I’ve been diving into the worlds of Gothic, doom, and progressive death metal lately. I’m not sure if it’s this depressing year or not, but the mood is exactly what I’m craving right now. Many of the bands in those genres sound similar, but some of them set themselves apart in riveting ways. Fires in the Distance is a good example of such a band. Their debut album is called “Echoes from Deep November”, and it released on September 18th.
Fires in the Distance comes to us from Connecticut, USA. Metal bands from the US often have a tone that I don’t exactly love (with many exceptions, obviously), but these guys sound different in several excellent ways. The band includes Yegor Savonin (guitars/keyboards), Kristian Grimaldi (guitars/vocals), Craig Breitsprecher (bass/vocals), and Kyle Quintin (drums).
The band is certainly drenched in the doom and progressive death metal scenes. Their music is heavy, burgeoning, and raw, yet also imaginative, melodic, and vulnerable. There is a Gothic slant to everything, as well as a melancholy atmosphere. Vocals are harsh only here, but they are done tastefully, and you will hear some spoken word passages, as well. The entire experience comes off as a tapestry of artistry and skillfulness.
Most people have been talking about the keys on this album, and they are certainly the major aspect of the band’s sound that sets them apart from most of their peers. Yegor’s keys are stunningly conceived, sounding almost like pinpricks of light or swathes of cosmic color. This source of melody cuts through the thick darkness like a hot knife through butter, revealing the character and complexity this album has to offer. Yegor will certainly be one of my favorite keyboardists of the year.
However, I want to make the point that the other performers provide stunning performances, too. Kristian and Yegor’s guitars are some of my favorites this year, too, being full of personality and unyielding splendor. Many of the tracks are exceptionally heavy and riffy, and I love it. Craig and Kyle provide a rhythm section worth noting, too, with lots of power and cymbal-work, including sudden shifts in signature and tone. In fact, without this, the keys and guitars would be lost. This band works as a whole to deliver some truly arresting work.
I’ve been musing over the title of the album, as well. “Echoes from Deep November” communicates something buried in our hearts oftentimes. The album itself is meant to portray a battle with depression, and you can feel it in every lustrous vocal and profound riff. This is one of those albums that instantly expresses emotions that land squarely in your heart, and sometimes right on your jaw.
With six tracks, the album runs roughly 40 minutes in length, a perfect serving of this type of fare. All six tracks are fantastic. Right from the beginning of “The Climb”, we are treated with the aforementioned abstract keys, followed soon by a wall of guitars and blast beats. The band, however, never sacrifices musical space for technicality, so there is a supremely mature level of balance in every aspect of their sound.
I think my favorite tracks are “Elusive Light”, “The Lock and the Key”, and “Sundial”. “Elusive Light” is really heavy and contains some thought-provoking voiceovers that I really enjoy. “The Lock and the Key” is a little more reserved, never turning into an onslaught. It has a spacious atmosphere with lots of room for the keys to work, not to mention a perfect guitar lick that ends the song. “Sundial” is the instrumental closer, and it basically takes everything I love about the band’s sound, and turns up the dial. The guitars and keys are completely out of bounds on this song, making it feel like the grand ending to a legendary story.
Fires in the Distance are really on to something here. Many of the masters of these genres influence their sound, but the band has their own spin and their own persona. That is rare for a band so young. I can’t stop listening to this album, and I know these guys have great things in store for them.
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