Review Summary: Quite simply one of the best melodeath albums out there, even challenges death metal as a whole, any fan of the genre should know about this.
Denmark, a small country in Northern Europe, is not known for its metal community, while the city to the North, Gothenburg, has basically given birth to the melodic death metal scene, with such giants as At the Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquillity becoming the torch bearers of the genre. However, in 1997, a little known band called Autumn Leaves released an album called Embraced By the Absolute
. This album was fast and brutal, while still containing melody. In short, they never forgot that they played melodic death metal
. These Danish metalheads then elaborated on this formula and released a true gem of an album, 1999's As Night Conquers Day
The first four tracks of this album are pure gold. The album begins with a loud crack (a gunshot?) and "The Reign Supreme" commences. Right away, guitarists Thomas Andersen and Flemming Lund begin firing off intensely heavy yet melodic riffs one after another. Vocalist Torsten Madsen then introduces his thick death growl that will dominate the album. Later, the real highlights of the album, the solos, show themselves. The guitarists flame their way through highly melodic shredding throughout all of the solos on the album and they sound absolutely mesmerizing. If you are a fan of melodic solos, this album is chock full of them, and it works out great. Unlike many other death metal albums, the bass is also audible throughout much of the album, increasing the attractiveness of the record significantly. Drumming is also excellent. Egil Madsen is very capable behind the kit and his speedy double bass and hectic fills are another element that adds to the band's overall sound. "Revolution 21", "Another Day, Another Demon" and "Empty Black Stare" are positively filled to the brim with fantastic guitar work and demonic vocals, and they are all a treat to listen to. The former of which begins with a really orgasmic descending riff that really captures the whole idea of melodic death metal
into one guitar passage. It feels like you are being pulled into hell by an angel. Tracks 5 through 8 all capture different elements of the melodic death metal style and roll them into different packages. There are slow passages, somewhat breakdown-like gambits and harmonized leads out the wazoo. Weak tracks on this album are hard to come by.
However, the final two tracks are what the album is really about. "Shadowland" begins with Torsten sounding positively possessed and the guitarists playing a thudding, stuttering riff. Distorted melodic leads and more great drumwork from Egil continue. At about two minutes and twenty seconds in, a riff reminiscent of Slayer comes through followed by a truly beautiful and emotional solo that sounds very much like Iron Maiden. More rapid, rushing riffs and gargoyle-like vocals close out the song. The intro to "The Discovery" gives me chills everytime I listen to it. It is so mind-bogglingly emotional with the strings and the guitars adding amazing atmosphere. This song is truly an example of how good melodic death metal can be if it is done right. At times it sounds a bit like two other great melodeath songs, "Gyroscope", and "Moonshield", both by In Flames. 4 minutes in, Torsten lets out a wailing growl that makes you think like a 2X4 is being shoved through his gut. Everything in this song is fantastic, absolutely beautiful and it really shows how much musicianship these men hold within themselves. Amazing closer.
Torsten is a great growler. Many of the words he spits out are actually intelligible, and you can shout along to many of the lyrics. The lyrics are also great, not focusing on typical death metal topics like violence and mutiny. They are deeper and concentrate the emotion of the album effectively. The guitarists, as mentioned before, are absolute juggernauts on the fretboards. They shred and turn out more melodic solos and riffs than many bands would in 5 albums, let alone one. Distorted wizardry like the opening riff of "Revolution 21" frolic all over the fields of this album, creating a cathartic experience for the listener that few bands of this genre can touch. The rhythm section of bassist Boris Tandrup and Egil also performs well, with the bass being a primary element to the sound and the drums pushing the album forward at often breakneck speeds. The band as a whole comes together incredibly well and produces this masterpiece accordingly.
Unfortunately, Autumn Leaves would break up soon after this album, leaving me to wonder in what could of been. Oh, what could have been. Still, the band left their mark on the melodic death metal scene and the Danish metal scene. The only thing that prevents this album from being an overall classic in my mind is the sub-par production, not fully bringing out the sound of the band in its full glory. Still, this is a melodeath classic and really shows all of the bells and whistles of the genre in one stellar package. Any fan of the death metal genre should listen to this. As Night Conquers Day
gets a well-deserved 4.5 out of 5.