Dante Alighieri's 14th century epic, Divine Comedy, is opened with his now famous work, Inferno, which tells his journey through Hell itself. In this poem, he depicts hell as having 9 circles of torment, with each circle depicting a different transgression. The poem was written as a representation of a person rejecting sin and instead committing their soul to God.
This epic poem is the basis of the subject matter of the second EP from Reading-based progressive metal band Flight of Eden, which borrows its title from Dante's poem. The band, formed in 2015 after the disbandment of Zodiark, was then put on hold after bassist Christian Sturgess became involved with another British progressive metal band Brutai. However, following the release of Brutai's debut album and their eventual disbandment, Flight of Eden's activity picked back up with the initial release of a 4-track EP Transitions in 2018, which was a good introduction to the band's progressive metal style which drew influence from bands like Dream Theater, Soilwork and Devin Townsend.
On Dante's Inferno, Flight of Eden have not only continued to build off the benchmark they set for themselves with Transitions, but they have also created a very well-flowing conceptual EP that seamlessly blends their influences together into a very streamlined and well-written piece of work.
Dante's Inferno certainly doesn't hide where it gets its conceptual influence from; everything from the song names and lyric titles, to the fact the album has 9 tracks (corresponding with the 9 circles of hell described in the original epic), and even down to the release date of April 9th, which was Maundy Thursday; the day that the story of Dante's Inferno begins. The music also helps to create the sinister atmosphere one would expect from an album with themes like this; from the eerie ambient soundscapes on opening track Nessus, to the symphonic-laden grooves on most of the rest of the album.
The performance on this album is very impressive, particularly for such a young band. The conceptual nature of the album and the flow of the music sounds somewhat reminiscent of Dream Theater's Metropolis Pt. 2, albeit with a heavier and darker tone to it. The vocals on this album are perhaps the element most reminiscent of Flight of Eden's heavier influences, with frontman Kurt Jones providing a nice balance of rich baritone cleans and Soilwork-esque growls and grunts.
Overall, for such a short release, Dante's Inferno is a sign of better things to come from Flight of Eden. In spite of being only their second EP release, this is a band that has the songwriting capabilities of a well-seasoned prog metal band, and that alone should be enough of a reason why they deserve to be on the tip of everyone's tongue when discussing progressive metal in the United Kingdom. Whilst the EP feels like it could be longer, this is perhaps more a thirst for more music from this band, given the strength of the music on this EP and the thought and dedication that has gone into the concept.
Dante's Inferno is self-released May 22nd. Purchase the EP here.