Beyond the Darkness Within
2002, Independent Release
Summer Dying, "Beyond the Darkness Within"
Michigan's Summer Dying took me by surprised with their debut album Beyond the Darkness Within. Consisting of seven lengthy [6+ minutes each] tracks of melodic death/doom, Beyond the Darkness Within manages to truly impress with it's slick production, relentless attitude and excellent songwriting.
Musically, the band's sound is somewhat similar to Swedish phenomenon Without Grief, but Summer Dying is more direct and pushes more musical volume. The result is impressive because many songs are quite melodic, but the band is able to incorporate thrash/death elements which act to create a near perfect balance. Furthermore, the riffs on most tracks rend flesh as if they were skillfully wielding a flail. The songwriting, especially in reference to the guitars are impeccable, and their delivery is unfaltering. Opener "Friend or Foe" and the subsequent track "Final Day" alone sold me on Summer Dying's capabilities.
Vocally, the band has chosen the route that far too many Swedish acts are opting for these days, that being the use of clean vocals. Whereas some bands including Unmoored and The Haunted can use this device successfully in their music, many skillful acts including Dark Tranquillity, Gardenian and Soilwork have been hobbled by this tactic. Summer Dying is no exception. Though the band's heavy vocal delivery is forceful, clear and effective, the lapse into sung vocals, reminiscent of Projector-era Dark Tranquillity, on nearly every song does detract from the work. It's no surprise that "Forever Lost," the only song on Beyond the Darkness Within that does not use clean vocals is by far the most potent.
Whereas most of the tracks on this album are quite good, regardless, it's because the band's musical skills have overcome the obstacles created by the clean vocals. If Summer Dying chooses to ditch this tactic, they will become a much stronger band; something rather difficult to imagine, as they're already quite impressive.
As it stands, I'd heartily recommend Summer Dying's Beyond the Darkness Within, and I'll cross my fingers that the band realizes that less in the vocal department next time around will result in much more overall.
Friend or Foe