Fates Warning - _Disconnected_
(Metal Blade, 2000)
by: Brian Meloon (6 out of 10)
Fates Warning's latest offering shows them shows them moving in a different direction than they were with _A Pleasant Shade of Grey_. Unfortunately, while that was a step back in the right direction, this one seems not to be. The overriding word that was in my mind as I listened to the first few tracks of this album was "grunge". Yes, you heard that right: the first few tracks ("One", "So", and "Pieces of Me") have that "dirty rock" guitar sound that was popular among "alternative" bands a few years back. Adding to this are riffs that sound more like something Soundgarden or Tool would have come up with, and a definite similarity in vocal tones -- but most of the vocal melodies sound like those on Fates' _Parallels_. There are even a couple of parts which have a techno influence, reminding me somewhat of Nine Inch Nails. This makes for a unique sound, though I find it neither compelling nor progressive. After that, though, they settle down and the album improves. The next two songs, the eleven-minute "Something From Nothing" and the sixteen-minute "Still Remains" are mostly slow, roughly in the vein of "The Eleventh Hour" from _Parallels_. At times, though, they slow down to almost ambient speed. The grunge influences are somewhat toned down by the fact that the songs are slower, though the guitar tone remains the same and the industrial/techno influence is still apparent. The closing track, "Disconnected Part 2" is even more ambient, and drones on and on, but is still preferable to the earlier stuff. The playing is solid throughout, but there is very little that's actually challenging. There are very few guitar leads, and most of the playing is very restrained. Overall, this is an interesting album, as it is a fairly radical departure away from progressive metal. There is some good material here, but largely I find it a step in the wrong direction.

(article published 12/8/2000)

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