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Fates Warning: London Camden Underworld

23rd June 2017

andy rawll
Words and Pictures: Andy Rawll

fates warning

From light to flight, following absence of almost ten years since their last London show, prog Metal progenitors Fates Warning proved that they're still masters of their craft at a packed Underworld.

Cited by alpha males of the genre, like Dream Theater, as a significant influence, the band continues to hit creative peaks with 2013s 'Darkness In A Different Light' and last year's 'Theories Of Flight' both masterful examples of composition, arrangement and performance.

Indeed, their return to London, as part of a short European tour that culminated in a much-lauded performance at Sweden Rocks, was long overdue. Best of all, bandmates for thirty years, vocalist Ray Adler and founding guitarist Jim Mattheos, remain the melodic and sonic lynchpins of the band, with neither having lost their zest, creativity or technical finesse.

fates warning

Some will have been disappointed that focus of tonight's set represented more of what I would call the thinking man, rather than the drinking man's version of the band. The frantic Power Metal and stratospheric vocals of still celebrated early opus 'Awaken The Guardian' evolved into more cerebral and progressive style, with its apotheosis in 1997 with 'A Pleasant Shade Of Gray'. Yet for many, it's 1991s 'Parallels' that most successfully bridged the two eras and provided the band with commercial success and critical acclaim, ironically riding on the coat-tails of bands they had originally influenced, like Queensrÿche.

And so it was that tonight's show saw the majority of the set drawn from the triumphant triumvirate of 'Parallels', 'Shades...' and 'Theory...', perfectly encapsulating the band and its progressive passage to its fine present day incarnation. The song choice was exemplary, with new song 'The Light And Shade Of Things' perfectly complementing the three (of twelve, not fifty) shades of gray that acquired a technicolour aura in the hands of the superb band including Burton-esque bassist Joey Vera, dazzling Bobby Jarzombek on drums.

There was a stunning consistency between songs new and old with 'SOS' and 'Seven Stars' from the new album harking back to the parallelogram sound of 'Point of View' with Ray Adler demonstrating undiminished range and authority in his powerful, yet soulful delivery.

fates warning

'One' was the sole selection from the brooding melodrama that was 'Disconnected', with its intense opening riff, like 'Breadfan' on speed, capped by Adler's peerless vocals. By now the vibe in the room was immense and evoked air-punching euphoria in the crowd on the call and response of "I'll take a part of you... You take a part of me". And that was only the third song.

Although keyboards do feature on a number of Fates' albums, most notably the superb contributions from Kevin Moore, they serve to provide subtle colour and texture to the arrangements, rather than as a lead instrument. Keyboards are rarely, if ever employed during their live shows, due to the ability of Jim and his six-string cohorts (formerly the great Frank Aresti and currently Michael Abdow) to create widescreen soundscapes on guitar alone, mixing virtuoso solo passages, sumptuous arpeggios and teak-hard riffs when the occasion demands, 'Eleventh Hour' being a perfect example.

fates warning

With a looming curfew, it was fitting that the encore would be 'Monument' from the 1994s 'Inside Out' whose title may well have inspired Thomas Waber to name the record label he founded in 1996. As the fates would have it, the band was contracted elsewhere, so he had to wait twenty-five years to finally sign them. It has been well worth the wait as the label has already overseen the release of a pair of fine albums and a resurgence in the recognition of their legacy as a band, but also their vitality as an inspirational force in the prog Metal scene.

Tonight's show proved that as a live band they are unparalleled. If only they would visit these shores more frequently and extensively, they can surely step-up to larger venues in the same way as labelmates Pain Of Salvation and Riverside.


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From The Rooftops
Life In Still Water
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray, Part III
Seven Stars
A Handful Of Doubt
The Light And Shade Of Things
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray, Part IX
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray, Part XI
The Ivory Gate of Dreams: VII. Acquiescence
The Eleventh Hour
Point Of View



Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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