A Pleasant Shade of Gray

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A Pleasant Shade of Gray
A pleasant shade of gray.jpg
Studio album by Fates Warning
Released 22 April 1997
Recorded December, 1996 at The Carriage House, Stamford, CT
Genre Progressive metal
Length 53:46
Label Metal Blade Records
Producer Terry Brown
Fates Warning chronology
Chasing Time
(1995)Chasing Time1995
A Pleasant Shade of Gray
Still Life
(1998)Still Life1998

A Pleasant Shade of Gray is a concept album by the progressive metal group Fates Warning, released in 1997.[1] It contains one song divided into twelve parts and is noted for its darker mood and more progressive style.


A Pleasant Shade Of Gray is a single song that is divided into twelve tracks. The album is notable for its darker mood and mixture of progressive rock and metal with hints of industrial, classical, and psychedelia. Jim Matheos wrote the album following Fates Warning's 1994 tour in support of Inside Out, with Matheos mailing tapes to Ray Alder and Mark Zonder. The record was recorded after two weeks of live rehearsals. It took approximately one month in Carriage House studio with Terry Brown producing to complete the recording. Then-former Armored Saint bassist Joey Vera and former Dream Theater keyboard player Kevin Moore were recruited to complete the recording lineup of Matheos, Alder, and Zonder.[2]

Matheos said that the genesis of A Pleasant Shade of Gray's stark departure was the similarity of the previous two albums. "I think all of our records have been drastically different with the exception of Inside Out and Parallels [...] Looking back, that might not have been such a good move. We repeated ourselves and when we stepped away from it at the end of touring with it we weren't pleased with that; so this time we've done something radically different."[2]

In 2007 the album was re-released by Metal Blade Europe with a bonus DVD of the Pleasant Shade of Gray Live video, previously only on VHS.


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[3]
Sputnik Music 4.5/5 stars[4]
Rock Hard (de) 9/10[5]

The sound is less accessible than Fates Warning's other works and many say that the album required repeated listens to sink in; critics and fans have often had mixed opinions as a result. Indeed, the album has often polarized fans.

Sputnik Music gave the album 4.5 stars and noted that the album has held up well with the passage of time: "It wasn't until later that people began to regard A Pleasant Shade of Gray in a more positive light, and its popularity subsequently grew as the album is now considered inimitable in the progressive genre."[4] In 2005, the album was ranked number 416 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time.[6]

However, Allmusic panned the album, criticizing "the guitar riffs and melodic hooks [as] simply not that memorable, requiring way too many listens before leaving any lasting impressions and overshadowing the band's remarkable musicianship [...] All told, A Pleasant Shade of Gray is a challenging listen and not for the faint of heart."[3]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Jim Matheos.

No. Title Length
1. "Part I" 1:53
2. "Part II" 3:25
3. "Part III" 3:53
4. "Part IV" 4:26
5. "Part V" 5:24
6. "Part VI" 7:28
7. "Part VII" 4:51
8. "Part VIII" 3:31
9. "Part IX" 4:45
10. "Part X" 1:19
11. "Part XI" 3:34
12. "Part XII" 9:08



Production and art[edit]

  • Terry Brown - production, recording and mixing
  • Andy Katz and Joe Peccerillo - assistant engineering
  • Eddy Schreyer - mastering
  • Bill Metoyer - pre-production
  • Ioannis and Steve Jacaruso at Vivid Images - art direction and design
  • Ioannis and Heide Coyle - photography

The credits thank former bassist Joe DiBiase, who departed the band in 1995; A Pleasant Shade of Grey was the first Fates Warning album without DiBiase.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Discography". fateswarning.com. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  2. ^ a b http://www.fateswarning.com/Discography/Albums/APleasantShadeOfGray.aspx
  3. ^ a b "Pleasant Shade of Gray: Review". Allmusic. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Pleasant Shade of Gray: Review". Sputnik Music. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  5. ^ Schäfer, Wolfgang. "Rock Hard review". 120. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  6. ^ [...], Rock Hard (Hrsg.). [Red.: Michael Rensen. Mitarb.: Götz Kühnemund] (2005). Best of Rock & Metal die 500 stärksten Scheiben aller Zeiten. Königswinter: Heel. p. 43. ISBN 3-89880-517-4.