By MIKE CHAIKEN
You’re excused if you thought the band Fates Warning had called it a day.
After all the band’s last album was nine years ago, 2004’s “FWX,” and their profile in the U.S. has been pretty low-key ever since.
But the group never took an official split, said its erstwhile leader vocalist Ray Alder. And the band is back with a new album, “Darkness in a Different Light.” The album recently reached the Billboard 200 and the top 20 on the Current Hard Music chart.
The band, which is now Ray, Jim Matheos and Frank Aresti (guitars), Joey Vera (bass), and Bobby Jarzombek (drums), is on a tour across the states. That tour lands in Hartford on Nov. 22.
Although the band’s profile had waned in the states in the near decade since “FWX,” Ray, in a phone interview, said fans of their particular brand of progressive metal overseas have had plenty of opportunities to catch the band over the years. “We’ve been touring constantly in Europe, just doing things for us,” said Ray.
The absence of new material over the past nine years was not due to a lack of trying, explained Ray. “We could have had a new album out three years ago,” said Ray. But, many of the band members were handling solo projects that demanded their attention. And, Ray said, the band just wasn’t feeling the new material they were coming up with.
Finally, Ray said, the band—which was founded in Hartford— felt it was getting ridiculous not recording anything new for fans. So they set aside the other irons in their fires and they got down to the business of recording what would become “Darkness in a Different Light.”
Was the passage of nine years a good thing or a bad thing for the band? Ray said, in a negative aspect, the nine years between albums meant the band had to start all over again in winning over audiences. “People thought we broke up,” said Ray. The staunch fans kept waiting, but the more casual fans of Fates Warning had moved on to other things.
But the passage of time helped in bringing the best Fates Warning to the studio.
“Darkness in a Different Light” is a genre unto itself these days, sounding different from most of what is on the radio. But, Ray said, the album wasn’t recorded to tap into or buck any musical trends. It was a matter of logistics.
“It was now or never… Who knows if we’re getting back together to do another album. We’re all moving in different directions.”
The key to writing for Fates Warning is pleasing himself, said Ray. “Fates Warning is my baby and what I wanted to do.”
Before the band hit the states behind “Darkness in a Different Light,” Fates Warning performed a number of gigs overseas where they had a chance to get their new set list to gel. “The set list in Europe was trial and error and it changed a bit.”
“We see where the audience is with us (and when they’re not),” said Ray, and that causes the set list to transform.
And the set list was still evolving as Fates Warning waited for the American tour to begin, said Ray. But fans can expect the hits as well as a smattering of new songs.
And the new songs from “Darkness in a Different Light” have turned out to be a hit with fans, said Ray.
In Europe, Ray said, he was surprised when—even though the album was only a few days old—fans began singing word for word the lyrics on the new materials.
“The reaction was better than expected,” said Ray, noting the first single, “Firefly,” in particular had the audiences’ attention.
As far as the touring plans under “Darkness in a Different Light” beyond the tour coming to Hartford, Ray said, “We’re cramming in as much as we can.”
After America, he said, Fates Warning will be headlining back to Europe to hit up countries they missed a couple of weeks ago.. Then there are plans for South America and Mexico. Ray said he would like to tour Japan, which has a lot of fans of the band but where Fates Warning has never played.
Essentially, said Ray, “Now that the album is out, we want to tour.”
Fates Warning plays the Webster Theater in Hartford on Friday, Nov. 22 with Halcyon Way. The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $22.
For more information, go to WebsterTheater.com or FatesWarning.com
By MIKE CHAIKEN