Fates Warning were arguably one of the first bands that could be described as progressive metal. From the beginning they’ve been fusing elements of both genres into a style all its own. Other bands, such as Dream Theater, Queensryche, and Opeth may or may not do it better (depending on who you ask), but Fates Warning pre-dates them all in this brilliant hybrid that might best be described as Yes meets Metallica.
After the departure of original vocalist, John Arch, in the late eighties Fates Warning took a few years to really regain their footing with Ray Alder. They arguably hit their creative peak with A Pleasant Shade of Grey, but I’d argue that was merely the first of several strong albums. 2002’s Disconnected, is both more accessible and slightly less adventurous. But in being more accessible, I’d argue it’s the best of Fates Warning’s albums for the uninitiated to start with. As with A Pleasant Shade of Grey, ex-Dream Theater keyboardist, Kevin Moore, lends his talents to Fates Warning. Its his collaborations with Fates Warning that later led to his partnership with Jim Matheos in their band, OSI that married the harder edged metal guitar chops of Matheos with Moore’s more ambient keyboard influences.
Starting with the ominous Disconnected Part 1, Disconnected draws the listener in. It’s in this opening that Kevin Moore’s influence is most evident. There’s a haunting ambience with an abrupt end before the heavy metal onslaught of One.
One is arguably one of Fates Warning’s strongest songs. Alder’s vocals are soaring and brilliant. Moore’s keyboard influences are a bit more subtle and less obvious but still noticeable.
So picks it back up where Disconnected Part 1 had left off. Matheos gives the intro a haunting ambience before the riffing comes in with Moore’s keyboard and shortly thereafter Alder’s vocals. While at a slower tempo than One, the crunchy guitars and Alder’s soaring vocals are trademark prog-metal.
Pieces of Me picks up the pace a bit. There’s a chugging and steady yet frenetic intensity to the song. It also suggests musical themes that would later be more fully explored by Matheos & Moore on some of the more uptempo music from the first OSI album in 2003.
There’s a general ambience throughout the album that is generally lacking on albums of many of Fates Warning’s contemporaries. If you're new to Fates Warning, there's not a better place to start than Disconnected!
One (Live in Athens)
Disconnected (AllMusicGuide review)
Fates Warning (Official Website)
Fates Warning (Wikipedia)
Jim Matheos (Wikipedia)
Ray Alder (Wikipedia)
Joey Vera (Wikipedia)
Mark Zonder (Wikipedia)
Kevin Moore (Wikipedia)