Daylight Dies
A Frail Becoming

During their decade plus existence North Carolina’s Daylight Dies have in many ways defied the odds.  Originally written off by many as a subpar clone of their European influences, Daylight Dies have steadily matured, increasingly honing their craft and sharpening their song-writing chops to a fine point.   Subsequently they have carved out their own unique and respected identity, while still retaining the bleak euro-influences that defines their sound.  Their catalogue has extended and evolved from modest, derivative beginnings into the polished,compelling output on later releases.  A Frail Becoming continues the trend, igniting in confident style following the four year gap since the release of their well-received third album, Lost to the Living.

A Frail Becoming featuresDaylight Dies at the peak of their creative powers.  It’s an accomplished achievement, continuing evolution and fine example of quality melodic death/doom with a heavy-hearted emotional weight.Daylight Dies’ song-writing has developed to a point where they are increasingly effortless in creating sonically heavy, emotionally draining and darkly beautiful soundscapes that are richly textured and layered in complexity.  This brooding atmosphere never becomes overly oppressive and takes the listener on an emotion-charged, melodious journey into Daylight Dies’ bleak world, where the songs demand further investigation and repeat listens to uncover the layers and subtleties within.  With deeper listening, the overall vibe and tone of the album, at least on an atmospheric level, recalls Opeth’sMy Arms Your Hearse.  Like that album, A Frail Becoming strikes an excellent ratio between their heavier side and use of cleaner vocals and melodies.

A Frail Becoming is very much a guitar driven album and the work of guitarists Charley Shackelford and Barre Gambling is outstanding throughout.  Dual guitars intertwine gracefully, squeezing wonderfully expressive notes and funereal melodies in equal measure with the heavier riffage and mesmerizing lead work that peppers the album.  The surging rhythmic force becomes all the more effective when interspersed with more subtle notes, winding melodies and tasteful soloing. The inspired lead work snakes elegantly through the heavy rhythmic base with deft expertise, staying within the context of the songs and avoiding overly showy tendencies and pointless meandering.

The rhythm section is also worthy of praise, despite playing second fiddle to the superb guitar work and strong vocal performance.   The drumming is accomplished yet understated, never demanding the spotlight but working skilfully within each composition.  Bassist Egan O’Rourke and drummer Jesse Haff thicken up the overall sound while adding their own nuances and individual flairto the compositions.

Daylight Dies continue to use clean vocals to great effect, wisely favoring the well-enunciated mid-to-low range growls of Nathan Ellis.  His solid growls keep the songs on the heavier end of the spectrum and have just enough personality to avoid monotony.  The sparser use and careful placement of O’Rourke’s melancholic croon is cleverly worked, maximizing the melodic and emotional impact of his singing.

The soft intro of “Sunset” segues into a heavy doom riff before O’Rourke’s clean vocals weave ethereal melodies into the mid-paced dirge.  The impressive track is further defined by a heavier mid-section, featuring the cavernous growls of Ellis, stellar guitar work and some dazzlingly morose leads.

“Dreaming of Breathing” builds tension from the outset as ominous restrained notes call out before a thunderous heavy riff and impassioned growl take hold in a cold steel grip.  The song structure follows an interesting path, switching cohesively between heavier bursts and quieter interludes.  “Ghosting” has a folky tenderness, utilizing exclusively clean vocals and traveling in a gloomy goth-rock direction, but minus the self-loathing, and featuring some sublime guitar soloing.  “A Final Vestige” highlights the skilfully composed marriage of their heavier tendencies and melodic roots.

The songs stay on the doomier side of melodic death with tempos skilfully varied despite the fact they barely accelerate beyond a mid-paced chug.  This is credit to the song-writing, driving intensity and creativity of the musicianship, and the unified chemistry of the band members.A Frail Becoming is consistently high quality, even if some of the songs stand out more than others.  And the epic feel of the album is offset by its concise length; the eight meaty tracks (“Waters Edge” is a short interlude) clock in at just under 50-minutes of quality running time.

The production suits Daylight Dies’ style perfectly,embedding the songs with the sonic depth and heft required to match their confident song-writing.  Softer, weeping melodies, haunting acoustics and moments of restraint are given the depth, clarity and crispness they warrant, while the heavier dirges are wrapped in the same level of clarity but with a thicker shroud of melancholic weight.  The instruments are balanced well in the mix, and as expected the guitars arerightfully pushed up front.  The drums are complimented by natural, robust tones,although the bass drums occasionally sound a bit muffled underneath the heaving weight of the guitars.This is a minor blemish on an otherwise flawless recording.

Only time will tell where A Frail Becoming stands; but early indications point to an album of the year contender that may potentially acquire classic status in years to come.  There really isn’t much to fault here; from the despairing atmosphere, individual performances, production and song-writing.  It has the musical and emotional depth to hold the attention and keep the listener coming back for more.  And despite its darkly melodic approach there are ample amounts of heaviness within.

Although taking a decidedly moodier, doomy approach, Daylight Days have consolidated their position with young Australian upstarts Be’lakor, as leaders of the melodic death/doom movement from outside the genres largely European roots.  And with modern contemporaries such as Insomnium plateauing out, Opeth meandering in a prog-rock abyss and Katatonia continuing to traverse their accessible, decidedly non-metal path, Daylight Dies have seized the moment and struck a perfect balance of bleakly morose doom and thoroughly compelling melodic death;joining these styles into a cohesive, engaging whole and releasing arguably their finest album to date.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
October 25th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: Shane

    Great album. It hits hard and gets straight to the point.


  2. Commented by: Adolf Oliver Fingers

    Damn dude do they pay you by the word for this review?!? And what enthralling context – “bleak euro-influences”, “Softer, weeping melodies, haunting acoustics and moments of restraint”, “some dazzlingly morose leads”, “vocals weave ethereal melodies into the mid-paced dirge”. Did you sell encyclopedias before writing music reviews you ubiquitous word smith you?!


  3. Commented by: Shane

    And we have a review troll. Thanks for adding nothing to the promotion of this album. Sheesh


  4. Commented by: Adolf Oliver Fingers

    I will, with no regret, circumvent the promotion of this band and download the album for free, sample it and then delete it even if it is just “okay”, which I imagine it being anyway. I firmly believe it to be the band’s responsibility to promote themselves. If a fan wants to promote them, that’s cute too. Review troll? Perhaps. A prick? Definitely!! Have a happy Samhain kids! Be safe!


  5. Commented by: ElGueroSinFe

    I think its called good writing. Great review.


  6. Commented by: Rigid

    GREAT review.


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