FATES WARNING — Awaken The Guardian

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FATES WARNING - Awaken The Guardian cover
4.10 | 55 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 1986


1. The Sorceress (5:45)
2. Valley Of The Dolls (5:24)
3. Fata Morgana (5:27)
4. Guardian (7:35)
5. Prelude To Ruin (7:25)
6. Giant's Lore (Heart Of Winter) (6:02)
7. Time Long Past (1:52)
8. Exodus (8:31)

Total Time 48:04


- John Arch / Vocals
- Frank Aresti / Guitar
- Joe DiBiase / Bass
- Jim Matheos / Guitar
- Steve Zimmerman / Drums

- Jim Archambault / Keyboards

About this release

November 10th, 1986
Metal Blade

Reissued in 2005 with a bonus with the following tracklist:

1. The Sorceress (demo) (5:27)
2. Valley Of The Dolls (demo) (5:33)
3. Prelude To Ruin (demo) (7:06)
4. Fata Morgana (live) (5:08)
5. Damnation (live) (5:44)
6. The Apparition (live) (5:57)
7. The Sorceress (live) (4:51)
8. Guardian (live) (6:40)
9. Die Young (live) (4:04)

Total Time 50:34

The 2005 reissue also has a bonus Dvd (featurng performance recorded live at The Sundance Club, Long Island) with the following tracklist:

1. Valley Of The Dolls (4:28)
2. Pirates Of The Underground (6:57)
3. Orphan Gypsy (6:25)
4. Fata Morgana (5:41)
5. Traveler In Time (6:17)
6. The Sorceress (4:37)
7. Guardian (6:54)
8. Prelude To Ruin (7:10)
9. Damnation (6:02)
10. The Apparition (6:00)
11. Die Young (3:24)
12. Kiss Of Death (5:11)

Total Time 69:06

Thanks to Stooge, Lynx33, UMUR, adg211288, diamondblack for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

For their third album, Fates Warning followed mostly the same sound of their acclaimed sophomore album, The Spectre Within. The band’s highly melodic and often progressive yet deceptively simple music offers accessible entertainment. Most of the power metal influence from their last album is gone unfortunately, resulting in a slower and more sustained delivery.

John’s vocals, while never outstanding, are certainly stronger here than ever before, and his passionate delivery accompanied by the somewhat neoclassical musicianship add a flavor of theatrical atmosphere to the music. The long songs are never boring, containing multiple movements and layered with harmonies. While I miss the speed of their previous release, they certainly check every other box of 80’s Heavy Metal very well.
Awaken the dark prog metal

Undoubtedly my favorite FATES WARNING album. Last opus with vocalist John Arch, "Awaken The Guardian" also marks the end of an era for the band. Musically, the style is the same as its predecessor's, "The Spectre Within", however even more inspired and lyrical. 80's fantasy / sci-fi heavy metal featuring tortured melodies and unexpected breaks at its best, alternating with softer acoustic passages. The presence of duelling guitars like IRON MAIDEN increases the sound depth. However, this time the band goes a step further than their initial British influences in terms of complexity and darkness, while staying relatively accessible.

The first half of the record is simply flawless. "The Sorceress" is an efficient dark metal opener with many melodic variations. The guitars weave a web sometimes reminiscent of CELTIC FROST. "Valley Of The Dolls" is a heavy metal song, with dark aggressive passages. The heroic "Fata Morgana" is really great. A bombastic tune with a catchy lyrical melody. To let the listener breathe, the mid-tempo "Guardian" features an acoustic introduction and displays a melancholic softer ambiance.

The second half is more about atmospheres and less punchy. The trashy "Prelude To Ruin" is a weaker track, sometimes difficult to follow, whereas the dark mid-tempo "Giants Lore" possesses an haunting atmosphere. "Time Long Past" is mainly a short pretty acoustic piece. The ending song, "Exodus", is the longest of the record. Pure progressive metal, featuring numerous rhythm changes and alternating fast aggressive passages and slow moments. A very good conclusion for this somber journey.

Despite weaker moments in its second part, "Awaken The Guardian" is a very good album, dark and complex. Surprisingly, this opus is also suitable for FATES WARNING newcomers, or just for MAIDEN fans who don't know this underrated band. An tortured nightmarish trip into distant unexplored planets, and an essential listen for progressive metal lovers!
"Awaken the Guardian" is the 3rd full-length studio album by US heavy/power/progressive metal act Fates Warning. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in November 1986. A lineup change has taken place as guitarist Victor Arduini has been replaced by Frank Aresti. "Awaken the Guardian" would be lead vocalist John Arch last album with the band before he too would depart.

Listening to "Awaken the Guardian" it very much feels like the natural successor to "The Spectre Within (1985)", just featuring a more sophisticated songwriting approach and an even more skillful performance of the music. Stylistically the music is on the border between traditional heavy/power metal and guitar/vocal oriented progressive metal (even bordering thrash at it´s hardest moments). In other words a very early example of progressive metal. A music style Fates Warning would further explore and develop upon on subsequent releases. The band are generally very well playing even though I´ve never found Steve Zimmerman´s drumming particularly tasteful. Instead it´s the melodic guitar leads and harmonies, the hard heavy metal riffing, and of course the high pitched and ornamented singing by John Arch, which elevate the band´s music to exceptional heights, along with the clever and intriguing songwriting.

Arch deserves a special mention and all the praise in the world for his performance here. He is gifted with one of the most unique and powerful voices on the scene but it´s how he uses his voice that makes him so special. Every note is sung to it´s limits and twisted and turned in every possible direction. Sometimes it sounds like he is improvising and if that´s true, it´s madness in this type of music. It speaks volumes of how great he is, that he has the energy to put on a performance like that in music this demanding. His performance is brilliant throughout but the highlight is his delivery on "Guardian".

All 8 tracks on the 48:04 minutes long album are very well written and performed though and it´s actually only the sound production that holds "Awaken the Guardian" back a slight bit. The guitars feature a thin sound, and the drums and bass aren´t that well sounding either. It´s not really a surprise considering the date of release, but on the other hand I´ve listened to quite a few better produced releases from the same year, so this one has always left me unimpressed. Thankfully the material and the instrumental and vocal performances are of such high quality (although the drumming doesn´t add much positive to the music), that the quality of the sound production doesn´t overshadow the fact that "Awaken the Guardian" is an excellent release on other parameters. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.
This certainly is the best Arch-era album that FATES WARNING put out and arguably their best period. Man this is one grungy, dirty, dark and heavy album. Love the futuristic cover art too. The key is Arch's vocals though as he puts on a show for the ages. This would be his last album with the band as he would quit after this recording and then try out for the DREAM THEATER vacancy that eventually went to James LaBrie. After not getting that gig John would go into retirement. That is until his solo album from 2003 called "A Twist Of Fate" with FATES WARNING members helping him out along with Mike Portnoy. Back to this 1986 release and i must admit by the time it ends i'm done. It's simply relentless as it punishes the listener into submission. And i love it ! "Guardian" and "Prelude To Ruin" are two of the best prog-Metal songs i've heard. Both were written by Matheos and Arch so maybe it shouldn't be so surprsing that these two put out the album of the year on this site for 2011. Yes the boys are back ! This album is certainly a must for fans of dark and dirty Prog-Metal(haha).
Fate's Warning "Awaken the Guardian" may be the best album for this metal band, along with "No Exit". At times they may be channelling Iron Maiden, especially with the air raid siren vocals and vibrato like Dickinson. The music is very different though and is the real drawcard.

The album cover art is iconic and one of the best in the metal world. The inspiration for the imagery is obviously from Star Trek's "City on the Edge of Forever' episode from the 60s. The Guardian in this episode is almost identical to that on the album art. The spacescape in the centre of the formation is intriguing as the time travel portal of the episode only showed images from the past. It is a spacey scene but the music on the album is more prog metal than space rock, though some of the thematic content has a fantasy aspect such as 'The Sorceress' and 'Exodus'.

'The Sorceress' has some powerful riffing and a strange time sig. The vocals of the great John Arch are strong almost dominating the metal guitars. It changes into a faster blaster mid way through, and then a new sig takes over at 3:30 and the feel is better, with more chugging riffs and a new melody, like a song within a song. The lead break is well executed; Aresti and Matheos have a powerful guitar style.

'Valley Of The Dolls' has some awesome guitar and riff within riff. Arch blares brilliantly sounding as high as King Diamond's octave vibratos. The speed metal segments here are terrific. There are so many time changes and this is very precise and technical playing. 'Fata Morgana' is another great song thanks to the incredible vocals of Arch, and even sounds a bit like Queensryche vocally in places.

'Guardian' is a metal power ballad, that builds slowly in to heavier passages, and the vocals are incredible throughout reminding me of Helloween. 'Prelude To Ruin' begins with pounding drums slowly keeping rhythm and the guitars ring soundly before the riffs lock in. Arch's confident high falsetto vocals follow as the sig breaks up, and this is some incredible guitar work.

'Giant's Lore (Heart of Winter)' has an interesting story. The lead break in this is incredible with hyper fast speed picking and overall this is one of the best FW songs.

'Exodus' is one of the definitive highlights with stirring vocals by Arch and awesome lyrics; "Distant vision tempting water, fall to my knees, I'm going to drink it dry, Blazing desert sun reflection on the water, He caught my eye, Up in a tree looking at me, vulture of fear why don't you go away, He said you're mine one day, Spit out the sand of the mirage, Be on your way." The lead break is one of the better here from Matheos. The way the song settles into a slower pace is a great way to balance all the speed. It builds again with a new sig and power metal riffs.

This album reminds me a bit of Helloween's "Keeper of the Seven Keys" period. The melodies in the vocals are strong and the diction of Arch and intonation is always above the average metal singer. Arch has a cult following and this is definitely one of his shining triumphs. Guaranteed to please metal heads without a doubt.
Fates Warning's debut album saw them as inferior Iron Maiden imitators; The Spectre Within saw them equal the standards of their influence. Awaken the Guardian, John Arch's final album with Fates Warning, sees the band complete their evolution and move beyond Iron Maiden entirely, into progressive metal territory that Maiden would never even approach. Sufficiently complex as to demand multiple listens to really get to grips with everything that's going on, this isn't an album which grips me from the word go, but every time I spin it it grows on me more and more. Not quite a five-star masterpiece, but tantalisingly close to it, and a fine close to Arch's tenure in the band.
Time Signature
Time Long Past...

Genre: progressive metal

A prog metal classic, "Awaken the Guardian" certainly is recommendable as it contains several great tunes blending various subtypes of its contemporary metal universe.

Originally released in 1986, "Awaken the Guardian" was very much ahead of its time taking progressive metal one step further, in many ways building on what Maiden had established, blending it in with a bit of thrash metal and a lot of power metal.

For some time, I felt that the one weakness is the incongruity between the overall production and John Arch's admittedly unique and impressive voice. The problem to me was that the general production is rather brutal, the guitars having almost a death metal quality to them with a lot of distortion and a lot of bottom, leaving Arch's vocals often flowing about the place which in turn means that, I tended not to notice the vocals and focus on the music. However, now, I can really appreciate it, and I think that the contrast works beautifully. From being the most salient weakness of the album, this contrast has become one of the qualities that I appreciate the most.

"Awaken the Guardian" certainly is a progressive metal milestone and recommendable to any prog metal head.

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