When you purchase a Fates Warning album you have to be prepared to make a serious time commitment. In my experience, it takes multiple listens before Fates’ music starts to sink in. I own the first five Fates Warning albums (Perfect Symmetry is their fifth) and I have to admit that I didn’t like any of them upon first listen. However, I’ve since grown to like the first three Fates albums very much (though I still don’t like album # 4). As for Perfect Symmetry, I feel like I’ve spent enough time with the record to give it a fair shake. I’ve listened to the album in its entirety at least a dozen times. Perfect Symmetry has grown on me to a degree, but not to the point where I can call myself a fan.
Perfect Symmetry is the second Fates Warning album to feature Ray Adler on vocals. The record finds Fates Warning delving deeper into progressive waters. While there is certainly much to be appreciated about the band’s musicianship here, the average listener (re: me) may find themselves distracted and even bored at times by some of the material on Perfect Symmetry. Of course, this is a totally subjective reaction that has a lot to do with my personal expectations of what a heavy metal album should be. When I drop the proverbial needle down on a heavy metal record, nine times out of ten I am basically saying “Here I am — rock me like a hurricane!” Ya know? I would rather listen to Twisted Sister sing something as basic and relatable as “I wanna rock!” over and over than listen to Fates Warning sing about “fountains of expression” or “men of grandeur blinding, numbing with winsome wiles in specious styles”. What the hell does that mean? At least when Dee Snider says “I wanna rock” I am like “yeah, I too want to rock!”. And that’s my major issue with Perfect Symmetry — it rarely rocks. Again, a totally subjective opinion. Heck, maybe the guys in Fates Warning weren’t even trying to make a metal record with Perfect Symmetry. I guess its more like progressive rock, and (to me) the songs on Perfect Symmetry have a way of dancing around things, throwing jab after jab, but never going for the knockout blow. Don’t tap me with a stick over and over again — just punch me right in the face!
I will say that I like Perfect Symmetry much more than its predecessor No Exit. That album was like a chloroform-soaked rag held over my nose and mouth. Snooze city. Perfect Symmetry, on the other hand, has its moments. I like the song The Arena, as well as parts of Nothing Left To Say and Through Different Eyes. But its clear that Fates Warning had no intention in revisiting the type of music that I loved them for on albums like The Spectre Within or Awaken The Guardian. I can’t fault them for moving on, but I don’t necessarily have to follow them. My score: B-