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Fates Warning: Awaken the Guardian (remaster + DVD)

Now that Fates Warning's future seems to be in question, many fans have started the debate on which album is the best of their influential catalog. For a good majority, the last album with vocalist John Arch, Awaken the Guardian, remains to this day one of the band's best, a classic of 80's metal, and one of the most influential and seminal progressive metal albums of all time. Filled with intricate and layered guitar work from Jim Matheos & Frank Aresti, soaring vocals courtesy of Arch, and the powerful yet nimble rhythms of drummer Steve Zimmerman and bassist Joe DiBiase, the band created a heavy yet complex sound on this album with mixed with mysterious lyrics, and the end result was a classic of the genre. The band's longtime label, Metal Blade, has finally remastered the album, added a bonus CD with demo and live versions, as well as included a concert DVD of a show recorded at the Sundance club in Long Island, NY in 1986.

The original album simply sounds great with this newly remastered treatment, as the guitars sound crisp and huge, the vocals full of life, and the drum/bass work crackling with energy. This enhanced sound brings classic cuts like "Fata Morgana", "Guardian", "Exodus", and "The Sorceress" to life with renewed vigor, and the crushing yet majestic tracks "Valley of the Dolls", "Prelude to Ruin" and of course "Giant's Lore (Heart of Winter)" are as fresh and relevant today as they were in 1986.

The bonus CD is mainly for completists and die-hard fans, as it contains demo and live versions of many of the songs from the original album as well as the band's first two release Night on Brocken and Spectre Within. The DVD, while sub-par from an audio perspective due to some annoying hiss and hot levels from the drum cymbals and guitar leads, is very cool to watch considering it is the only known existing footage from the Jon Arch era. The camera work gives you a fairly close look at the band, and the set consists of the whole show from the Awaken the Guardian tour, including a cover of Black Sabbath's "Die Young". Add in the original album art of Joannis (which looks more stunning than ever), full lyrics, and live photographs, this is a must have 3 CD collection for the Fates Warning fan.

Track Listings
Disc: 1
1. The Sorceress
2. Valley of the Dolls
3. Fata Morgana
4. Guardian
5. Prelude to Ruin
6. Giants of Lore Heart of Winter
7. Time Long Past
8. Exodus

Disc: 2
1. The Sorceress (DEMO)
2. Valley of the Dolls (DEMO)
3. Prelude to Ruin (DEMO)
4. Fata Morgana (LIVE)
5. Damnation (LIVE)
6. The Apparition (LIVE)
7. The Sorceress (LIVE)
8. Guardian (LIVE)
9. Die Young (LIVE)

Disc: 3 (DVD)
1. Sundance
2. Valley of the Dolls
3. Pirates of the Underground
4. Orphan Gypsy
5. Fata Morgana
6. Traveler in Time
7. The Sorceress
8. Guardian
9. Prelude to Ruin
10. Damnation
11. The Apparition
12. Die Young
13. Kiss of Death

Added: August 27th 2005
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Fates Warning Website
Hits: 3825
Language: english

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Fates Warning: Awaken the Guardian (remaster + DVD)
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-08-27 18:42:50
My Score:

One cannot deny the contributions that Fates Warning has given to the Progressive Metal genre over the course of their career. They were one of the first to be labeled as such a band and if one listens to their release Awaken The Guardian you can easily see why. This 3rd release by the band is considered a masterpiece among fans of Progressive Heavy Metal music. Given their being a major staple on the Metal Blade Records artist roster it was fantastic to see this CD (originally released in 1986) be given the upgrade. This CD is special for a number of reasons, for it is not only a careful and effective remaster of the original release, it is also a bonus CD and DVD as well. On the original CD, the music is clearer and everything just seems to have a little more punch. John Arch's vocals slice through Frank Aresti's guitar playing like a knife. The drums and bass are also nice and solid and seem to be a little heavier even on the updated version. You will feel as if you are listening to brand new recordings of songs like "The Sorceress" and "Guardian" when you first begin to absorb the CD. The bonus CD is more geared towards the type of fan who used to hunt for demos and alternate versions of tracks that were on an album. I remember endless walks through Greenwich Village in NYC with friends who were like that. Comprised mainly of demos and live tracks this is sure to fill the need for those who hold this album in high regard.

The addition of the DVD that is the third disc is also a welcome thing but the buyer must be aware of the limitations that plague this video. It's more important to take this as a piece of history in the bands career than a fine audio visual of the band. Filmed at a live concert at The Sundance club in Long Island on 12/28/1986, the viewer gets to enjoy what appears to be the only footage of the lineup of 1986. There is a terrible audio hissing, so you might want to play it low and just take in the visual. To my knowledge no other live footage of Fates Warning when John Arch was singing for them exists. The packaging is smartly done as well, as the whole thing is surrounded by a cardboard box that holds the two jewel-cases very nicely. The booklet is filled with lyrics and pictures while the DVD contains liner notes from Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy. This CD/DVD is not only for the diehard Fates Warning fans, but also those that enjoy the band and replace that original copy that will sound so inferior compared to this. Check it out.

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