Fires In The Distance
Air Not Meant For Us

I haven’t been super excited about death/doom metal and its subgenres, for a while now, heck I completely missed the Shape of Despair album from last year, and they were one of my absolute faves in the genre back in the day. Heck, the new Insomnium, barely registered with me.

But in 2020, Colorado’s Fires In the Distance released their killer debut, Echoes of Deep November, a more melodic take on death/doom with some very nicely done orchestral arrangements from guitarist Yegor Savon.

Well on the all-important second album, Savon called in some additional help with some of the arrangements with Randy Slaugh (who has helped out with some string arrangements on The Devin Townsend Project and Unearth) and Mac Christensen, whom I could find nothing else about. As well as a full-string quartet.  to render those arrangements. And boy does it show.

Savon and co were no slouches, but Air Not Meant For Us, is exponentially better from start to finish than the debut. And not just because of the heavily increased string/orchestral/piano use, which adds some absolutely gorgeous atmosphere to some already brilliant melodic/melancholic death/doom. Everything has been upped: the songwriting, the vocals and the absolutely massive production are also beefed up.

Opener “Harbingers” immediately delivers the goods and shows off the new orchestral elements with some stellar, stirring strings and piano backing the steady lumber. And the gorgeous little piano refrain that arises around 4 and 7 minutes in, is simply wondrous. It sets the bar pretty high for the rest of the album.

Luckily, the next few songs are up to the task. “Wisdom of the Falling Leaves” opens with a somber cello, before a thunderous, more urgent Insomnium-styled gait and a melancholic/melodic riff to die for.  Again, a couple of lovely string refrains break up the hefty lope with killer results.

“Crumbling Pillars of Tranquillity” brings a more tampered doomy plod, but then there is a bit of an anomaly for me with “Adrift, Beneath the Listless Waves”, which is an instrumental number. I never really cared for instrumentals, but “Adrift” is utterly and knee-wiltingly perfect. With a chord progression similar to John Murphy’s “Adagio on D Minor” from the Sunshine movie, but with added strings and piano, it gets you right in the gut.

The next two songs have the tall order of following up basically 5 perfect melodic doom-death songs as “Psalm of the Merciless” is a pretty standard death/doom mope, but closer “Idiopathic Despair” almost recreates the brilliance of the album’s lead-off tracks, with an Insomnium vibe again, but still flocked in the album’s amazing string and piano work.

With Air Not Meant For Us, Fires in the Distance has catapulted itself into elite status with a second album that most bands dream of, and is going to be in the conversation for album of the year at a lot of publications I imagine. Definitely this one.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
May 17th, 2023

Comments

  1. Commented by: J. Mays

    Leagues above their first one, which was pretty good. I have like 4 albums on my year end list for sure right now, and this is one of them.


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