Progressive Rock/Metal

Fates Warning – Disconnected

When it comes to “traditional” melodic prog-metal, Fates Warning’s A Pleasant Shade of Gray is one of my lasting favorites. I had hugely high hopes for Disconnected, the follow-up (and still as I write this Fates Warning’s most recent studio album), and I have to say I’m only slightly disappointed.
Disconnected is, in a way, a concept album, but not like its predecessor. It does not consist of a single song; instead, its individual songs are united by a theme of alienation and loneliness, in both lyrics and music. The mood is pretty monochromatic, evoking images of a desolate, abandoned, futuristic urban landscape, but the style varies from piece to piece. The opener and closer are atmospheric instrumentals, with the latter sounding a whole lot like Dream Theater’s “Space-Dye Vest” without vocals (surprise, that’s Kevin Moore on keys). The two short pieces are almost nu-metalish in their hyperkinetic energy, fast tempos, and aggressive riffing. They’re both kept interesting, though, mostly by the virtuosity of Mark Zonder on drums and the unusual electronics scattered throughout.

The longer pieces are more plodding, with “So” being powerful but somewhat tiring (appropriate I suppose, given the lyrical content which consists in large part of Ray Alder lamenting that he’s “so tired”) and “Something From Nothing” being, well, pretty boring. The centerpiece of the album, though, is without a doubt “Still Remains”, a good piece that almost justifies its length. This one has it all; a good mixture of both slow, atmospheric mood-building and energetic riffing, helped on by good lyrics and a good sense of dynamics. It seems much shorter than its 16-minute length, and features a couple of excellent, melodic guitar solos of the type that Jim Matheos usually seems to shy away from (but is very good at nonetheless).

As a whole, Disconnected is a very fulfilling listen. It is thematically unified, and the band pulls it off wonderfully. The individual songs are a little less interesting than the individual parts of Pleasant Shade of Gray, which is why I was initially disappointed, but it’s an album that is greater than the sum of its parts and has held together well for me over many listens in the past few years.

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