Days Before Tomorrow 2023
When reveries get ahead of reality, American art types return to tie loose ends and start and take off once again with sunrise and sunset aligned.
If one of prog rock’s auxiliary tasks must be to empuzzle the listener, this record’s title will excel in shaping the enigma. More so, the platter’s future-assessing content may only further one’s confusion, for even aficionados who are familiar with the New Jerseyan ensemble and who were frustrated when the band went on hiatus a decade ago would struggle to find the first chapter of “Now And Then” in the group’s discography. In fact, there’s no such an entry… because the first chapter has been devised to follow the second, and the time warp is fueling “Stories And Dreams” in the most logical way, as its pieces hark back to the past line-up, while those arriving in its wake get created by the current group.
And though beginning the song cycle with an epic doesn’t do justice to shorter cuts, if the sonic tapestry in question is titled “Tomorrow” and is looking forward, rather than casting a glance over its shoulder, this gambit’s bound to make sense and pay off. Once transparent waves of twin guitars, courtesy of Scott Kahn and Derek Davodowich, are reduced to heavy riffs and filigree – all punctured with Paul O’Keeffe’s bass and propelled by Jason Gianni’s drums – and then become diaphanous again to allow Eric Klein’s voice and the entire collective’s vocal harmonies soar in wondrous polyphony, there’s no going back, especially after Damon Fibraio’s synthesizers push piano to the fore to create another dynamic contrast. And though the symphonic “Has Time Moved On?” feels heftier, the band’s punchy rocking will take the number’s compact beauty to an inspired fusion flight before the acoustically driven “Your Song” introduces simpler, sincerer lyricism to the record’s flow and brings the folk elements to cathartic, bells-augmented denouement.
This is why the a cappella start of “Killing Myself” couldn’t resolve in a stormy barrage of sound and turn into anguished balladry where Shakespearean words ring true – yet very soon the ensemble morph the drama into an organ-oiled triumph, and facilitate the anthemic rise of “Another Goodbye Song” to set the bar of expectations for the next, or previous, chapter of “Now And Then” extremely high. A daring and charming work.