Awaken The Guardian is the swan song of one of the most annoying vocalists in metal music at least for his stint with Fates Warning , and only for that single accomplishment, it deserves some sort of recognition. There is zero coherence in the vocal department.
Apart from the everlasting high soaring voice and annoying timbre of John Arch, the vocal melodies are utterly forgettable. Arch stays at the high register of his voice for almost the entire duration of this album and is unable to present any slight variation.
There are no catchy choruses or verses, only numb patterns of faceless recitations with random ascents and descents in the scale. Of course, that pale vocal identity is just a poor attempt to imitate the legendary Bruce Dickinson. As a matter of fact, John Arch succeeded with sounding like a reasonably convincing Dickinson mimic, but he doesn't have any substance behind it.
There are no epic moments here nor any imaginative vocal lines, he's just going through the motions to support the guitar riffs until a given song has ended. If instead of staying at the same high territory of his vocal range for the whole fucking duration of a given song, Mr. Arch would vary a little bit and try to build some sort of expectation and sing slightly lower in order to reach a higher climax, then maybe with some more inspiration the vocal delivery of this album could be something beyond unbearable.
Regarding the guitar riffs, this is basically the same formula of their previous album. There is an overload of random, unimaginative riffs that create long patterns of droning mishmash that goes nowhere. The songs tend to be over five minutes but lacks any emotional substance or inspiring ideas.
There are basically a lot of generic puzzle pieces that creates together a big, vague picture that doesn't prove or display anything worthy. This album is quite similar to a canvas drawn picture with a mess of colors that just sits randomly on top of each other without any symmetry or artistic flavor.
Except for some random slowly paced sections, most of the album has the same dull rhythm with riffs that sound almost exactly the same. The occasional lead guitar solos are thrown desperately at random sections to provide some sort of refreshing to the droning, incessant boredom of the generic vocal delivery and riffs, but they end up sounding just as disposable and bland as their surroundings. The production of this album is as bad just as its songwriting.
There is an overall muddy, overly compressed atmosphere throughout this album that makes it even more unbearable to stand than it already is. In there were already a lot of albums with powerful sound and proper production techniques for this kind of music, so any excuse for the relatively old release date of this album is unacceptable. Take for instance albums such as 'Master Of Puppets' or 'Reign In Blood', these albums came out in as well but you could actually feel the heaviness and energies in these albums because they had enough clarity in the mix and were simply produced the right way a heavy album should be produced.
So, how can one summarize the experience of listening to 'Awaken the Guardian'? Well, it's quite like watching an aquarium of ornamental fishes for almost fifty minutes. You get the whole picture really quick, probably after half a minute or less, but you stay there in vain because you think that maybe somehow something refreshing will occur. In the end, I'm just glad it's over.
The production on this one seems a bit more thin than the previous release, but that can be viewed for either worse or better. In this case, I think a bit worse. While the production seems to lag a bit, the music and technical prowess seems to go even further than before. This album, like "The Spectre Within", starts off with a slow intro eventually building up to an astonishing rhythm that is constantly changing time signatures you should note these time signature changes as they happen quite frequently throughout every song.
It seems each musician is far more comfortable with their role this time around what a shame that it would be vocalist John Arch's last album with Fates Warning and even daringly more bold. The bass and drum work both seem a lot more consistent here, often nodding towards each other during certain rhythm sections. This can be clearly heard during the verses in "Fata Morgana". The guitar work, like the drums and bass, are constantly complimenting each other especially notable in "Prelude to Ruin" and are often following the typical aggressive riffing with a melodic solo structure in an Iron Maiden-esque manner, yet in a glorious and beautiful delivery.
This album first introduces Frank Aresti accompanying Jim Matheos on guitars, as well. It seems to be an even more fit combination this time around. The vocals, at times, seem to transcend everything that's going on in the album. Arch seems to have furthered his head voice ability and is taking advantage of that quite heavily releasing some of the best, and most difficult vocalization I've ever heard.
Lyrically, this album follows a fantasy-based concept, which was one of the first of its kind. It almost seems mandatory to write a conceptual fantasy-based album in power metal today, and each band that does so tends to to revert back to the roots of this album given that it's the pinnacle of this style. The lyrics, putting this bluntly, are some of the most beautiful I've ever read. At some points, the cheese may seem a bit unbearable in the lyrics alone, but from how beautiful they're delivered it especially makes up for it.
The concept of this album occasionally varies but is ultimately about existence and life which the band would later develop further on in a more direct approach, aside from tackling the subject metaphorically. This album has held a huge impact on me ever since I first heard it. With each listen, everything draws me back to it more and more. While it may be a bit biased, this album not only inspired me as a musician, but also as a person by completely changing my perspective on life and existence in general.
Sometimes this opinion changes quickly, sometimes it changes slowly, sometimes it never changes at all.
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Sure, some bands have hooks that are less obvious than others Manilla Road, Hanker, Existence, etc. I've been listening to this album for close to 3 years, and while I enjoyed a few short segments such as the acoustic intro to "Guardian" for awhile, it's only been in the last year or so that I've come to appreciate entire songs, and mere months since I've come to truly appreciate the album as a whole for what it is: a complex, esoteric, arcane masterpiece.
Spectre and Guardian are often considered to be about on the same level of excellence, but I would say that Guardian blows Spectre out of the water. The is quite good, great even, but it's not as masterfully written and performed as this album. However, he did it first; while Steel Prophet was around for a little while before the two classic FW albums came out, Mythiasian didn't truly begin to shine until the demo, and the other two bands didn't release anything until after Guardian. Not surprisingly, the top releases from these bands also happen to be the very best Fates Warning worship out there, and the only thing that I would really consider to be able to compare to the classics.
If you're curious, check my reviews for Enchanter's compilation and Cauldron Born's debut, and failsafeman's review of Steel Prophet's Inner Ascendance. While none stands up to Guardian although Enchanter come very close , they are top-tier stuff and pretty much essential to any fan of this album. So what's so great about Guardian? The complex, masterful songwriting is the main factor here. At first, fifth, or, in most cases, even tenth listen, it's an overly busy, technical mess with a whiny year-old on vocals.
That's what I thought at first, anyway. The vocals may be more accessible to some people than to others; I can't imagine the album with anyone else now, and Arch is one of my favorite parts of the album, but he took quite awhile for me to warm up to. Most consider this album to be even less accessible than Spectre , although I actually warmed up to this one first, despite the fact that it took over 2 years.
Regardless of its level of inaccessibility, though, it remains both more seamless, more fully written, better performed and with a stronger overall atmosphere than Spectre to my ears. There are so many simultaneous elements, constant chord and riff changes, and unusual progressions here that it's difficult to pick out specific elements that make the songwriting so great. Sure, I could say that the vocal lines, riffs, and leads are all written extremely well, which they are, but that hardly does the experience of this album justice.
Despite the album's complexity, business, and dynamism, it's clear that each guitar, bass, and vocal note were chosen deliberately, not just to work on their own, but with each other element going on simultaneously and each element before and after it. Let me try to clarify a bit; there are dozens of riffs, leads, and vocal lines in each song, most changing within seconds, and these aren't short songs, either; the shortest clocks in at a respectably , and the final track is a monstrous While the songs themselves are fairly long, the changes are so quick and so frequent that it almost feels as if each song is its own separate album.
This isn't some lame Darkness Descends ripoff boasting riffs for song or anything like that; the main goal of the band clearly was not to write as many riffs or vocal lines or leads as possible, but to make as great a musical experience as possible, something they virtually achieved as far as I'm concerned.
Great production, incredibly masterful songwriting as I've already mentioned at length, and a great performance from Arch; if you've never heard him he has a very high and nasal voice, sounding at first like a whining prepubescent boy to me, at least , but once you really get into the core of the music he complements the guitar perfectly. I've heard him described as some sort of ethereal spirit or presence, and I think that describes his performance quite well; the music takes you on a mystical journey to a wondrous land, and rather than seem like merely a storyteller Arch sounds like part of the land or atmosphere itself.
It's still head and shoulders above anything most other bands could hope to achieve, but the riffing seems a bit more primitive and it's just not as "full" and atmospheric as the other songs. That said, it's still extremely worthwhile and does very little to detract from the album. It still blows my mind that the band apparently managed to record this in a single year maybe a bit more, but still.
Many other bands have worked tirelessly for years trying to create a complex masterpiece Wintersun, anyone? All the little intricacies that make the album what it is seem like they must have taken years to put together, yet they apparently did not. The primary songwriters are apparently geniuses, because putting something so cohesive together in such a short time seems almost inhuman. Not only that, but the rate at which the band matured is incredible.
This is definitely USPM, but it's taken the more progressive aspects to their logical conclusion and left us with something that transcends mere sound. This record is pure magical bliss, and any metal fan who hasn't heard it needs to do so immediately. Along with Queensryche and Dream Theater, Fates Warning is one of the cornerstone bands in the progressive metal genre. But even as a pioneering band in prog metal, they have only been able to obtain a restricted mainstream audience and instead have been delegated a cult following, like almost any other prog metal band not named Tool.
Originally heavily Iron Maiden-inspired with their debut album Night on Brocken, Fates Warning began experimenting with progressive melodies and time changes with The Spectre Within while continuing to maintain a heavy metal sound. Awaken the Guardian continues that tradition, this time with increased focus on their fantasy-based lyrics, making it, in a way, their most "magical" and perhaps best album before the entry of Ray Alder on No Exit.
While often regarded as a progressive classic and buried treasure in metal, Awaken the Guardian still manages to suffer the same problems as The Spectre Within: the band's insistence on being "progressive. All of the musicians bring their A-Game through heavy drumming, grinding riffs, and wailing solos.
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And while John Arch's voice is somewhat lost in the sound most likely a result of the editing and recording , he is always hitting the high notes in his somewhat Bruce Dickinson-inspired vocals. Then again, such skill and technique is basically a requirement for progressive music.
But it is through their progressive instrumentation that Awaken the Guardian stumbles a bit. There are no bad or uncool melodies to be found, rather, there are several. But the problem is that the band switches melodies too often or when it isn't needed in the same song. Also, several times John Arch seems to change his vocal flow on a whim, coming off as awkward-sounding.
This issue is even more evident when reading the lyrics while listening to the songs. The Sorceress and Valley of the Dolls are the biggest perpetrators here, as one melody is interrupted after another for a new sound. Melody and time changes are not a bad thing. They're often necessary and allow for creativity, especially in long song epics which tell a unique story. But in songs that don't even clock in at six minutes, it just sounds awkward and unfulfilling.
Especially considering the musical potential of both songs. While The Sorceress and Valley of the Dolls are a bit disappointing, the rest of the album avoids those traps for the most part. While Fata Morgana and Prelude to Ruin feature some of the same melody and time changes that the previous two songs contained, they are far less frequent and with the exception of the choruses or bridges, have a more straightforward and consistent metal feel. But the real winners on the album are Giant's Lore, Exodus, and Guardian. Giant's Lore gets things right with a very consistent and heavy melody with a somewhat catchy chorus.
Exodus, preceded by the nice and mystical guitar instrumental interlude Time Long Past, serves as the obligatory epic closing song, and being the heaviest song on the album, succeeds. However, the champion of the entire album is Guardian. Containing the most memorable if somewhat bizarre chorus of the album, it starts off with a Stairway to Heaven-like acoustic guitar intro before erupting into a heavy, breath-taking riff, immediately creating the sense that one is about to hear something special.
A true metal anthem if ever there was one. While Awaken the Guardian might not be fully deserving of being described as a "progressive masterpiece", it is nonetheless a key prog metal album, even though dropping the constant melody changes and keeping the strictly heavy metal sound would have benefitted it more. And often times the band's over-reliance on symbolic and fantasy-inspired lyrics are somewhat cheesy and most songs lack a truly memorable chorus. Still, Awaken the Guardian is redeemed as a "good" album with skillful instrumentation and vocals, heavy riffs, and well, let's face it, the song Guardian.
The song alone gives it the potenttial to truly be a great album and songs such as Exodus and Giant's Lore certainly back that up. But while an overabundance of melody changes and changes in vocal flow may hinder it, Awaken the Guardian is still an overall good album. Awaken the Guardian is amongst the purest, most potent strains of heavy metal I have ever heard, and, simply put, it deserves a rightful place as one of the greatest collections of music to have ever been written, recorded and performed by man.
But now that I think about it, the idea of mere mortals writing music of such an otherworldly caliber is simply illogical. No, for I have come to the conclusion that much like the pyramids of Egypt and the ziggurats of Mesopotamia, Awaken the Guardian was really constructed by beings from another galaxy. And here is where five young men would be destined to form Fates Warning, who are not so much of a musical group, but rather a vehicle manipulated by higher powers to subtly deliver aural rapture in the form of a 47 minute and 57 second long progressive power metal album.
The actual songs themselves are of the highest expected quality, and remain so until their final notes. At about the band unexpectedly plays a thrash break, and once again Fates Warning demonstrates their ability to span multiple genres, all in one cohesive musical piece. After a few minutes of guitar solos, through which band founder Jim Matheos proves his excellent skill all while maintaining control and restraint, and some more verses, the song ends. However tempting it is to gush over every single moment, I will limit any further analysis musical analysis to select, particularly notable parts of the songs.
This ballad-esque track lyrically revolves around disabled and handicapped children, particularly those who will never know what it is like to be able to see, hear, walk, etc. I have spent a great deal dissecting the musical content of Awaken the Guardian , yet I am aware that this is a great injustice to it. Because this is not an album, but an experience, and such things are meant to be only heard in its original true form.
This is an album that you need to get. It will click with the synapses of your mind, and you will realize the true value of the album. Awaken the Guardian is an album that represents the deepest understanding of both human and esoteric purposes; it is an album born of mental revelations stemming from spirituality or LSD trips. It is truly the best album of its kind, and a perfect testament to heavy metal as a whole. Will the wandering melodies of Jim Archambault escape you? Maybe, just maybe. Awaken the Guardian is the 3rd full length of Fates Warning and the bittersweet swansong for John Arch as the band's frontman.
The first thing you'll probably notice is the stunning cover art from Ioannis, who had also contributed imagery for The Spectre Within, Liege Lord's Burn To My Touch, and various other metal and rock albums several for pretty big named artists. Not only is this painting vivid and beautiful in its choice of color tones and soft, rounded imagery, but it also somehow captures the fantastic spirit that this band once thrived on.
It's also pretty sad, because it represents the last of Fates Warning's albums to explore this theme. No Exit may not have been a massive stylistic detour from this record, but the lyrics were already shifting towards a more social and political spectrum. Make no mistake in thinking Arch and this band parted ways due to any subpar performance, because his work here is both crystalline an elegant.
It's very much a refinement of his work on The Spectre Within, though the entire album is arguably more stable and consistent note that I do not say 'better'.
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In fact, Awaken the Guardian feels like it might have worked out as a unified concept album, since so many of its tracks ring true to the central atmosphere of siren-like vocal melodies and thick, driving guitar rhythms which reek of sorrowful melodies and forgotten worlds, times long past. This probably also stems from the arrival of Frank "X" Aresti to the band, replacing Victor Arduini's six-strings in the lineup. The track also features some a sluggish doom breakdown and some fine leadwork which scatters to the wind before the final verse.
Very much a classic, and one of the most distinct tracks of the band's career, it threads a spike of melodic aggression through walls of shrieking, majestic Arch-ways and evil subterranean bridge riffs.
Arch is a beast in this song, cascading down its shimmering slopes like a river of liquefied sapphire, with one of his more memorable screaming chorus lines: 'Fata Morgana. She will take you, your hungry scarred harlot hunting another heart Morrigan fallen angel, kneeling at the widows altar, temptress of my dreams. She's the widow of my dreams' If your heart doesn't break here, longing for the fallen beauty of female fantasy archetypes that you once dreamed of as a young lad before masturbation ever entered the picture, then Awaken the Guardian probably isn't for you.
After hearing his performance on this track, how could any band part with him? I would have shoveled money at this dude for at least 3 more albums, even if his heart wasn't in it. Killer riffs, killer leads that build a golden dream-bridge to some external realm we have all lost in our adolescence. Along with the following, pretty yet forgettable, 2 minute instrumental piece "Time Long Past", it represents the weakest block on the album, but that's saying a lot, because even these tracks have an extraordinary plotting which never removes you from the mythic vistas of the album's scope.
Awaken the Guardian is, not surprisingly, another of those classic 80s recordings which hold up even today with their balance of glimmering highs and murky lows. Despite John Arch's powerful, cutting delivery, the guitars remain good and thick, and you will not miss a note even when he's wailing at full force. The writing borrows quite a lot from best available source, Iron Maiden, with a superb sense for melody and rifling, busybody bass-work, but the Connecticut band has a much more morose darkness about them which is timeless and still refreshing.
The year is , hailed by many metalheads as the greatest year in the history of metal. And when you look at albums that were released that year, you can see why. For the most part, they are unquestionable classics. Others are not so great, despite having pretty production and nice lyrics about getting money and green and getting a better seat and all that stuff, but still. Not as well known as others, but equally loved by those that have heard it. Most of the things that can be found on that album are here. Ah yes, John Arch.
Whereas on the previous album he was more aggressive and morbid, here he is different. This time, his voice has a mystical, magical feel to it. It can easily be confounded as something childish, but in fact it is something magical, unique. It sounds as if he was casting an enchantment on the listener. One that works. And speaking of enchantments, that is basically the lyrical subject of most of the album. Castles, magic, dragons, misty forests at night, where mysterious women throw toads and arcane dust into a cauldron to cast a powerful spell.
The most magical aspect of his singing is not his voice, but what he is singing. He manipulates the music, with his vocals serving as another key instrument in the greatness of both this album and its predecessor. The use of multi-layered vocals is not overdone, and adds to the overall magic of the singing. However, not only of vocals is made a masterpiece.
On this case, it is made with splendid riffs, outstanding drumming, superb soloing, impressive bass, majestic acoustic moments and genius song structures, with a healthy dose of creativity. Add John Arch glorious vocals and intelligent lyrics and the result is magnificent.
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Having a good production helps a lot, and they thankfully have one. You can hear every instrument, and the guitars are crunchy and strong. You can hear everything, and that is more than enough. That said, they are all brilliant. As Corbeck prepares to breach the entrance, Anne begins a painful premature labour.
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Corbeck and Jane return to the camp and find Anne lying on the floor in a trance-like state. Corbeck takes her to the hospital and leaves her there so that he can return to the dig. Anne's pregnancy ends in stillbirth. As Corbeck and Turner open the mummy's sarcophagus, the stillborn infant is restored to life.
Eighteen years later, Corbeck is a professor at a British university and married to Jane. Corbeck learns that traces of bacteria have been found on the mummy that threaten to destroy it. Corbeck tries to have the mummy brought back to England because he disagrees with the methods used by Egyptian professionals to preserve it. One of the specialists opposing Corbeck is killed in a freak accident, allowing Matthew to transport the mummy to England.
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Margaret Stephanie Zimbalist , now eighteen the age of Queen Kara when she died , goes to England to meet her father against her mother's wishes. Corbeck and Jane tell Margaret all about Kara, the violent murders she committed, and the myth that she could reincarnate herself. Corbeck's obsession with Kara grows and Margaret exhibits personality changes. People who resist Matthew and Margaret mysteriously and violently die.
Margaret begins to notice the changes in herself and believes she is the one responsible for all the deaths. While visiting Kara's tomb, she and her father discover the jars that contain Kara's organs. Corbeck wants to try the ritual to resurrect the ancient Queen. He believes that the spirit of the queen possessed his daughter at the moment of her birth, and that she intends to resurrect herself through the girl's body. He proposes that the only way to save Margaret is to perform the ritual. He realises too late that Kara tricked him, and that the ritual enabled her to completely take over Margaret's body.
The reincarnated Queen kills Corbeck and leaves the tomb, her intentions unknown. The film was announced in July Newell later said the film was "utterly terrible" although he "adored" working with Heston. He was at rushes every day. A new release paradigm had been born that persists to this day, and this past weekend in particular. Market-saturating ubiquity in promotions is now possible in ways it simply was not in , but the broad principles still apply.
The success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is simply the greatest example of it we are ever likely to see, and it is probably unrepeatable. In and thereafter, the new formula was sufficiently dependable that box office records, which tended then to stand for years and sometimes decades the garland was passed from Gone With the Wind to The Sound of Music to The Godfather to Star Wars , were now being shattered every other year: Star Wars gave way to Close Encounters of the Third Kind , which in turn gave way to ET , and so on.
Why so? Well, because, as a rule, real success in Hollywood often depends on ancestry. As Michael Douglas will surely tell you, if you want to get ahead in pictures, it really does help to be born the child of someone already big in pictures. Or even the grandson. In the end, the only finite resources for a movie like The Force Awakens are screens and seats: you cannot force four buttocks into one movie seat.
The Force Awakens is being seen at weird, sci-fi-like times of the day — 3am! The mad rush to reissue everything Elvis had ever recorded led to a worldwide shortage of the shellac needed for vinyl records, and Lust for Life was doomed by it. This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase.
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