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A Review of the progressive metal album "No Exit" by Fates Warning

Updated on August 10, 2017
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Ara is currently an Accounting student at Glendale Community College in Glendale. CA. He enjoys writing about a variety of topics.

No Exit: Front Album Cover

The cover represents the album's title perfectly. The door is closed shut which shows that there is no way to exit or get out.
The cover represents the album's title perfectly. The door is closed shut which shows that there is no way to exit or get out.

Track Listing for the album No Exit

  1. No Exit
  2. Anarchy Divine
  3. Silent Cries
  4. In A Word
  5. Shades of Heavenly Death
  6. The Ivory Gate of Dreams
  7. Innocence
  8. Cold Daze
  9. Daylight Dreamers
  10. Quietus
  11. Ivory Tower
  12. Whispers on the Wind
  13. Acquiescence
  14. Retrospect

Note: even though there are 14 track names listed here, the album's 6th song has several parts to it and you will soon find out why this is the case.

No Exit is an excellent album partially because of Ray Alder

Progressive metal band Fates Warning has had a habit of releasing solid material throughout much of their career. This is especially the case with their 4th studio album No Exit. Released in 1988, No Exit features the entry of powerful vocalist Ray Alder who replaces John Arch.

Why is Ray Alder better for Fates Warning than John Arch was?

I made the point earlier that Alder is a better fit for this band compared to John Arch. He has a VERY high powerful falsetto voice which drags on until the end of the song Silent Cries and you can hear the echo of it. However, he is more in pitch with the way he sings and is easier to understand overall. This one element alone will make many want to listen to him compared to John Arch. He has a better low voice compared to Arch as well. I’d say that’s a winning combination for sure. To be a truly elite heavy metal vocalist, you have to be able to make an effective switch between the higher and lower octaves and Ray Alder certainly does this. This is also the last album to feature Steve Zimmerman on drums.

The Ivory Gate Of Dreams (one of the best long heavy metal songs ever!)

Musical Style Of No Exit

No Exit has a slightly less Iron Maiden influence to it and the melody is even more compared to the band’s first three studio albums. For instance the song Shades of Heavenly Death has an interesting bass line before Alder’s voice kicks in. The song also has a kind of guitar part that is somewhat influenced by Yngwie J. Malmsteen. Although the album is over 40 minutes, these 40 minutes pass by in a flash and it goes from the first to last song very quickly. The first track No Exit is only 41 seconds long and features some singing by Alder and gives you an idea of his range.

The Ivory Gate of Dreams: the #1 reason to listen to this album

The Ivory Gate of Dreams is song #6 yet it has several parts in it and this section alone is 22 minutes long. The first part Innocence has some beautiful acoustic guitar by the Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti duo which is an excellent way to start a classic song. Then comes the highly progressive Cold Daze. This part is about someone waking up from what seems like a trance and he is confused. He has to deal with the cold air and he is wondering how to come to terms with his broken past. Another brilliant section is the 4th one called Quietus. This one is about someone who sleeps at night and he has visions. However, if he was filled with sorrow during his sleep, he still would be very upset. Then comes a magnificent melodic faster part which is one of the most memorable parts of Fates Warning’s career and one that I play over and over again frequently. Beyond the gate are ivory towers that appear but they are not visible to the human eye so no matter what he does he cannot escape from his sorrow. It is like someone that is stuck in an endless nightmare. Whispers on the Wind is a beautiful and short ballad style song that is about someone waking up to a morning filled with much mist on a plain. He sees a badly burnt fortress that has a few embers left. He knows that the summer thunderstorms will come. After this beautiful song comes perhaps my favorite section called Acquiescence. The Ivory Gate of Dreams is more interesting than many Opeth songs but that’s not to say Opeth is not a good band because they are. Fates Warning got off to an extremely new fresh and solid start with No Exit and they would be an elite band for the next decade after this album. Even though they would release Perfect Symmetry in 1989, No Exit is the best album they released in the 1980’s. Does this album get a 100 points out of 100? That is a good question and I would tend to say no, but it comes close. Along with Metallica’s And Justice for All, No Exit is the best metal album of 1988!

In A Word (beautiful melodies that will leave you in awe)

© 2016 Ara Vahanian

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