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Rebellion is the Art of Survival. - 90%

Perplexed_Sjel, June 14th, 2006

Night Conquers Day, a black metal act from New York in the United States of America. During their short existence, Night Conquers Day managed to record and release two full-lengths, unfortunately the journey ended there. "Rebellion Is The Art Of Survival" is the second of the two full-lengths and is a truly astonishing piece of work. Who says Americans cannot produce good Black Metal? Those are the claims. Many have issued criticism towards the American scene for producing far too many depressive black metal bands, particularly those formed within the bedroom, and the claims are that there are too many mediocre acts aside from the depressive ones. As a huge fan of the American scene, I can safely say with a bit of scouting around, one can find the most obscure, but brilliant black metal bands. Night Conquers Day fall into such a category building upon the foundations they themselves laid with ‘The First Snowfall’.

The music itself consists of simple, slow and subtle sounds like much of black metal these days, but Night Conquers Day is in a league of their own when it comes to creating highly atmospheric and ambient music. The keyboards are extremely important here in laying down an atmosphere to carry the songs over, and what a truly unique atmosphere it is. It's cold, mournful and most intriguing of all, mysterious. Just like black metal should be. The vocals play an imperative part in giving the atmosphere it's consistency and downright grimness, as the true fans of the genre like to put it. Vocals range from growls to shrieking screams of a more typical nature, and sometimes whispers over an ambient backdrop. Whilst the vocals will never be the most integral part of a black metal record, they do have a job to do and the Night Conquers Day vocalist does it. Considering the sheer length of the majority of the songs, instrumentation becomes of the utmost importance and so it should be. Vocals are often emitted from songs to allow the instrumental sections to truly grasp hold of the audience with a cold and distant atmospheric nature. The image of nature is of great importance. As the lyrical themes suggest, Night Conquers Day often base their material around concepts such as winter, which would fall into the nature category. The album seems to want to convey images of bleakness, coldness and desolation which it most certainly does. The bleak beauty of the record is aptly displayed in the content of the lyrics, which are well written.

“When the sky turns red, there’s no turning back
With our eyes closed, we are under attack
The dead are rising and it's hunger they lack
A lonely wolf howling separated from his pack

The stars rain onto the earthen streams of green
Unsettling the goddess in a contemplative state serene
The candle's face is melting into something so obscene
Something is wrong with the world…”

I can foresee references to certain established bands being made but, for me at least, Night Conquers Day have conquered the black metal underground with their own unique style, which often incorporates different elements of black metal, making it experimental in some sense of the word. The electric acoustics, the influence of the keyboards on the soundscapes and the two guitarists playing around one another make for an interesting mix if nothing else. As touched upon before, the keyboards are an immense aspect of this record. They create a lot of the beauty and picturesque imagery which comes from the soundscapes. Songs like ‘Dream Sleep Sorcery’ display the talents in song writing, with it’s enhanced use of melody through astonishing twin guitar play, which is supported in strong fashion by the underlying bass, and atmospherically driven ambience. There is a raw emotional edge attached to the music of Night Conquers Day, this is often displayed through the vocals, as well as the atmospheric diversity of the record, which is a pivotal aspect of ‘Rebellion Is The Art Of Survival’. To me, the title of the record acts as a metaphor for the material on the record itself. The rebellion of the music from the normal standards black metal musicians are meant to stick strictly to is what makes this work of art a survivor of time, which hasn’t diminished it’s sound one bit.