Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Ranges from being average to quite decent. - 68%

BlackMetal213, May 24th, 2015

Happy Days. This band certainly does not play happy music, and don't expect to laugh like you did while watching the TV show. One of the most well known (and not always in a good way) black metal bands from the good old US of A. Happy Days belong to the "subgenre" of black metal known as depressive suicidal black metal, commonly abbreviated as DSBM. Known for its simplicity and bleak, darker than midnight atmosphere, DSBM is also one of the most controversial subgenres of black metal. There are multiple reasons for this, a few often mentioned being how repetitive the music is, making the songs drag on much longer than most people can handle, as well as the "emo" image some of these bands have, and Happy Days is often thought to fall into these stereotypes. Well, they're somewhat accurate.

"Happiness Stops Here..." is Happy Days' third studio album, released in 2009. Before this, they had released three awful demos in 2007 which are not even worth mentioning, but also some average to great studio albums, being "Melancholic Memories" and "Defeated by Life", both released in 2008. After the terrible demos, the band improved drastically and started playing a more consistent, eerie, depressing style of black metal. On "Happiness Stops Here...", they still play that bedroom DSBM they're known for playing up to this point, however, the production is not unlistenable like it almost was in their demo days. It is also not as raw as the previous two full-lengths, but it still is quite rough. Very raw, bleak, and paper-thin, yet audible and clearly listenable. Make no mistake, however; this stuff is still raw and dirty. Quite dirty, in fact. This might be too harsh for the crowd of listeners who have not yet become accustomed to the more raw, "bedroom" production. If you have listened to bands such as Xasthur, Hypothermia, or Make a Change...Kill Yourself with no issues regarding the production value, you shouldn't have an issue listening to this.

The guitars are thin as razorblades and highly fuzzy, but that's to be expected, and for many listeners, to be embraced. There are some clean guitars on this album to be heard, a prime example being right away on the first song "Don't Go." "Don't Go" was actually the first thing I heard by this band. I remember it like it was yesterday. It was about four years ago, during the summer month of July, 2011. At the time, I was quite depressed and had just went through a nasty break up, and was starting to listen to the DSBM side of black metal. Bands such as Xasthur, Leviathan, ColdWorld, and Thy Light were heavily played on my iPod, and I just kept adding more and more to my collection. I was recommended Happy Days by an associate I had at the time, and the music fit my mood quite well. This song seemed to be mentioned quite a bit, although not always in a positive way, such is the case with Happy Days overall, anyway. The musical composition of this song is droning, and easy to get stuck in your brain, simply because there is not much going on and it's easy to keep track of. Anyway, after hearing "Don't Go", I went to "My Brutus", the next song on the album. So I figured I'd just listen to the whole CD all the way through, and that's exactly what I did. This entire album, like most DSBM albums, tends to sound stagnant and has little variety to follow it through. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The entire point of DSBM is atmosphere and emotion, and this does a decent job at capturing that. However, while this album is good atmospherically, after letting it set with me for four years and listening to it with an older, more mature mindset, there are some gripes I must bring up. One in particular, are those vocals.

The vocals on this album range from typical raspy black metal screams, to high pitched, tormented screams that you would expect to hear during a visit to an insane asylum. Previously, Morbid had alternated between using "clean" vocals, which often sound like crying, and raspy screams. It seems on here the clean "crying" vocals on here are not as predominant, which does take away a little of the painful emotion that surrounded the previous albums. He still sounds like a tortured soul, but it doesn't nearly create the effect it did in the past. What must be noted is how loud these vocals can be heard in the mix, and that for me is a major detractor from the music. It gets very annoying, very quickly. Because of this, these vocals are easier to understand on this album, making the lyrics less of an audible mystery, and because they can be heard quite easily, it becomes apparent just how silly they are. These have to be some of the most immature lyrics I have ever heard in a black metal album. For example, "Don't Go", the song I mentioned earlier, makes use of an awfully immature, some would say "emo teenager", style of lyrics. They throw in a cliché:

"What we had was something special"

Are you kidding me? How could my 16 year old self find these lyrics deep and emotional? Sure, they're sad, but they're so amateur it's laughable. I'll give you another lyrical passage from "What It Feels to Be Unloved":

Love me for the piece of shit scum I am. Let this circle of rage grow within you. I want you to hate me. I want to be unwanted. Seems like that's all I ever recieve from this disgusting human fucking race. All you humans are the same."

The lyrical ability of Happy Days actually isn't all bad on this album, however. "No Tomorrow" has some very deeply depressing lyrics, but they don't try too hard to be "edgy" or "full of teen angst" like the lyrics to a fair majority of these songs seem to. This album, out of all their other full-lengths, including the absolutely amazing "Cause of Life: Death" released two years after this, are the most pitiful of their career up to this point, and it wouldn't be as bad if they weren't so easy to comprehend.

I must say, one thing I miss about Happy Days that they did not include on this album was the movie samples. "The Breakfast Club" was used most notably on the last album "Defeated by Life" on the first song, "Emotionally Torn from Within". Additionally, they used a quote from "Fight Club", although I've never even seen that film. This is not a big deal, but it kind of added some sort of interesting atmosphere to the music. It seems like the band is trying to be more musically serious, but because of the aforementioned lyrics, that is almost impossible here. The lyrics and the mix of the vocals are huge distractions for me, taking a lot of the musical enjoyment I would normally get away. Because of this, a lot of the stuff sounds average, and the score is lowered a bit. Still, this album is a solid listen for the most part, although I advise anyone curious about the band to start elsewhere. Except the band's three early demos. They're quite awful.

Emo Black Metal? - 60%

Perplexed_Sjel, November 17th, 2009

Morbid’s Happy Days were always easily digested before ‘Happiness Stops Here’ and then shat out immediately afterwards given the terrible nature of the style, particularly on the early demos. Being a bedroom black metal, and depressive black metal at that, it’s understandable that there is a vast amount of negativity vehemently and viciously directed at Morbid and co. because if there’s anything the modern man hates, it’s bedroom black metal played badly. Being under produced was never really a problem. As black metal fans, we’re somewhat accustomed to lo-fi ensembles of black metal dirges since that was the way the genre used to be before it began to expand. In fact, the lo-fi sound typified a certain era of black metal creations, like the enigmatic ‘Transilvanian Hunger’, which destroyed the hope within many young fans back in the early to mid 1990’s. If you’re a musician who craves the negative attentions of adamant haters, bedroom black metal is the way forward, especially when that style falls into the depressive sub-genre category. A lot of South American bands seem to follow suit when it comes to lo-fi depressive sounds.

This time however, North America has graced us with a band who’re perhaps one of the most rejected bands in the history of black metal - Happy Days. Essentially, Morbid is the leading man behind this project and is, presumably, a young man influenced by the lo-fi outings of the 90’s and the depressive bands scattered in and around Europe like the Czech Republics formidable Trist and Sweden’s scarred Hypothermia. Happy Days have signalled these bands out as probably influences on their own music by even covering a few Trist epics along the way and, to be fair, doing it well. Being young and impressionable isn’t necessarily something anyone wants others to know about, but in terms of this band, the opposite of a happy-go-lucky act, they cannot control themselves and give away all inspirations immediately, leaving no mystery surrounding the music. Unlike mammoths like Hypothermia and Trist, Happy Days lack the technical abilities to ever be able to mount a serious challenge towards the depressive crown as they’re often laughed off the stage before they’ve even begun.

I imagine, by now, that the bands reputation proceeds them and they’re no longer going to be able to inflict a serious dent in European hopes of dominating this sub-genre. Morbid, in particular, is noted for his roles in other generic black metal bands like Deep-Pression. I don’t imagine anyone will ever hold the hope that one day Happy Days can obtain a positive legendary status. The bands which they try to emulate have gained a positive type of notoriety within the depressive scene and are one of only a few bands who have played this style of black metal with any credibility. To gain success from this genre, you must be brave, a visionary and, essentially, some talent. Many complaints have been levelled at Happy Days for not possessing the most pivotal of all personality traits that makes any musician, or band of musicians a success - talent. To their credit, Happy Days have altered significantly since the early days and have, most notably, dropped the pretentious production values which gave them the not-so-desired title of “kings of awful bedroom black metal”. The one thing we can ask for, despite knowing Happy Days will never be as gifted within this field as someone like Kim Carlsson, is to simply improve upon what they created before.

Personally speaking, I thought ‘Defeated By Life’ was a marked improvement upon the debut and undoubtedly over the poor demo collection the band amounted. Cid’s departure from the band was a turn-around point in the bands short history and has improved the technical side of Happy Days tenfold, but there are still mounting problems which don’t enable this to break from its generic mould into a healthier position, in terms of the public opinion. Although Happy Days obviously realise their fundamental lack of technical skills, they have still tried to improve upon earlier efforts by introducing more unique aspects. These aspects include the omission of the dual clean and rasped vocals (which were a saving grace on occasions, so this isn’t exactly a positive, but it does make this record unique in comparison) and the cleanliness of the material. The production is much improved from the shoddily produced demos which gave lo-fi recordings a bad name and sparse elements of the guitar work, in particular, is clean, which was surprising. ‘Don’t Go’ highlights this fact and whilst it doesn’t exactly bolster the technical side, it does generate some positive feedback since we’re not used to a clean Happy Days style.

Another strange omission is the movie samples. I had become so used to them and had grown to actually like them, so considering they’re missing, I was slightly disappointed, though I see this record as a more serious indication of Happy Days intent within the scene. Before they seemed like fans of the genre, and of movies, and nothing more. Now they appear to be musicians within the genre, albeit not the most technically gifted - as shown with their odd structures they changes the production style on occasions without warning - for example, the first song sounds a lot cleaner than some others like ‘Take Me Here’, which has given the music a rather synthetic feel. The ethic is here, but the conviction is not. The vocals have improved simply because the recording equipment has, but the lyrics really need to be addressed and reworked. They could easily fall into the “emo” genre of music. I expect depressive black metal to be somewhat self-indulgent, but these lyrics, on this record, are atrocious at times:

“I'm torn open,
I'm on my knees, asking you
to stay and not to leave.
Please Don't go,
Please Don't go…”

The simplistic style of black metal was never a problem for me. I’ve often stated how I’m a fan of simplicity, but the music, the atmospherics and the soundscapes need to be memorable in order to serve over a long period of time and the songs here wither and die rather easily. They’re unable to endure the test that time brings along and because of that, Happy Days will continue to have problems if they do not rectify the situation which has led them to have generic records. Also, a little maturity would go a long way in the process of rebuilding and recreating themselves as an act we, the fans, can take seriously. Supposedly, some of the material of previous records was created because of the ending of a relationship and given the content of the lyrics, though I’m sure we can all sympathise with the idea of hating break-ups, seems a little melodramatic and rife with the “qualities” that are the make-up of “emo” music. Overall, this record is lackadaisical, with a lyrical structure that draws more laughs than pity and is still plagued by a lack of natural talents.