FATES WARNING — A Pleasant Shade Of Gray (review)

FATES WARNING — A Pleasant Shade Of Gray album cover Album · 1997 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
There comes a time in every bands career when they decide it's time to make changes to their sound. Some bands do it flawlessly, gaining new fans and keeping old ones. Other bands fail miserably, alienating everyone. 'A Pleasant Shade of Gray' by Fates Warning, is an example of a band doing it properly.

The bands previous albums were seeing a steady incline in quality and success, and there was no question that ‘Parallels’ and ‘Inside Out’ would be hard to top without sounding repetitive, but with ‘A Pleasant Shade of Grey’ the band really hit their stride as a "prog" band, with what I consider to be some of their greatest work.

Having lost one guitar, but gaining a keyboard in its place (in the form of ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore), Fates Warning take on a more progressive feel with their music. Gone are the metal songs of their previous releases, and in their place stands atmospheric, beautifully eerie pieces of music. There's still plenty of heavy riffs to keep faithful fans happy, but the album as a whole seems to have more focus on mood and ambience.

As always with this band, the musicianship is remarkable. Drummer Mark Zonder really takes the spotlight here, and Jim Matheos has written some of his most thoughtful guitar riffs, maintaining the complexity associated with this style of music, without having to rely on an endless barrage of notes jammed into every bar.

It's hard to point out any specific highlights, as the album works so much better as a single piece, rather than by its individual components. It's a concept album, you know how it is, right? It's not the sort of record which grows on you after one listen, but then, isn't that the sort of thing prog fans love about the genre?
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