The second half of 2018 continues to impress me. So far, the first half of the year was littered with amazing debuts, but the second half contains veteran bands releasing fantastic new albums. Looking ahead, that just seems like the way it will be this year. My focus today is on the much anticipated new release from Redemption, a legendary band in their own right. Their new album “Long Night’s Journey Into Day” is an awesome addition to their already amazing discography, and it releases on July 27th.
Let me tell you a bit about my experience of Redemption. This band was one of the very first progressive metal bands that I loved. Their albums “The Fullness of Time”, “The Origins of Ruin”, and “Snowfall on Judgment Day” are in my opinion a perfect trifecta of prog metal brilliance, the latter being one of my favorite albums from any band ever. The last couple albums, “The Art of Loss” and “This Mortal Coil” have been powerful lyrically, but I haven’t connected as much with the musical side of things on them. Now, the band is seeing some major changes, and I believe that they are back on the pedestal of my mind.
Currently, the band consists of Tom Englund (vocals), Nicolas van Dyk (guitars and keyboards), Bernie Versailles (guitars, but does not appear on this record), Sean Andrews (bass), Chris Quirarte (drums), and Vikram Shankar (keyboards). Simone Mularoni and Chris Poland guest on guitar, also. Let all of that sink in for a moment. While the recent changes were pretty well publicized, I’m still finding people who haven’t heard about them. For one, Ray Alder left the band to focus on Fates Warning, so Tom Englund of Evergrey (a longtime friend of Nick’s) has stepped in as the vocalist. Second, Vikram Shankar (a friend of mine, actually) has joined on keys, in addition to focusing on his new band Lux Terminus. These are some major chances, in my mind.
What does all this mean for the band and their sound? In my opinion, the band is now back at full strength. One of my issues with “The Art of Loss” was the thrashy feeling of many of the guitars, as I didn’t feel like that meshed with the melodic nature of Redemption’s music all that well. So, Nick’s signature style was there, but it was mixed with sounds I really didn’t like. For some reason, all of that is gone on this album, and I almost teared up the first time I heard “Someone Else’s Problem”, a song that sounds straight off of “Snowfall on Judgment Day”. The sound is “bouncing” and complete again, and absolutely love that.
Additionally, Tom’s voice, being one of my favorite singers of all time, is a welcome change for the band. I love Ray’s voice and he is irreplaceable on the older albums, but Tom’s voice is just getting better and better as he ages, offering more character and color than ever. So, if we can’t have Ray, Tom is the absolute best replacement I could ever hope to have. It is somewhat mind-bending to hear him sing alongside such driving music, but he does a fantastic job and will definitely be on my list of favorites for the year.
The performances here are masterful across the board. I’ve discussed Tom and Bernie already, but I have to mention two other things. First, Nick’s guitars are as winding and spiraling as ever. He is truly one of the best in prog metal. He also plays most of the keys on this album (Vikram plays a bit of them, and will be playing them all live), and the sheer atmospheric weight of the melodies he creates is simply breath taking. Second, Chris’ drums and Sean’s bass sound as amazing as ever. Specifically, Chris has crafted some exquisite blast beats and fills, all sounding so familiar and yet fresh, too.
“Long Night’s Journey Into Day” is yet another dark and profound album of emotional lyrics and wondrous melodies. The album has some truly ethereal moments, like unto “Black and White World”, which fans will recognize as one of the most glorious songs the band has ever produced. My favorite tracks tend to fall into a couple different camps, so let me go over that. First, the heavier songs that I love are “Someone Else’s Problem, “Little Men”, and the title track. All three of these specifically sound like the band is back and on steroids, and Tom’s voice boosts the melody so much. The epic title track specifically has this feeling of desperation and triumph, and I love that so much.
There are several softer or more melodic songs, too. “Indulge in Color” is still a dynamic song, but it is so beauteous and colorful, just like its name, with an elevated and grand keyboard melody, and Nick claims that this is actually a sequel to the aforementioned “Black and White World”. “And Yet” is an understated song that feels full of possibilities and emotional: It is quickly becoming my favorite overall. Lastly, “News Year’s Day” is a light, cheerful song that is so ridiculously infectious, and it might have the best chorus on the album.
Redemption is back and making music on par with the best they’ve ever made. “Long Night’s Journey Into Day” feels like a metaphor about the band itself as they have overcome medical difficulties to return with splendor and strength. I’m so happy that this band is firing on all cylinders again, and I wish the best to them as they tour and support this release.