Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fates Warning - Chasing Time (1995)

One might draw an assumption that the fans of Fates Warning are smart, hard working individuals who have the gall to actually purchase the band's full-length albums. So it doesn't really make sense for Metal Blade to release a compilation album featuring 14 tracks, 11 of which are previous released and merely reprinted here, and the remaining 3 simple alterations or remixes. This logic might hold up if we lived in a sensible world, where justice and equity were truths above all else. But in the world we've got, I am honestly surprised it took seven full-length albums before something like Chasing Time reared its ugly head. No, not that I have any problem with a purplish spiral and circular presentation of a basic font (and hell, this cover art is comparable if not superior to Inside Out), but unless you're some douche who honestly gets into bands through 'greatest hits' collections (i.e. a sucker), what is really the point?

Now, after seven albums, one might make another assumption: that Fates Warning had a lot of unreleased material lying about on the cutting room floor, perhaps even a few tracks from each of their recording sessions, maybe even some cover songs. But apparently, the band's vision was just too clear...they were too efficient, and all of their songs made the final cut (or they're too shy to share them with us). So we only end up with a few things here that feel like a hoax. "At Fate's Finger" is a reversion of "At Fate's Hands" from Perfect Symmetry, a karaoke version that replaced the vocal segments with jammin' electric fusion solos. Otherwise, it's the same old song. There is a remix of "We Only Say Goodbye", in which the vocals are given a little more slice than they possess on the Parallels album, with the backups cranked. I can't speak for liking one more than the other, as the vocals on this do appeal to me. "Circles" is the only track that could be considered unique to this release...well, aside from the fact that several of its riffs were cannibalized for songs on Inside Out, and judging from the lukewarm vocal performance I can see why this did not end up on an actual studio album.

The remainder of Chasing Time is culled from the albums, and we can at least give Fates Warning and Metal Blade some credit that they did not ignore the first three. They're scattered about the album, in no particular order. Night on Bröcken is represented with "Damnation", The Spectre Within with "The Apparition", and Awaken the Guardian with "Guardian" and "Prelude to Ruin". These are all stable choices, among the better songs on those albums, though it might have been more tactical to include more than one track from The Spectre Within, the band's best album and frankly one of the best US metal albums of its day. But emphasis here was probably on the later progressive style, which matches up better with the unreleased material. "Silent Cries" and "Quietus" (from "The Ivory Gate of Dreams") are the No Exit entries, but only "Through Different Eyes", the first single from Perfect Symmetry, and the altered "At Fate's Hands" are here to represent that album. This is also a shame, because Perfect Symmetry is the best of their more progressive albums. Nevertheless, the more recent Parallels is granted FOUR tracks: "Eye to Eye", "The Eleventh Hour", "Point of View", and the remix of "We Only Say Goodbye" that I mentioned before. Inside Out only gets one entry, "Monument", but the album had just come out the year before, so it was probably 'wise'.

Then again, that would imply that anything about this release involved some thought process beyond the basic desire for money. "Hey guys, got anything new for us? We're releasing some of your songs that we've already released, earnings are up." "Hmmm. No. Nothing new. But we can fuck with a couple tracks we've already...oh, and there's that song 'Circles' which we gutted for better songs on the last album." "SCORE!"

I guess I've done a poor job of hiding my animosity for this compilation (and many like it), so let me close by saying that the disc could serve many plausible uses outside of being listened to. You could set a drink on it, though actual coasters are a lot less expensive. You could hang it from your car mirror facing outward, to blind other drivers and cause accidents. That's always fun. You could sharpen the edges and use it as a throwing death disc like they did in that I Come in Peace movie. You could use it to do your makeup! I wound up snorting blow off the thing, which is pretty useful, since leaning over to the coffee table in the living room was a strain on my back.

Highlights: Hey, no double dipping!

Verdict: Epic Fail [1.5/10] (and I knew I was alone)

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