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Artist: Brave Saint Saturn
Label: Department of Biophysics
Time 16 tracks/58:33 minutes

To call Anti-Meridian highly anticipated is a gross understatement. Ever since the break-up of Five Iron Frenzy (FIF), former band of all four Brave Saint Saturn (BS2) members, there has been little heard from the FIF camp, save for singer Reese Roper's ill-conceived solo band Roper, who only survived one album, Brace Yourself for the Mediocre, which, sadly, lived up to its title. Not only does BS2, comprised of Roper, Guitarist Dennis Culp, drummer Andrew Verdecchio, and bassist Keth Hoerig have to prove to FIF's rabid cult following that they can succeed minus half the members, they also have the history of BS2 to live up to.

BS2 began as a side project featuring mostly acoustic guitars and programmed drums. Their debut So Far From Home was a mixed affair, though gained some fans based on the joke acoustic hip hop song "The Shadow of Def." BS2's second album  The Light of Things Hoped For electrified their sound and was better overall but could have used some editing, and also failed to step outside the shadow of the members' "other" band. BS2 was always considered a concept project, following the mission of the Saturn Five spaceship getting lost by one of Saturn's moons. Each album includes one or two "theme" songs, some spoken word dialogue but are mostly collections of unrelated songs.

Fortunately for BS2, Anti-Meridian completely lives up to the high expectations. Featuring a whopping 16 tracks and just under an hour of music, the band creates a rich and varied rock album. The sound is often punky but also includes some acoustic balladry and the ubiquitous electronic sounds and loops. The album opens with a killer cover of Electric Light Orchestra's "Here is the News" before embracing the band's "classic" sound with "Mercenary." They turn in their finest ballads with "Starling" and "These Frail Hands." Adding to the depth Reese steps aside to allow the other members to share lead vocal duty on a couple tracks adding to the richness of the album.

The album satisfyingly concludes the story arc with a couple spoken word interviews, but the album also includes a variety of lyrical topics, including the music industry, animal rights, racism, war, the death of loved ones, and also some straightforward praise and worship with the concluding tracks. Reese has written his best and most mature lyrics yet. While in FIF he would often rely on silly lyrics and jokes to carry many of the songs, but here Reese doesn't hold back on more challenging issues. Some fans may be disappointed with the lack of humor, but frankly the FIF songs that have aged the best are the ones that dealt with serious topics anyway. "Oh Canada" may still bring a chuckle but "Every New Day" still brings fans to their knees in worship. Which is preferable?

BS2 should be proud of Anti-Meridian, not only is it their best album as BS2, but it also leaves FIF in the dust. Longtime fans will love it after they get used to its serious topics, and undoubtedly the band will reach new fans if the record receives decent distribution.

Noah Salo

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