The vocals are so powerful. The songs sound like they were sung by someone who really believes in what he’s saying and that the songs are actually personal experiences being told. That’s what I notice most about this album/band, the sheer authenticity and true emotion that they convey in each song makes fates warning sound ‘heavier’ than the heaviest metal band, (and I like “heavier” metal bands too). Fates crush them all on this album! Of course the excellent drumming and guitars help too! Recommend this and the other Fates Warning CDs ‘88 to present be listened to with good head phones / ear buds.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
Fifteen years! That’s how long Parallels sat gathering dust on the shelf after I purchased it. Oh, I listened to it once or twice when it first came out; just enough to deem it unimpressive. The dust that gathered on the cd cleared up a bit each of the dozen times I moved from apartment to apartment over the next 15 years, but I never played it during that period – not once. Finally, about a year ago, I made my first acquaintance with an 80GB Ipod, and decided I had enough room to dump nearly all of my cd collection onto it without worrying that some of the music was unlistenable pap (Does anyone want my Radio Active Cats album? Anyone? Please, I tried to sell it back to the used cd store where I bought it – something I never do except in the most extreme of cases – but the counter clerk just laughed claiming he’d never have sold me something as awful as R.A.C.).
Last winter, I carried that magical ipod with me for a long stay in the Ethiopian highlands. Many months of foggy days and frigid nights spent in near isolation provided me with a wonderful opportunity to re-explore my music collection. By April, I’d begun scraping the bottom of the barrel – and that’s where I found Parallels. I sure didn’t expect much from it, and on first listen, I was not especially impressed – `meandering songs that seemed to go nowhere’ was my conclusion. Still, something I heard told me to give it a second chance, and about a week later, I listened to that little voice in my head and dutifully played Parallels again.
Suddenly, it was like puzzle pieces that had been lying in a heap in a corner of the basement came together and formed a beautiful picture. I was almost overwhelmed by the beauty of Parallels – a mournful, yet uplifting, song cycle where every note seems perfectly chosen. I felt a certain `giddiness’ at having discovered a lost classic in my music collection that was sure to continue growing on me for months, perhaps years, to come. Repeated listens over the remainder of my stay in the highlands revealed an album that combined clinical musical precision with exceptional emotional weight to an extent I’d never heard before. From the galloping bass line of `Point of View’ to the soaring vocals of `Life in Still Water’, Parallels is never less than satisfying, achieving a level of consistency and emotional resonance shared by very few albums in my collection. And to think Parallels had been sitting unplayed on the shelf for 15 years before my new ipod gave it the opportunity to capture my attention.
Upon my return from Ethiopia about a month ago, I ordered a copy of Parallels for my sister whom I was sure would love it (she does) and set to work building up a collection of Fates Warning cds for myself. I doubt any of their other albums will have the same staggering effect on me as Parallels but I sure look forward to exploring the remainder of Fates Warning’s catalogue nevertheless. I hope that my rediscovery of Parallels will strike a chord with others, either by inspiring people to buy Parallels and experience this special album or by inspiring them to give some of the albums long-buried in their collections a second chance. The next album that captures your imagination might just be one that has been sitting neglected on a shelf in your home or in the deepest recesses of your ipod. Unless your entire collection consists of albums by the Radio Active Cats, that is. If you find yourself in that alarming situation, you’ll need to go out and buy some new albums immediately – preferably starting with Parallels.
Upon my introduction into progressive music with the likes of Emerson,Lake and Palmer, Kansas, and Queensryche (to name a few), I was fortunate to come across this CD in a pawn shop; I had some idea who Fates Warning was but I had no solid remembrance of them through their music. Oh my, what I was missing..Up to this day, thanks to Parallels, I have several of the Fates Warning catalog, and continue to enjoy most of them.But to me, this album is the most emotionally dark and lyrically challenging of them all, speaking clearly, when you listen, of relationships beginning to fail. ‘Leave the past behind’ begins the album, and one can already feel the tension that is about to unfold in each of these amazing songs. Between the focused drumming of Mark Zonder, the subtle and melodious guitar-playing of Jim Matheos, and the stunning vocals of Ray Alder, an almost perfect combination develops between these musicians, complemented also by guitar work from Frank Aresti and Joe Dibiase. Forget the reviews you read here about the commercialtones of this recording: this band has never sounded better and appeals to a larger group of fans with Parallels. I found myself captivated by the melody and meaning of ‘Life in still water’ which reminds us where all relationships go to in time, troubled yet intact. And just when you think that no more could be said about it, along travels the rest of the album, always inviting the listener to keep listening..’Eye to eye’ probably being the most radio-friendly of all of the compositions but its meaning still emotionally connected to the rest of these wonderful songs.When ‘The Eleventh Hour’ appears, one feels the frustration of the performers, and I sometimes wonder which band member or members have gone through this painful process to speak the messages so clearly and at the same time, lets the listener feel it as well. ‘Point of view’ can be self-explanatory but none-the-less effective, and then we are brought to ‘We only say goodbye’, which remains one of my favorites. You finally feel the overall frustration and negativity that arises from our faltering connections with people in ‘Don’t follow me’ and concluding with a not-so-happy, but highly touching ending in ‘The Road goes on forever’, a song that unexpectedly has become a personal favorite of mine by Fates..By the time you finish listening to this remarkable album, you feel a certain reality about your own relationships and a strength and understanding that as long as we all are here, this is the way it is meant to be.. Listen to ‘Parallels’.. I assure you it will become a part of what you are and what you will encounter..
What seems to be misunderstood about this album is its conceptual nature. All eight songs, unified by Jim Matheos’ lyrics, deal with a fragmenting relationship and the emotional turmoil accompanying it. (It should be obvious enough considering the album begins and starts with the same three lines… that’s always a dead giveaway.) There is a strong main theme here, dealing with dichotomies and emotional differences (note the cover design), with a heavy emphasis on the pronouns “I” and “you.” When “we” is used, it is usually with a lamenting tone (“We Only Say Goodbye” is the obvious example.) Even with this morose lyrical subject, the album is sometimes exhilarating melodic metal. “Point of View” and “Don’t Follow Me” are intense works of speedy riffs and Mark Zonder’s hectic drumming. The rest of the album is mostly low-key, focusing on melody, Ray Alder’s conveyance of the lyrics, and emotion. “The Eleventh Hour” is the album’s most challenging track. It is heavy on atmosphere, subtleties, and even the fast, menacing riffs in the middle feature a sense of misery that keeps one from “rocking” with them. This is an excellent, underrated part of Fates Warning’s catalogue.
Dismissing this album as being too commercial is a senseless distortion by those who beleive that all progressive metal has to be densely packed with a million notes, changes and every technique or range that the great musicians in question can come up with. This album is densely packed by some of the most solid, mature songwriting you will find in the progressive metal style. Yes it does have memorable melodies and is not the most technically complex album FW have made, but it also rewards countless listening sessions due to its understatedly complex rhythms and melodies and emotional power.Stunning drum-work by Zonder, as always, a beautiful fat bass tone and great guitar work.Forget about those who mistake its maturity, relative accessability and elegance for commercialism. This is an absolute essential for anybody with a taste for intelligent metal or progressive music generally.