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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.

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