Fates Warning is an American progressive metal band, formed in 1982 by vocalist John Arch, guitarists Jim Matheos and Victor Arduini, bassist Joe DiBiase, and drummer Steve Zimmerman in Hartford, Connecticut. Their early work was heavily influenced by NWOBHM, and was key in the development of US Power Metal. With each work the band developed into a pure progressive metal style. Fates Warning has experienced numerous line-up changes. From 1982 to 1996 -- and temporarily in 2010 -- Matheos and DiBiase were the only remaining original members of the band, with Matheos being the only constant member. Their current lineup consists of guitarists Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti, vocalist Ray Alder, bassist Joey Vera, and drummer Bobby Jarzombek. As a pioneer of the American progressive metal movement, Fates Warning rose to international fame in the 1980s and was ranked as one of the early "flagship bands of progressive metal" along with Queensrÿche and Dream Theater, who were responsible for creating, developing and popularizing that genre.
Fates Warning has released eleven studio albums, two live albums, one compilation album, one VHS, three DVDs (each of them features live concerts) and four demo tapes. The band experienced major American commercial success with the 1986 release of their third studio album, Awaken the Guardian, which peaked at number No. 191 on the Billboard 200, and became the first album released on Metal Blade to enter that chart. Their next three albums, No Exit (1988), Perfect Symmetry (1989) and Parallels (1991), were also successful; the first two peaked at No. 111 and No. 141 on the Billboard 200 respectively. Fates Warning's most recent studio album, Darkness in a Different Light, was released in 2013.
Early career and first three albums (1982−1986):
The first album, Night on Bröcken, was released in 1984, on the Metal Blade label, mainly influenced by Iron Maiden and other heavy metal bands, in songs like the title track, and particularly "Damnation", there are some prog aspects that will be developed in the next albums. The Spectre Within, which was released in 1985, featured a more progressive approach in compositions like "The Apparition", "Epitaph", "Pirates of the Underground" and "Traveler in Time".
In 1986, original guitarist Victor Arduini left the band and was replaced by Frank Aresti. The third album, Awaken the Guardian was released in that year, moving towards a more mythical atmosphere and a fully progressive approach towards song form, full of complex riffs and numerous tempo changes, while maintaining a power/heavy sound.
Lineup changes and rise to near fame (1987−1993):
In 1987, original vocalist John Arch left the band, prior to the start of work on the band's next album. Ray Alder joined the band in 1988. That year, the first album with Alder, No Exit was released; further develops the route taken by the third album with a more powerful sound, but setting aside the fantasy themes and atmospheres. It features the first prog metal suite of the genre, "The Ivory Gate of Dreams", excluding those of Rush (more into the hard&heavy territories than "pure" heavy metal).
Continuing the pattern of lineup changes, original drummer Steve Zimmerman left the band in 1988, and was replaced by Mark Zonder in 1989. Perfect Symmetry was released in the same year. The album abandons the powerful sound of No exit to a very melodic one with a melancholic atmosphere, increasing, at the same time, the rhythmic complexity of the songs.Kevin Moore (keyboardist for Dream Theater at the time) was featured as a guest on the song At Fate's Hands.
1991 saw the release of Parallels, which was distributed by Warner. New Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie made a guest appearance on the song Life in Still Water.
Later years (1994−2008):
After a two and a half-year breakup, the next album, 1994's Inside Out, continued in the general vein of the previous album while adding more melody to the songs. It has been stated various times from the band that they were confused while writing this album because of all the success and then the downfall of Parallels which they say is the reason the album didn't do so well. It was followed by a 1995 compilation, Chasing Time, which included two previously unreleased songs.
In 1996, both Joe DiBiase and Frank Aresti left the group.
The three remaining members---Alder, Matheos and Zonder---released A Pleasant Shade of Gray in 1997. The album also featured work from guest musicians Joey Vera on bass and Kevin Moore performing piano and keyboards. Written as a concept album, A Pleasant Shade of Gray revealed a much darker and bleaker mood in songwriting style than had been heard before from the band. The album consists of a single 53-minute song split into twelve parts.
A live two-CD set, Still Life, was released in 1998, containing A Pleasant Shade of Gray" performed live in its entirety. Joey Vera (bass), Bernie Versailles (guitars) and Jason Keazer (keyboards) accompanied the group on this album. A Japanese version included a studio Scorpions cover, "In Trance."
In 2000, Moore and Vera again returned as guests to appear on the next album, Disconnected. In 2003, Frank Aresti was asked to fill in on a tour with Dream Theater and Queensryche, and subsequently rejoined the band.
Their tenth studio recording FWX was released in 2004. Drummer Mark Zonder stated it would be his last album with the band, as he wished to pursue other interests, and left in 2005. Although an official member again, Frank Aresti did not appear because the writing had been completed and contracts had been signed already.
Live in Athens, a concert DVD, was released in 2005; This DVD included guest drummer Nick D'Virgilio.
In the liner notes to the 2005 expanded edition of the Awaken the Guardian album, Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy noted that, "very often fans and critics credit Dream Theater for creating a whole new genre of progressive metal music in the late '80s/early '90s, . . . but the truth is Fates Warning were doing it years before us."
The band has recorded songs for various "tribute" albums, including "Closer to the Heart" on the 1996 Working Man Rush tribute, "Saints in Hell" on the 1997 Legends of Metal Judas Priest tribute, and "Sign of the Southern Cross" on the 2000 Holy Dio Ronnie James Dio tribute.
Reunion with Parallels lineup and other projects (2009−2012):
Fates Warning played select dates with the Parallels lineup (Alder, Matheos, Zonder, Aresti and DiBiase) to celebrate the 2010 reissued, remastered and expanded edition of the classic album.
At the beginning of 2011, an announcement was made that Matheos and original vocalist John Arch had formed a band called Arch / Matheos. Their debut album was released in the autumn of that year, also featuring Joey Vera on bass guitar, Bobby Jarzombek on drums and Frank Aresti on additional lead guitar.
Darkness in a Different Light, reunion with Awaken the Guardian lineup and next album (2013−present):
After many delays, Fates Warning released its eleventh studio album Darkness in a Different Light on September 27, 2013. It is the band's first album since 2004's FWX.
In March 2016 the Awaken the Guardian lineup (Arch, Matheos, Aresti, DiBiase and Zimmerman) will reunite for a European show to celebrate the album's 30th anniversary. In September 2016 The same lineup will headline the Progpower USA Festival in Atlanta, Georgia.
Fates Warning will enter the studio in December 2015 to begin recording their twelfth studio album, which is planned for release in early 2016.