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Fates of old, Fates of old, wherefore art thou? - 80%

panteramdeth, November 20th, 2004

This album was my introduction to the 80's catalog of Fates Warning, and this is also an album that makes me wonder what happened to this band on the albums that would follow this one. Overall, this was one of the more unique albums I've heard from this era, as this is progressive metal with the occasional thrash riff/distortion thrown in once in a while. So in other words, expect to hear an album that is both intelligent and bottom-heavy, and not a lot of meandering atmospheric interludes that bore the listener. They have yet to match the quality of the first three albums with John Arch and this release, the first with Ray Alder on vocals.

The Highlights: Every song on here except the title track, shines in some way or another. "Anarchy Devine" is one of the best prog songs from this era, bar none. It starts off with an excellent riff pattern that sounds almost thrash-like in style at times, although at first, the speed really isn't achieved. Then the vocals come on and it sounds like Alder trying to give his best Bruce Dickinson impression. The guitars from Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti from this point on in the song is quite fast, and has a nice time change about 2/3 of the way through. "Silent Cries" is more of the same, and "In A Word" offers a change-of-pace because it is slower in the beginning before becoming heavier once the chorus starts. "Shades Of Heavenly Death" begins with a thrash-style riff section, and is fairly fast-paced throughout.

And then we get to the epic that closes and takes up more than half the length of this disc in the form of the eight-part "The Ivory Gates Of Dreams". This song is full of time changes, and if you are expecting Dream Theater wankery in this song, look elsewhere. There are really no two-minute long guitar solo wankery displays, keyboard work (although this would change on future releases) or any of the atmospheric interludes that just take up disc space and waste time rather than add to the song. The guitar playing on this song resembles same-era Crimson Glory at times, without losing too much of the intensity riff-wise. Alder uses his emotional delivery very well on this song, and the transitions from part to part is seamless.

The Lowlights: The title track that opens the album. It's only 41 seconds long, and all there is is lead guitar pushed to the back in production and a brief vocal performance. Given it's length, I can't really call it a "song" at all. Also, the cover art sucks ass. I have no idea what the artist was thinking when he came up to it, but it just looks fucking hideous to these eyes. As for the production, it's hard to hear the bass tracks on this album. That's a small flaw though, as many bands with limited budgets seem to suffer from the same problem.

Who this album's for: Fans of 80's prog metal, back when many bands who played this style played it quite a bit heavier than the intensity it's played at now most of the time. Crimson Glory and Queensryche fans in particular should find a lot to like about this album.

The bottom line: Solid thrash-tinged progressive metal and a nice change of pace from their first three albums. Recommended.