After a difficult year, the longing for better times is probably greater than ever. We find ourselves in a phase of great social change. There will hardly be a way back to “old” normality or some sort of default mode of the human being.
Fates Warning is a rare kind of beast - a primordial creature of a metal genre who is still admired and did not fall into irrelevance. The torchbearers of progressive metal have followed up ‘Theories of Flight’ with a monumental, textured album.
Everything about “Long Day Good Night” is great.
Formed in 1982 by vocalist John Arch, guitarists Jim Matheos in Connecticut, Fates Warning has been mentioned to as one of the “Big Three” of the genre, along with Queensrÿche and Dream Theater; these being the bands responsible for progressive metal's creation, development and popularization.
Fates Warning rose to international fame in the 1980s and has experienced some lineup changes. “Long Day Good Night” is the thirteenth studio album, released on November 6, 2020, via Metal Blade Records.
“The Destination Onward”, with its catchy tempo that develops since the first chords, is the perfect opening track for this album that is made to stick to your brain. It’s no wonder that this album talks about returning home, no matter if there is a place called ‘home’ or a state of mind. But it is a time of renewal, in which some things could develop quite differently than expected. The drumming work of Bobby Jarzombek is outstanding and particular on this album and it feels so natural, making the sound a great living organism that changes your mood.
Fates Warning use their instruments effectively building a sound wall that isolates you from reality. On the third song, ‘Alone We Walk’, the raw emotion found here intensifies due to the seemingly simple but convulsive rhythm. I believe this song sums up the whole idea of the album.
We are all called upon to courageously face the demands of our inner world and contemplate doubt and seclusion and to shape a new, strong character. ‘Now comes the rain’ is a beautifully crafted song and I believe here we find the most fluent and expressive lyrics on this album.
There are slow songs too, as ‘The Way Home’, and this creates a balance between the introspective mood and the one more jovial.
The interplay between the drumming and the guitar riffs of Jim Matheos is a constantly shifting dance, changing at different stages of the song and altering according to the delivered message.
‘Scars’ is a standout song that is really catchy and you'll find yourself singing the chorus to yourself, along with a few of the other tracks.
Ray Alder's singing is better than ever. Intense and mature, it fits perfectly with the guitar work. He is the main lyricist for this record as well.
Despite their long history of making records, Alder makes it clear that the songs take a lot of work to realize. “Like all albums, nothing comes easy. It’s quite a process to go from the idea to the actual finished song. Sometimes you think you’re done with it, then you hear something else and you have to try that. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but you at least have to try it just so you know that in the end you’ve done everything possible to make it as good as it can be. Jim and I spent practically every day for the last year writing this album. I am very happy with the outcome, and with the blend of styles. I guess I could say that this album represents all of the years that we have been together.”
The record features guest appearances from touring guitarist Mike Abdow, who contributed some solos, plus Porcupine Tree/The Pineapple Thief drummer Gavin Harrison plays on “When Snow Falls”, and “Under The Sun”.
There is no coincidence that this thirteenth studio album has thirteen songs. It's a well-rounded picture of the story that is being told.
One of the best albums of the year? The simplest explanation is that these musicians were able to merge their perspective and sound incredibly well. It's a progressive delight from start to finish. Have a listen to any one of the thirteen full original songs and you are bound to agree.
Long Day Good Night track-listing.
- The Destination Onward.
- Shuttered World.
- Alone We Walk.
- Now Comes the Rain.
- The Way Home.
- Under the Sun.
- Begin Again.
- When Snow Falls.
- Glass Houses.
- The Longest Shadow of the Day.
- The Last Song.
Fates Warning online: