Released: 2012, Metal Blade Records
Originally released in 1994, INSIDE OUT followed the more commercial leanings introduced in 91’s PARALLELLS album. However, things were not so pleasant for the band at this point. Many issues with the record label and turmoil within the band led to them briefly disbanding after PARALELLS before reforming to record INSIDE OUT without much enthusiasm. The band also left their comfort zone of the North East to record in Los Angeles, and after the album guitarist Frank Aresti and bassist Joe Dibase would depart, adding to the general dark cloud over the band during this period. Even the album cover is a bleak and minimalist effort. It is little wonder that Matheos and Alder have somewhat maligned the album in the past.
However, the passage of time and the reaction of fans told a different story, and now in 2012 the album sees a three disc package reissue, an incredible value of material. The first disc is the original album remastered, while the second disc contains five live tracks from a 1995 show in Düsseldorf, Germany and 7 unreleased demo tracks. The third disc concludes the event with a live DVD performance of the entire INSIDE OUT album and some other coveted live extras (including an Arch/Alder duet of “Guardian”!).
Historically, INSIDE OUT is somewhat overlooked by many fans but others consider it to be one of the band’s finest albums. INSIDE OUT concludes the second period of the band’s evolving style which began with PERFECT SYMMETRY. INSIDE OUT was an emotional and beautiful album, with thoughtful and intelligent lyrics. Remarkably restrained, it consisted of actual “songs” and not endless time changes and needless wankery that immediately earned the disdain of the hardcore progressive metal fans that accused the band of going “mainstream” and selling out. Likewise, the original fans from the band’s first period that could not reconcile the new direction were merciless in their derision.
Fans familiar with the original material will notice improvement in the remastered sound, not that the original sounded bad. There is some added depth and brightness to the songs, and a little more punch as well. The demo tracks are basically fully realized at this point. The one major exception is “Face The Fear”, which is over two minutes longer than the album version and is an instrumental here, where as the final version had vocals. The only one that sounds somewhat bad sonically is “Island In The Stream” a tune that greatly improved from demo production to the final version. The live tracks are decently recorded, but with a bit too much bass and not enough brightness. “Point Of View” suffers the worst from the live frequencies here. Unfortunately, the label did not send a preview DVD so I cannot comment on disc 3.
For newer fans this album is considerably more atmospheric and less crunchy than current progressive metal but no less worthy. INSIDE OUT contains a fan favorite track in “Monument”, played at almost every Fates Warning show ever since. As most progressive metal fans are aware, drummer Mark Zonder really steals the show on this track, and frankly his work through the entire album is breath taking. I personally would rank “Pale Fire”, “Afterglow”, “Down To The Wire”, and “Island In The Stream” on par with or better than “Monument” so check them out as well. The final analysis is that this is definitely worth picking up for the die-hard fans of this period of the band, considering all the goodies and unreleased material available on here.