Hard Reviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Fates Warning - Disconnected
(Metal Blade)

A mournful cry of guitars announces a less pleasant shade of gray, and then we're off into a record that italicizes and bolds the ever-present, ever-distinct darkness of Fates Warning's particular form of progressive metal. Making this album was at times trying, vocalist Ray Alder in particular plagued with laryngitis through the sessions, Alder also distinguished by his lyrical contributions on three tracks, lyrics being an area that is usually Jim Matheos' domain. Not one long track like last album, Disconnected is still rife with massive compositions and is indeed loosely a concept album, based on all sorts of disconnection, and actually connection, One being a passionate, powerful track that handles the crowd/band live show connection with atypical literary aplomb. Throughout however, there is a doomful, slow and sobbing, droning insistence to the album, Fates Warning asserting themselves as a prog presence well off on their own morose dance through odd time signatures. Note: Alder has indicated that the reason the band is listed as himself, Matheos and drummer Mark Zonder, with Armored Saint's Joey Vera and ex-Dream Theater keyboardist as ancillary members, is that the band wanted to stress that it was these three calling the shots, "too many cooks spoiling the soup."
Rating 8

Angel Dust - Enlighten The Darkness
(Century Media)

Now quickly and soundly arrived with three "reunion" albums (after a couple records in the late '80s followed by a ten year hibernation), Germany's Angel Dust are proving that the term power metal can indeed include a solid wallop of just that: power. Aided and abetted by producer extraordinaire Siggi Bemm, Angel Dust's weapons are many, a sampling of which include Dirk Assmuth's dirty, boomy drum sound, Bernd Aufermann's focus on low, grinding riffery and most impressively Dirk Thurisch's vocals, which remind me of Peter Goalby from early '80s Uriah Heep, but with an extra couple of actorly roles within his repertoire. Keyboards are tastefully incorporated into the juggernaut sound, and the band proves its intelligence by using them to turn their ballads (and many ballady breaks) into something special. An expert job by a band working within tradition, yet retaining like so few do, the fact that post-Rainbow classical metal is supposed to still be metal.
Rating 8.5

Hard Reviews Page 4