Review Summary: Welcome home.
But for the circumstances, I’d be tempted to accuse Last Day of Sun
of the crime of derivation, of which it clearly adopts the actus reus
, if not the mens rea
. In non-dickhead’s terms: the twin pillars of hardcore and death metal atop which the Massachusetts moshers’ second LP rests are well constructed, but do little to drive forward either genre, or the amalgam between them - this is a dutiful chugg-filled romp, polished to a tee, but nothing out of the ordinary, at least when assessed in isolation. Missing from this cursory analysis is context. In August 2022, frontman Mark Whelan was finally declared cancer-free, following months of intensive treatment. With this in mind, that Last Day of Sun
contains the single most emotive vocal performance of any metal project this year starts to make a whole lot more sense.
I won't become another number
Lyrics that I’d typically scold for their direct, unadorned literalism instead hit with the brutal fist of reality, cracking with sincerity and unashamed pain; they’re more skramz than dm in execution, and fucking devastating in impact. The reflection of dull fluorescents down hospital corridors is terrifying, revealed on self-explanatory opener “Out Of Time”, and carried through the rest of the LP with spit, venom and riffs (good lord
the riffs). The eerie limbo of long-term illness is unpacked layer by layer, Whelan espousing fears of those he may leave behind, the torment of treatment, of wanting to die, and instead choosing to live. While almost laughable in their simplicity, there’s nothing funny about lines like “I don't want to be here anymore”, harrowing in just how plainly they present Whelan’s recent tribulations.
I won't be trapped inside of this place forever
Despite the apparent adversity, Last Day of Sun
still makes for an terrifically lively listen, because (thank fuck) this story had a happy ending. Rather than wallowing, the group appear in full celebration, as well as top form, propelling these honest (brutally) musings via a decidedly triumphant backdrop. Their staple chugga-skrees present as a mix of relieved and overjoyed, popping corks and saying prayers via disgusting kitwork, monstrous bass and resplendent solos. Even if bread and butter for the genre, and doing little to innovate on the band's first record, it’s nonetheless a joyous cacophony to behold, each breakdown and HM2-styled riff flurry exuding a passion and stubborn resilience that’s downright infectious.
Help me out of this dusk before I disappear
Tallying the scores, Last Day of Sun
’s liberal cookie-cutter use is entirely forgivable; more than that, it brings me joy to see the group return so confidently and successfully to what they do best. In doing so, the group have produced a powerful testament to perseverance, one worth reflecting on, should you find space to breathe between the biblical beatdowns provided. All that’s left to say, to Whelan and the gang, sincerely and emphatically: welcome home.