[October 1st, 2013]
01. One Thousand Fires
05. I Am
07. Into The Black
08. Kneel And Obey
09. O Chloroform
10. And Yet It Moves
Ah Fates Warning. The American progressive metal pioneers formed way back 1982, when progressive metal wasn’t even a thing yet. They produced a good few albums, including the masterpieces that are Awaken the Guardian and The Apparition, before a change of vocalist, a few more albums, and then a hiatus in 1994. A subsequent reunion tour has brought the band into the modern day, where in 2013 they have released their first album since 2004’s FWX, and the first with newest drummer Bobby Jarzombek (older brother of Blotte Science’s Ron Jarzombek) titled Darkness In a Different Light.
For their first record in nearly a decade, Fates Warning have taken the safer path, rather than trying to do something new and exciting. The opening track “One Thousand Fires” is fairly predictable as far as prog metal goes. It sounds decent enough when comparing it to the rest of the band’s catalogue, but the problem is that, in this day and age, there is so much better power prog metal out there. The rest of the record doesn’t fare too much better, though there are a couple good moments that stand out above the rest, namely “Into the Black” and the epic closer “And Yet It Moves”. Other songs sound either tired, or just like a band unwilling to push themselves to make something amazing.
Vocalist Ray Alder is one of the better signers in progressive metal, and although he does show signs of aging, he generally does sound good here. His work with Redemption has kept him busy in the time since Fates last recorded an album, so it isn’t like he’s gone rusty. His melodies are competent but not spectacular. The range he used to boast on albums such as No Exit is mostly gone, but he still retains his power
Instrumentally, as with vocals, the music is competent but not amazing. The drumming is the only thing that really stands out as being above and beyond an average power prog metal band, and that is likely because Bobby Jarzombek is not capable of playing mediocre drum parts. Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti do create some pretty cool guitar riffs at times, but ultimately don’t take their playing to the next level. Considering they’re less than two years removed from the awesome Arch/Matheos project which was essentially the same lineup with John Arch on vocals instead of Alder, that lack is highly disappointing.
Also underwhelming is the production. It lacks punch and feels far too polished. Nothing really stands out, and there is no atmosphere. This is the kind of production that one would find on a pop record, not a progressive metal album.
Fates Warning have a huge reputation and legacy, but have not been leaders of progressive metal since the early 90s. Darkness In a Different Light is not a bad album, but rather just an average album. It has decent ideas, but feels like the band is playing it safe rather than trying to really make a statement comeback album, which is disappointing for a band that is considered a pioneer in progressive metal. For die-hard Fates Warning fans, it is worth listening to, but for anyone else, stick to their classics.
Best songs: “Into The Black” “And Yet It Moves” “I Am”