Review Summary: Thirty-Six years into their career, and they can still throw their fans a curveball.
The band Ray Alder joined in 1988 doesn’t exist anymore. We lost the shreddier guitar solos when Frank Aresti left, the jazzier drumming when Mark Zonder departed, and the creative bass playing when Joe DiBiase left. As these flashier players left, Jim Matheos slowly dropped the classier elements of his sound in favor of more riffs, occasional electronics, and a darker moodiness. I’m not complaining, though. It was through this ever-evolving cast of musicians and styles, that we arrived at their previous release, Theories of Flight
– an instant classic, if I do say so myself. Long Day Good Night
continues the band’s multi-decade evolution and ends up at a place where Fates Warning almost sounds like an entirely different band. Shedding a majority of their more traditional influences, Long Day Good Night
comes across as a modern alternative prog metal album that only features a hint of their more traditional past.
Opening track “The Destination Onward” wouldn’t sound out of place on either of the band’s previous two releases – although, it would be one of the more metallic songs on either release. The only other similar song is “The Longest Shadow of the Day’ – which is easily the most traditional prog song on the album. Having said that, even those songs feature simpler choruses, chuggier riffs, and less nuance than one might expect. Additionally, drummer Bobby Jarzombek has dropped most of the overtly prog percussion in favor of a simpler, albeit busy, delivery. In interviews, Ray Alder talked about the diversity found on the album, and that is certainly true. There are straight forward rockers such as “Scars” and “Shuttered World”, there are moody alternative tracks such as “Under the Sun” and “Now Comes the Rain”, and there are even a few acoustic tracks. What there’s not is the classy nuance, and moody emotional experiences that previous releases were always able to deliver.
Ray Alder also mentioned that the styles of music on “Long Day Good Night” help distinguish it from the band’s back catalog, and he was definitely right. Of course, the songs are recognizable as Fates Warning due to Ray Alder’s vocals, but without the Fates Warning name attached, you’d be forgiven for thinking he was singing for a different band. Having laid out all the ways Fates Warning have deviated from what fans possibly expected, it should be made clear that the songs are still really good. Despite the streamlined nature of individual tracks, and the lack of an overarching theme or feel, Fates Warning have still delivered an enjoyable album. Songs such as the electronics-dominated “When Snow Falls” and the Porcupine Tree groove of “Under the Sun” deliver new sides of the band thirty-six years after they first formed.
To be honest, Long Day Good Night
sounds like what I assumed Ray’s solo album was going to be – a vocal-driven album that contained hints of Fates Warning, but that was otherwise more metal, modern, and streamlined. Despite the streamlined feel of the songs, and the lack of a unified direction, Fates Warning have still delivered an enjoyable album… and possibly even threw their fans a curveball due to the abundance of musical diversity. Just about every Fates Warning album has had a way to differentiate itself from the rest of the catalog, Long Day Good Night
will be known as the modern, sleek, Fates Warning album that dropped most the tangents, did away with all the moodiness, and just rocked.