Fates Warning have been the rock on which heavier progressive music was founded since their inception in 1982, and show no signs of slowing down with their 2013 release Darkness In A Different Light. To put it plainly, Darkness In A Different Light is everything older Fates Warning fans would want in a record without repeating themselves or getting too "radio friendly," as many progressive music enthusiasts are wont to accuse. Think of this a Parallels, Pt. 2 of sorts with a whole lot of extra heavy in there.
Right from the get-go of "One Thousand Fireflies," Fates Warning mean business with the heavy and pretty consistently keep it up throughout the album. Between the sick riffing of Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti, and the unbelievably tight-and-massive rhythm section of drummer Bobby Jarzombek and bassist Frank Aresti, there's almost no stopping this record from being monolithic in terms of writing and playing.
It's a solid kind of heavy though, in that there's no one trying to out-play the other for the sake of a harder tone, nor are there needless solos strewn all over the place because "it's progressive, man." No. What Fates Warning have done is composed a heavy album in the name of really, really solid progressive music that never oversteps its boundaries or tries to be flashy beyond the point of enjoyability. Even the fourteen-minute closer "And Yet It Moves" is filled with nothing but composure and musicianship, which is… well, awesome, as the tendency to put the long track last in the realm of the genre is essentially free reign to get the wank out.
The nice thing about Darkness In A Different Light is that it flows like a record that was written with a certain tonality in mind; trying to get a point across and really nailing it with different moods. While the record has been described as heavy, there's an extremely atmospheric quality to it as well. In an obvious sense, songs like "Falling" are acoustic, while the end of "Into the Black" and pieces of "And Yet It Moves" utilize some clean guitars and rhythm-section heavy moments. Even in verses of songs "Firefly" there are undertones of clean guitars… but back to heavy for a minute, because it's about to make sense. Even the heavier moments aren't chock-full of things going on; there's room to breathe, which means (to me at least) the whole record has a certain airy quality about it that's just… so well done.
So where does the album fit into the canon of Fates Warning? To be blunt, right at the top of their game. They've been on the uptrend since the "pretty good" A Pleasant Shade of Gray in 1997 (which might seem like long ago, but there's only been two other albums between that and Darkness In A Different Light) and Darkness In A Different Light only showcases a band that has gotten better with time. If Darkness In A Different Light isn't in your Top X of 2013 list at the end of the year, there may be something fundamentally wrong with you.