Fates Warning - 1986 Awaken The Guardian

geoviangeovian Earth Orbit
edited August 2 in year-1986

ARTIST: Fates Warning
ALBUM: Awaken The Guardian
LABEL: Metal Blade
YEAR: 1986
CD REISSUE: 2005, Metal Blade, 3984-14533-2 (deluxe edition, remastered, bonus CD)

LINEUP: John Arch - vocals * Jim Mattheos - guitars * Frank Aresti - guitars * Joe DiBiase - bass * Steve Zimmerman - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Sorceress * 02 Valley Of The Dolls * 03 Fata Morgana * 04 Guardian * 05 Prelude To Ruin * 06 Giants Lore (Heart Of Winter) * 07 Time Long Past * 08 Exodus


This band has been called one of the originators of progressive metal. However, it wasn't until the pairing of 'The Spectre Within' and 'Awaken The Guardian' arrived that the title could be bestowed upon them.

In our earlier review of 'Night On Brocken', FW operated within the early 80's metal style, Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate being a frequent comparison.

By the mid 80's, the band deployed a more technical approach, fusing Queensryche into the mix, and the results set the high-bar for technical progressive metal, setting off a slew of contenders for decades onward.

The Songs

If high-pitched vocals aren't your thing, then look away now, as John Arch hits the heavens on seven of the eight tracks (one being a short instrumental).

The mellow intro to 'The Sorceress' defies the sonic assault about to enter. Arch hovers all over the vocal range, the guitars twist and turn without settling into a pattern, so too the rhythm section chopping and changing in tempo.

'Valley Of The Dolls' is a fast mover, and here you can see how a band like Dream Theater may have been influenced by some of FW's moves.

'Fata Morgana' (better known as Morgan Le Fay, a sorceress from Arthurian legend) is given some dedication, but it's the 7-minute epic 'Guardian' that sits at the top of the pyramid.

Cascading acoustic guitar transitions into a restrained piece, though it doesn't slay you with OTT guitar. It's just pure blended melodic metal.

'Prelude To Ruin' is another 7-minute dose, the feel/vibe reminded me of early Metallica, perhaps the Brian Slagel production was responsible for this maybe?

'Giants Lore (Heart Of Winter)' might sound like a folk tune, but no, it's a time-change special, and I'm thinking Dream Theater's 'Light Fuse And Get Away' through the mid-section.

Navigating past the instrumental 'Time Long Past', we venture into the 8 and a half closer 'Exodus'. Mid-paced mostly, it winds its way through several passages before accelerating away at the 5-minute mark.

In Summary

'Awaken The Guardian' has been labelled as one of the best progressive metal albums of all time. In fact, the FW team were way ahead of their time with this effort, but it would be the last for singer John Arch, who left the band after this, replaced by Ray Alder.

For any fan of this sub-genre of metal, then all of Fates Warning's catalog through to 1991 is a must. But this is the one that should sit front and center of your FW collection.

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