Prog legends Fates Warning were prolific in the ‘80s, releasing five albums between 1984 and 1989. Their output has slowed over the years, but picked up again recently with 2013’s Darkness In A Different Light, 2016’s Theories Of Flight, and now their 13th studio album Long Day Good Night.
The band members stay busy with other projects, with the current lineup of Ray Alder (vocals), Jim Matheos (guitar), Joey Vera (bass), and Bobby Jarzombek involved in groups ranging from Armored Saint to Spastic Ink to Arch/Matheos. The new album started coming together in mid-2019 with Matheos and Alder completing 13 tracks that clock in at a whopping 72 plus minutes, their longest album in both number of songs and overall length.
Alder says, "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."
There are a lot of excellent songs on Long Day Good Night. Fates Warning shines on epic tracks like opener “The Destination Onward” and the 11 plus minute penultimate song “The Longest Shadow Of The Day.” The band’s musicianship is outstanding, but there are plenty of melodies and hooks to draw in the listener and keep them engaged throughout lengthy compositions.
There are several more compact songs as well, such as the urgent and heavy “Shuttered World” and the groovy “Begin Again.” Not only does Alder have a wide vocal range, but he’s also engaging and varied, changing up textures and intensities to add emotional heft to the songs.
For the first time, Fates Warning uses strings on a song. “Under The Sun” features cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne and violinist Mika Posen. It’s one of the catchiest tracks on the album, and the strings add depth and atmosphere.
There’s a good mix of tempos, with ballads, up-tempo and mid-paced songs. “When Snow Falls,” with Porcupine Tree/The Pineapple Thief’s Gavin Harrison on drums, incorporates electronics, adding a different twist to the pensive and introspective song, which also includes a tasty guitar solo. Speaking of solos, touring guitarist Mike Abdow contributes solos on a few songs on the album.
And while Fates Warning has earned the right to make an album as long or as short as they please, at 72 minutes it’s difficult to maintain quality and momentum for that period of time. That results in some lulls and less compelling songs, at least compared to the high bar set by Fates Warning.
Fates Warning fans will be well pleased with Long Day Good Night. It explores various eras of the band’s past while remaining contemporary and even pushing in new directions. Alder says, “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.” They have succeeded in doing that and crafting another excellent album in a catalog that’s filled with them.