DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT
Fates Warning are a band that has a ton of talent, but it's never been realized by the masses for one reason - they were always a bit too crafty for their own good. In many ways, they remind me of a better musical version of bands like Rush or Dream Theater. While the band is clearly filled with musicians that are as talented as any that are working today, they almost always over-extended their chops both musically and in writing material to a point that the masses just couldn't easily consume and "get" what they were about. The result is that they never got big while other bands raced to the top of the niche they fall into. The results have been releases like AWAKEN THE GUARDIAN, DISCONNECTED and A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY; albums that their core audience love, but just didn't have any real "hit" potential to break them past their niche audience. DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT is their most straightforward effort since they debuted in the 80s, but it's a little too late at this point. That said, this is a seriously solid Fates Warning album.
Without question, the biggest improvement on DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT is the removal of keyboards. For 20 years, they released albums that were great, but tried to hard to mesh with all the prog metal bands out there by integrating world class keyboard playing into the material. The results were good enough, but in the end, Fates Warning just isn't Dream Theater. With DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT, the removal of keyboards has returned the band to a much more intense band. Certainly, there is still plenty of progressive elements to the material. This is in large part due to the incredible playing of new drummer Bobby Jarzombek. He's masterful and has some great pop to his sound on songs like "Desire".
One thing that never changes in Fates Warning is the incredible songwriting. Jim Matheos and Ray Alder wrote virtually the entire release, and it's as good as anything they have ever done as a team. Songs like "Falling/I Am" are as well written as anything they have done to date. That is not to say that their individual performances don't match the writing. Alder sounds as good vocally as ever. The guy is an absolute crooner with tremendous range and a fluidity to his singing that only a very few ever exhibit. On songs like "Firefly", you can't help but marvel at how smooth a vocalist Alder continues to be. He's countered brilliantly by both Matheos and Frank Aresti on guitar. Without question, DARKNESS IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT is one of the heaviest, most guitar driven efforts Fates Warning has ever done.
PITRIFF RATING - 86/100 - Always an underrated band, Fates Warning return with their most "metal" album of their career. Direct and to the point, there's no denying the elegance of Fates Warning as well as the aggression they can bring when they want to. They've done a great job on this one.