I’ve been a fan of Fates Warning for a long time. But here’s the thing. The only time period that I truly loved is much different from all the other people out there, especially the progressive fanatics. My favorite records will always be Parallels, Inside Out, and Perfect Symmetry, in that order. Something about the band just really clicked for me during those years. Hell, those albums are still played constantly. The rest of the stuff I just liked, didn’t love. The one thing I ALWAYS loved though, was Ray Alder’s voice. And listening to this new album, Darkness In A Different Light, it’s nice to see that the near-decade between albums has been kind to him. And the band. They haven’t lost a step musically. So let’s take a look.
“One Thousand Fires” means business right from the get-go, mainstay guitarist Jim Matheos and back-in-the-fold Frank Aresti sounding like they’ve never been apart. In fact, Aresti takes the solo on this one, and it is especially good. Powerhouse drummer Bobby Jarzombek showcases his technical prowess, and is in total lockstep with bassist Joey Vera on both this and next track “Firefly” which has one of Ray Alder’s best choruses on the entire album. “Desire” is somewhat of a hybrid, as it has elements of Parallels but also of Perfect Symmetry, and is another winner.
After the acoustic guitar-driven interlude “Falling”, the absolute best song appears. “I Am” has it all. Heavy tom-tom action, a band playing tighter than Ebenezer Scrooge’s pockets, and Ray Alder going to town on the refrains. This one I couldn’t get enough of. Things slow down for “Lighthouse”, a song that was okay, but I really wasn’t into it. “Into the Black” gets things back on track, and features another stellar Aresti solo. He and Matheos play so well together it should be a crime.
“Kneel and Obey” is kind of a slow grind, with a hypnotic riff throughout and a killer groove going on. Now, a song titled “O Chloroform” would CLEARLY get my attention, right? Well, it certainly lives up to, and surpasses expectations one might have for a bizarrely-titled track. It also features Kevin Moore, famed keyboardist who in addition to playing, co-wrote the song with Matheos, and is without a doubt one of the album’s best cuts. The 14-minute epic “And Yet It Moves” closes the album, and like the stuff of many prog-metal bands is all over the map, musically. Starting acoustic, then channeling the Riff Gods and different time signatures, it is the stuff of legend. This alone is why Bobby Jarzombek is the perfect drummer for Fates Warning. There’s nothing he can’t do!
Look, I don’t propose to know all about theory, composition, or any of that. I also don’t care what strings so-and-so used to get which tone on which album. Hell, I sang in a BAR band fer Pete’s sake! Here’s what I DO know: after a lengthy absence, Fates Warning have re-emerged with one hell of an album, the kind you wanna play over and over again. I sure have been. I think if you pick it up, you will too.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “I Am”, “O Chloroform”, “One Thousand Fires”, “Firefly”, “Desire”, “And Yet It Moves”