REDEMPTION – ‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’ (Metal Blade)REDEMPTION – ‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’ (Metal Blade)

The more things change, the more they stay the same… Despite the fact that US progressive metallers Redemption have been forced to make some changes to their line-up, their overall ability to incessantly push and pull at the boundaries of convention continues unabated. On ‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’ – a spin on the Eugene O’Neill play ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ in which a family is depicted saddled with addictions and resentment – a new-look Redemption shuffles the title because, as founder member and guitarist/keyboard player Nick van Dyk says in the band’s biography, “inverting the phrasing of the title is really what Redemption’s message is all about. It’s a long night. It’s a journey, and at times it’s a struggle. But there is daybreak.” Helping deliver this message, alongside van Dyk’s long-term collaborators Sean Andrews (bass) and Chris Quirarte (drums), is Evergrey’s singer Tom Englund, a man more than capable of filling his predecessor Ray Adler’s shoes and no stranger to crafting lyrics around the doubts and frailties of life. Although co-founder Bernie Versailles is MIA, still recovering from an aneurysm he suffered in 2014, guest guitarists Simone Mularoni and Chris Poland – both of whom popped up on 2014’s ‘The Art Of Loss’ –once again serve up some well-placed but at times devastating solos. And there’s a new face at the keyboards too: Vikram Shankar came in late in the day and has now signed up.

Yet for all those changes, ‘Long Night’s Journey Into Day’ is still recognisably Redemption. Since they first introduced themselves in 2003 with their self-titled debut they’ve consistently served up challenging yet intriguing compositions, seemingly well honed, well rounded, to make them accessible without blunting either their edge or their impact. And so it goes with ‘Long Night…’ There’s not a substandard song on offer and although I would have written something like ‘it’s all thriller and no filler’, given the maturity of the material such a trite phrase falls well short of the mark. You can take your pick from the ten songs on offer, but for me the twists and turns of ‘Indulge In Colour’ – with a solo to die for – and the epic ten-plus minutes of the show-stopping title track present the band as true masters, true professionals, who’ve delivered pretty much the perfect album without even breaking sweat. Even the short (ie sub-four minute) ‘And Yet’ has an unexpected depth tinged with a tangible sadness. All this, and a cover of U2’s ‘New Year’s Day’ which in the hands of Redemption slips neatly into the running order without anyone batting an eyelid. Gotta be a potential for Album Of The Year, surely…

© John Tucker July 2018