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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.