When “Inside Out” was originally released back in 1994, it received a mixed reception at best. One of the main reasons was that it was the successor to the fabulous “Parallels” which still stands as one of Fates Warning’s greatest moments. The lukewarm reception also had something to do with the musical direction of the album. Whilst on the face of it, “Inside Out” seemed like the natural progression from its predecessor, it felt a little less ‘progressive’. None of the tracks stretched out over the six-minute mark and there was also a distinctly more melancholic feel to the majority of the content. In and of themselves, these issues are in no way bad, but they help to explain perhaps why “Inside Out” was received in the manner that it was. Opinions have softened over the years so it will be interesting to see how this re-release is greeted by the public.
The chances are that if you are reading this review, you are already a fan of the band and are interested to see how this reissue differs from the original release. Bear with me briefly though, for the benefit of those who are new to Fates Warning. “Inside Out” can best be described as a progressive rock album that veers in and out of metal territory. The compositions are solidly written with plenty of interesting melodies, lots of acoustic guitar work (as demonstrated on “Island In The Stream” for example) and enough in the way of technicality to keep those of a more prog disposition placated, if not completely satisfied. This is because “Inside Out” does not display overt instrumental gymnastics and elongated noodling; instead, the progressive elements are kept relatively subtle in the form of clever tempo changes and time signatures here and there.
The benefit of this more straight-forward approach however, is that the songs themselves are placed centre stage and fabulously rich and powerful tracks like “Monument” and “Outside Looking In” are the happy result. This approach also allows the distinctive vocal approach of Ray Alder to really shine. Many long-term fans bemoaned the departure of original vocalist John Arch but here, Alder puts his unique stamp on the songs, one minute quiet and fragile, the next passionate and soaring.
The key with re-releases for me is that they must, first and foremost, offer value for money. Here, prospective purchasers are tempted not by an extra bonus track but by the inclusion of an entire second disc full of bonus material. In addition to a fully re-mastered main album, the bonus disc features five tracks recorded live in Dusseldorf in February 1995 as well as seven demos and rough mixes, many of which were hitherto unreleased. If that wasn’t enough, fans are additionally treated to a DVD, containing live tracks from that era as well as a plethora of extras. I’ve not had the benefit of viewing the DVD, so cannot comment further on that aspect of the package. However, purely on the strength of the audio content, this is a cracking reissue and is worthy of fans’ attention.