Welcome to the penultimate chapter of my Album of the Year 2018 top 30 countdown. I had hoped to complete the countdown ahead of Christmas day but the fates conspired to ensure that it wasn’t to be. But never mind, it just means that now the turkey has been consumed, the presents opened and the family feuds reignited, you have a reason to be cheerful today. Again, I jest, but based on the way in which this series has been received up until now, there may be a small grain of truth nestled somewhere within my jocular words.
I am so pleased that this series has been the vehicle by which some of you have discovered records or bands that, until now, had passed you by. I’m also glad that, by and large, my choices have met with general approval. It means that I can’t be that wide of the mark with my personal taste in music.
As always, if you’ve missed any of my previous posts, you can head down to the bottom of this post to check out the links for numbers 30-5.
And now for the silver medal of 2018:
‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’
Metal Blade Records
Score of Much Metal: 9.75
When I began the year, I had not inclination that the new Redemption album would feature quite so highly in my annual end-of-year list. I knew that, barring a major catastrophe, it would likely feature somewhere within my top 30 because I’ve always been a big fan of the band. But number two? If I’m honest, no. And yet here we are.
I’d be lying if I said it had nothing to do with the vocals. I’m a huge fan and admirer of Ray Alder’s voice and the Fates Warning singer has become synonymous with the output of Redemption over the years. I was definitely sad to see him depart the fold. However, in steps Tom Englund as replacement. You’d have to be living under a rock for the last 20 years to not know that I consider Mr Englund as the greatest vocalist within all of metal. It’s a personal thing of course but to me, the guy is the very best that there is. No question. So when I heard the surprising news that he was the new Redemption vocalist, I became insanely excited.
The great news is that overall, the final product is every bit as inspired as the decision to hire Tom Englund. For a start-off, this has to be the best-produced Redemption album of them all. Until this point, it was ‘Snowfall on Judgement Day’ that held that accolade, but ‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’ trumps it as far as I’m concerned.
However, the production is not the only way in which ‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’ trumps ‘Snowfall…’ because I’d strongly argue that the material on this new disc is even better than my previous favourite Redemption record. There’s a spark within the music that hasn’t quite been there for a while, that certain intangible ingredient or two that means that my enjoyment and love for this album is heightened just that little bit more. That’s down to the band as a whole, but principle songwriter, guitarist and founder Nick van Dyk has to take a lot of the credit.
Put simply, this all means that on ‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’, Redemption are once again firing on all cylinders. And for someone that loves heavy metal laced with atmosphere, melody, high energy and deeply honest lyrics, a fully-firing Redemption is just too good to ignore. Over the intervening months, ‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’ has been a constant companion, getting steadily better and more impactful as time has gone on. Eventually, this record became a no-brainer for my top three and deservedly so.
To quote my review of 24 July 2018:
“As much as I have enjoyed each and every release from Redemption since day one, I have to say that I always gravitate towards ‘Snowfall On Judgement Day’ when pressed to choose a favourite. And so it is really great to report that stylistically, despite all the changes, ‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’ most closely resembles their incredible 2009 release. This is a less thrashy and certainly more varied proposition than ‘Art of Loss’, plus the melodic sensibilities have returned front and centre, meaning that very quickly, I have become hooked on this album. It is still a proper heavy metal album with the swirling and eddying crunch from Nick van Dyk’s guitars never far away, not to forget of course the punchy and uncompromising rhythm section of bassist Sean Andrews and drummer Chris Quirarte. But every track has a hook that gets stronger the more I listen, pulling me further under the Redemption spell with every spin.
The fun continues with ‘The Echo Chamber’. It’s is a stunning track, one of my favourites by Redemption, probably ever. But the that’s an accusation I can level at a few songs on this new album. I just love the variety within this particular track, the textures and the flamboyant nature of the solos which include a glorious extended synth solo that makes me smile broadly. The huge hook-laden chorus allows Englund’s superb voice to soar over a rich sonic tapestry with real panache and loads of human feeling.
Overall, after binging on this album for the last week or two, it is difficult to come to any conclusion other than this might be one of the best recordings of Redemption’s career. It’s too early to suggest that it is the best, but in truth, it offers a great deal of everything that I love about this band. Energetic and challenging riffs, bruising and complex rhythms, memorable melodies, masterful vocals and a depth to the atmospheres and lyrics that make it almost impossible not to engage with the material and commit to it wholeheartedly. ‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’ is the full package and it is devastatingly good as a result. Full-on progressive metal doesn’t get much better than this.
Read the full review here.
If you missed the previous posts in my 2018 list, click here:
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 3
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 4
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 5
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 6
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 7
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 8
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 9
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 10
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 11
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 12
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 13
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 14
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 15
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 16
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 17
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 18
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 19
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 20
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 21
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 22
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 23
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 24
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 25
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 26
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2018 – Number 30
If you missed my ‘best EPs and compilations of 2018, you can read that here:
And here’s a reminder of my countdown series from previous years: