Fates Warning – Disconnected

It’s almost difficult for me to talk about Fates Warning. On the one hand, it is because they are, in my opinion, the single most underrated band in the history of metal. On the other, it is because they are very possibly my favorite band of all time. Depends on the day, but it’s a toss up between Fates and Neurosis.

But why are they my favorite? For two main reasons. Number one, because they write amazing music. And second, because they were such an essential band on my journey of really getting into and appreciating metal on the whole.

I’d heard the name, but it was many years before I actually started listening to them, so I was super late to the game. It was actually right around the release of Disconnected in 2000 that I finally got around to listening to the band. And that was probably the perfect album for me to start listening to them. It may not be their best album, but it probably is my favorite. We’ll leave John Arch’s amazing vocal melodies, and the idea that their 1986 album The Spectre Within really can be considered the birth of progressive metal for another day. But today, let’s just enjoy the mastery that is Disconnected.

There had been some band changes in recent years, but Disconnected was the second band with the same line up as on A Pleasant Shade of Gray. And what we have is a group that really seems to have come together, with a clear understanding of what they want to do and where they were going. Kevin Moore’s work, both on keys, but most importantly in creating an atmosphere are on full display here. And I will continue to argue that Jim Matheos has penned more brilliant songs than just about anyone in the business.

Disconnected really runs the gamut of what Fates Warning can bring to the table. There are atmospheric tracks, like “Disconnected Part 1” and “Part 2”. There are relatively straightforward rockers like “One” and “Pieces of Me”. And then you have the progressive epics. “Something from Nothing” slowly builds over the course of its 11 minutes. But the real star of the show here is “Still Remains”, a 16 minute progressive and emotional epic.

I love the complete lack of fear or need to hurry here. The song slowly builds for minutes before it finally hits its stride into what one would consider a proper song. And then it keeps building and morphing. Throughout all, the performances are stellar, and the emotion is palpable. Disconnected is an album about relationships, about loss, about human connections and how those impact our lives. And “Still Remains” is the ultimate track to convey all of this.

I really can’t find a flaw in this album. The performances are excellent. Jim Matheos, in addition to being an excellent guitarist, also has amazing guitar tone on this album. Immediately recognizable. Ray Alder’s vocals are as fantastic as always, powerful, clear, expressive. Mark Zonder always was one of the more interesting drummers in the business. Even the final track, “Disconnected Part 2”, is a necessary part of this album. It completes the album, really hitting home the sense of loss and sadness that permeates the album.

I love all Fates Warning albums. And they have some truly groundbreaking and essential ones. Disconnected may not be their very best, but I think it will always be my favorite, and is clearly one of my top 10 albums of all time.

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