Daylight Dies // A Frail Becoming
Rating: 3.0/5.0 — Ghost Brigade with less oomph
Label: Candlelight Records
Websites: daylightdies.com  |  myspace.com
Release Dates:  EU: 2012.10.22  NA: 10.09.2012

How can you not love melodic doom-death. It has melody, doom AND death! What could be better? Coming hot on the  heels of the latest from Hooded Menace, we get more melodic, doomy and downcast music from Daylight Dies. A Frail Becoming is the fourth album full of gloom and despair from these North Carolina masters of melancholy. Unlike the doom-death acts moving in the direction of funeral dirge, Daylight Dies has always kept things more melodic, accessible and light (in the context of depressive doom-death, anyway). Throughout their career, elements of October Tide, Katatonia and Insomnium found their way into the mix. All can still be found on A Frail Becoming, but the sound here is much more clearly a mix of Ghost Brigade and Rapture, with a healthy dose of post-rock style and sensibility.  Never a crushingly heavy band, Daylight Dies often relied on the harsh vocals to prevent them from dropping out of the doom-death genre and becoming a gloomy goth band. Despite the absence of the heft of bands like Draconian or Hooded Menace, their style has resulted in some excellent releases, most notably No Reply and Dismantling Devotion. That style continues here with their most Ghost Brigade-y release yet. A Frail Becoming is loaded with moody, doomy, mid-tempo examples of doom rock with a sturdy backbone of death vox running counter-point to mournful clean signing. When it works, it’s very good. Unfortunately, some of the material is more dull than doomy and drags without ever becoming memorable. Luckily, things hit more than miss and overall, this is an enjoyable, if slightly flawed release, sure to please those who loved the last Ghost Brigade or Swallow the Sun albums.

“Infidel” opens in bigtime Ghost Brigade mode, right down to the alternating melodic and chunky, thick (vaguely core-ish) riffing. There’s an effective ebb and flow to the song and anger battles tranquility throughout. The chorus is a good one and manages to convey that bleak “Finnish style” gloom we all love so much. Things get even better with the doom rock of “Sunset,” where clean and death vox trade-off seamlessly to create a cold, somber winner that could have sat comfortably on the last Ghost Brigade opus. The weeping leads and downbeat flourishes call to mind both Insomnium and Rapture and everything about the Daylight Dies style gels here.

Other moments of success come with the forlorn hopelessness of “A Final Vestige,” the soft, emotional, Katatonia-esque doomy post-rock of “Ghosting” and the extra heavy, ponderous, but beautifully melodic “Hold on to Nothing,” which channels a lot of Swallow the Sun.  Lastly, the lengthy closer “An Heir to Emptiness” uncorks a plethora of downcast leads and unhappy moments over its slow and shambling eight-minute run.

Alas, despite a general level of quality, some less-than-stellar moments do crop up. “A Pale Approach,” while not bad per se, never really gets going, and while the Rapture styling of the song itself is decent, there isn’t much payoff as it runs its course. The same issues follow during “Dreaming of Breathing,” though some above-average riffing helps bail things out a bit at the midway point. Still, it’s not a world beater by any means. In all honestly, even the good stuff here isn’t quite up the level of genre contemporaries like Ghost Brigade or Katatonia.

I can’t fault the vocals, since they are well done throughout. Egan O’Rouke uses his sad, sullen cleans to good effect and he shines on most of the tracks. Nathan Ellis has a standard issue but effective death growl that suits the music well enough and he gets the job done. The interplay between the vocals is also generally well thought out and works well. While there are some great, doomy leads and riffs scattered about A Frail Becoming, I can’t say I’m a fan of some of Charlie Shackleford’s core-ish, simplistic riff choices. Though they aren’t used a lot, they irk me whenever they appear and I think the music would benefit from those chugga-chuggs riffs dropping off entirely.

Sound-wise, this is the production twin of the last Ghost Brigade platter. It’s a clean sound, but the polish doesn’t get in the way of the doomy, grey pall the material casts over the listener. This isn’t a sound that necessarily needs a raw mix, so long as the guitars have adequate balls, which they do here.

This isn’t the best Daylight Dies album, but it has enough of their central sound and wintry charm to appeal to long-time fans and fans of the style. I’m a bit disappointed with just how much A Frail Becoming mirrors Ghost Brigade this time out, but since I like that band, its hard to dislike this. Stick with it and let it grow on you and you’ll be treated to some pleasant, if not exceptional doom rock designed to take you into the frozen glooming. Be sure to check out their superior back catalogue as well!

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  • funeraldoombuggy

    are you saying this sounds like Ghost Brigade?

    • I know, I know. I’m too damn subtle with my comparisons….

      • funeraldoombuggy

        I haven’t actually heard ghost Brigade but since you mentioned them 10 times in the review I shall check them out. I’ve got high hopes for this new Daylight Dies album, hopefully I like it more then you did :)

  • sj666

    Mentions: 14 – Ghost Brigade, 9 – Daylight Dies, 4 – Katatonia. At times it got difficult to tell what band was being reviewed.

    • Read slower or tell Daylight Dies to sound less like Ghost Brigade. Another helpful tip is to refer to the title of the review.

      • sj666

        You still probably shouldn’t mention the comparison more than the thing you’re actually talking about. Anyway, the 2 songs released sound just like Dismatling Devotion which came out before there was a Ghost Brigade. If these guys are guilty of anything it’s cutting the same album over and over.

  • Ghost Brigade…..Ghost Brigade….Ghost Brigade….Ghost Brigade….Ghost Brigade….Ghost Brigade….And so on. I think I’ll go listen to some hmmm Ghost Brigade! ;)

  • Kyle McDonald

    Not sure why people are trolling around on this site and bitchin’ about stuff. I was drawn in by your mentioning of Ghost Brigade since I loved Until Fear No Longer Defines Us and Isolation Songs. I’ll probably get this even though I have only read a little of the actual review. The first few mentions of GB were all I needed.

  • Jeff

    I’d be willing to bet you a month’s salary that nobody in Daylight Dies has even heard of Ghost Brigade. This album really doesn’t sound anything like them, and yes I’ve heard the entire thing.

    • That’s crazy talk.

    • Nobody in Daylight Dies has even heard of Ghost Brigade, because they both didn’t play in Madrid is the Dark 2011. You owe me a month’s salary.

      • Guest

        Right bc as we all know bands hang out and listen to every band when they’re booked at multi day festivals.

  • This is nothing like Ghost Brigade. I have been listening to this style of music, much before even Paradise Lost’s first album. This album is a master piece and by far their best album by far! Not sure what album you were listening to you, but you must of mixed some up.

    • Opinions differ. I was listening to this side by side with the last GB and came to a different conclusion.

  • This is a pretty well written review but I can’t agree with you at all. I find their older material to be a tab boring (for example, they picked up the temp in Lost to the Liviing versus Dismantaling Devtion and I like the former better, unlike most it seems). I think both those albums are great but for me, this blows them both away. I would agree with you that nothing the band has done before has been crushingly heavy but this fucking is.

  • And I’ve never heard anything from Ghost Brigade half as good as anything from these guys…