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Fates Warning - A Pleasant Shade Of Gray review

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Band: Fates Warning
Album: A Pleasant Shade Of Gray
Style: Progressive metal
Release date: April 1997

01. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Part I
02. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Part II
03. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Part III
04. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Part IV
05. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Part V
06. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Part VI
07. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Part VII
08. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Part VIII
09. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Part IX
10. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Part X
11. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Part XI
12. A Pleasant Shade Of Gray Part XII

Well, when someone is speaking of progressive rock, usually, you could think of Dream Theater or Symphony X. But, no, for sure, there are many other bands in this field that deserve a high degree of attention. And one of these bands is, certainly, Fates Warning. This band could be considered as one of the founders of progressive metal in the late 80s.

Mentioning progressive style, Fates Warning belongs to this genre. But it's a heavier side, without being power ("American power" as in their beginnings) or something else (I'm speaking here of their "classic" progressive period). It's heavier than Dream Theater, and it doesn't have anything in common with Symphony X's style. Somehow, this album reminds me also of Mekong Delta, "Pictures of an Exhibition".

"A Pleasant Shade of Grey" is presented as a whole, parted in 12 songs. Or, if you want, it's a "concept" album. FW explores a darker side of progressive. Well, the main feeling of this album is the "grey-ness". Reading the lyrics, you could be intrigued by the statement: why it's "pleasant"? And what about this "shade of grey"? The "opposition of the contraries" is solved, in the end of the record. Emptiness, confusion, desolation, which lead to a sort of desperation. But, finally, "face to face we'll awake/ to see another day". It's like a nightmare, which finally ends. Moreover, this sensation is clarified by the clock ring in the end of the album. Like the beginning of "Awake" album (Dream Theater).

Ray Adler, on vocals, carries out a great task; he owns a versatile voice, very enjoyable. But, nonetheless, I was amazed by the guitar work done with inspiration by Jim Matheos, which has a particular way of playing his guitar. As a "historical" note, I must mention his last 3 performings in 2003: Gordian Knot ("Emergent"), John Arch ("Twist of Fate"), also a former member of FW, and OSI (self - titled album).His guitar is very expressive, covering a wide range of sounds, but mostly, heavy riffs. I also like the distorted sound this band managed to get. Not to mention here a whole set of solos.
The keyboard/piano is played by Kevin Moore (Chroma Key, former Dream Theater).
In 1998, Fates Warning released a double live album, entitled "Still Life". On the first part, the band performed live the whole "Pleasant Shade of Grey" set. The live show worked perfect. Definitely, a worthy live album.

Sometimes I wonder why this band is so underrated. It is really a shame. And everybody who likes this genre should check this band out. The album I'm talking about could be a very good introduction to this interesting band.
Some people criticize progressive genre for obvious reasons: lack of innovations, platitude, same old themes presented as new, uninspired lyrics, forced paradoxes. Well, Fates Warning has always had the ability to create interesting music, by avoiding recurrent clichés. And another important remark: if they were copying, they imitated themselves.

I dare to say (or, at least, to write down) this album is a classical in the progressive metal field.

Written by janhuss | 07.10.2004

Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.


Comments: 10   Visited by: 139 users
04.03.2007 - 22:00
Account deleted
One of the best progressive metal albums ever, and it's no ordinary album, it's a concept album; every song flows nicely into the next grabbing the listener's attention; you almost "don't have time to breathe", the music devours the listener (it happened to me).
Great musicianship - we're talking about Jim Matheos & CO here plus special guest Kevin Moore. So if you love prog-metal and you don't own this album, remember, this albumis worth every nickle.;D
12.12.2008 - 23:51
Rating: 9
Dark Seraphim
To any fan of progressive metal this is a "must have." From start to finish it is a beautiful, intense album. Fates Warning have never sounded better than they did on this. Buy it!!
12.12.2008 - 23:55
Rating: 9
Well it is a must have indeed. You can't help but love it and respect this band.
Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29

Like you could kiss my ass.

My Instagram
09.09.2009 - 14:59
Rating: 10
Actually this is one of my favourites! Also the live concert - that was taken from the release Still Life was my very first approach to the band (~2002)! And the strange is that it came with MetalHammer magazine - with a different - modified cover! From then I remember listening the cd & it "had something" that captured me immediately... I kept listening (it needs times to grow & unfold the emotions) and that was it!
Fates Warning one more time prove their value as musicians, the remarkable is that cliche is not needed here to result at a preconstructed virtuosity!!! It exists - flows throughout the album from the first to last second (inspiration clearly innovative). It really haunts the spirit of the listener...Indeed an APOTHEOSIS of metal genre...
12.09.2009 - 22:48
Very good review. Right now all I have is Parallels which is a very good album. I have seen FW live and they were really good. I might try this one next, although I am intrigued by the vinyl re-release of No Exit by Metalblade as well.
'We entered Winter once again...The sun sets forever over Blackwater park'
02.05.2010 - 22:02
Rating: 9
Au Pays Natal
First thought that comes to me about this album....Jim Matheos = genius
22.03.2014 - 22:15
Rating: 10
Dave FC
Best FW album
23.03.2014 - 00:20
Rating: 9
Thanks for the review... I bought APSoG not long after it was released, and I think it remains their finest album.... I also think the follow-up live album 'Still Life' is well worth owning...
First gig was Manowar (loincloths 'n' all), Bristol Colston Hall in March 1983, on the 'Hail to England' tour. Tickets were £3.75, 300 in the audience, Mercyful Fate never showed, but my hearing still got seriously trashed..
26.08.2016 - 22:14
Rating: 10
Amazing CD, absolutely mesmerizing at parts. At this stage of their career, they were in the best shape of their lives.

in my opinion, maybe the best Fates Warning CD, at par with Parallels.
27.02.2021 - 21:07
Rating: 6
Heavier than Dream Theater my ass
1001 Metal albums to hear before you die

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