Archives For fates warning

It was fortunate indeed that prog metal fans like me didn’t have to wait another nine years for the next Fates Warning album.

Like the entire record, opening cut “From the Rooftops” has all the ingredients I admire most about Fates Warning’s approach to the subgenre. It starts out sounding like a Bond theme; I can even picture the curling smoke and opening credits. It morphs into tight interplay between the rhythmic chugging and drummer Bobby Jarzombek’s expert hi-hat work. Always a delight to listen to, always complimenting the other music, Jarzombek is the ultra-precise, unsung hero of Theories of Flight for me.

The song also has the melodic mid-range chorus by Ray Alder, and a trademark Frank Aresti guitar solo. It is the perfect, seven-minute middle ground between the more compressed, chorus-centric tracks on Theories of Flight (like “Seven Stars”) and the extended suites (like “The Ghosts of Home”).

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November 23rd, 2013 – Webster Hall, New York, NY

“I know it’s getting late…but here we are, here we are…” – “A Pleasant Shade of Gray, Part 6”

It was windy and below freezing on East 11th St, and yet there I was standing only a few yards from Ray Alder, who was enjoying a cigarette and finishing a call on his cell phone. Politeness dictated that I not interrupt, even if it was just to tell him to have a great show.

Neither he nor the rest of his band needed my encouragement. Fates Warning put on an impressive show of progressive metal on the strength of its first album of new material in nearly a decade.

For once, I wasn’t attending a show solo: a friend was joining me for his first proper metal concert, and he was blown away by the evening’s celebration of prog metal greatness. “I was in the zone from about…uh…30 seconds into the first song!” he exclaimed later.

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Fates Warning – “A Pleasant Shade of Gray” (1997)

“Apart from ‘Parallels’ and ‘Inside Out,’ all of our records have sounded different,” said Jim Matheos of Fates Warning, the band’s only constant member.

As part of that effort to always be crafting something different, prog-metal pioneers Fates Warning entered Carriage House Studios in Stamford, CT to dins an alternative to the bright, melodic hits like “Eye to Eye” that they had made previously in the 1990s.

The result was one very long song split into 12 parts, with a moodier vibe to it as shown by the title: “A Pleasant Shade of Gray.” There were no song titles, just “Parts 1–12,” and it came as a surprise to the new fans they had acquired (who were used to the more mainstream sound of ‘Parallels’ and ‘Inside Out’).

If that sounds like a challenging listen, it doesn’t have to be; although “A Pleasant Shade of Gray” is best enjoyed in full, the song does contain its own “hits” within it for patient fans to pick up on. Parts 3,4,7, and 9 all stand out beautifully on their own, and their seamless integration with the other 8 makes “A Pleasant Shade of Gray” a real gem.

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