Prologues - “Absence of Distance" EP
Stream and buy on Bandcamp
If you’ve been to a heavy-music show in northwestern Connecticut, there’s a chance you’ve caught a band called Farewell Lodge opening for punk outfit Down With Rent or heavy-grungers Runamuk: a frenzied, high-pitched whirlwind of a band that seems to fill up the entire venue for a set that’s always just too damn short. The metalcore duo have been lying low for some time now, tossing out a track here and there to whet the appetites of a small but dedicated fanbase, but it’s finally time: with a quick change of name, “Farewell Lodge” becomes Prologues just in time for the long-awaited follow-up to Owls in a Bookshelf.
The move from goodbyes to introductions is a conscious one: with Absence of Distance, Brandon Antoniak and Tyler Maldonado are letting everyone know, loud and clear, that they’ve finally arrived.
Owls had a lot going for it, but its best feature was an old-school metalcore tone that wasn’t forced, contrived, or even sought. Their taste for big riffs and even bigger melodies just naturally put them in that special headspace we could depend on all the best metalcore bands of that late-’90s/early-’00s sweet spot to occupy. At the same time, Owls was hampered by a certain hesitancy, an unwillingness to stray too far from the metalcore rulebook at the risk of alienating the listener before they’d been properly hooked. Basically, for just about every “Sunken in the Solemn of Grey,” there’s a “Results of Rain.”
Absence of Distance paradoxically works because it dives even deeper into the metalcore deep-end and doesn’t feel a damn bit guilty about it. The only words Prologues actually have to say regarding the EP are “Recorded in a garage,” scrawled at the bottom of their Bandcamp page, and they don’t really need to say much more. The music is hot, dirty, and claustrophobic, foregoing the caged aggression of Owls for twisted, left-field freak-outs. After the Hopesfall-like gallop of the title track, nothing is what you expect: “Months” teases a pop-punk riff for about a bar, but the song plays more like a slow-motion demolition. “Dialogue, By Any Other Name” is just fucking mean, the biggest banger Fear Before the March of Flames never gave us, with Maldonado’s screech keeping tensions high well past the point the rest of the song has started to cool off.
And these are the tracks Prologues made available for listening weeks before the EP release. Its longest and weirdest tracks are ahead of us, with “Reasoning of Two Years, A Reason to Keep Falling Further” up first. It’s Distance’s would-be ballad, starting where “Dialogue” ends and working the harsh vocals vs. clean instrumental dynamic until it’s ready to explode - but rather than give us the big finish we’re waiting on, Prologues keep things tamped down to a menacing smolder, offering Pyrrhic victory instead of pay-off. “I hope to never become what you are / I’ve given up on everything because of you” are the last we hear of the track, screamed as if from a long way off. It’s the most heart-wrenching track Prologues have written yet, and its greatest success is how it proves Prologues really have progressed from their Farewell Lodge days: they’ve learned restraint, and go right ahead and school all their peers in it.
But they set that lesson aside for “Digress,” a long-lost Bless the Martyr, Kiss the Child highlight that packs the album’s biggest breakdown where the breakdown belongs: right at the end. It’s a knockout punch we’re afforded just under a minute to recover from with interlude “...and I would have done anything, as this is something I’ll remember forever” before the opening strains of “Moral Plantations” creep in. This is far and away the album’s wildest cut, a labyrinth of riffs and breakdowns that are by turns melodic, dissonant, jazzy, and atonal, constantly recalibrating as Maldonado harries us toward the song’s, and the EP’s, spoken-word conclusion:
“Love was never inscribed to be eternal
Forget and relive in your selfishness forever
We will witness your fall”
Prologues are officially leaders in Connecticut’s burgeoning metalcore scene. If they continue on this trajectory, pretty soon, everyone else will start waking up to that fact, too. Don’t sleep on them.