Fates Warning is scheduled to release its latest album next week. The album, Long Day Good Night is the best work to date from the veteran prog-metal band The musical arrangements and lyrical content that make up the body of the 72-minute (one hour, 12 minutes) record support that statement. It is the heaviest record that the band has made in its 35 year history, even in its more subdued moments. Its lyrical themes are heavy in their own right, too. That is shown early on in the 13-song record in the form of ‘The Way Home.’ This song will be addressed shortly. ‘The Longest Shadow of the Day,’ the album’s penultimate (and longest) track is another example of how the record’s musical and lyrical content comes together to make the LP such a strong new offering from the band. ‘When Snow Falls,’ which comes late in the record’s run, is another important addition to the album. It will be discussed later, too. All three songs noted here are key in their own ways to the whole of this record. When they are considered alongside the ten other songs that make up the rest of the record, the whole of the record proves itself to be a solid return for Fates Warning and, again, some of the band’s best work to date.
Fates Warning’s forthcoming album Long Day Good Night is unquestionably a statement record from the band. It is a presentation that reminds audiences why Fates Warning is one of the elite acts in the progressive metal world, with its combined musical and lyrical content. That is proven in part early in through the song ‘The Way Home.’ The song’s musical arrangement forms its foundation, starting off in a very relaxed, almost ballad-esque fashion. This approach is deceiving, as the band eventually changes directions approximately two-and-a-half minutes into the song, though. The band shifts from the noted saccharine sweet ballad type approach here to a more eerie, foreboding sound that then evolves into something very heavy a la Tool, believe it or no. What is really interesting to note of that influence is that while it is there throughout the rest of the arrangement, the band members still manage to keep Fates Warning’s trademark stylistic approach at the fore, balancing it with the noted “dark prog” sound for a whole that stands strong on its own merits. The change in stylistic approach works well with the song’s lyrical content, which seems to tell a coming-of-age type story.
The noted seeming story is presented with front man Ray Alder singing in the song’s lead and second verses, Say goodbye you’re going home/Your heart aglow/You think about the times you were/Holding on to those who’ve always shown/That the world is sometimes not so cold/And the time is come for you to go now/Stepping into the unknown/Hoping that you won’t feel alone anymore/So you put your faith blindly/In someone else’s hands to take control/But how were you to know/That something in the night was wrong/So you take your final step through the door.” From here, the mood changes, with the song’s subject seeming to change quite a bit in the second verse, which finds Alder singing, “Innocence/Nothing remains/Indifference is hard to contain/One step away from falling from grace/Learn how to live without somehow/Vanity/Farewell to sacred sanity/It’s rusted, decayed/All that’s inside is eating alive/The damage is done, forget the way home.” The song’s seeming chorus adds to the noted interpretation, as it states, “Waiting in vain, there at night/Silence the only answer/Fading away into the night, into the immense unknown/Those final words/That goodbye/Those thoughts you’ll hold forever/Escaping pain, forsaking light, can we find the way home?” That final question, “Can we find the way home?” almost seems to hint at someone asking can we get back to that innocence that we as a people had before leaving that security and certainty of our little worlds, because the world has become such a negative place. This is, as always, just this critic’s own interpretation. Hopefully it is close to being accurate. Regardless, the story that is told lyrically and musically here makes for a positive example of what makes Fates Warning’s new album itself such a strong new album. It is just one of the songs that makes the album stand out, too. ‘The Longest Shadow of the Day’ is another clear example of what makes Long Day Good Night an appealing new record.
The musical arrangement featured in ‘The Longest Shadow of the Day’ is unlike anything else featured in this record. It goes I so many directions over the course of its nearly eleven-and-a-half minute run time, but still manages to keep listeners fully engaged and entertained throughout. It opens with a bass-centered approach that comes across as a sort of jazz-fusion work. Approximately three minutes into the arrangement, it evolves from that jazz-fusion style approach to a sort of hybrid prog/death metal style sound, as is evidenced through the guitar lines, bass, and drums. It isn’t even until almost six minutes into the song (more than halfway through the multi-movement composition) that the song’s lyrical content comes into play. Before getting to the song’s lyrical theme, it should be noted as the song enters this final movement, a distinct Pink Floyd influence becomes audible alongside the band’s trademark heaviness. That and everything else noted here makes the arrangement in whole such a standout addition to this record.
The song’s musical arrangement is just one aspect of what makes the song stand out. Its deeply metaphorical lyrical content adds its own punch to the composition. The lyrical theme in question comes across as a philosophical discussion on at least one aspect of the human condition. In this case that aspect would seem to be the fact that we as humans are imperfect and capable of failure. This is inferred in the song’s lead verse as Alder sings, “The longest shadow of the day/Stretches out into the gray/Paints our flight in softening light/Bends our aim to the night/The longest shadow of the day/Reaches out along the way/Shrouds our sight in failing light/Turns our gaze to the night.” The song’s second verse hints at the noted theme just as much as Alder sings, “We all will go down/We all fall prey/Lose the fight to the dying light/The longest shadow of the day.”
That note that “We all fall prey/Lose the fight to the dying light/The longest shadow of the day” is perhaps one of the clearest statement of all here about the noted theme. It’s as if Alder is singing about the fact that we are all imperfect and that we all fail in life at points. This, again, is this critic’s interpretation and should not be taken as the only interpretation. One could actually argue just as much that maybe this song is actually lyrically about mankind’s refusal to accept his mortality. Again, it is all open to interpretation. Regardless of interpretation, the fact that Alder and company have crafted such a lyrical presentation that can generate so much discussion is a statement in itself. When this is considered along with the discussions sure to come from the song’s musical arrangement, the whole shows without question even more why it is another of this album’s most notable works. It still is not the last of the album’s most prominent works. ‘When Snow Falls,’ which comes late in the album’s run is yet another example of what makes Long Day Good Night such a strong return for Fates Warning.
The musical arrangement featured in ‘When Snow Falls’ is another work that shows a clear Tool influence. The subtle guitar lines and their layering couples with the equally controlled drums and vocals to give the song such a mysterious sense. The addition of the vibraphone as a backing element adds even more interest to the composition. As the song progresses, the already noted Pink Floyd influence becomes audible, too. That the band balanced all of these influences for yet another original composition here is more than worthy of applause. It makes the song’s arrangement in itself more than enough reason for audiences to take in this work. The arrangement couples with the song’s introspective and contemplative lyrical content to make for even more interest.
The lyrical theme featured in this song is another deeply metaphorical message. Alder sings here in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “We betray innocence/When we choose to stray beyond the fence/Now its dawn/Sky is gray/And the path before us fades away/And snow falls now blinding me/Through the dark we have to feel/Our way back home.” He adds in the song’s second verse, “I felt safe in that bed/In a way I’m sure you’d understand/But snow falls now/I know I’m lost/Looking back I cannot count the cost.” He adds in the song’s third and final verse, “Holding on desperately/To a world that’s wrong for me/And I know it’s cold outside/Just say goodbye.” It is almost as if what this song is stating is that we make our own paths in life, and it is up to us to find our way through each situation, even with the obstacles. That is once more just this critic’s own interpretation. Hopefully it is close to being correct. Regardless, that the song is so deep, lyrically, in its own right is worthy of applause, too. The song is even more worthy of applause when this deep lyrical content is considered alongside the song’s musical arrangement. When the whole of this work is considered along with the other songs examined here and the rest of the album’s works, the album in whole shows without doubt why it is such a strong new offering from Fates Warning.
Long Day Good Night is a welcome new return for Fates Warning. The 13-song, 72-minute record is a presentation that once again shows why this band is to this day, one of the elite acts in the prog-metal community. That is evidenced through the record’s musical and lyrical content alike. All three of the songs examined here support the noted statements. All things considered, Long Day Good Night is a record that prog-metal fans and Fates Warning’s fans alike will welcome into their home libraries. The album is scheduled for release Nov. 6 through Metal Blade Records.
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