Fates Warning - Darkness in a Different Light

Fates Warning Darkness in a Different Light cover
Fates Warning
Darkness in a Different Light
InsideOut Music
Fates Warning took a longtime to come back with an album, more than a decade in fact. Originally this wasn’t meant to be like that, but an intended Fates Warning album turned out into the Arch/Matheos project, full album, that featured original Fates Warning singer John Arch and then the band took time off to do some anniversary tours and re-releases so, all that took time. Finally after some eleven years a new Fates Warning album is available and it is one that welcomes FW alumnus Frank Aresti back to the fold, on guitars, a fact that thickens up the sound considerably, and substitutes drum “professor” Mark Zonder with equally capable, but slightly different in “feel” Bobby Jarzombek (Halford, Riot and countless others who’s already played with the band on previous occasions live, here he makes a recording debut) this new mark of Fates Warning manages to offer a pretty decent album, that while managing to sound contemporary and heavy and not a throwback, it still manages to have sufficient links to the 90s version of the band (a modernized version of it) to keep things interesting.
Aresti and Matheos, riff and rarely take lead, but they manage to set up beautiful moods, everything from heavy and menacing to temperate and soothing, acoustic passages and all 69 shades of pleasant grey in between! (haha). Vera and Jarzomek are pretty much locked tight for most of the duration of the album but bounce off each other at some odd timing pretty nicely, only to fall back in unison and then of course there’s Ray Alder who’s very much still channeling a lot of sentiment even if his range is not what it used to be back in the day.
“One Thousand Fires” which opens the albums is a hard hitting, riffy, heavy number, that’s not too slouchy either and opens the album in quite an interesting way. It combines both the melody of 90s Fates with some of the aggression of later incarnations, but it’s decidedly tipped towards melody.
“Firefly” which is one of the “internet” singles, is more lyrical, but largely bases itself on a heavy d-tuned riff over a more acoustic accompaniment and a lyrical chorus. It’s pretty serene and cool, but the heavy riff, contrasts with that serenity, causing a general feeling of tension and unease that caries the song.
“Desire” is altogether a more somber song, not entirely dark, but very shady, very smokey. Quite dazzling, with a bizarre “dream-like” quality surrounding its minor chords...
“Falling” is a short, and very sad acoustic ballad that feels like a bit of a confession and is really “deep”, “fragile” and “beautiful”...
“I Am” sounds like something that could have been in “Disconnected”. Initially its intro sounded to me a bit like “One”, then it went a bit acoustic, only to go full circle to its more modern down tuned riff. But I can’t deny that it’s catchy as #$@$! So yeah, no problem, with something being modern as long as it's “done WELL”! (problem is that most of the modern shit just considers a groove = a hook but that’s hardly always true!)
“Lighthouse” tends to be a bit of a dud... it’s a mysterious acoustic 5 minute plus number, with lyrics few and far in between. The atmosphere is kinda cool and creepy, but its finish is oh, so anti-climactic, that it sort of ruins the nice build up... without a nice finale… it’s too prog a way to finish this.
“Into the Black” is another melodic, way more guitar heavy track, (maybe the track with the most soloing going on?) but it somehow manages to be a little underwhelming in comparison, while it’s not completely bad, it just feels a little “disconnected” with the tracks that precede it, well at least with “Lighthouse” soundwise, in terms of style at least...
“Kneel and Obey” doesn’t seem to suffer from such issues as it keeps following down the same narrow path of heavy, serious, monolithic even slightly grim sounding, prog metal, one might say, that’s almost bordering on doom, with its gloomy and depressive lyrics here... again there are some solos that are short and to the point here, everything is really... despotically in order and precise on this number.
The rather weirdly titled “O Chloroform” (shouldn’t that be Oh? – and is this a hymn to the chemical agent that causes people to lose their senses? Should we next expect a sequel in O Formaldehyde?!)
is an awkwardly “warm” sounding, but slightly, psychotic song... that however has some acoustic, undertones that make it quite that much easier to slip into...
The fourteen plus minute album closer “And Yet It Moves” that even though starts pretty peacefully and gleefully it insistently reprises a theme time and again, that sounds a bit like a bit of a decaying variation on a classical melody, before the band decides to go acoustic and then electric again, just never standing still...
On the special 2 disk edition of the album that comes as a digibook, (even if with the omission of one of the live tracks or if “Firefly” was only included once – ie only the extended version all tracks might have fitted on one disk....) one can find a further 4 tracks.
“Firefly” (extended version) is a quite longer and I suppose quite better more “logical” version of the song with a better flow.
“Falling Further” is supposed to be an exclusive and while it’s quite a nice song, with quite a nice chorus it’s not exactly worth getting the special edition only for it.
There are also 2 (live) tracks “One” and “Life in Still Water” from PP2009.
All in all, Fates Warning are back with a most welcome album, that combines the old with the newer, but without offering something really surprising or so something really cutting edge, but I suppose that is not something I’d complain about after a decade. Anything would be good after all this time and in fact, this is better than expected for a band coming after such a long “recording” hiatus. Here’s to hoping that the next, chapter in their “story” won’t take another “11”...