Metal Blade Records, 2000
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/28/2000
There are a few times where I feel a one or two-word review would say it all. In the case of prog-rock trio Fates Warning and their latest disc Disconnected, such a review would read like this:
Of course, you're going to get a little more detail than that from me. It's not that Jim Matheos and company have made a bad album; it's just that it's hardly an album to get excited about.
Originally formed as a metal band, Fates Warning found themselves moving more towards a progressive rock vein early on in their career, and have embraced the genre as much as it has embraced them. The band - guitarist Matheos, vocalist Ray Alder and drummer Mark Zonder - are undoubtedly superb musicians, and I would not stoop to question their abilities.
I would, however, question why they seemed like they felt the need to keep the general tone of Disconnected down. Throughout the seven tracks on the album, there isn't a single performance by any one member which stands out as being special enough to merit mention. It almost sounds like the band is merely going through the motions, as if they had the prog-rock genre down so well that performing it bored them to tears.
Fans of progressive music, relax; that's not meant as a slam towards the genre. In fact, if I had to pick one song on Disconnected that could be called the best, it would be the 16-minute epic "Still Remains," which is the most engrossing of the songs presented here. This would normally be something to celebrate - but when that means that four- and five-minute songs don't hold the same kind of interest, I'd be worried.
I really wanted to like Disconnected, but when I'm getting distracted from shorter songs like "One," "Pieces Of Me" and "So," that usually doesn't bode well. I can't tell you the number of times I listened to this disc - especially the first four tracks, which I kept going over trying to find what I was missing.
Instead, it's something that Fates Warning is missing that is the key to Disconnected - namely, excitement. By no means am I suggesting that they return to being a metal band; prog-rock does indeed seem to be their niche. But if the band wants the listener to be excited by what they have to offer, the members themselves first have to sound like they're totally into the material. I just don't get that vibe here.
Fates Warning is a band of talented musicians, and I hope that Disconnected is merely a small stumble for the band. But this disc hardly sets itself atop other similar albums in the same musical vein.