November 4, 2020 Fates Warning – Long Day Good Night (Album Review)
Fates Warning has returned to Metal Blade Records to release Long Day Good Night, their lucky thirteenth album, on Friday, November 6, 2020.
Long considered a progenitor of the American Progressive Metal scene – along with Dream Theater and Queensrÿche – Fates Warning is still much heavier than its Prog contemporaries. Lead by the guitar wizardry of founder Jim Matheos and the voice of Ray Alder, Joey Vera (bass) and Bobby Jarzombek (drums) lend their skills, respectively, rooting out a lineup that has remained heavy and relatively steady for over a decade.
Last pressed by Metal Blade Records in 2004, for their aptly named tenth opus, FWX, the band released two albums through Inside Out in the meantime: Darkness in a Different Light in 2013 and Theories of Flight in 2016. Now back with the legendary label, Long Day Good Night comes in at 73 minutes, was mixed by Joe Barresi, and is by far longer than any previously released material from Fates Warning.
Nary a measure of that time is wasted, as “The Destination Onward” combines the nimble bass of Vera and encroaching guitar of Matheos with the crisp timekeeping of Jarzombek. Adding to all, Alder fills the valleys between instrumental mayhem with his own soaring instrumentation. It easily blends into “Shuttered World,” another track of bustling and battering strength, whose lyrics warn, “all this leads to indecision/ one more way to sow division.”
Moving along, lighter fare like “Begin Again,” and to a lesser extent “Now Comes the Rain,” are a bit more of an acquired taste. That said, some of the ballads simply feel flat. Even “When Snow Falls” tells a sparse, disjointed tale without fully capturing your attention. Furthermore, the twangy “Begin Again” also sounds a bit out of place.
Back on the heavier side of things, “Scars” is another strong track that seamlessly mixes the skills of the band. Its strong instrumentation ebbs and flows, allowing plenty of air for Adler to fill on lower ends and taking the forefront when he stops for breath. The same goes for “Glass Houses” and “Alone We Walk,” both of which are more Hard Rock oriented songs that deftly avoid sacrificing heaviness for clarity.
This all in mind, guest appearances dot the album. The band hands solo slots to touring Guitarist Mike Abdow, while “Under the Sun” takes the band on a bit of a detour by adding a full string component. Then drummer Gavin Harrison, known for his work with classic English bands Porcupine Tree and The Pineapple Thief, lends his skills to the aforementioned “When Snow Falls,” a piece which also makes use of some electronic twinges.
Nearing the album’s close, “The Longest Shadow of the Day” serves as an EP unto itself, moving from slow, deliberate ballad, to realms scraping the border into Jazz Fusion, crossing into Hard Rock, before stepping firmly into Heavy Metal territory. Lastly, eventual closer “The Last Song” combines the work of the two stodgiest members, as Matheos plucks a warm electric guitar underneath vocals from Alder to fill the entire track.
Long Day Good Night is packed with some tight, enjoyable songwriting, mixed with the occasional missed note. A track like “The Longest Shadow of the Day” is a strong listen out of the box and easily anchors the second half of the album, while “Scars” and the two opening cuts get the album moving at a fast pace on the first side. Despite the smattering of flaws, Long Day Good Night is a jostling ride of Hard Rock, Metal, and Prog, and you will find plenty to latch your ears onto. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Long Day Good Night 3.5 out of 5 stars.