Fates Warning
A Pleasant Shade of Gray

1. A Pleasant Shade of Gray

Ray Alder – vocals
Jim Matheos – guitar, guitar synth
Mark Zonder – drums
Joey Vera – bass
Kevin Moore – keyboards

Night On Bröcken (1984)
The Spectre Within (1985)
Awaken The Guardian (1986)
No Exit (1988)
Perfect Symmetry (1989)
Parallels (1991)
A Pleasant Shade Of Gray (1997)
Disconnected (2000)
FWX (2004)
Darkness In A Different Light (2013)
Theories of Flight (2016)

Bill Metoyer, Lydia Montagnese, Mark Zonder, Terry Brown, Lindsay Matheos - additional voices

Recorded, produced and mixed by Terry Brown at the Carriage House, Stamford, CT, November-December 1996
Assistant Engineers: Andy Katz and Joe Peccerillo
Mastering: Eddy Schreyer at Oasis
Pre-production: Bill's Place
Catering: George Hideous, Fidel Horrendous and Arthur Letsgoberg at Salad Face International
Art Direction & Design: Ioannis and Steve Jacaruso at Vivid Image
Photography: Ioannis and Heide Coyle

Released 1997-04-22
Reviewed 2017-04-22



So where do we begin and what else can we say? When the lines are all drawn what should we do today? We should perhaps note that twenty years ago today was the day the world saw one of the best albums ever. Fates Warning’s A Pleasant Shade of Gray was as ground breaking then as it still is today, an album that perhaps divided fans and critics but that ultimately has received recognition to the fact that it is one of the all time highlights of the progressive metal genre. The thing is that listening to the album today don’t really reveal the fact that it is twenty years old, it sounds as fresh now as it did back then. But it is an album that is not for the faint hearted, as it requires something from the one listening and doesn’t just give away its greatness to anyone.

It is a daring album, it dares to one and it dares to alienate some people and by doing so it becomes one of the best albums of all times. The production is simply stunning, I mean to still sound so fresh despite being recorded over twenty years ago is a strong feat, and the album itself has no hit singles just a pleasant shade of gray over one song that is divided into twelve tracks. It is just about the music that the band wanted to make with no regard for fans, no regard for videos or singles, no regard for sales, it was just about the music and that is why this album is so good.

The two previous albums Parallels and InsideOut were quite similar in style which was not to the liking of the band members who decided to make something very different. So they made a Pleasant Shade of Gray, which was this massive concept album in one single song, that broke from everything the band has done before and since, a progressive masterpiece. You could argue that it is a weakness that the album isn’t or everyone but I think you have to alienate some to make something that really matters, because if you make something for everyone you will end up making something boring – and this album is anything but boring, it is their best ever. Even Ray Alder agrees with this; “A Pleasant Shade of Gray is probably my favourite of the albums we’ve done... It is an album that I feel we wrote for ourselves, not having to think if there would be a single or a video for it. Just music...” he told me in an interview we did in relation with the release of their latest great album called Theories of Flight.

On the subject of their latest and albums subsequent to A Pleasant Shade of Gray, it could be seen as a weakness that the band never has or probably never will outdo this great album. But if they did it would be outstanding, I just hope they will not ever try to do like Queensrÿche did and do a sequel – that would most likely be really bad. Then again they don’t really need to outdo this one to be fantastic, but for all of you who have missed this great release you should really have a look at it as there really is no excuse not to own and enjoy this great album, especially if you like progressive metal – it is one of the absolute best progressive metal albums ever released and it is almost a crime to miss it.

… close our eyes a while as morning shadows play and listen to the rain was the long night away. Face to face we’ll awake to see another day and with hope in our hearts embrace this shade of gray, this pleasant shade of gray.



Label: Massacre Records
Three similar bands:
Dream Theater/Queensrÿche/OSI
Rating: HHHHHHH (7/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm

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