Review Summary: Fates Warning remind the world why they're considered one of the forerunners of progressive metal.
Over the last twenty years, Fates Warning has become progressively more unpredictable. In their early years, Fates Warning could churn out an album every year or two, but that all changed after Parallels
. Suddenly, the band went from being the model of punctuality to being the Metallica
of the progressive metal world. Three years between albums became the new norm, but even that wasn’t enough by the time FWX
was released. It was like we were watching the heat-death of the universe – the band had exploded on the scene, but with each passing year that momentum diminished a bit more and it finally seemed like all energy had been expended. Then, seemingly from out of nowhere, an announcement was made that the band had signed with a new label (after nearly thirty years with Metal Blade) and that an album was imminent. Well played, Matheos, well played.
After nearly ten years between albums, what could we expect? Would it be similar to the Arch/Matheos album that had originally been intended as a Fates Warning release? Would it push the industrial aspects of the last few albums? Or, could they even possibly go back to one of their earlier sounds? The answer requires more than a simple answer. At its core, Darkness in a Different Light
is a natural progression from FWX
, but without any of the industrial influences. More specifically, it’s as though the band based their sound around the energy and streamlined metal riffing of ‘Simple Human’ while combining it with a few of their more recent projects. Darkness in a Different Light
has the moody atmospheres of the latest OSI
release, the immediate songwriting of Parallels
and even the occasional nod to the energetic progressive metal of the Arch/Matheos release – but, again, it’s a little more than that.
Every previous Fates Warning release seemed like the band picked a theme and a sound, and filtered every song through the blueprint. This has resulted in some great releases, but there were very few surprises after the first few songs. Darkness in a Different Light
breaks from that mold and ends up being the most diverse Fates Warning release to date. The album opens with the one-two punch of ‘One Thousand Fires’ and ‘Firefly’, making it seem like we’re going to be in for a collection of Parallels
progressive metal, but things quickly change. ‘Desire’ sounds like something that could have come from Ray Alder’s modern metal side-project, Engine
. ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘O Chloroform’ feel like heavier OSI tracks. “Into the Black’ even throws in some Blackwater Park
styling – streamlined for Fates Warning’s superior songwriting, of course. The fourteen-minute “And Yet it Moves’ even borrows a bit from ‘The Ivory Gate of Dreams’ in the way it builds off of different movements and moods throughout its duration (none of which consists of needless solos).
Despite nearly ten years between Fates Warning releases, Darkness in a Different Light
doesn’t miss a beat. It picks up where FWX
left off, and then hits the ground running. Darkness in a Different Light
features some of Jim Matheos catchiest tracks since Parallels
, but also manages to up the metal factor to levels the band hasn’t seen since No Exit
(although no comparison can be made between the two styles of metal featured on each respective album). Fates Warning has dropped the industrial experimentation and has embraced a heavy, modern style of progressive metal that streamlines the Arch/Matheos style and makes it catchy as hell.