Review by Dave Smiles
Fates Warning are back with their first album since 2004’s FWX and the eleventh in their catalogue. Where FWX took an approach stripped down of many of the Fates Warning traits, Darkness in a Different Light brings the band back to full strength. FWX also felt dark in overall tone; Darkness in a Different Light maintains this, but contains elements of light throughout.
With band members focusing on various other projects, Fates Warning has been sporadically active over the past half-decade, having played 44 gigs from 2005 to 2011. A reunion of the Parallels line up (Alder, Matheos, Zonder, Aresti and DiBiase) in 2009 quickly led to the announcement that a new album was in the works.
The band spent a lot of time and hard work on this new album and it shows. Aiming to make an album for the band and its fans resulted in a freshness that is often found on many debut albums. This new album is the first to feature Frank Aresti on guitar since Inside Out in 1994. New drummer Bobby Jarzombek makes his studio debut. He’d joined in 2007 as part of the live shows.
The album kicks off with One Thousand Fires, an energized Prog Metal track with a melodic riff that grows within the 7 minutes plus running time. Firefly is up next. With its catchy riff is the ‘could be’ single on the album. Falling is a 94 second track that shows a gentle side to the band, quite a beautiful track about loss and uncertainly. Alder’s singing is impassioned and haunting.
I Am is a great mid tempo rocker done in a way that only Fates Warning could do, and shows that in the nine years since the last album, none of the member’s abilities have waned. Into the Black contains some various textures throughout and has a killer solo. O Chloroform is an interesting track with lyrics by Ex-Dream Theater keyboardist Kevin Moore. It’s actually an unused track from Matheos’s solo album Sympathetic Resonance.
At fourteen minutes, And Yet It Moves is the progressive multi-part song. Kicking off with a dual classical guitar intro before the grinding chords kick in, this is one ride the old school fans will be sure to enjoy.
Having founded in the early 1980’s, Fates Warning are often credited as the pioneers of American Progressive Metal, inspiring genre favourites like Dream Theater and Queensrÿche. With such an impressive catalogue of albums it would be hard to create another one that could stand alongside classics like Awaken the Guardian, Parallels and Inside Out. Nevertheless, Darkness in a Different Light has enough solid song writing and powerful playing to hold its own amongst such classics.