|Review: Fates Warning - Long Day Good Night|
|Long Day Good Night|
Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 2020
Genre: Progressive Metal
Review online: June 25, 2021
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
for:Long Day Good Night
Rated 3.86/5 (77.14%) (7 Votes)
There was a time, ranging from The Specter Within to Parallels, where you could reasonably call Fates Warning the best band in the world. That was a long time ago, though, and while they managed a solid album with Inside Out, they quickly went off the rails and delved too far into the moodier and, frankly, boring end of the Prog pool before calling it quits after the tepid FWX. Their reformation with Darkness in a Different Light saw them going for a heavier, more percussive sound, but it suffered from being stodgy and having guitar work that was almost strictly rhythmic. I was convinced the band wasn't going to make anything else worth hearing after that, but then Theories of Flight surprised me by being a great album with high points like the band hadn't reached since their glory days, so I was actually really looking forward to this one. Despite that, I kind of missed it when it was released, and didn't hear too much about it afterwards, so I wasn't really sure what to expect.
As it turns out, Long Day Good Night is a continuation of the sound they've been going for since their revival. This is a slick, modern release with that signature Matheos songwriting, with structures whose smooth accessibility belies the deeply complex musicality that they contain. The band remains every bit as tight and professional as you'd expect, with Jim remaining one of the most impressive guitarists in the genre with his ability to craft dense, intricate riffs that he performs with such ease that they sound much simpler than they really are. The same goes for the rest of the band, with Joey Vera's bass work being as good as ever, Bobby Jarzombek once again proving to be a more than worthy replacement for Mark Zonder with his eye-popping drumming, and Ray Alder sounding as good as ever.
I wish I could say the songwriting followed suit, but the biggest problem with this album is that it has a lot of perfectly good songs that simply never catch fire. You get more straightforward songs like "Shuttered World" and the propulsive single "Scars", moodier numbers like "When Snow Falls" and "Now Comes the Rain", and even some longer epics like opener "The Destination Onward", the gloomy "The Way Home", and the massive "The Longest Shadow of the Day", all of which have stellar musicianship and are enjoyable overall, but there's not any one thing they do particularly well. The aforementioned epics also suffer a bit from baggy songwriting, with solid pieces stranded between long stretches of meandering sections meant to establish mood, but never end up doing much outside of stretching the songs out longer than they needed to be.
I think I would describe this album as very safe sounding, but I'd mean it in the most professional sense. Fates Warning are among the most storied bands in Metal, they don't have anything to prove to anyone, and they know damn well how to make solid music even after all this time, so I don't blame them for simply doing what they are good at and doing it very well. They just don't really push themselves to be better than that on this release, and while I'll gladly take more albums like this over shit like A Pleasant Shade of Gray any day, don't go in expecting another Theories of Flight, because it's not even close.
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