Among the progressive metal crowd few people are aware of Fates Warning and their contribution to this genre. The band arose during the early years of progressive metal along with bands like Rush and Queensryche. They were a heavy influence on the early sound of Dream Theater and unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you see it) they have not been as well-known as some of these other bands.
Darkness in a Different Light is a very good album with each song memorable in its own way. You’ll find yourself playing these songs over and over again in your head when you’re not listening to them. Songs like ‘One Thousand Fires’, ‘Firefly’ and ‘I Am’ are really catchy and heavy and have the signature guitar driven melodies that Fates Warning are known for. The album also has short atmospheric pieces like the ‘Lighthouse’; a slow haunting guitar only song with Ray Alder’s vocals perfectly complementing the atmosphere. And of course when you have a progressive metal album you have to have you epic more-than-15-minute masterpiece, in this case it’s the last song on the album ‘And Yet It Moves’.
The album itself is not perfect though. All the songs on the album, though excellent compositions, sound a little dated. The whole album has a very distinct late 80s/early 90s feel to it. As a result it will take some time for new listeners to get used to the album. It took me almost 3 or 4 listens to get into the album myself and I am somewhat of a fan. Ray Alder’s vocals too aren’t perfect, he hits the spot on most songs but then on some you can see the effect decades of singing has had on his voice.
One thing that I noticed right out of the gate on this album is that the production is not what you would expect for a record that has come out in 2013. I don’t know if it was a conscious decision but the songs sound like they were recorded pre-2000. A person who is used to the more modern style of production might not be too keen on it. Keeping this aside, each member of the band has done a very good job. Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti on guitars churn out those guitar riffs like it’s what they were born to do. Joey ‘vera on bass is excellent. Ray Alder hits the notes but does fall short on certain occasions. Joining the crew on this album is new drummer Bobby Jarzombek. People who are aware of his previous works will know what I mean when I say that he makes the songs quite ‘interesting’ with his drumming.
‘Darkness in a Different Light’ is an album which grows on you, and once it has it won’t let you go. Whenever I talk about Fates Warning with my friends I always say that they are the best at what they do and this album proves me right. If you want to listen to progressive metal driven by pure guitars then, but having all the intricacies of a guitar-keyboard combination then Fates Warning’s ‘Darkness in a Different Light’ is the album for you.