And in wait we would lie...for four years. This great Carolinan (lack of) hope took their sweet-ass time before dropping 2006's Dismantling Devotion, but the wait proved worthwhile, as the band took a drastic leap in both quality and growth. Emerging wisened, weathered, and fortified with melodic chops that sliced with newfound impact, songs like "All We Had" and "Solitary Refinement" showcased the realization of their depressive potential. A scant two years later, after building their crushing live show around the meatiness of Dismantling's most immediate thumpers, Lost to the Living was expected to push their death metal aspect further to the forefront.
Expectations be damned. The band has taken a calculated turn towards even more maturation and depth, crafting an album that is cerebral, yet heartfelt; elegant, but visceral.
Daylight Dies, dare I say, have out-Opethed Opeth with this one. Not in structure, mind you-- Lost to the Living ambles on a straighter path than Akerfeldt's prog-pie crankwalks. But in mood, it trumps. The sound is progressive in its storytelling, a richly-layered journey from depths of mind to caverns of soul. Adhering to their textbook for the first few tracks --a stout and full-bodied deathroar doom with acute gothic sensibilites-- they improve upon their formula, but offer no surprises. 'Tis until the disc-splitting instrumental "And A Slow Surrender" splits a fork in the road and takes the album down a beautiful, beautiful path. The lead guitars on this track are tear-jerking, and indirectly function as a microcosm for the duality that this band projects for the remainder of the record. Contuinally toeing the line between a sound of truimph and a cry of anguish, the band spirals into sorrow on the emotive "Woke Up Lost", grinds into open wounds with the pounding grit of "The Morning Light" (which is sure to be a staple of their vaunted live act), and splays itself open to the strains of "At A Loss". That somber reflection --built upon a gloriously textured bass line-- is the undisputed highlight of this tome, Nathan Ellis straying from his knifetoothed roar long enough to ply his fantastic cleans, which are made all the more special by their sparse utilization. A chilling, chilling animal, this is.
All told? This is the best Daylight Dies album to date, an exponential improvement upon their foundation, and a dramatic strengthening of their identity. Outwardly classy, inwardly raw, Lost to the Living is an emotionally draining tour-de-force that commands unchallenged attention; Daylight Dies mold an experience, a trancedental grip that eclipses any-and-all trappings their subgenre harbors.
With mid-paced tempos and riffs like engraved diamonds, Daylight Dies flawlessly hits the extremes of power and beauty typical of gothic doom, and achieves a magnificent balance between the two poles -- “Cathedral” and “A Subtle Violence” are stuffed with shades-drawn melody and richly textured electro-acoustic arrangements, yet there’s always an unsettling chord change or jagged slag heap of guitar to poison the prettiness just so. Nathan Ellis’s death growl bleeds sadness, his clean singing on “Woke Up Lost” and “Last Alone” even more so.
Lost to the Living is built on a detailed latticework of electricity and emotion that feels more complex with each spin. There’s something larger going on here though, a dying rose grandeur that envelops the album in ivy and mist. This is music to get lost in, heavy metal that expands and explodes the experience of despair to encompass both outward aggression and intense sorrow.
It says a lot about Daylight Dies that it can turn the simple, weeping instrumental “And A Slow Surrender” into the emotional high point of the album. The band is accessing realms of emotional and musical depth that perhaps only Opeth has reached before it. Let’s see what happens next.
"Lost To The Living" has been mixed in Sweden by the same mastermind who did both Opeth and Katatonia (Jens Bogren), which is a big contributing factor to the record sounding so bloody awesome. It's heavy while it's tranquillizing, and brutal while overly melodic in sound. Whilst the record does not contain ten minute progressive mammoths, the songs still spread themselves between the five and eight minute mark. And because the songs never resort into unnecessary displays of retardedly complicated instrumental mastery and rely on a purely atmospheric melodic metal approach instead, they keep you interested throughout. Plus you can't be but taken away by their vocalist's ability to use his thunderous growls as an additional instrument to their music, much like his obvious inspiration Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth).
More often than not, their magnificent combination of roaring vocals, melancholic interludes, and desperate melodies make you lean back in amazement over how good these guys are, and how on earth you did not know about them before today. If nothing else, Daylight Dies demonstrate that the Swedes aren't the only people able to write brilliantly depressive melodic metal, which is why they'll be massive as soon as the Opeth fans get to know about them. 8½ out of 10.
“Doom” always seemed like a silly name for a style of music, considering it isn’t used in everyday conversation the way “death” is. Death has serious, negative connotations while doom is more cartoony. People only use it in an exaggerated, comedic sense as in, “We’re all doomed!” Why couldn’t we have called it Dread Metal? There’s a heavy sense of dread to this kind of music that’s much more malevolent considering “doom” expresses finality while “dread” can go on in perpetuity.
Possessing a Doom Metal sound with harsh, roaring Death Metal vocals, North Carolina’s Daylight Dies aren’t as heavy as some other bands but the aura they put forth is weightier than most. Lost To The Living is a reflective work featuring solemn meditations that occasionally rise up to strike with a biting force, but mostly offers lush instrumentation that will endear the act to existing fans and newcomers alike. There’s been a clear progression over the short career arc of Daylight Dies, and with Lost To The Living we get what could very well become the band’s masterwork.
What’s essential to Daylight Dies’ sound is the melodic interplay between guitarists Barre Gambling and Charlie Shackelford. Gambling, well-educated in Classical guitar, has a wicked sense of melody and chord progression that keeps the listener guessing. You’ll think you know where the song is headed until a startling key change makes for an unexpected turn that illuminates a new paradigm in the structure.
The band’s first two demo EPs showcased the atmosphere the band was going for more than they did the level of musicianship that would be found on later releases. Especially nice were those early piano interludes. It wasn’t until their proper debut, 2002’s No Reply, that we got a taste for the extended instrumental passages that would become a signature for a band clearly influenced by early Paradise Lost, mid-period Katatonia, Fields Of The Nephilim, and even Opeth. After a four year absence and the loss of their vocalist as well as their record label they put out Dismantling Devotion on Candlelight with new frontman Nathan Ellis, and solidified their standing as one of the most haunting acts in contemporary Metal. Rather unexpected was the addition of clean vocals sparsely peppering the release, shifting from the sound of a man who needs more fiber in his diet to a man who just needs a friend. While the change concerned some listeners who didn’t want the act to soften its approach, it was a stroke of inspiration that added more contrast to their overall sound.
Whereas 2006’s Dismantling Devotion dealt with disintegrating relationships, this release focuses on aging and the burdens of day-to-day living. The eloquent marriage of clean and distorted guitars working in tandem provides for a miasma of melancholic melodies, revealing a new level of maturation in the band’s songwriting skills. The individual players combine to form a much tighter unit, deftly managing the mood of each song like skilled puppeteers in command of trembling strings.
The leads which hover above the eerily fluid rhythms on tracks like “A Subtle Violence” and “Last Alone” paint lustrous and ornate designs against a despairingly murky backdrop while dark, labyrinthine riffs guide you through a maze of turmoil and despair. Once again clean vocals are employed but on this release they encompass two entire songs and are sung mournfully by bass player Egan O’Rourke. “At A Loss” and “Woke Up Lost” are both great tracks but, curiously, they’ve been placed together in the running order. It would have been a better idea to space them out. This marks the one standout flaw in an otherwise devastatingly good collection of melodic dirges that will be hard to top next time around.
With the stinging tones and corrosive undertow of “A Portrait In White” and album closer “This Morning Light,” Daylight Dies have elevated their artfully executed atrabiliousness with complex arrangements that still come across as accessible. Anyone with an aversion to loud, growling vocals will, sadly, remain unconvinced of their mastery even while begrudgingly accepting the level of proficiency evident in the capabilities of each performer.
So… Why not invert the word Doom and call it “Mood Metal?” Then again, this label just doesn’t seem to do the majesty of recordings like this as much justice. We’re referring to an epic style of music that deserves to be referred to as such. Daylight Dies have evolved into a force greater than the sum of their influences, and as a result there shouldn’t be much debate regarding this album’s status on year-end best-of lists just as it seems certain that the “Doom” title is here to stay, as absurd a descriptive term as it may be. 4½ out of 5.
Again the new Daylight Dies record has become a true doom gem in every sense of the word. Majestuously enthralling melodies, desperate and futile grunts or introspective desolate notes on the piano: all the ingredients are there for a great hour of drama and intense emotion. Atmosphere is the keyword yet again. It is exactly that sombre, dark atmosphere of a record like Katatonia's 'Brave Murder Day' that is recreated, but with a little more hope at the end of the horizon owing to a set of powerful and catchy solos and melodies. It is a bit of a pity that the record is released at an unfitting time of the year, but that's probably the only thing wrong with this release. Daylight Dies delivers a high quality doomproduct once again and I sincerely hope that these guys will make the effort to come and play live in Europe some time soon. 85 out of 100.
Just like the Swedes Opeth and the Brits Anathema, the quintet employ the use of acoustic guitars to enrich the themes with a melancholic and emotional atmosphere, gaining some progressive characteristics in the process, but not going as far as Opeth does obviously. “Wake Up Lost” for example, is a song that brings to memory the gentler compositions of Mikael Akerfelt, a slow paced and melancholic piece that offers various acoustic interludes. The clean singing of bass player Egan O'Rourke also increases the similarities between the two, even if it strangely evokes the more contemplative moments of Layne Staley.
“Last Alone”, another theme sung entirely by O'Rourke is quite atmospheric, almost Pink Floydian in style that somehow invokes the spirit of Anathema around the “Judgement” days.
The calmer and orchestrated passages are a constant and brilliantly counterbalance the more aggressive and dissonant moments offered by the excellent and skilful work of guitarists Barre Gambling and Charley Chackelford. The lead guitars are also a dominant characteristic of this album as it happens in songs like “A Portrait in White”, “A Subtle Violence” and “Descending”. Without weak points, “Lost to the Living” is an album that grabs our attention from the very beginning to the end, without ever feeling tempted to press the skip forward button. Excellent work! 8 out of 10.
Daylight Dies' MySpace page describes the band as "Dark, Desperate and Melancholic Metal." That's an apt description of Lost To The Living. It's dark, doomy and gloomy. That doesn't mean the songs are all slow and plodding. Daylight Dies plays many of the songs at a medium or fast tempo, although there are some slower moments as well.
The songs are fairly lengthy, with most clocking it at the 5 to 8 minute range. Daylight Dies does a good job varying their musical intensities, ranging from sparse and mellow acoustic guitars to dense and aggressive walls of sound. Most of the tracks have long instrumental passages with intricate arrangements and skillful musicianship.
Most of the vocals are harsh growls from Nathan Ellis. He has a gritty voice that suits the melancholy atmosphere of the album. A couple of songs also feature melodic vocals from bassist Egan O'Rourke. He does a nice job, and it will be interesting to hear if they incorporate more melodic vocals into future releases. I wasn't as blown away by Lost To The Living as I was their last CD, but it is a more focused and mature release and is consistently good. 4 out of 5 stars.