(BEWARE: HIGHLY IN DEPTH REVIEW AHEAD)
It has been nearly ten years since “FWX” and Fates Warning have finally released a new album, entitled Darkness in a Different light, now via InsideOut instead of their long time label Metal Blade. Line-ups have changed slightly, with Frank Aresti back in the band on guitar alongside Jim Matheos and Booby Jarzombek replacing the legendary Mark Zonder on drums. For all the changes, the album still sounds like Fates Warning at their best though!
“1,000 Fires” slams right into action with twisting lead guitar over heavy grooves. Lots of changes in the song happen even before the song really kicks into its main riff, with chord sections reminiscent of the “Parallels” era blending with riffs from the later 90s albums like “Disconnected.” Intense playing all around finally leads us to the mighty Ray Alder’s vocals. I have read many a story and heard many a “fan” proclaim that Ray has lost it in recent years, but straight away you can tell this is a vocalist on top-form, hitting every note with clarity and emotion in equal measure. As a first song on the album, this one is hitting it off in just the right way; shedloads of powerful technical riffs, played with the groove and focus Fates Warning is known for.
“Firefly” was the first song released from the album, featuring straight up heavy riffage with a powerful vocal performance, and one of my favourite choruses from this album. The solo on this one is really cool too, with a solid underpinning from the rhythm section that really works, leading seamlessly back into the song itself.
“Desire” starts us off with a nicely effected clean guitar that leads into the main riff of the song; this is one of the shorter songs on the album at 3:59 but nonetheless fits plenty of the dynamics the band is known for into that short space of time. “Falling” is a nice acoustic track with a fantastic heartfelt vocal, with touching lyrics, and a great sense of melody. Sadly, this track was just too short for me; however there is a bonus track on a second disc that does build on these ideas which I am quite thankful for!
“I Am” is another highlight of this album, building up atmosphere and with a nice spotlight on the bass playing of the seriously talented Joey Vera (also in Armoured Saint!) the band plays some awesome layered riffs. Another belter of a chorus here, with lots of awesome dynamics that put the band on an equal footing with any progressive metal contemporary.
“Lighthouse” is one of the slower tracks on the album, with lots of atmospheric guitars, and a lot of well thought out and emotive vocals from Alder. This song is a perfect example of building atmosphere over the course of a song, and is something other bands on the progressive metal scene should really take notice of.
This leads us onto “Into The Black” which I have seen some people describe as having an almost Opeth-like sound which I can understand but Fates Warning tackle that kind of sound in a much more melodic fashion. This song has lots of varying riffs and sections, with some really heavy grooving basslines jamming as perfectly with the drums as they ever have in this band. Lots of harmonies give extra power to the vocals on this one to make yet another highlight on an already fantastic album.
“Kneel And Obey” cranks up the heaviness a notch, with lots of heads-down metal riffs and a lot of layered guitar parts giving a full sound to the song. “O Chloroform” is slightly more chilled out but no less a good song for it.
“And Yet It Moves” closes the album in true old-school fates warning fashion, easily the longest song on the album at just over 14 minutes, the song starts with a kind of neo-classical acoustic guitar section, leading into some truly progressive riffs and changes, fairly reminiscent in the way it approaches structuring to older songs like “The Ivory Gate Of dreams”. This is easily a top-track of the band’s career, worth putting up with their with many a classic from the band, with so much to offer but always with a great focus on songwriting and technicality that never goes over the top as many a “prog” band may be known to do.
In terms of production, this is top-notch, world class material from a band already known for having spot-on production. Everything is perfectly clear sounding, without being too “cold-sounding” as is often a flaw in the digital production era. It hasn’t been pushed to the max, it still has lots of audio dynamics to offer and everything is pretty much perfectly balanced and really well recorded.
Overall, this a fantastic album, well worth the wait and if you haven’t heard of Fates Warning (why not?) then this is as good an album as any to get into them with. “Darkness In A Different Light” is a Powerful album with incredible musicianship and it is fantastically written. Here’s to the future of Fates Warning, and here’s hoping the next album isn’t too far away this time!
“Darkness In A Different Light” Is Out now on InsideOut Music