Fates Warning - 2004 FWX


ARTIST: Fates Warning
LABEL: Metal Blade
SERIAL: 3984-14500-2
YEAR: 2004


LINEUP: Ray Alder - vocals * Jim Matheos - guitars * Frank Aresti - guitars * Joey Vera - bass * Mark Zonder - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Left Here * 02 Simple Human * 03 River Wide Ocean Deep * 04 Another Perfect Day * 05 Heal Me * 06 Sequence # 7 * 07 Crawl * 08 A Handful Of Doubt * 09 Stranger (With A Familiar Face) * 10 Wish

RATING: image


Discussing this album always brings me both joy and anger. For starters, it was a great album, in a style I am quite fond of, and it saw the return of the brilliant guitarist Frank Aresti back into the fold, but after it they went away for ten years.

Ten years! That's completely inexcusable, but then again these prog metal masters have a habit of answering to no one. Also, Kevin Moore is not on it, but that is quite okay, since Jim Matheos picked up enough keyboard/producing tricks from him (and more than likely, developed a lively batch of his own) to allow for that electronic vibe to continue enriching (some would say: plaguing) Fates albums.

The Songs

'Left Here' starts off as if the band had to stretch and shake off the cobwebs a little, which is appropriate seeing for how long they leave Fates Warning shelved usually, and what the title of the song is.

'Simple Human' raises the stakes with a fabulous bass line, some recognizable OSI influences seeping into Matheos' main band, and the band's favourite trick: creating suspense until an ascending vocal line with roaring guitars and frantic drums underneath takes us into the locked groove of the chorus.

'River Wide, Ocean Deep' follows with more suspense, with a curious, Ofra Haza-esque sampled female vocal.

'Another Perfect Day' is by far my favourite - swimming in weird harmonies and a pseudo-uplifting feeling never felt that good. A presence of strong irony may be detected in the lyrics, which deal with the two-fold nature of depression, constantly swinging back and forth between self-awareness and inability to make a change. Quite a lovely, nuanced performance by Ray Alder here.

'Heal Me' makes me sway, and it has a total stop-and-go quality to it - there's a dramatic entrance of distorted guitars and drums followed by a pause which generates more suspense before the song gets increasingly heavier, and Ray also makes use of his ability to stretch a three-syllable line over a detailed vocal melody.

'Sequence#7' is a short transition track, and 'Crawl' is a rather forgettable heavy number, so that was a waste of five minutes of album space if you're impatient to get to the good stuff.

'A Handful Of Doubt' is rather stoic and effective, with a subtle release of energy.

'Stranger (With A Familiar Face)' is a rather curious case: the drum pattern and the beginning riff are almost punk rock, and the tri-fold call-and-answer between the voice, guitar and voice (yup) is something I would only see coming from a band twenty years younger than them, but the effective piano break followed by one of Matheos' finest solos proves that this is simply the finesse of a great, experienced group of musicians.

In Summary

A lot of people will say this album is forgettable, and while I do agree that they played this style a lot better on 'Disconnected', FWX can certainly stand on its own and I spin the album quite frequently.

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