark Zonder's landmark work with the band. Those that thrived off his agile work will have little to find here, with the emphasis now on Ray Alder's matured voice. Matheos' compositions are still the gloomy and emotionally devastating masterpieces as before, but incorporating a production that usually accompanies the post-grunge genre.
"Heal Me" and "Left Here" are melodically beautiful, unfolding into lethargic epics that can appear disgusted and rushed, and "River Wide Ocean Deep" is an experimental journey for Ray Alder's building vocals that dosen't always capture the listener as it should. Often the most confusing aspect of FWX
is that it's bulky aura seems to swipe their progressive energy off the table. To correct that, go to "Simple Human" and "Stranger with A Strange Face," where FW bursts from the seams with an energetic pulse and with some of Ray Alder's more memorable vox.
As the last song on the album, "Wish" is the reason that FWX
was formed and should not be missed. It pulls the listener through a dark abyss of melancholia and to a climax that could even foreshadow the power of Fates future releases.