This article originally appeared in Billboard magazine, June 2000
Fates Warning Is ‘disconnected’
By Clay Marshall
LOS ANGELES — Though it clocks in at roughly 50 minutes, Fates Warning’s ninth studio album, “disconnected,” has only seven tracks. Still, that’s six more than the veteran progressive-rock outfit included on its last record, 1997’s “A Pleasant Shade Of Gray,” which featured a single 50-minute song divided into 12 parts.
“To do something similar would have been an easy way out,” says guitarist Jim Matheos of the set, to be released July 25 by Metal Blade Records. “The best thing for me to do, and the biggest inspiration, is to say, ‘Let’s do something different now and stretch ourselves in the other direction.’ ”
To that end, vocalist Ray Alder takes a more active role in the writing process for this album. Matheos, who writes the group’s music, has served as Fates Warning’s primary lyricist for years, but on “disconnected” Alder pens the words to two songs, including the first single, “One.” Another “disconnected” track, “Pieces Of Me,” is the first lyrical collaboration between Alder and Matheos.
Matheos says Alder’s more active involvement helped to lessen creative pressure and strengthen the album’s material. “I didn’t want to fill up pages with words that really meant nothing to me,” he says.
Another area in which he believes “disconnected,” which features two songs that top the 10-minute mark, stands out from the group’s other releases is its engineering. “The way the guitars were recorded was completely different than anything we’ve ever done before,” he says.
The album’s five vocal tracks — an eerie, two-part instrumental bookends the set — contain recurring images of separation and incompleteness reflective of the album’s title. “A lot of the songs we did try to tie together, keeping that ‘disconnected’ theme,” Matheos says.
“Disconnected,” like “Pleasant Shade,” sees Fates Warning collaborate with ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore, as well Armored Saint’s Joey Vera, described by Matheos as Fates Warning’s “permanent temporary bass player.”
Matheos says the self-managed group is tentatively slated to tour in support of “disconnected” for six to eight weeks in the U.S. and for six weeks in Europe. The band toured extensively in support of “Pleasant Shade,” documented on the live album “Still Life” and two live home videos. Matheos says there are “real solid plans” for another Fates Warning home video this fall, with “studio footage, some live shows we did from Greece last year, and a lot of old footage of different eras [of the band].”