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Fates Warning – Awaken the Guardian

Label: Metal Blade
Format: CD
Released: 2005
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

Before Fates came into the sound found of albums like “Perfect Symmetry” and “Parallels” with singer Ray Alder, they released two very influential albums “The Specter Within” and “Awaken” in 1986. The got their start with the debut “Night on Broken” which was the beginnings to the bands progressive tendencies but saw more in common with bands like Iron Maiden at the time.


This reissuing of “Awaken the Guardian” is a fantastic way of spotlighting this period of the band's music as at the time they were really at the forefront of this style. Utilizing a twin guitar attack with odd time changes similar to 1970's Rush, heavy riffing and operatic vocals similar to how Geoff Tate sang on the first Queensryche E.P. with Michael Kiske of Helloween, at the time in the early 80's Fates Warning were really making their own sound. Take prime examples like “Guardian” or “Fata Morgana” that spotlight both the vocal range of John Arch as well as Jim Matheos' complex and dynamic musical arrangements.

At the time in the early 80's as far as the American Heavy Metal bands, Fates Warning offered a different array of compositions that combined similar sounds from the genre but presented in a very different way giving the listener a little more of a challenging experience. The remastering has added some improvement bringing a higher range of clarity to the mix especially in the drums and cymbals, bass is also a little thicker. The second disc contains three demos from “Awaken the Guardian” and several live tracks taken from the concert portion on the set.

As a bonus you have a 12 song rare concert from the “Awaken the Guardian” tour. Now this is not a pro shot show, the picture quality is better than average and one of the better bootleg shows I have seen. Camera work is pretty steady and varies from wide to close up shots. You do get the occasional video drop outs and the audio is right off the video camera but still not that bad, vocals are very clear. It is even stated prior to the show start that this is very rare footage from this period of the band so you just got to be happy something exists. Definitely worth having for fans. Liner notes were written by Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater and this is his closing line; “Very often fans and critics credit Dream Theater for creating a whole new genre of Progressive Metal music in the late 80's/ early 90's…but the truth is Fates Warning were doing years before us.” How true.

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