The debut album from Connecticut metal supergroup Fires in the Distance, Echoes from Deep November more than lives up to expectations from their local scene — and furthermore, the expectations placed upon a band that was signed before their first release in the midst of a pandemic. But these guys have been at it long enough that they’re ready to go big or go home, at least in this underground music journalist’s estimation. They’re serving up an ambitious album that will certainly make a name for them in the worldwide metal community.
In Echoes’ opening track “The Climb,” delicate piano steps around expansive guitar riffs and Craig Breitsprecher’s bass countermelodies shine through in the bridge. Kristian Grimaldi’s growls are deep and menacing; he did all the studio vocals, though he is backed up by Breitsprecher live. Unfortunately for the brave protagonist of this tune, the lyrics on bandcamp reveal that he (or she?) ends up falling from the summit of the mountain.
“Elusive Light” shows off the band’s 90s melodic metal influences, with a quick sweep arpeggio leading the way to a Scandinavian-style chug. It takes almost two minutes for the vocals to kick in; growls transition to a sample of by philosopher Christopher Hitchens. A sonorous guitar solo from Yegor Savonin seems to be reaching for that “elusive light” the song is named after — perhaps Brave Protagonist is attempting to climb the mountain once more.
I was fully convinced that our protagonist had laced his boots up and started back up the mountain after listening to “The Lock and Key” and “Reflections in the Ice” — both relatively peppy songs for any band with the word “death” in the subgenre description. I think this owes a lot to Savovin’s synth work; hopefully I’m not missing lyrics about a frozen body trapped under the ice or something. (“Hey, that’s not my reflection!”)
“Chained to the Earth” acts like it’s about to continue the peppy atmosphere a drum-and-synth dance party at the beginning of the song; however, it darkens once the guitars get started. The dance party returns midway through, with Kyle Quintin’s cymbals crashes driving the beat. I suspect that Brave Protagonist isn’t doing so hot at this juncture.
Closer “Sundial” throws in some blue notes and futuristic synth tones, but has no singing. Did the mountain climber die or something?? This is also the shortest song on the album, clocking in at 3:12 while the rest of the songs are in the seven-minutes-and-up range. Yeah, I think Brave Protagonist is now, ahem, “chained to the earth.”
Overall, Echoes from Deep November is a thoughtful album with standout guitar work that will appeal to enthusiasts of many metal subgenres. There’s melodic death metal of course, but I think it will reach the doom and even industrial ends of the spectrum as well.
Prosthetic Records made themselves a smart pick with Fires in the Distance. The record will be released on September 18th in digital, CD, and vinyl formats. Preorder your copy here!