One Last Taste of Temptation
Released: 2003, Independent
Reviewer: Night of the Realm
I don’t care if I sound impartial in my review because Summer Dying hails from my own local scene, but Summer Dying is the best currently active independent band that I have heard.
After their most impressive self-released debut, BEYOND THE DARKNESS WITHIN last year, Summer Dying had a hell of a task in front of them to top their debut, and I’m glad to say that they more than rose to the challenge. Well, not only has Summer Dying released a sophomore effort at least as good as BtDW, if not better, but they have also been on tour all over the east coast like the metal juggernaut they are.
Prior to the release of ONE LAST TASTE OF TEMPTATION, I was slightly nervous. After all, Tim Lydon, who wrote most of the songs on the debut, had departed last year. My fears turned out to be unfounded as drummer Ben Harris steps forward as the primary songwriter. The sound has not changed much from the melodic death metal (not forgetting the “death” in “melodic death”) on their previous album. All the excellent guitarwork is still here, as Briant Daniel fits right in alongside Tony Oliver for a two guitar attack laden with thick riffs, catchy hooks, and blistering solos. Kerry Cripe’s vocals have improved in each of his three styles; the brutal death growls and tortured rasps are more convincing, but the biggest improvement is in the delivery and control of his clean voice, which I felt slightly detracted from the debut.
Following a quick intro, “Trials of Life” gives us Summer Dying in full force. The band manages to pack a lot of ideas into each song, and “Trials of Life” is no exception. Starting off on a choppy note, we go head-on into a classic Summer Dying tune with a strong melodic lead and lots of time changes. Bassist Bobby Bryant (who has since departed the band) really throws down some good lines here, though I find that the bass is a bit muffled in the mix whereas it was more prominant on the first album. The title track offers us an intricate display of riff/lead combination, providing a very full and rich sound and a hella cool groove. The first surprises on the album come with tracks 5 and 6. First, “Like Icarus” takes a very clean approach complete with the dropped guitars and whispered lines of newer In Flames. Uh-oh. Watch it here, guys. This effect is not overused on this one song on the album, and I think it works well for the band, but I would be pretty pissed off if this became a prominent feature on Summer Dying’s next album. Some killer melodic guitar soloing saves this track, though. I like how the fadeout of “Like Icarus” provides a bit of silence before “Holding On,” the longest, and most ambitious song on the album. Here, they incorporate everything I love about their sound with an incredible opening/main riff, excellent use of Kerry’s vocal talent and backing vocal layers, and Ben Harris really showing off behind the kit. The use of the piano in the outro comes as a surprising, though fitting close to the song. After two different songs, we come back to the heavy and brutal side of Summer Dying for the next two tracks. “As We Rust’ is a short tune, but the dual riffing in here is fucking sweet! “Story for Eternity” is absolute chaos and insanity for about 6 minutes or so. The amount of variation in this song really hit me by surprise. “Cold Hands, Shattered Dreams” seems a bit out of place as an instrumental, but its two minutes of atmosphere neither contribute nor detract to the overall progression of the disc. “Eternal Sleep” is one of my favourites from the disc. Building up slowly, it launches ahead, with a middle section reminding me somewhat of the awesomeley brutal “Friend or Foe” from the first disc. I don’t really dig the clean vocals on the chorus due to some kind of strange electronic effects, but I don’t find it to detract significantly. “My Last Goodbye” is similar in style, getting things going quickly with several short solos. Again, this one just kicks ass.
Lyrically, the boys from Summer Dying have not cheered up in the slightest way since BEYOND THE DARKNESS WITHIN. Kerry Cripe still pours out his tormented anguish and emotional into the introspective lyrics of each track, with Bobby Bryant chiming in about his own emotional hell on several tracks as well. In the production department, Tim Lydon has done a fine job with the sound of the album. He manages to clear out the bulk of noise and excess distortion without sacrificing any rawness or heaviness. Everything about the album is professional, down to the album artwork and layout.
ONE LAST TASTE OF TEMPTATION is one hell of a musical statement by Summer Dying. With their sophomore effort they have proved that Summer Dying is still full of ideas and still growing. It also stands as a testament to what the band can accomplish independently. You will find little arguement that if any band deserves a big recording deal, it is Summer Dying. Strangely, at the same time, they have proven that they do not need a major label record deal, expensive studio, or big name producer to crank out some of the best melodic death on the market today. With two great albums, and several extensive tours under their belts, these guys have the heart of true metalheads, and the balls to slug it out on their own. Even now as the search for a replacement bassist continues, they continue to put on shows and have another tour in the works. It’s a crime that the exceptionally crappy The Black Dahlia Murder holds the record deal in the Michigan underground while Summer Dying remain unsigned.