In 1994, a couple of years after Dream Theater was stealing all manner of thunder with Images & Words, Fate’s Warning were still in the shadow as seventh album Inside Out made practically no impact on the world whatsoever. Which is a shame, as it’s really rather good.

While a lot of Dream Theater bashing is inevitable, the band themselves citing Fate’s Warning as a major influence, Inside Out is very akin to the sound that bands like Queensryche were gunning at the time; a melodic hard rock approach to prog but with much more of a technical twist than the Seattle quintet displayed. The disparate opener Outside Looking In feature Ray Alder’s desperate, urgent vocals that run through the album, although that china cymbal panned hard right pisses me off like you wouldn’t believe.

Fate’s Warning are a metal band in the way that bands who stole Maiden harmonies but were never that heavy were metal. Like Slaughter. But good, obviously. The wandering echoes of The Strand brings together some desolate yet extremely tight drumming, while Island In The Stream is a beautiful number with serene acoustic guitars and harmonies vocals with overdriven guitars used as an atmospheric tool rather than anything else. Down To The Wire is reminiscent of Criss-era Savatage in it’s use of lead guitars with one of the big choruses of the album, highlighting the wonderful capabilities of Ray Alder.

Inside Out is a classic album by a classic band. The progressive elements of the music are so finely tied into the song structure their as easy to listen to as the smooth cooldown of Afterglow to finish the album. And while Monument does dial up the technical stuff, Inside Out is a smooth, confident album that you need to own.