Fates Warning: No Exit (25th Anniversary Remastered Edition)
This CD No Exit originally released in 1988 is the first release with the inimitable Ray Alder on lead vocals and is probably known as the heaviest recording in the entire catalog of this legendary band. There is a collective spirit that exists as all of the members were contributing to the songwriting and this allows the music to be a little more unpredictable and intriguing. No Exit also sees the birth of the lyrical evolution into the alienating social aspects of human existence; mostly veering away from the fantasy based themes covered with Arch, save for the mythologically based 21 minute tour de force "The Ivory Gates of Dreams." What remains constant in all of their recordings is the judicious balance of melodious hooks, thought provoking lyrics, and rhythmic excellence that is a "triple threat" seemingly lost on many of today's recorded performances.
The songs are incredible to say the least and I will briefly outline some detail in them. When you hear the opening credits with Ray adding some dissonance to the intro known as "No Exit" you know that your into something more. Just listening to the emotional poetic virtue allows you to see why the band is so appreciated at every level. "Anarchy Divine" is the first actual song to kick things off and it makes a glorious and propelling rhythmic stand. The guitars are very dark sounding and the piercing falsetto of Alder provides an intriguing contrast as well. Listen at 1:46 and you can hear a Testament influence in those sliding octaves. There are many instances of thrash influences sprinkled here and there making this even more metallic and complete. "Silent Cries" is absolutely the designated single as it is one of the most melodically approachable songs on the entire collection. It's very moody in feel with a chorus that remains in mind long after the song is over. I really like the way the vocals interval jump with Ray singing "Covered in a shroud of silence/ Watching the world go by." Next up is "In A Word" where the acoustic guitar starts things off with a simple chord arpeggiation that culminates into harmony between Matheos and Aresti. Eventually, the song makes its electric break to add some dimension and depth while including various modulation changes in key and dynamic texture. "Shades of Heavenly Death" exposes one of the albums minor flaws as it shows off the horrible 80's sample used for a snare drum in the introduction. Sometimes I don't know what the hell people are thinking. Oh, I digress…This is not one of my favorite songs, but not for the aforementioned reason. The melody never seems to take off and find its mark. It only acts as a means to an end. Another thing, that breakdown that happens around 3:50 doesn't cut it, but the song is redeemed with their take on the "Diary of a Madman" acoustic section that follows it. Last up is the Matheos penned "The Ivory Gates of Dreams". This is an 8 part concept musical centerpiece that needs no introduction and is a fan favorite in the bands catalog to this day and for good reason. It's ripe with variety and intriguing lyrics with killer guitar solos throughout. Not relying on samples or drawn out spoken narratives to make the grade. You just have the band doing what they do best and that is progging their way to a glorious climax and ending with the acoustic guitar making a memorable farewell based on an emotional connection that leaves you thinking instead of drained. Who would have thought? Anyway--enough already. Let's look at the packaging.
So, what else do you get for your cash? Well, keeping in mind that this is part of a series, this 2007 remaster is more a standard fare reissue than a commemorative celebration of a timeless classic. You are treated to a bonus dvd with live performances, behind the scenes footage and original Headbangers Ball issue videos that are very cool for viewing pleasure. There is also a comical short that the band filmed that is hilarious and worth the price of admission alone. Make sure to keep watching the DVD after the No Exit documentary concludes and the rest shall… remain a mystery. Buy it!! My only criticisms would be that a few more song outtakes on the music disc (than the 3 offered here) and some narration in the booklet (better paper please) documenting the development of the music by the band members would have been appreciated. Sonically, it seems to have been given the u-curve equalization treatment and the overall average volume is made to be competitive with today's modern standard more than for a genuine improvement in texture as evidenced by the eq readout that I enjoy to monitor so well, but the music alone is most important and there it is a sure thing.
1. No Exit
2. Anarchy Divine
3. Silent Cries
4. In A Word
5. Shades Of Heavenly Death
6. The Ivory Gates Of Dreams
b. Cold Daze
c. Daylight Dreamers
e. Ivory Tower
f. Whispers On The Wind
7. Quietus Demo
8. Ivory Gates OF Dreams (Outtake one)
9. Ivory Gates OF Dreams (Outtake two)
Added: September 5th 2007
Reviewer: Hugh Dark
Related Link: Fates Warning Website
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