"Darkness In A Different Light" is the 11th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Fates Warning. The album was released through InsideOut Music in September 2013. There have been quite a few years between this album and "FWX" from 2004. A lot has happened in those years though. Drummer Mark Zonder left Fates Warning in 2005 and the remaining members of the band busied themselves with various other projects like OSI, Arch/Matheos and Redemption. Mark Zonder hasn´t returned on "Darkness In A Different Light" and has been replaced by Bobby Jarzombek. Lead guitarist Frank Aresti, who left Fates Warning after "Inside Out (1994)", is the other "new" member of the lineup as he makes a return on "Darkness In A Different Light". The "usual" suspects are bassist Joey Vera, guitarist Jim Matheos and lead vocalist Ray Alder. Except for Alder this is exactly the same lineup that recorded the "Sympathetic Resonance (2011)" album by Arch/Matheos.
"Darkness In A Different Light" is quite different from "Sympathetic Resonance (2011)" though. Most of the tracks on the 10 track, 56:41 minutes long album are "regular" length and most feature clear vers/chorus structures even though Fates Warning as usual twist and turn that concept and end up with an adventuours result. The 14:03 minutes long album closer "And Yet It Moves" is the only really long track on the album and even that track is divided into parts, that make it sound like several tracks put together to form one longer track. I´m actually slightly disappointed by that track. I think it´s clumsily put together, and the song structure lack the elegance that is usually a Fates Warning trademark. It´s too bad because taken section by section there are some brilliant moments in that track. The rest of the album is thankfully of the usual high quality that Fates Warning are known for. With Frank Aresti returning, the clean guitar/distorted guitar sound of the late eighties/early nineties and the melodic guitar solos are back in the band´s sound and while the albums that didn´t feature those elements had their own charm, I must admit, that I´ve missed them. The subtle use of dissonances that the band have experimented with on the last couple of albums are also a part of the sound on "Darkness In A Different Light", but it is generally the most melodic album by the band since "Inside Out (1994)".
To my ears highlights on the album include the opening trio of tracks "One Thousand Fires", "Firefly" and "Desire" and the dark ballad type track "Lighthouse". The latter is pretty strong even though it is strangely non-melodic. The aforementioned subtle dissonances are on full display here though and work really well within the context of this particular track. Despite my reservations "And Yet It Moves" should also be counted among the standout tracks on "Darkness In A Different Light".
The limited edition of the album features a bonus disc containing four tracks. An extended version of "Firefly" (almost 3 minutes longer than the version on the album), "Falling Further", which sounds like an outtake from the recording sessions and live versions of "One" and "Life in Still Water", which are both tracks from previous releases. The extended version of "Firefly" is a bit more progressive in nature than the version that ended up on the album, but I´m a bit indifferent towards it and the two live tracks don´t feature a very good sound quality and what to my ears sound like out of tune singing, so it´s actually only "Falling Further" that´s really interesting in my opinion. It´s a very catchy and mainstream oriented track. Somewhat in the same vein as tracks like "Eye to Eye" and "Through Different Eyes".
Fates Warning are an exceptionally well playing act and lead vocalist Ray Alder is as skilled and powerful sounding as ever. Bobby Jarzombek is a skilled replacement for Mark Zonder, even though the latter´s unique drumming style can never be fully matched. At times Jarzombek´s drumming seems to imitate Zonder´s playing style and while the drumming style suits the music well, I could have wished for a more personal touch from him.
"Darkness In A Different Light" features a professional and well sounding production and while it doesn´t exactly blow me away like some of the band´s earlier albums have done, it´s still a step up from the rather mediocre "FWX (2004)" and a pretty great welcome back to one of the most important progressive metal acts on the scene. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.