Review

FATES WARNING Awaken The Guardian

Album · 1986 · US Power Metal
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4.5/5 ·
Modrigue
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!
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