Darkness In A Different Light
I’ll be completely honest and say that I’m not exactly all that familiar with Fates Warning. Other than the fact that they’re as legendary to the progressive metal scene as Spock’s Beard or Dream Theater, I just couldn’t get into what was considered one of their landmark releases in Awaken The Guardian. But years have passed since then, and this release sailed into port so I decided I would give these guys another go. And I’m certainly impressed with the effort.
Unlike the earlier disc, Darkness In A Different Light reminds me a little of Dream Theater’s Train Of Thought, which was one of my personal favorite releases from the band and arguably their heaviest album. It’s warmer, a little more rough edged; and not quite as sparkly as most progressive metal tends to be – but that in itself is a good thing. One of the trademark names in the genre is showing that they can still showcase great progressive work with a side of fire like you’ll hear from the opening riffs on “One Thousand Fires” which powers on with a strong chorus and light moments of thrash. Then there’s the progressive grunge of “I Am” and the Opeth inspired “Into The Black” which really seem to show diversity and welcome the listener to a buffet of sounds and styles, rather than the same old meal. There’s definitely some angst in this prog, felt none harder than “Kneel and Obey” an unexpected middle finger to modernized religion.
This being said, there are just a few low points on the disc like the ghostly “Lighthouse” which just didn’t feel like it was all that inspired and “Falling” which is a very short acoustic piece that I didn’t feel was fully realized. (Luckily, the bonus track “Falling Further” sees this track fully realized, incredibly catchy and brought into metal, which is why you should purchase the special edition of the disc. It’s good enough to have been a single and should have been put on the actual album).
Since I’ve mentioned one of the bonus tracks, I definitely need to express why it’s necessary to get the special edition of this disc. The first reason is a greatly extended version of “Firefly” which made a great song even greater and of course, “Falling Further.” Also included are two live cuts of “One” and “Life In Still Water” to round the disc out. I’m really not sure why the full versions of “Firefly” and “Falling Further” weren’t included on the original disc, but I don’t feel that the original version will be superior to the special edition due to the inclusion of these much stronger tracks. I would have given the disc a higher score if these had been the norm, but since they aren’t included on the original version of the album I cannot simply in good conscience do that.
At any rate, this is Fates Warning in a form that I can readily accept and embrace as an awesome progressive metal act with an emphasis on the “metal” part of that equation. There’s still certainly plenty of prog amidst the heavy bits, but it’s definitely a rougher album that you might expect and that’s certainly a good thing, right? (Eric May)