Fates Warning – Long Day Good Night Review

As the year mercifully draws to an end and we start thinking about list season, there are still a few November releases that many of us are looking forward to. This is one of them: the thirteenth album from American progressive metal outfit Fates Warning. As last week’s YMIO shows, I’ve been a fan of this band for decades, and Long Day Good Night had a tentative reservation in my Top Ten-ish list once it was announced. The trick now will be seeing if the material holds up as well as 2016’s Theories of Flight did. That album scratched its way to #4 on my inaugural Angry Metal Guy list, and deservedly so. But with great list-ranking comes great expectations…

For their thirteenth album, Fates Warning have decided to release something that is thirteen songs long and1 72:22 in length. This is not a good idea. Length for the sake of length rarely works out, and here we run into the age-old issue of bloat. But let’s focus on the positive first. There are some amazing songs on Long Day Good Night. Opening in dark, moody fashion, “The Destination Onward” takes a long time to ramp up, but it does. It’s an odd choice for the opening track, as it lets our attention drift away over the first few minutes, but when it kicks into high gear it’s worth it. “Shuttered World” opens with writhing guitars hard-panned and is one of the album’s heavier tracks, churning through rather straightforward verses in very aggressive fashion. “Alone We Walk” caps off a heavy, sometimes moody, opening trio.

“The Longest Shadow of the Day” is the longest song here, and by default must be examined as potentially the best. It is. It opens with some subdued guitar melodies and then a brief Joey Vera bass solo before winding up. It’s a three-minute meandering intro that admirably shows off the band’s skills before diving into a heavy riff. This then goes on for a couple more minutes before the music quiets down and vocals enter the fray. Meanwhile, don’t let the hard-hitting guitars and drums throw you off of what is amazing Vera bass work. Matheos’ solo here is reminiscent of latter-day David Gilmour work, impeccable as always in both mood and tone. And get in on the bass riff at 8:37. Just wow. This song, like much of the album, serves as a showcase for Vera’s underrated but excellent bass playing.

“The Way Home” is one of three “long” songs, and the least compelling. It doesn’t really take the listener anywhere special, which is the case for an alarming number of tracks here. This is the longest album of the band’s career, and it sure didn’t have to be. The bloat shows up as AOR filler – “Now Comes the Rain,” “Under the Sun,” (which wasn’t intended to be a song at the outset and maybe didn’t really have to be in the grand scheme of things), and “Liar,” which is another boring, straightforward heavy metal song, could have been left on the cutting room floor. The simplicity and mundane nature of these songs are shrouded in layers of guitars and often interesting bridges, but that doesn’t elevate the songs on multiple listens. The short, simple nature of the songwriting really only pays off twice: in “When the Snow Falls,” which is a wonderfully melancholic left turn, and “The Last Song,” a sweet and quiet acoustic number to close the album.

Long Day Good Night is certainly Fates Warning’s most versatile and varied release, but that doesn’t translate into their best effort. Fates Warning albums have always contained an underlying mood or theme. Not so with Long Day Good Night. This album comes off just as a collection of songs; nothing unifies the album front to back. Some fantastic songs reside here, but far too much AOR filler. The band’s goal seems to be to demonstrate a wide variety of moods and styles, and in that manner they have succeeded. But in doing so they have failed to create an experience that is engaging from start to end.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Blade Records
Websites: fateswarning.com | fateswarning.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/FatesWarning
Release Worldwide: November 6th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. “not coincidentally,” according to them, whatever that means
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