Summer Dying — Beyond The Darkness Within (2002)

18.06.2002  :: АрхивАрхив рецензий Автор: Chris Alfano

It’s barely been a year since Michigan’s Summer Dying originally formed, but in that short period of time, they have assembled an impressive track record that includes opening slots for such big-name touring acts as Witchery, Cannibal Corpse, The Haunted, and Dimmu Borgir. The preceding list of bands might lead one to make assumptions about this quintet’s approach to music, but I would advise against it. Summer Dying exudes a style that rests somewhere between the «second wave» of Swedish death metal, and the gothic-doom leanings of Anathema or Katatonia. Just to be fair, I’ll mention here that my affinity for bands of the former type doesn’t extend to those of the latter. However, Summer Dying seems to have a slight preference for the likes of In Flames and At The Gates, so to my ears, they are welcome addition to the scene.

Looking first at the production on this disc, I must admit to having some misgivings. While the mix is nicely balanced, there is a tendency for the lower frequencies to distort easily. I guess lowering the volume might help, but as any self-respecting metal fan knows, this is only to be done as a last resort! While this inadvertent glitch is a bit annoying at times, it really doesn’t detract from the overall listening experience. I’ve also been told (more than once) that I’m an anal-retentive prick about sound quality, so let’s just drop the issue and move on, shall we?

The next item for consideration is the song writing. The members of Summer Dying seem to possess this skill in abundance, which is a good thing considering that none of these songs is under 6 minutes in length. Each track on «Beyond The Darkness Within» shows a natural flow of well-constructed melodies, tight harmonic interplay, and definitive mood swings that honor the band’s predecessors while simultaneously taking off in a new direction. The second and third tracks («Final Day» and «Tears Of The Fallen») are ideal examples, as both display compelling harmonies and beautiful interludes. It is here that I took particular notice of guitarists Tony Oliver and Tim Lydon, who complement each other in a manner that resembles the six-string banter between Adrian Smith and Dave Murray during Iron Maiden’s vintage years. Even so, Oliver and Lydon execute their solos with a sense of confidence and maturity that will serve them well in the upcoming years. While I’m giving props to the musicianship on this release, I also want to draw attention to bassist Bobby Bryant, whose melodic sensibility and technical flair combine to create a sound that seduces just as easily as it intimidates. When you start hearing great things about this guy in the near future, just remember that you heard about him here first!

I debated with myself regarding whether or not I should even bring this up, but I have one more complaint, which really pertains more to my subjective tastes than anything else. Vocalist Kerry Cripe turns in an excellent performance for this album, and his wide-ranging delivery (which includes both standard death vox and well-articulated «clean» singing) is well matched with the band’s intense musical output. However, I’m not very keen on some of the aforementioned «clean» sections. It’s not that they necessarily sound bad, but they bear too much similarity to Dark Tranquillity’s «Haven» album for my personal comfort (check out the review for further details).

Despite its very few minor drawbacks, fans of melodic death metal will find «Beyond The Darkness Within» to be an emotionally-moving foray into a realm where the genre’s more cliched trappings are uprooted and replaced with talent, devotion, and integrity. Check out http://www.summerdying.com for more information.

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