Review Summary: Very well written, but with every song at 10+ minutes the album is a little hard to approach and get a taste for.
Formed in 1995 before USBM was as ridiculous as it is today, Night Conquers Day was a project that has stayed underground and flown under the radar for over a decade now. The bands last offering, "Rebellion is the Art of Survival" might imply a rebellious teen attitude with it's somewhat ridiculous title, yet the music shows otherwise. Released on Hammerheart, one of the better labels now-defunct for original bands in the metal scene, the album is quite a chunk of music. Songs all clock in over ten minutes, the exception being the intro. 6 songs clocking in at 70 minutes... wow.
The music can best be described as black metal, but there are certainly other influences here, melodic death/thrash influence can be heard, symphonic keyboards appear, and other more subtle influences may stand out to the attentive listener. Songs cover a nice breadth of genres, it is not an album where one song is in one style, one in another style, etc. The album in itself is consistent. Within songs a straight black metal passage may give way to a more technical harmonized guitar riff, then a the black metal will reappear with symphonics added to the arrangement, then give way to a calm clean guitar passage. The variation works well, transitions are rarely awkward, though every now and then a tempo change does happen. The willingness of the guitars to explore some fairly complex harmonies and leads might also create some comparisons to Lord Belial, though the Swedes have far cleaner solo work.
The production is hit and miss. It is fairly clear for a black metal record, yet also leaves no doubt that the album is in fact black metal and not something else. Instruments are distinct yet lack edge. To put it best, it seems as though there was little to no engineering or mastering done to the album, the clean guitars especially sound very low quality. Guitars are also a little to fuzzy and have no real solid core or bit to them, this works well for the tremolo passages but the harmonies are impeded by the production work. Vocals sound good, a little strained/running out of steam sometimes but overall solid. (Sometimes there is some ridiculous falsetto work, just laugh it off).
Structure is hard to identify, which is really the the biggest weakness of the album. It's hard to remember the songs as they have little resembling a theme or main riff/chorus in most of them. There's almost too many riffs in each song, too many to keep track of structure. At last variety makes the album engaging and not monotonous, but it does hurt how memorable it is. Bass is also a lacking point as it's buried by the production most of the time.
There is however, a primitive charm to the album, the basic drumming that drives through most of the songs definitely gives it the 90s sound (think the basic drumming that worked wonders for Darkthrone). The same is present here, basic drumming that still has a charm to it somehow, it does just enough to retain black metals inherent rudimentary nature, yet is not incompetent. All the elements come together nicely to present a very well made and crafted album, perhaps hurt by it's production, but I'd rather have good music that isn't fully realized by it's production values than uninspired riffing with production copied from Darkthrone or Burzum. In all very solid, surely worth a listen, might make you a little nostalgic for the 90s black metal.