Long Night's Journey into Day by RedemptionRelease date: July 27, 2018
Label: Metal Blade Records
It’s been a hard career for progressive metal heavyweights Redemption.Often passed off as mere Dream Theater clones, or dismissed as Fates Warning rejects, the LA based band have struggled through a string of hardships – mainman Nick van Dyk’s battle with cancer and guitarist Bernie Versailles suffering an aneurism chief amongst them – to make it to their seventh album. The wheel turned once again for Redemption, and Long Night’s Journey Into Day sees the band’s first release since the departure of long time vocalist Ray Adler. Yet, despite fighting through so much, the band has carried on to release a remarkable and surprisingly upbeat record.
The first thing to note is that new vocalist Tom Englund (of Evergrey fame) slots in with barely a hitch. His open, emotive voice was never too dissimilar from Adler’s, and as such seems the perfect choice for the band. Redemption are Van Dyk’s baby anyway, and Long Night’s Journey… sees him returning to writing the kind of punchy, immediate tracks that were so prominent on the band’s magnum opus, Snowfall on Judgment Day. Indeed ‘Indulge in Color’ is a direct sequel to that album’s ‘Black and White World’, and both albums have a similar theme of remaining positive in the face of adversity. At times these parallels don’t quite do Long Night’s Journey… justice however. While a fine album, it’s not quite at that standard and fans of the band might not want to be reminded of Snowfall’s superiority.
Long Night’s Journey… features more than just a rehash of former glories however. The album has a political edge in the form of ‘The Echo Chamber’, a commentary on the insular nature of modern politics and its reliance on social media. The album also has time to comment on relationships ending (‘Someone Else’s Problem’), insecurity and self-aggrandisement (‘Little Men’ – a touch of Trump perhaps?) and a sense of loss (‘The Last of Me’). Yet it never quite loses a sense of optimism – the aggression of tracks like ‘Eyes You Dare Not Meet in Dreams’, ‘Little Men’ and ‘The Last of Me’ soon give way to more positive tracks such as ‘Indulge in Color’ or a bouncy cover of U2’s ‘New Year’s Day’, an odd choice but one the band thoroughly make their own. This optimism is felt nowhere more than on the closing title track, a ten minute epic that runs the gamut from despair, surrender but ends in a positive place with a closing refrain of “dare to dream, keep on dreaming”. It sums up the album’s message of positivity in the face of adversity in one track.
Redemption have once again managed to traverse through misfortune to forge an extremely polished slab of American prog metal. Steering away from the darkness of This Mortal Coil and the overblown The Art of Loss, Long Night’s Journey into Day will go down as the band’s best album since Snowfall on Judgement Day. While it does so by steering a little too close to that album’s template, that’s the mark of a band that know what they can do, and have found their feet again with a smile on their faces.