Released: 2012, Candlelight Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
If Daylight Dies had a family crest, I’d wager that emblazoned in gothic calligraphy across the shield would read the words “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The North Carolina doomsters have pretty much been recording the same album since 2002’s NO REPLY, albeit with incremental growth in production, songwriting and presentation across each release. Which is exactly why the band’s latest release A FRAIL BECOMING sounds instantly familiar but fresh and new at the same time; the recipe still hasn’t changed, but the cooks in the kitchen have gotten better.
For those uninitiated, Daylight Dies is the best doom metal band that doesn’t really sound like a doom metal band. Layering in oodles of crunchy, almost thrash ready riffs against melodic backdrops and death metal growls, the band is able to integrate a variety of tones and moods into the music that always seems to create a most intense feeling of impending sorrow. Randomly pull any Daylight Dies track out of the catalog and I guarantee that you’ll get the heebie jeebies and a desire to write some seriously intense poetry. But what puts A FRAIL BECOMING a notch above the band’s own benchmarks is the pace of the 9 tracks on the album; it’s a much more up-tempo listen that doesn’t get mired in its own depression.
The opening track “Infidel” is a pristine example of the band’s philosophy on the album, it’s a punchy tune with a headbanging groove and some slick lead work, but it’s awash in dreary harmony licks and dark, dreary tones. Or better yet, the openly gothic wrist slitters like, “Sunset” or “Ghosting”. These tunes feature a clean vocal performance from bassist Eagan O’Rourke and a more traditional depressive goth ambience, but the tracks never get stuck staring at their shoes, sounding almost like dark power ballads at times. It’s a simple enough nuance, but collectively it makes the album flow much more fluidly than 2008’s LOST TO THE LIVING and keeps you involved in the proceedings from start to finish. It’s worth mentioning that the production job doesn’t sound as obtuse as it has on previous albums; it’s got a brighter veneer to it that makes the highs sound crisper and the lows sound more profound. Again - a simple enough nuance, but one that speaks volumes.
Doom fans already know what to expect from Daylight Dies at this point, and A FRAIL BECOMING won’t disappoint the die-hards. It’s a potent album that speaks to the best of what the band is capable of, and it’s flexible enough to pull in some new converts along the way. A FRAIL BECOMING is available October 9th through Candlelight Records.