Fates Warning – Long Day Good Night
“Long Day Good Night” isn’t a typical Fates Warning album, and in fact this, their 13th studio album may well be their best to date. “The styles of music we’ve written distinguish this record from the rest of our catalogue,” states vocalist Ray Alder. This is the longest album in their 35 years as a formidable presence the genre, and Ray elaborates “There are some songs with electronics and some with a nice ethereal feel, as well as some pretty straightforward grooves, at least for us, and there are also some pretty heavy songs. We tried to give the listener a host of different things to listen to, as opposed to an album where every song sounds the same.”
I can vouch for that, there is a lot of variety in the songs. The first of thirteen tracks, ‘The Destination Onward’, is over eight minutes long and has elements that sound like the familiar Fates Warning style. This is probably mostly down to Ray’s distinctive vocals. You begin to get a feel for how different this release is from the previous ones. This comes into sharp relief as you progress through the album. At the time of writing there are two YouTube videos available, one is for ‘Now Comes the Rain’. This song is melodic, some might say a ballad.
Fates Warning – Now Comes the Rain (Click here if the video does not play)
The melodic sound continues for part of the next track ‘The Way Home’, and then comes the familiar staccato style that distinguishes much of the band’s material, followed by a great guitar solo that is part of a heavier finish. With so many great tracks on this album, it is difficult to single out the best ones, but this song, for me, would definitely be among them. Everyone will have their own favourites of course, and the next track, ‘Under the Sun’, is a song that Ray Alder is particularly proud of.
“It was actually a small section of another song on the album” he explains, “I don’t think Jim had any vocals in mind for the particular part, but one day he sent me the guitars and asked me if I thought we could possibly make an entire song of it. I said let me work on it. Ironically, I had a melody in my head that I had been singing for a couple of months, I didn’t know what I would use it for, but it was there. While I was walking my dog that night, I realized that it fit perfectly in the part that was to become the chorus. I recorded the melodies the next day and sent them to Jim. We decided that day to make it an entire song. Serendipity, I guess”. A full string section was used on this song for the first time in the band’s history.
Another YouTube video available to watch/listen to is for ‘Scars’ which is one the heavier tracks on the album.
Fates Warning – Scars (click here if the video does not play)
The album release was very nearly delayed indefinitely. Guitarist Jim Matheos started writing the album mid-2019 and took on the role of producer. Himself and Ray worked on the material for around a year. The musicians tracked their parts in their various homes/studios in the USA, but Ray who lives in Spain was recording in a small studio in Madrid. Due to severe pandemic lockdown rules, travel wasn’t allowed except under specific circumstances.
The recording had to be done in May, “So” said Ray, “ I basically snuck to the studio in a moving van under the pretence that I was moving – which was allowed – and slept in the vocal booth for two weeks. It was pretty nerve racking since there were checkpoints set up on the highways to stop anyone that was going about without a good reason. If you were caught, you would be fined around 600 euros and maybe jailed. I also had a timeline that I had to finish by so the days were long”.
‘When Snow Falls’ is a beautiful, slow paced number that features Porcupine Tree/The Pineapple Thief drummer Gavin Harrison, who also plays on ‘Under the Sun’. Then with almost an hour gone, we arrive at the longest track on the album, at 11:29 long ‘The Longest Shadow of the Day’ is an epic, encompassing many styles. The first vocals appear six minutes into the song, but feature more towards the end, along with guitar solos handled by their touring guitarist Mike Abdow, who also appears on several other tracks. The last song on the album is titled “The Last Song”, a short gentle number with just guitar and vocals. Let’s hope it is only their last song on this album.
Metal Blade Records are previewing the entire album via YouTube on 6th November 2020 (the release date). You can set a reminder by clicking on the bell at the bottom of the frame.
Avid fans of the band will lap this up as a valued, if a little different, addition to their collection. Newcomers to the Fates Warning world will hopefully hear something they enjoy. I spent decades waiting to see the band live, finally I got to see them twice in the space of a few months (at Progpower Europe in 2013 and PPM Fest in 2014) and it was well worth the wait. It is obvious that a lot of hard work has gone into this album, the band appear to be entering the next stage of their evolution. That can only be good news for the progressive metal scene.
- 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