FATES WARNING — Perfect Symmetry

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FATES WARNING - Perfect Symmetry cover
4.24 | 74 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 1989


1. Part Of The Machine (6:15)
2. Through Different Eyes (4:22)
3. Static Acts (4:28)
4. A World Apart (5:03)
5. At Fates Hand (6:59)
6. The Arena (3:18)
7. Chasing Time (3:38)
8. Nothing Left To Say (7:58)

Total Time 42:05


- Frank Aresti / Guitars, Vocals
- Ray Alder / Vocals
- Joe DiBiase / Bass
- Mark Zonder / Drums
- Jim Matheos / Guitars

- Kevin Moore / Keyboards
- Faith Fraeoli / Violin

About this release

August 29th, 1989
Metal Blade

Reissued in 2008 with a bonus disc with the following tracklist:

1. Part Of The Machine 1 (demo) (7:03)
2. Through Different Eyes (demo) (4:20)
3. Static Acts (demo) (4:27)
4. A World Apart (demo) (5:38)
5. At Fates Hands (demo) (6:11)
6. The Arena (demo) (3:52)
7. Chasing Time (demo) (4:06)
8. Nothing Left To Say (demo) (8:06)
9. Part Of The Machine (demo) (8:03)
10. Nothing Left To Say (demo) (4:51)

Total Time: 56:37

The 2008 Reissued also has a bonus dvd with the following tracklist:

Allentown, Pa December 2, 1989

1. Fata Morgana
2. Part Of The Machine
3. Silent Cries
4. Static Acts
5. Through Different Eyes

Houston, Tx April 26, 1990

6. Fata Morgana
7. Static Acts
8. Anarchy Divine
9. Silent Cries
10. Nothing Left To Say
11. Quietus
12. Damnation

Amsterdam, Netherlands December 16, 1989

13. Fata Morgana
14. Part Of The Machine
15. Silent Cries
16. The Apparition
17. Through Different Eyes
18. Nothing Left To Say

Philadelphia, Pa March 27, 1990

19. The Arena

New Haven, Ct December 11, 1989

20. Through Different Eyes
21. The Apparition
22. Damnation
23. Exodus
24. Drum Solo
25. Nothing Left To Say
26. The Ivory Gate Of Dreams

27. Through Different Eyes (promotional video)

Thanks to Stooge, Lynx33, diamondblack for the updates


More places to buy metal & FATES WARNING music


Specialists/collaborators reviews

Most people consider “Awaken the Guardian” to be Fates Warning’s shining moment, but the album that outshone everything else by miles to me is “Perfect Symmetry.”

Perfect Symmetry is the band’s transition from a fantastical, proggy almost-Power Metal band into a full fledged modern Progressive Metal band, and one of the first albums ever to conceptualize this sound. Gone are the tales of high fantasy and abandoned are the speedy and uplifting metal epics that iconized their earlier sound. Here, they have traded their swords and steeds in acceptance of the reality that the world is a cold, unfriendly place that eats dreamers alive. They have become part of a machine of finely tuned skill and technicality – here the whole band play incredibly complex parts, alone but in unison, creating a cacophony of different melodies and rhythms that never play against each other.

One mistake you could make in reading that is to think they have become technical cogs incapable of producing melodies of beautiful passion. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Vocalist Ray Alder commands his voice like an instrument, but never shies away from simply crying out the sorrows of being smothered in the constraints of modern society. The lyrics across the board sound like those of a man who dreamed of grandeur as a child, but had those dreams quashed by reality. The only options are to hold out a last shred of hope that tomorrow holds something new, or allow oneself to die internally in order to carry on.

The music knows exactly when to dance the lines between progressive technical showcasing, soft passages of pure beauty, or simply catchy melodies. The band does include some strings on a few tracks that harken back to their fantasy sound (interestingly, it’s the least bleak songs with this touch). The titles might also fool you into thinking they’re still a fantasy band – tracks like “At Fate’s Hands” sound entirely medieval in nature. In reality, the song is about being helpless to make your own way in a world where people are smothered to fit roles and voices of the common are not heard. The burden of a modern society is disguised by poetic and timeless words that could apply just about anywhere if not for the context of the album.

It is a jarring shift from their old sound. It’s probably not what fans wanted. It’s also entirely pessimistic, introspective and subtly conscious. To me, it’s the perfect album from Fates Warning.
"Perfect Symmetry" is the 5th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Fates Warning. The album was released through Metal Blade Records in August 1989. Fates Warning was formed in 1982 under the Misfit monicker but changed to their current name in 1984. They underwent quite a musical development on the first four albums, starting out a traditional heavy metal act on "Night on Bröcken (1984)", to a US power/progressive inclined metal act on "The Spectre Within (1985)" and "Awaken the Guardian (1986)", to a hybrid US power/thrash/progressive metal act on "No Exit (1988)". Between the release of the latter two, there was a change on the lead vocalist spot as original singer John Arch was replaced by Ray Alder. A lineup change that brought a significant change to their sound. On "Perfect Symmetry" a new drummer was introduced as original drummer Steve Zimmerman was replaced by Mark Zonder (Warlord). A lineup change that would also have great impact on Fates Warning´s sound.

Stylistically the music on "Perfect Symmetry" is melodic and technically well played progressive metal. It´s in many ways a very different sounding album to "No Exit (1988)", and it´s safe to say that Fates Warning had again developed their sound greatly between album releases. First off the addition of Mark Zonder brings an off-beat fusion influenced and very original sounding drumming style to the band´s sound. His playing is subtle, clever, and very technical. Zimmerman was a rather "stiff" and standard type 80s metal drummer, and he didn´t bring anything out of the ordinary to the table, while Mark Zonder on the other hand revolutionized not only Fates Warning´s sound, but progressive metal drumming in general. Of course along with other influential drummers like Neil Peart (Rush), Rick Colaluca (Watchtower), and Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater)...among others. Secondly Fates Warning had shed almost any traditional heavy metal and US power metal leaning at this point and "Perfect Symmetry" is to my ears their first "straight" progressive metal release.

The material on the 8 track, 42:05 minutes long album are all very well written and intriguing examples of progressive metal. The tracks are varied both between tracks and within tracks. It´s heavy, melodic, technical, subtle, mellow, hard edged, beautiful, and melancholic. The melancholic atmosphere actually often turns bleak, and tracks like "Part Of The Machine", "Static Acts", "A World Apart", and "Nothing Left To Say" are pretty gloomy. In the other end of the spectrum you have a track like "Through Different Eyes", which features a chorus that touches mainstream territory (a promotional video was released for this track), and the beautiful melodic "Chasing Time", which features violin parts played by Faith Fraeoli. The violin is also in use on "At Fates Hand", which also features a keyboard guest appearance by Kevin Moore (who at the time played in Dream Theater). I´d like to point out how fantastic that particular track is, but that can be said about each and every track on the album. All of them are high quality compositions and there is not a single drop in quality throughout the album. It could be argued though that "Through Different Eyes" doesn´t quite fit in with the rest of the material (it´s closer in style to the tracks featured on the next couple of album) and that it disturbs the flow of the album, but personally I think it´s great for the overall diversity of "Perfect Symmetry".

The musicianship is absolutely brilliant, with standout performances by each member of the band. I´ve already praised new drummer Mark Zonder for his skills and inventive playing ideas, but the rest of the members of the lineup also deserve a mention. Ray Alder has developed his singing style since "No Exit (1988)" and now spices up his high pitched screaming vocals with the occasional vocal part in deeper registers and more mellow singing too. His performance is relatively varied here and the diversity of the material also gives him the opportunity to show different aspects of his vocal capabilities. Main composer Jim Matheos is as always subtle guitarist number one, while Frank Aresti delivers one great lead and solo after another. The clean guitar/distorted guitar dynamic which the two of them would develop upon and perfect over the course of the next two albums, is initiated here. Bassist Joe DiBiase shines several times during the albums playing time. As an example the second time the vers is played in "Part Of The Machine", DiBiase changes his bassline and plays what sounds like a lead melody under the rest of the instruments and vocals. Still very rhythmic and relatively subtle, but important in the bigger picture.

The sound production is raw and a bit cold, which suits the melancholic and bleak material well. It´s slightly thin sounding and could have prospered from a more bass heavy mix, but overall it´s a high quality production. So upon conclusion it´s hard not to be impressed and intrigued by "Perfect Symmetry". Everything from the compositions, the production, and the musicianship, scream high quality and originality. It truly is a unique and influential release and a 5 star (100%) rating is deserved.
FATES WARNING is my favourite Prog-Metal band and what i find very cool with them is that my three favourite FATES WARNING albums are all completely different from one another. "Awaken The Guardian" is heavy and dirty sounding with the unique vocals of John Arch, while this album is more complex and a very influential Prog-Metal album. Zonder makes his first appearance for the band on drums here and Kevin Moore guests on keyboards. "Disconnected" my other top three is more atmospheric and less Metal but i love that record. I'm sure this record along with "Operation Mindcrime" had a big influence on DREAM THEATER. This album will always be special to me as well for leading me into the world of Progressive Rock. I know that's probably a strange statememnt but i bought this guitar magazine because it had a list of the 50 best guitar albums of the eighties in it and for some reason i kept going back to this album and band i'd never heard of. Finally for the first time in my life i went on-line to search out a band which led me from this band to DREAM THEATER then onto Prog bands i'd never heard of and my world changed for the better. Anyway back to this album and i feel Ray's vocals are much better here compared to "No Exit" plus i love that twin lead guitar attack from Matheos and Aresti. And Zonder is lights out and one of my favourite drummers. "Through Different Eyes" and "At Fates Hand" are my two favourite tracks. I remember several years ago driving into the ball park where my son was to play baseball and i had this album cranked. This parent who was high most of the time and into Classic Rock came right over wondering what i was listening to. No he never heard of them(haha) not surprisingly but he loved their sound. Masterpiece number two for this band.
Although I do appreciate most of Fates Warning's albums prior to this, I've found that I just don't see the appeal of Perfect Symmetry. Sure, I can tell that it's an order of magnitude more complex than their earlier work - thanks, perhaps, to the arrival of new drummer Mark Zonder, who shows a mastery of a range of tricky time signatures over the course of the album. But with this additional complexity also comes a certain level of obfuscation.

It's a technically advanced piece, sure, but it just doesn't move me emotionally in the way that other creators of complex music - from Atheist to King Crimson to Yes to Frank Zappa - are regularly able to. It leaves me emotionally numbed rather than evoking any response, and the riffs lack forcefulness, power, and aggression - and most metal riffs really need at least one out of those three qualities, if not the whole set. On top of that, the production is rather thin and unappealing. No, on the whole I just don't get the appeal. Ah well.
Time Signature
Through different ears...

Genre: progressive metal

Musically, this is a very interesting and challenging album, which excels in technicality and top notch musicianship. There is plenty of melody and plenty of tasty twin guitar harmonies and guitar solos - and a lot of really tasty and different (without being totally quirky) guitar riffage. This does not mean that "Perfect Symmetry" is a straight pop metal album - far from it. As mentioned the music is quite technical (especially Zonder's drumming), and the compositions are also quite complex compared to the commercially succesful genres of heavy metal at the time.

As with virtually all other early Fates Warning albums, the vocals may take some getting used to, but once you're there, you can't imagine it any other way. The only problem is the production in that, as is typical of metal releases of the 1980s, there's why too much reverb in general, and specifically on the drums - the snare especially (the cymbals sound very nice though); it is not as bad, however, as some other 80s metal releases I've heard, and it is not like the production ruins the listening experience at all.

I'd recommend this album to fans of progressive metal and to those who like a bit of melody in rock but are looking for rock music that has more to offer.

Members reviews

I have been a big fan of Dream Theater for some time and more recently a big fan of some of Queensryche’s work. I have discovered Fates Warning recently too. Perfect Symmetry is less accessible than Dream Theater or Queensryche, but is definitely in the essential masterpiece category. The music of Perfect Symmetry is a fascinating fusion of Ray Alder’s sometimes power metal voice, Mark Zonder’s singularly impressive drumming style matched seamlessly by Joe DiBiase’s bass playing, the twin metal guitars of Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti, and some fine classical sounding violin and keyboard (Kevin Moore – at that time of Dream Theater) passages.
Fates Warning’s Perfect Symmetry was my first experience in exploring Fates Warning music. At that time, I couldn’t enjoy the beauty and complexity of their music. It was around 13-14 years ago when I was in the high school and music to me –at that time—meaning only fast and loud music. A couple of years ago I started re-collecting my Fates Warning collections and recently I got the cd version of this album. It stunned me the first time I (re)heard the whole 8 songs. To be honest, the only song that got into was only “Through Different Eyes” because it was the most radio-friendly track from this album. Now I can appreciate other songs as well. “Part of The Machine” is a beautiful opening song, while “At Fate’s Hands” and “Nothing Left To Say” are my all-time FW’s songs. Complex compositions and sometimes you find it dark and cold, this album is definitely a great progressive rock album. Of course, it took several careful listening before being able to appreciate it. I did.

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