American melodic progressive rock band Days Before Tomorrow (DB4T) return, a decade after disbanding, with an EP of previously unreleased material from that period, entitled Now and Then Part II: Stories and Dreams. Newly mixed, with musicians from an earlier line-up, it is the precursor to a collection of newly written and recorded material from the current line-up (to be called Now and Then Part I), scheduled for release later in the year.
Vocalist Eric Klein and guitarists Scott Kahn and Derek Davodowich provide the continuity between those two line-ups, but this release has the keyboards of Damon Fibraio, with Paul O’Keeffe and Jason Gianni on bass and drums respectively. The band felt it was an important step to bring out this collection of previously recorded songs, and clear the decks before the brand new album, and in many ways it provides an intriguing glimpse into what the future might hold for the band.
The fresh and vibrant sound is an enjoyable mix of American-style melodic prog rock and more mainstream arena rock of the likes of Styx, Kansas, Journey and Toto, and even later-period Rush, but with more progressive elements within the musical weave. There are touches of prog metal and neo-prog here and there, and echoes of more modern American prog bands such as Evership and Glass Hammer. However, the band still retain the character of their award-winning 2009 album, The Sky is Falling, which caused quite a stir Stateside within the music industry at the time. The music often rocks hard, but is well supported by soaring lead vocals, lush multi-part harmonies and deceptively complex instrumentation – with the twin guitars and keyboards having their moments in the limelight, whilst meshing together smoothly.
Opening track Tomorrow starts with resonating lead guitar notes before the sound builds powerfully with impressive ensemble work, finding a melodic groove with a repeating guitar motif over which much of the music is layered, as well as some confident lead vocals. There is a more thoughtful mid-section with nice harmonies, a touch of piano and some flowing shifts in instrumentation and tempo. The catchy background vocals of “Where did you go, what should I do. The words that I’m hearing could not have come from you” criss-cross with the lead vocals of “Day after day” and “I’ll sing for you” very effectively. Time for a touch of dynamic drum-led prog metal before a flowing, melodic conclusion reprising the earlier chorus. It is probably my favourite track on the EP.
Has Time Moved On? is a sci-fi dystopian tale that starts with busy Dream Theater-like instrumental complexity, before hitting its stride with slices of driving melodic rock prior to some expressive guitar soloing, supported by swirling keyboard excursions, bass and drums providing a solid prog metal backdrop to proceedings. Once again, the vocals are strong and the chorus works well and provides the glue holding things together – “Will we see the future (Has time moved on?) Will we see the new world or has time moved on?”
On the face of it, Your Song initially appears to be a simple enough soft rock ballad, with twinkling piano and acoustic guitar, but it gradually unfolds atmospherically with some nice bass playing, lyrical snatches of electric guitar, plaintive vocals and a shifting soundscape that builds in pace and grandeur, with chiming bells eventually taking us through to the end. The uplifting chorus, once again sung with power and feeling, stays with you long after the song ends. “A song for a better world. A song for a better life. A song I could never write. A song for your love.”
For me, Killing Myself is the only track that doesn’t quite gel. Whilst musically vibrant, lyrically it’s a courageous but flawed attempt to look at mental stress, sleep deprivation and depression, and the two just don’t quite sit well together to my ears. It has elements of Dream Theater’s 6:00 from their Awake album – something further emphasised by mocking, self-loathing spoken word background commentary later on. By no means a track without merit and ambition, but just not hitting the heights reached elsewhere on the EP for me.
The final track, Another Goodbye Track, starts with flowing piano in an epic power ballad, initially in the Styx/REO Speedwagon style, but then showing more depth and complexity, with powerful guitar riffing and rich keyboards chords, lush harmonies, another big chorus and some well-judged changes in tempo moving through to a satisfying end. “Another goodbye song. Love will not last that long.”
In summary, Days Before Tomorrow have returned after a decade with an enjoyable and eminently listenable slab of arena-tinged melodic progressive rock, an EP of previously unreleased songs from that time. Melodic, glossy and deceptively complex at times, whilst nothing here is especially new or ground-breaking, it is all done very well and with great aplomb. With a full album of newly recorded material with the current line-up set for release in the months to come, I will be looking forward to seeing how the new line-up embrace their past and take their sound into the future.
01. Tomorrow (10:01)
02. Has Time Moved On? (5:53)
03. Your Song (6:45)
04. Killing Myself (6:19)
05. Another Goodbye Song (5:06)
Total Time – 34:04
Eric Klein – Lead Vocals
Scott Kahn – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Derek Davodowich – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Damon Fibraio – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Paul O’Keeffe – Bass, Backing Vocals
Jason Gianni – Drums, Backing Vocals
Record Label: Independent
Format: Digital (stream/download only)
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Released: 10th February 2023