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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Fates Warning


Review by Vivian Lee

In July of 2000 Fates Warning, the thinking person's prog metal band from California, have offered their latest, Disconnected. This brave new effort resembles, but not rehashes, past works like A Pleasant Shade of Grey or Parallels, either musically or in theme. Like A Pleasant Shade of Grey, Disconnected has the blurred feel of a fresh watercolor on rice paper, thanks to fluid free-flowing musicality and moody themes. Yet Disconnected has a raw edge to it and the themes covered aren't quite as dark as older songs.

Fates warning's lineup still includes core members Ray Alder (vocals), Jim Matheos (guitars), Mark Zonder (drums, percussion) as well as return session bassist Joey Vera. Completing the lineup is keyboardist Kevin Moore of Chroma Key (formerly of Dream Theater). Together, they weave a new tapestry that borrows sparingly from old threads and liberally from many unlikely, as well as obvious, influences from all over the musical map.

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Track by Track Review
Disconnected Part 1
The album begins with a slow, moody guitar and synth driven soundscape. At the end a feminine voice announces "you are disconnected." Not allowing the listener too much time to wonder what is about to come next, this brief introduction immediately launches into Track #2.
"One" has a hard sound with in your face rock and metal sensibilities, whose theme of Oneness offsets the theme set up in Disconnected Part 1. "One" is strong like expertly brewed Java and I like it - a lot!
A very strong and solid track, this is one of my favorites, not just because of the melody but also the slow tempo and moody feel. The low tone of Alder's voice reinforces the idea of being tired expressed in the lyrics; "I could move the world if I weren't so tired". This stanza sung in harmony gives the sense of pulling the listener in, to commiserate, to help rail against the tiredness.
Pieces of Me
This track starts out like a straightforward rock song with some direct and unflowery lyrics, "direction scattered in the breeze, living on memories, everywhere as far as I can see, broken promises, broken promises". However, the synth effects soften the edges in some places letting the song flow where it will to its end.
Something From Nothing
Fretless bass notes introduce Alder's voice, distorted in the manner I tend to associate with electronica. Even the percussion gets an electronic treatment. The synth elements enhance, rather than take away from "Something from Nothing" as they're handled with mature restraint. This is an intriguing, intense track definitely worth repeating.
Still Remains
"Still Remains" opens with some odd wind sounds and synth notes, laying the foundation for Alder's deep and breathy voice. Those elements paired with the lyrics, "I had so much to say, But no words to speak, The feelings were so strong, But I was only weak" make for a song that haunts me still, long after I've put the CD away.
Disconnected Part 2
The same suite that began the album also ends it, trailing off into a soft echo.
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