|Review: Fates Warning - Inside Out|
Label: Massacre Records
Year released: 1994
Genre: Progressive Metal
Review online: December 9, 2019
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
This was the seventh album for the underground's longest running Progressive Metal act, and the third in their more laid-back and proggy period. Around the time of its release, the band was in the odd position of having some commercial success with newfound fans while facing constant derision from the fans of their older, more mystical works. Inside Out feels like an attempt to bridge the gap between these two audiences, and while it's imperfect, it does a fine job of it.
The first thing to note is that this is far and away their most direct and anthemic album from this period. The guitar work is more upfront with the rhythm section taking more of a backseat than before, the songwriting is more straightforward and less surprising, the production is heavier but a bit flat, and Ray Alder digs into a more raw, emotional style that makes the songs more immediately gratifying. That's not to say this is simplistic by any measure–in fact, the complexity of the musicianship is much more evident than it has ever been-but it's not as complex as Perfect Symmetry, nor does it have the subtle nuance of Parallels.
This makes it sound like I dislike the album, but that's not really the case. "Outside Looking In" is a fantastic opener, and songs like the moving "Pale Fire" and "Down to the Wire" are as good as anything they've ever done. "Shelter" is also a fine song, even if it's basically a rewrite of "We Only Say Goodbye". Other songs like "Face the Fear" and "The Strand" all have solid musicianship but never catch fire, and the slower songs like "Island in the Stream" and closer "Afterglow" are dull and too laid back for their own good. "Monument" gets a lot of attention and remains one of the few songs from this album to get played live regularly. I have to say that it has plenty of good moments that never really come together into a coherent song, and it sort of serves as an omen of things to come on later albums in that regard.
The next album would see Fates Warning move in a different direction yet again, this time straight into Jim Matheos' ass, so this serves as the last good album they made for a long while. Overall, it may try too hard to appeal to all their fans, but Inside Out is still a solid album that should appeal to anyone who listens to it. Recommended.
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