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Outside Looking In - 70%

GuntherTheUndying, August 1st, 2012

At the time of its release, "Inside Out" was surprisingly sailing on the safe tides of a long-running metal band while other cohorts were slowly fizzling out: Iron Maiden, for example, were attempting to cope with Bruce Dickinson's departure; Judas Priest, too, were similarly scrambling for the next Rob Halford, oddly enough. Although times were looking tough, Fates Warning made grain with its progressive circumstances; what with the departure of John Arch and the massive shift in sound and identity once Ray Adler joined the picture, it's no wonder they were striving both musically and creatively. There's a strong vibe of accessibility within these numbers, but the core elements of Fates Warning are still intact, and I think "Inside Out" ends up holding its own as a release.

Now, I only have a handful of issues with "Inside Out," but they all carry some detrimental weight. First, I feel like this is the first Fates Warning album that truly shows a noticeable decline in content despite little having changed from the previous outings with Ray Alder. Also, the essential core of Fates Warning’s material includes less drama, along with a dwindled impact regarding the comprehensive fact that Fates Warning stopped acting like a legendary band, but rather an above-average one. Still, most of the girth here expresses the gospel of Fates Warning’s progressive metal adventures and features a very deep, interpersonal method gracing a sizeable portion of the album. In fact, the whole ambience bobbing among the chapters is probably the finest universal factor remotely guiding “Inside Out”; the foundation makes several of the progressive traits gleam in their creative easiness. There are a lot of quasi-ballads which are too feathery and uneventful for my tastes, and songs like “Face the Fear” are practically invisible. Alder sounds great as usual though; can’t say that’s one of the record’s big shockers.

There are, however, truly remarkable anthems peeking out of the skin of "Inside Out" in contradiction to some of the band's decaying perks. The opening "Outside Looking In" is an astonishingly fantastic representation of Fates Warning nailing the emotional themes while exploiting the group's finer edge of Alder-era progressive metal, and I really can't ask for more. "Pale Fire" and "Down to the Wire" are probably the most 'metallic' sonnets hiding between "Inside Out," and both tunes stick hard with sensational choruses and that noteworthy atmosphere finely shining through the few lackluster cuts. The soft nature of "Island of the Stream" works nicely as a transition between heavier pieces with the ballad formula it extrapolates, and overall, it shows the amazing emotion of Alder's voice. Stellar stuff. “Monument” has a few special surprises too, but I won’t spoil them because spoilers suck.

The cover art is lame and "Inside Out" was denied entry into the quarters of Fates Warning's top-tier albums like "Awaken The Guardian" or gems received in the group's new life such as "Perfect Symmetry" or "Parallels." However, the faction's introspective, meaningful purge into this melancholic sense of progressive metal adds meat to the bones of "Inside Out" and resonates properly within the band's discography despite showing the innate signs of decline. I still find myself deeply enjoying the pinnacle moments of its rainy, interpersonal corridors, and the record certainly deserves its rank as a consistent offering lurking in Fates Warning’s wardrobe of material. “Inside Out” works well as an introduction into this period of the group and Ray Alder’s involvement with Jim Matheos and his crew of metallic knights, but it’s definitely not the prime slice of their overall contributions.

This review was written for:

Where the sea and sky collide - 72%

autothrall, February 9th, 2010

Though the lazy, minimal cover art for Fates Warning's 7th album certainly gave me no immediate grounds for anticipation, its contents are thankfully not so vapid. Arriving at a time when progressive metal was now firmly in the domain of the huge selling, Dream Theater (who by this point had released Images and Words and begun their conquest of almost every Guitar World subscriber and Queensrÿche expatriate fan looking for a new, improved thrill), the album seems extremely tame. But 5-6 minutes of jamming and showboating musical proficiency was never the forte of the established Connecticut band. Unlike their peers and friends in Dream Theater, they were motivated only by the song itself and not the grandstanding.

Continuing the band's progressive tendencies, it was however a surprise that Inside Out remains so close in style and tone to its predecessors Parallels and Perfect Symmetry. They had found their niche, and would reside comfortably within for the remainder of their career (thus far, at any rate). This effort does contain its fair share of rather saccharine ballads, but the metal moments are arguably more prominent and aggressive than on the predecessor, so it builds a fair balance that should sate anyone into the band's work from 1989 on. As far as the quality, I do feel this is somewhat lacking. Inside Out is simply never the album I turn to when I need my fix of modern Fates. Even in its better moments, the material is just not as standout as anything the band had ever done before. Considering the barren landscape of non-extreme metal in the mid 90s, it was satisfying for only a short time. But, hell, at least it was better than anything the slumping Queensrÿche had released in the entire decade.

The disc begins with "Outside Looking In", which involves sad, sailing melodies and a similar rhythmic mechanism to the verse of the previous album's opener. It's a solid track which offers enough variety in the drumming and riffs to please, but it doesn't help that it is immediately eclipsed by the superior "Pale Fire", which is another of those 'single' worthy tracks very similar to "Through Different Eyes" from Perfect Symmetry. Lyrically, "Pale Fire" is quite a success, for the chorus evokes a pretty powerful image that haunts long beyond the closure of the music:

'Pale fire, dry land getting drier
nothing can grow in the ashes of desire
Pale fire, burned on the desire
no one can grow, with nothing to inspire'

Pretty mesmerizing words, those, and maybe an unintentional soliloquy for the band's direction in the 90s decade. "The Strand" creates an almost folkish platitude through in its somber, bluesy rock verse, but I liked the bouncing bass rhythm and it builds to another great chorus part, which simply rages into existence like many of the better moments of Perfect Symmetry. "Shelter Me" feels very similar to "Pale Fire" or "Through Different Eyes", but it lacks the staying power of those tracks and the title and chorus feel perhaps a little too accessible, almost as if being written by Diane Warren for some R&B or soft rock track. The music is pleasing enough, but quickly forgotten. And unfortunately this is followed by "Island in the Stream", a big rock ballad that has much in common with "The Road Goes On Forever" from Parallels. Immersive and pretty for its acoustics and pianos and atmosphere, but I could never summon the desire to ever seek it out individually.

"Down the Wire" gets by on the groove it develops through the verse, though the chorus reminds me of a more rocked out spin on "We Only Say Goodbye", so perhaps a bit of unconscious self-cannibalism. "Face the Fear" begins with a flow of shining, teary melodies that transform into a pretty complex pattern beneath the verse, with acoustic cleans swelling at the top end and a clockwork melody hanging under Alder's vocals. The chorus is likewise interesting, Zonder playing rattlesnake while the sprightly clean guitar flush like flower petals escaping their stalks. "Inward Bound" is a brief, bluesy atmospheric instrumental which might feel more at home on an early Eric Johnson record, but here does very little even as a segue from its busy siblings. "Monument" is the best track on the latter half of the album, cautiously escalating into an insanely catchy hook after 2:00 which rekindles the factory-like atmosphere of Perfect Symmetry. "Afterglow" is a nice lead-out to the album, a brooding acoustic piece laden in slim electric melodies and an eerie narrative, interspersed with happier bits and a quiet momentum.

Inside Out is hardly void of ideas, but it definitely has a few tracks which feel redundant to the prior efforts, without exceeding that work. As such, it's simply not that impressive in the long term, and I rarely have the patience or time to listen through the whole album, heading straight for its better moments and ignoring the chaff remainder. It's solid, but not inspiring. However, if we were to compare this to the sullen ennui that would follow, it feels almost a masterpiece in comparison.

Highlights: Pale Fire, The Strand, Monument, Afterglow


A gem in a time of musical garbage. - 86%

hells_unicorn, March 1st, 2008

1994 was a time of reckoning for the musical mainstream, their unwilling icon had committed suicide, and most of the other various musical acts categorized as hard hitting were beginning to lose credibility. It was also the year in which several 80s acts had their line-ups splinter and the metal scene was fully obsessed with the dry and uninspired thrash scene spearheaded by the likes of Pantera and Sepultura. Though not fully oblivious to the effects of a changing scene, Fates Warning releases their slightly darker, yet near equally accessible follow-up to Parallels. In some ways the band has expanded their sound, but in others we see the same formula at work that made this album’s predecessor the success that it was. And thankfully, there was still an audience for this kind of music, which sadly couldn’t be said for the more melodic metal bands of the traditional scene.

If there is one weakness in this album, it is that they went a tiny bit overboard in the ballad department. Although a bit more upbeat of a closer, “Afterglow” comes on the heels of the most riveting song on the album. “Shelter Me” and “Island in the Stream” also fall into the ballad department, and both contain elements of the catchy chorus and straight-forward approach that made “We only say Goodbye” it’s success. “The Strand” is probably the most non-metal track on the album, at times almost sounding like a Soundgarden/Alice in Chains version of a quiet to loud song, though structure-wise it is far more ambitious than anything those bands ever would have dreamed of. “Inward Bound” is a rather somber and quiet instrumental with a simple melodic guitar theme, it pretty much functions as a lead in to “Monument”.

Songs such as “Pale Fire” and “Down to the Wire” are more down tempo heavy tracks with a good mix of catchy hooks and musical intrigue, particularly in the drums. “Face the Fear” and “Outside Looking In” are more reminiscent of older Fates Warning, containing some solid guitar riffs, plenty of rhythmic twists, and a more non-conventional approach to song structure. But the highlight of the album is the magnum opus “Monument”, which features the talents of all the band. We have a rather technically impressive electric guitar solo, followed by an equally complex Spanish guitar solo. We also get a healthy set of complex bass and drum lines, in addition to the constant references to the 7/8 time signature, a trait found in older and more progressive Fates Warning tracks.

This album is heavily geared towards a more mainstream audience, perhaps even more so than “Parallels”, but is still something that can be enjoyed by the intellectually savvy members of the Prog. Scene. It has a bit more flash and flair to it’s lead guitar work than the last album did, which will appeal to fans of more traditional metal. Jim Matheos was once quoted as saying that he was disappointed with the final product when it came to this release because it was too similar to the previous one. While there are many similarities, this reveals that this band felt a great deal of pressure in order to keep their sound varied, and I think that when you compare this album to “Parallels” you will note enough differences between them to make you wonder if all that added pressure is really necessary.

Basically this is another solid release by Fates Warning, in a time where just about every other crevice of heavy music was suffering a fairly massive recession. Sadly, this would be the last album with bassist/co-founder Joe Dibiase, and the result was a release after this one that was so removed from anything Fates Warning had done before, that you would have thought a different band recorded it. I prefer the band with him in it, but they’ve still got a good amount going for them, as they push the boundaries of the metal genre. This album comes highly recommended.

epic, emotional, but underrated - 95%

dragons_secrets, March 2nd, 2003

This is the Fates' album that doesn't really get as much attention as their other albums. It does bear resemblence to the album before it, Parallells, which gets alot more recognition. Inside Out, just like Parallells, is an astonshing album full of emotional mid-paced metal songs and melodic ballad-type songs. This album is still very much as masterpiece in its own way, like most Fates' albums. Two of the best songs here are 'Pale Fire' and 'Down to the Wire' . Both are excellent mid-tempo songs with a tremendous amount of melody and both have really good lyrics. 'Face the Fear' is an awesome song with spine tingling passages throughout, the end of the song is especially emotional. 'Monument' is a the definate classic from the album, and seems to be a crowd favorite for the live shows. Its the most heaviest and progressive song on the album undoubtedly. However the greatest thing about this album would have to be the 3 track sequence of tracks 3, 4, and 5. Through those 3 tracks we have some of Fates Warning's most melodic and relaxing ballad-like songs with 'The Strand', 'Shelter Me', and the masterpiece 'Island In the Stream'. If you ever want to relax just listen to these 3 songs in that sequence and I'm sure it will do the trick. 'The Strand' is alot less ballad like than the other two but its just melodic and calm enough and sets the perfect atmosphere. 'Shelter Me' is a perfect song with some excellent singing and breathtaking guitarwork courtesy of Jim Matheos. Then we have 'Island In the Stream', a somewhat underrated FW song, that is indeed in my opinion one of their absolute best songs from any album. It starts out perfectly calm and relaxing, and progresses beautifully into a chillingly heavy latter half of the song. I can't say enough about this song, its certainly a perfect performance of Ray Alder on this song,..he sings with alot of passion. The guitars in this song are breathtaking and tug at your heart, and the keyboards in the song add a perfect atmosphere...and what can be said about the guitar solo?! It has a perfect tone and fits well with the song. If anything this album could just have this one song and I'd still give it a 90, but since it has songs besides this one that are truly magnificent and great then I just have to go higher than that. You can't expect anything less from one of the finest of the progressive metal genre. Having that said, no Fates Warning or metal collection would be complete without this album, so go buy it!!!!