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

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.

The vocals are the genius stylings of none other than God himself, John Arch. I had always found his voice to be not only powerful and raw, but very unique as well. Nobody else on the planet sounds like John Arch. His work on The Spectre Within and Awaken the Guardian are nothing short of sheer brilliance with his own unique style of mixing the harmonies and melodies. John Arch has a dynamic range which is accented beautifully by his unerring ability to mix the perfect harmonies at the right moment in each and every song.

The guitar work on all 3 fronts is nothing less than spectacular as Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti feed brilliantly off of each other throughout the entire cd. Complicated chord structuring mixed up with odd time signatures and changes are present in nearly every song. These would become the hallmarks of progressive metal. Joe DiBiase's bass work ranks up there with the best of the best in progressive and progressive metal as he accentuates each and every guitar riff and double bass beat with his own special flavor. It's unfortunate that you could barely hear him on the earlier releases of these cds, but the remastered editions have managed to boost his contributions to these masterpieces considerably. Joe's work reminds me a lot of Timi G. Hansen's work from Mercyful Fate and earlier King Diamond.

Last but certainly not least is Steve Zimmerman's work behind the kit. I honestly think Steve is one of the most underrated and under appreciated drummers in metal. Although his earlier contributions on Night on Bröcken and The Spectre Within weren't anything ultra spectacular, his work on Awaken the Guardian and No Exit was outstanding. Steve manages to cope very well with the band's relentless pursuit of the complicated-bordering-on-absurd musical prowess while adding his own unique style to an album that is pretty historic. His fills and double bass movements are spot on throughout and I always thought he fit perfectly with what was Fates Warning's style at the time. It's very unfortunate he would be ousted after No Exit in 1988 because he really was what Fates Warning was about.

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

Written by ponderer | 03.07.2008


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
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.

published 12.04.2008 | Comments (6)

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