Fires In The Distance
Echoes from Deep November

Fires in the Distance just a few short years ago could have been a metaphor for the United States. Everything was going to burn, but it not yet. I doubt that was the inspiration behind the band’s moniker, but if it was and they decided to change it today, might I recommend the more appropriate name of White Hot Dumpster Fire Full of Orange Shit (in case you don’t know, COVID19 really exposed how terrible this nation is)? This is not the band’s fault, obviously. So, yeah, the music…

One could be forgiven for listening to the intro track of Fires in the Distance’s debut album, Echoes from Deep November, and mistake it for a symphonic black metal affair. However, this feeling does not last long. You’ll very quickly discover why they have been called “melodic death doom.”

The opening track, “The Climb,” opens with keyboards, but, as mentioned above, does not take long, a minute-and-a-half in fact, to eliminate those symphonic black metal vibes. This is when the vocals kick in and one familiar with the sub-genre is immediately thinking; “Oh, yeah, right…” When this happens, the riff kicks in and the keyboards phase out, which is difficult to notice at first. About 3 minutes in, we go back to keyboards, but that doesn’t last long, either. So far, this is death doom, but they have quite a love affair with those keys. It’s not the weirdest love affair ever, though. Just ask Jeffrey Dahmer and his lobotomized sex zombies (new punk band name: I called it!).

The centerpiece of the album is, in my opinion (which is always correct), track 3, “The Lock and the Key.” The interplay between riffing and keyboards is masterful. At over 8 minutes, it’s lengthy, but the keyboard backbone of the track does a fine job of keeping it interesting. There are moments where the keys drop out, but for the most part, they are the background of this heavy track.

I wanted to mention one more track before I make like a good fuck boy and wrap it up. This is going to be track 5 of 6, called “Chained to the Earth.” At a little over 6 minutes, it begins with a drum beat and keys backing it up, before going into the keys backing up the riffing. The keys here are a little different because, while they are in the background, they also tend to stand alongside the riffing and vocals when all are going at the same time. Around 3 minutes in, the skins are being bashed (not that kind) with some keys sprinkled on top like a tasty metal sandwich. After that, the lead guitar takes on a prominent role before crashing back into the sublime main riff, which takes the song to its conclusion, leading into the final, keyboard heavy instrumental.

Masterpiece? Not quite. Enjoyable? Absolutely. What the gentlemen in Fires in the Distance have accomplished here is on the verge of special. I struggled mightily coming up with a frame of reference for the album. The one which comes to mind is last year’s effort from The Drowning. Perhaps there are other examples of the genre which lie closer to Echoes from Deep November, but if so, I have yet to hear them. Of course, this album is far more keyboard driven. I’ve listened to this album more times than I can count and while I do enjoy what’s on display here, I do admit I start to zone out quite a bit because the variety of doomy riffs/keyboard interplay also becomes the formula. It can be expected in every track. I will continue to be quite high on the performance here, but hope for a little more variety next time, perhaps in the vocal and keys departments.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by J Mays
September 9th, 2020

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