Released: 2013, Inside Out Music
Nine years in coming, DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT comes at the end of the longest period of time the band has ever taken between new album releases. Amidst the various side projects involving all members of the band, a gnawing suspicion took hold in many core fans that FWX would ultimately represent the band’s swan song. Guitarist Frank Aresti makes his return to the studio with the band, his first since INSIDE OUT. The new album finds band leader and chief composer, Jim Matheos, continuing the evolution of the band and embracing modern progressive metal tendencies while compositionally, 8 of the 10 songs are co-written by other members of the band compared to 0 on the last Fates album. These collaborative songs include down tuned guitars, staccato rhythms, and a greater reliance on a sequence of riffs rather than power chords in most of the songs. In essence, there is much here distilled from the recent OSI and Arch/Matheos albums, but with enough individual character present to separate this as a Fates Warning album.
Lead off track, “One Thousand Fires” is one of those connecting tracks to Arch/Matheos, a rhythmically tricky opening with down tuned guitars front and center before things slow down for the first verse. It is the chorus that seals the deal though, Alder delivering one of his patented and memorable vocal melodies. The template of this first song is revisited through much of the album, intros typically being the faster, heavier, and often more opaque passages, while the verses and choruses are where the band offers the more accessible and connecting elements. The melding of the modern with the vintage Fates Warning culminates with “I Am”, the perfect marriage on the album of past and current Fates Warning. “Lighthouse” serves as a moody ballad, recalling themes of A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY and PARALELLS. The Kevin Moore penned tune “O Chloroform” contains one of the best choruses on the album before things wind down with the most progressive and epic tune on the album, “And Yet It Moves”, a fourteen minute exposition of all the albums elements in one track.
One thing that is clear after a few listens is that this is more a of a cohesive band effort compositionally than FWX, with every member of the band other than bassist Vera contributing writing credits. Bobby Jarzombek continues the fine tradition of percussion in Fates Warning, worthy of the standards previously set by Mark Zonder while Vera remains solid and well-produced. Sure, Alder has lost some of that upper range, but he continues to be inventive with his vocals and lyrically, sharp as ever. Aresti and Matheos remain an underrated combination on guitars, Aresti no doubt helping to infuse this with some vintage Fates qualities to balance Matheos tendency to be ever more modern and evolving. The end result is not a perfect album, but a worthy addition to the catalog of one of the most influential and respected progressive metal bands in existence.