While (or why) I hadn’t hurried to review the second album, Air Not Meant For Us²⁰²³ from the Connecticuter quartet as soon as it was released on April 28th on Prosthetic Records, it gave me all the more pleasure to realize how excellent it was once I sunk my ears into it. As with the debut Echoes From Deep November²⁰²⁰ (I reviewed here and gave a 5/6 score) we have 6 tracks of which one is an instrumental which could have easily served as regular songs if given vocals. We have fantastic melodies, near virtuous to virtuous solos and, yes, even tighter songwriting with even more variety within each track, although – and that is the biggest difference from the debut – the focus is more on death/doom then death metal this time around. In fact, the first three tracks: “Harbingers”, “Wisdom Of Falling Leaves” and “Crumbling Pillars Of A Tranquil Mind” (all perfect) use melodic death metal riffs in a doomy slow deathly framework, something akin to early Swallow The Sun, early 2000s Dimmu Borgir or the early 21st Century Dark Tranquillity, although the opener “Harbingers” strongly recalls Paradise Lost’s “Enchantment” for the synth orchestral arrangements, an epic wall of majestic melody rushing toward the conclusion, and here, I’m pleased to report that the unchanged team of Kristian Grimaldi (guitars, vocals), Yegor Savonin (guitars, synths), Craig Breitsprecher (bass, vocals) and Kyle Quintin (drums) appears to have learned their lessons and the keyboard “solos” don’t stick out from the rest like a sore thumb anymore but are a natural and a welcome consequence thereof.

The lyrics, well, they still seem to have that atheistic scorn to them that often comes with struggles with one’s mental health as the serpentine “Crumbling Pillars Of A Tranquil Mind” makes best clear while “the hands of time commence” and whether you’re ready makes no difference” but you shouldn’t “blame the hand that deals as you begin to kneel” for the hands of time spare none”, or, as the Scripture says, the sun rises on the evil and the good, and the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45), time, seemingly “heartlessly ticking on and on” while “dismantling your bliss” which is the evidence to conclude that “your prayers have been dismissed”. Indeed, in the favorite and the decidedly more melodeathly closer “Idiopathic Despair” the band makes their closing argument once again using the samples of quotes from the mouth of a late atheist philosopher Christopher Eric Hitchens who here appears to be vigorously persuading someone that, with death, to quote President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Hitchens, however, this time around sounds as if he were having a hard time convincing himself to begin with before any hope succeeding in trying to convince anyone else. To those of us whose death, to use the Biblical prophetic perfect, is swallowed up in victory because we are in union with the Son Of God Christ Jesus who conquered it through his being resurrected by God (1 Corinthians 15:54), Chitchens sounds desparate and weak but, it must be said, the use of his voice in the song is, once again, tasteful and not as forceful as the man himself was often known for coming off as, and that, in turn, provides for uninterrupted listening pleasure of the perfect closer to a very near perfect album. In fact, the only flaws I can think of are the very good but not great “Adrift, Beneath the Listless Waves” (the instrumental) and the gothic “Psalm Of The Merciless” brimming with potential that could have been better. Nevertheless, both Prophetic Records and Fires In The Distance can and should be very proud of this record which shows maturity beyond their 7 years of existence just barely on their 2nd album

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