REVIEW: REDEMPTION – “Long Night’s Journey Into Day”
My first forays into the world of metal was via progressive metal, mainly Savatage at first, but soon afterwards I discovered Dream Theater and Symphony X, and the world of truly complex prog metal was opened before me. And because of that I still have a love for more “traditional” or classic prog metal as well as the more extreme end. For years one of the standard bearers of classic prog metal has been CA’s Redemption. Lead by band mastermind/guitarist/keyboardist Nick van Dyk, they have formed a reputation for heavy, complex, melodic, and highly emotional music. And with a new vocalist Tom Englund (Evergrey) in tow the band is set to release ‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day,’ their 7th full length album, at the end of July.
I must admit something that many of the band’s fans will likely take exception to; I’ve never been a big fan of long term vocalist Ray Alder (also of Fates Warning) and while in recent years I’ve been liking his work a bit more, his work was always a bit of a put off for me. So I was quite excited to learn that Englund has taken over as vocalist for the band. His slightly deeper, edgier voice is a perfect fit for the music contained on the album, and the combination is often electrifying. For lack of a better term, it is often stated that traditional prog metal lacks balls. With all the technical proficiency, a real gut punch of power and heaviness is often lacking. This is in no way the case for this Redemption album, and Englund’s vocals go a long way to contributing to that fact.
The album kicks off with a punch to the teeth with “Eyes You Dare Not Meet in Dreams” a blistering 5 minute piece that never lets up for a moment. All the hallmarks that make Redemption a great prog metal band are here, a high level of technical prowess with complex music and melodic, emotionally charged lyrics and vocals. It is also readily apparent that van Dyk has brought along some incredible talent and power to fill out the band. Drummer Chris Quirarte is a monster behind the set, and so, much of the heaviness of the album is dependent on his work. Of course a good metal band has to have a good bassist, and Sean Andrews fills that role nicely. What’s more, his bass is clear and easily heard throughout the album, something that is not always the case.
Although I am never keen to go song by song when writing a review, the second song needs mentioning as a music video has been released for it. “Someone Else’s Problem” is a bit more melodic than the first, and is highlighted by some excellent guitar solos to augment the slightly standard song about parting ways in a relationship. The song is immediately followed by an early highlight for me, “The Echo Chamber.” The band calls it a political song, but I see it much more as social commentary. It deals with one of the lovely side effects of social media, that being peoples tendency to completely surround themselves with people whose ideas on political and social issues already agree with them, and then shut out any and all opinion or thought that goes against it, usually demonizing those people in the worst possible way. It’s something everyone with any familiarity with social media has witnessed, and it infects all sides of the political field.
Jumping ahead a few songs we come to “Little Men” which was the first single released. As the title implies it deals with little men who are insignificant in a big world. We all know the type; desperate to be noticed and to feel important while they are in fact not. And while not directly referencing him, I couldn’t help but think of a certain resident in the White House while listening to it… The song is followed by “And Yet,” which is one of the more unique songs on the album as it begins with a lone piano and Englund’s vocals. The keys, courtesy of Vikram Shankar, are more in front for this song than most others, and the beginning half is very moody and minimal. The second half gets considerably louder and more aggressive and includes a highly melodic guitar solo to finish things off. I would have liked to have seen the band let the more moody and introspective nature of the first part of the song continue throughout. It would have opened the album up a bit more and let it breathe while creating a nice dynamic between the soft and heavy sides of their music.
The album closes with the longest track, the 10 and a half minute title track. The song brings everything together into perfect closure, not just musically but also the lyrical themes that have been explored throughout. The title is a slight spin on Eugene O’Neill’s play ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ and speaks to the basic theme that encompasses everything that came before it, mainly that life often feels like a long night, full of darkness and pain. But at the end there is still light, still hope, and eventually daylight will come again. It’s a powerful statement, and handled with power and grace throughout the full song. And it serves as an important reminder to a world that more and more is feeling like an endless night of fear and sorrow.
Redemption have delivered one of the best examples of traditional progressive metal that I have heard in recent years. It’s a fresh, heavy, complex, and emotionally powerful work that, while working a melody into your ear, will also fill your brain with something of substance to chew on. ‘Long Night’s Journey into Day’ might well be one of the best prog albums to come out this year. What is for certain is that fans of the band and fans of classic prog metal will find a lot to love here and to delve into. It’s a work of substance and light and is well deserving of the listener’s full attention.