Maybe you avoided Fates Warning like an piñata full of dirty hypodermics because the word "progressive" was always pinned to it. Perhaps you avoided this album because of its custom van artwork. Whatever the reason, it's time you made peace with Fates Warning and one of the best Heavy Metal albums ever recorded. I don't care for any of their other albums, just this one, but man is it a gem. On Awaken The Guardian, Fates Warning sound like a refined Psalm 9-era Trouble. Perhaps this is due to the influence of Bill Metoyer, Metalblade's in-house engineer at the time. If there was an award given for metal, a Steely if you will, then I imagine this album would have swept up when it was released in 1986. This would be the final and best appearance of original singer John Arch, who deserves a Steely for his nuanced and impassioned performance. I guess after this, he figured he could rest on his laurels for the next seventeen years-- he didn't sing a note until he released a solo album in 2003. But it's not just about Mr. Arch's pipes, there are enough Steely-worthy riffs here to sate the most jaded banger. Seriously, have you ever heard a better metal ballad than "The Guardian"? Didn't think so. This record is essential. And how awesome would that cover look painted on a van?