Much like the case with Black Sabbath, Fates Warning released their first album in nine years under some odd circumstances. Sporadic activity and numerous side projects cast the prog giants’ future in doubt, but they’ve come back with an album that is stronger than anticipated. They even brought touring drummer Bobby Jarzombek and classic guitarist Frank Aresti along for the ride, drawing even more comparisons to the Arch/Matheos project that was spawned in 2011.
Fates Warning and Arch/Matheos may have the same players in their ranks aside from the singers fronting them but each project does have a distinct sound to it. While Sympathetic Resonance exerted long song lengths with a dark prog metal execution, Darkness in a Different Light offers a more accessible approach. The songs are shorter in comparison and tracks like “Desire” and “I Am” sound more like Soundgarden or Tool than Dream Theater. This album also has a more contemplative side with “Lighthouse” and “Falling” sounding like lost OSI tracks.
Of course, there are some inevitable similarities to their sister project. There are some heavy tracks to be found as “One Thousand Fires” starts things off with an appropriately fiery delivery and “Kneel and Obey” has a crunchy riff or two to match the slower tempo. “And Yet It Moves” is the strongest overall connection as it goes through several changes over the course of fourteen minutes.
And like any Fates Warning album, the performances are what truly sell it. Ray Alder may have lost his higher register years ago but his lower range has held up and works well with the material at hand. The rhythm section is also incredibly tight as Joey Vera’s bass playing is some of the best that the band has ever had and the drumming is consistent intricate through even the simplest of grooves.
Sympathetic Resonance may have been a touch more worth of the Fates Warning banner but Darkness in a Different Light is a surprisingly satisfying comeback. The style may be tricky to get into but it is executed well and the band sticks to its strengths. It’s hard to tell which project has more momentum behind it but the players still have plenty of life in them.
“One Thousand Fires”
“And Yet It Moves”