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Fates Warning - Awaken The Guardian review


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Band: Fates Warning
Album: Awaken The Guardian
Release date: November 1986

01. The Sorceress
02. Valley Of The Dolls
03. Fata Morgana
04. Guardian
05. Prelude To Ruin
06. Giant's Lore (Heart Of Winter)
07. Time Long Past
08. Exodus

[2006 Deluxe Edition bonus CD]
01. The Sorceress [demo]
02. Valley Of The Dolls [demo]
03. Prelude To Ruin [demo]
04. Fata Morgana [live]
05. Damnation [live]
06. The Apparition [live]
07. The Sorceress [live]
08. Guardian [live]
09. Die Young [live]

[2006 Deluxe Edition bonus DVD - Live at Sundance, Long Island, NY]
01. Valley Of The Dolls
02. Pirates Of The Underground
03. Orphan Gypsy
04. Fata Morgana
05. Traveler In Time
06. The Sorceress
07. Guardian
08. Prelude To Ruin
09. Damnation
10. The Apparition
11. Die Young
12. Kiss Of Death

The year of 1986 can be seen, for some, as the biggest year in Metal. I don't even need to name drop for legendary bands and their albums to begin flying around inside your head. But I'll bet most of the bands you're thinking of are from the Extreme Metal category. But one band was almost completely at the other end of the spectrum: putting out Melodic, fantasy driven Metal.

That band was Fates Warning, who were almost single-handedly pioneering a genre that we know today as Progressive Metal. On the outside, this album comes off a little thin, a little cheesy, and seems very similar to what we might label Power Metal today, but underneath lies a very Progressive attitude that helps to make the album rise above such pretensions. You have to really dig deep to find some of the treasures that this album holds, and there are plenty of them.

What first caught my ear was the drumming, which I feel holds a lot more true to Prog Rock/Metal than contemporary Power Metal: mid paced beats, precisely timed fills, and great cymbal work help keep this album moving along. The riffing of Jim Matheos and his counterpart Frank Aresti is very precise and melodic, without giving away any heaviness and is what keeps you galloping along. Their solos, leads, and acoustic work is also a very tasty highlight of this album. Vocally, John Arch is a little hard to swallow at first, and for some, he may never seem natural in this album, but he gives a technically great performance on this album that deserves everyone's respect.

The songs flow nicely without any of the drag effect often associated with contemporary Progressive Metal. The "wankery" factor is zero, while the emotion and headbanging scales are on 11, alternating between each other. The blend of soft passages with classic Metal performances really help to keep this album fresh and entertaining.

All in all, the album is a little tough to get into at first, with it's initial cheese factor and Arch's high pitched vocals but after you can get by a few problems, you find a really good album, which was definitely a landmark in Progressive Metal.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 10
Production: 8

Written by Clintagräm | 12.04.2008


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Guest review by
Although metal had long since been born, the roots of progressive metal were finally starting to take hold in 1986. I had already been exposed to a lot of rock & roll as a child (Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Pink Floyd, etc), but I hadn't yet really got the full meaning of what progressive metal could be. We had been fully exposed to metal and its offshoots, power metal, thrash, and the beginnings of death metal, but nobody had dared explore the music as much as the boys from Fates Warning. I have to be very careful not to take anything away from their offering a year earlier, The Spectre Within, which in its own right is monumental, but Awaken the Guardian would be a summit of sorts for the band because soon after its release the band would be changed forever.

published 03.07.2008 | Comments (0)


Comments: 6   Visited by: 68 users
12.04.2008 - 05:26
Good album, but I agree with you in one thing, John Arch's vocals. I can't stand them, they annoy me a lot.
28.05.2008 - 00:17
I thought the vocals sucked at first but after a while I got used to them. The chorus of "The Sorceress" is brilliant!
28.05.2008 - 08:24
Jason W.
To me, this is this ultimate Fates album, and I really only care for the stuff with John's vocals. So, I'd rate the album higher of course, though I wish the production gave the music a bit deeper overall scope. The way John sings "Exodus" is permanently swirling in my head!
"After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley
28.06.2008 - 21:30
This is the ultimate progressive metal cd hands down. Good review but your scores are way off. There isn't anything on here worth less than a 10.
03.12.2009 - 19:46
I have this album on vinyl. Freaking awesome! I found it at some flea market... I was like whoa what is that doing here in the middle of no where.
26.08.2016 - 22:11
Not a bad CD, but i don´t like the vocals.

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