In the genre of progressive metal, Fates Warning have been pioneers just as Dream Theater, although with a completely different style. This last work shows that progressive metal can be made without falling into pyrotechnic excess and with some character (besides enough drama).
The formation inherits of Dream Theater, the original Fates Warning and even Warlord. Of Dream Theater comes the keyboard player Kevin Moore that although does not appear directly in the compositions, shows his style mainly with the capacity to make a Gothic atmosphere with sad pianos or chords full of tears. Their style is summarized in "Disconnected part 1" and "Disconnected part 2". Listening those two pieces one understands why Dream Theater now sounds more as Can-Can than Requiem. On the other hand John Vera completes a correct work of bass Another failure of the heavy is that the bass usually is only used as rhythmic support without a lot of shine. Ray Alder in the voice, even being a good vocalist, he carries out a work similar to the one of the bassist. That is to say, the vocal melodies, not the vocal technique, are dull. Jim Matheos is the brain of F.W, besides taking charge of the guitar. It is surprising and praiseworthy that he does not make all type of tricks to impact but rather he helps to create the rhythm base and to sustain the riffs. We have an album mainly without solos of guitar or keyboards. If a guitar or a keyboard shine it is just to make a concrete and certain melody.
Lastly Mark Zonder takes charge of drums. He is excellent and to listen the drummer of this CD a joy. There are few elegant heavy drummers and Zonder is one of them (who dares to call Terry Bozzio heavy, please contact a psychologist,). His games of plates are beautiful and they endow richness to the insistent rhythm bases. A+. The famous Terry Brown (Rush, Tiles and other aggressive prog groups) is in charge of production. A fine production that makes you hear every instrument. Excellent sound and perfect distinction of all and each one of the instruments, without redundant fillers.
This is a bitter, distressing disk. In fact the attitude of metal helps to create that atmosphere with forcefulness and prominent insistence. Quite aggressive. They don't end up being Machine Head but certainly they are not the current Metallica. The whole weight of metal is mixed with fragments "ad libitum", very dark, in which there is simply arrhythmic soft ambient, maybe supported by some discreet sequences and some fretless bass. The whole album is marked by lower harmony, without scorning a rude Frygyian of the heavy, which also makes it sad. To get an idea, it can in occasions remember harmoniously -with the large differences of style - The big picture of Davis Cross (in songs as "Something for nothing"). It seems evident that a character of anguish, desperation and even inherited schizophrenia has been created, inheriting the culture of Kurt Cobain filtered by Gotham City. The truth is that if that was the intention it has been achieved to the perfection. Certainly it is not an album for the lovers of the Canterbury sound.
Recognizing the success of the group as they have captured in a perfect way the anguish objective, again we stand out three basic things: very heavy and repetitive rhythms, ambient parts and the unavoidable fragments in which cut rhythms, amalgams and syncopation's label it as progressive. It is pleasant to observe that these more complex parts don't have the arrogance of other bands of the genre. They are, constructed and, of course, produced with certain elegance, trying to make more music than acrobatics. It doesnt mean that it is simple, just that it is well dressed. As an example the piece "Still Remains". However we can notice an instrumental intention as for composition that is negative for the voices. These become monotonous. They even show performance excess and a lack of breathing. The blame is probably of the heavy component. It is in the voice where compositions become vulgar, inside the operatic topic of hard and not too far from neoprog melodies, without scorning Ray Alder's vocal gifts: heavy without a doubt. It seems that voices add nothing. They don't shine. The importance of "Disconnected" is what there is behind the voice; the rhythms, the head swinging....... and Mark Zonder.
The truth is that in progressive metal there is a lot of vulgar groups dedicated to make albums like attractions of a theme park. Fates Warning has had the ability of making an album with good intentions, and admitting that what they do is heavy. Perhaps they fall in certain metal clichés but they don't make it with absolute pretensions and they admit that it is more the riff than polyrhythms. Also, if metal-prog does not give more, this album has a certain grace. Important: it is not necessary to forget that the album is classified as progressive metal as much for the good as for the bad things. It is not a revolutionary album, but it is OK, at least only for the work of a brilliant drummer.