Veteran progressive rock outfit Fates Warning has been entertaining audiences the world over for almost forty years, having originally formed in 1982. In the three decades-plus since the band’s formation, it has seen numerous changes in lineups and labels, yet still managed to release so far, a total of 12 full-length studio recordings. The most recent of those recordings was 2016’s Theories of Flight, which was released via InsideOut Music. Interestingly enough, the band has only released three (yes, three) live albums. Though it has released a handful of live DVDs The most recent of those live albums was released just late last month – June 29 to be precise – in the form of the 2CD recording Live Over Europe. The recording’s 23-song set list, which forms the foundation of its presentation, was culled from the band’s extensive European tour in support of Theories of Flight. That set list will be discussed shortly. While the recording has been made available only on CD instead of DVD/BD, one can still garner much from the band’s performance, just not as much as could be taken from a full audio-visual experience. That being the case, the band’s performance of the featured songs bears its own importance to the recording’s presentation. It will be discussed a little later. Also despite the recording’s limited presentation, its production also should be considered, and will be later, too. Each element noted here is important in its own right to the overall presentation of Live Over Europe. All things considered, they make this recording another welcome offering for the most devout Fates Warning fans, regardless of those fans’ opportunities to experience the band live in person.
Fates Warning’s brand new live recording Live Over Europe is a welcome addition to the music library of the band’s most devout fans. This applies regardless of said fans’ chances of experiencing the band firsthand. This is proven in part through the recording’s extensive set list. Composed of 23 tracks, the set list paints a rich picture of the band’s life. Given, it’s not necessarily a career-defining or spanning recording, but it certainly does do a good job of presenting the band’s history. It reaches all the way back to the band’s fourth album, 1988’s No Exit and all the way up to Theories of Flight (2016). Every album between that pair is also represented, including the band’s landmark 1997 album A Pleasant Shade of Grey, the equally talked about 1991 record Parallels and of course FWX (2004) among others. Why the band’s first three albums – Night on Brocken (1984), The Spectre Within (1985) and Awaken The Guardian (1986) – were omitted in this recording’s featured set list is anyone’s guess. That aside, the set list presented here is still a healthy sampling of the band’s catalog, showing where the band has been and how far it has come and changed since its infancy. Keeping that in mind, the foundation formed through the recording’s set list is strong to say the very least. Strengthening that foundation even more is the band’s performance of the featured songs.
In regards to the band’s performance, interpreting said performance here requires a certain extra attention as audiences have to interpret that performance from an audio-only presentation versus a full audio-visual experience. Longtime front man Ray Alder’s vocals are just as powerful throughout this recording as they have ever been. The depth of the emotions in each song translates relatively well thanks to his vocal talents. Mark Zonder, who has handled drumming duties for Fates Warning for several years is just as solid throughout each song, adding his own touch to each composition’s impact. His work handling the polyrhythmic patterns of ‘One’ clearly supports that statement. The verses present some rather difficult patterns, yet Zonder makes handling those patterns seem so easy. Meanwhile, the guitar/bass team of Jim Matheos, Frank Aresti and Joey Vera gets its own moment to truly shine on ‘The Light and Shade of Things,’ too. The brooding bass and guitar combo that opens the song shows just as much, the band’s ability to convey power in subtlety just as much as through much harder rocking moments. As the song builds, so does the power from the band overall, and in turn listeners’ engagement is insured even more. It’s one more moment that shows the band’s full commitment to entertaining audiences, and the success therein. ‘Wish,’ which comes immediately after ‘The Light and Shade of Things,’ does just as much to exhibit each band member’s talents, and at the same time, each man’s solid performance, as it also starts with that brooding intro before building to a powerful climax and finale. It’s just one more way in which the band’s performance shines through in this recording, even with the recording having been presented only in audio format versus audio-visual. Much the same can be said of so many other moments throughout this recording including ‘And Yet It Moves,’ with its full-on power metal assault, ‘The Eleventh Hour,’ with its 80s metal style arrangement and the absolutely moving acoustic approach of ‘Falling.’ Between each of these songs and the others more directly addressed here, it becomes clear how dedicated the band was throughout its tour, to entertaining its audiences. Even in an audio-only setting, that dedication translates very well from start to end. That dedication strengthens even more, the foundation established through the recording’s set list. The two elements together do more than enough to make this recording another offering that Fates Warning fans will appreciate. Even with this in mind, there is still more to note in examining the recording’s whole. That final element is its production.
The production of Fates Warning’s new live album Live Over Europe deserves its share of applause. That is because of the balance between the vocals and the instruments in each performance. It would have been nice to know the size of the venues where each song was recorded. That’s because it adds a certain amount of appreciation to the work put into balancing the sound. Even without knowing the size of the venues, one can tell certain efforts were taken to make sure that each performance translated as best as possible in each song. That includes those responsible for on-site sound management and those who handled the sound in post production. To that end, hearing these songs on CD is almost as good as being there in person if not as good. With any luck, this recording will eventually be complimented by a companion DVD and/or BD release to show even more clearly the work put in to balance the vocals and instruments in each performance while also accenting the venues’ sizes. When this is considered along with the band’s performances and the featured songs, the whole of the elements makes this audio-only presentation of Fates Warning live, an experience that fans will appreciate. Again, it would have been nice to have had an audio visual experience to compliment it, but even without that element, it’s still one that said fans will enjoy.
Fates Warning’s latest live recording Live Over Europe is an impressive collection of live performances from a group that is one of the most respected names in the progressive rock and metal community. It’s hardly the band’s first live recording, what with two other live recordings and a handful of live DVDs and Blu-rays. Recorded during the band’s most recent tour across Europe, this extensive 23-song set gives both the most seasoned and the least seasoned fans alike a healthy listen to the band’s catalog. The band’s performance is just as critical to the compilation. It strengthens the recording’s foundation even more. The audio production in this recording puts the final touch to its presentation. Each element is key in its own way to the recording’s whole. All things considered, they make Live Over Europe a live recording that any of Fates Warning’s fans will appreciate. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Live Over Europe is available now online along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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