In the Shakespearean drama that is metal music, the traitor, the one that will betray the hero in the end, is the production. A poorly mixed album is the proverbial knife in the back, the devastating turn of events that leads to a downfall of epic proportions. For Dead Summer Society, a one man experimental doom band comprised of Emiliano "Mist" Santoro, this evil is constantly lurking in the shadows. For no matter how good the idea, no matter how good the musician, a poorly recorded piece of music can never reach the heights it deserves. On the new EP, "My Days Through Silence," the old villain returns to dull an otherwise brightly conceived concept. With three instrumental demos seeing vocal additions, this could be a lesson learned.
The first few moments of "The Heart Of Autumnsphere" may seem to run contrary to the above argument. Beautiful keys and synthesizers are well played and dynamic, creating an atmosphere that hard to beat. But as the vocals enter, things go horribly awry. The quality of the mix shifts, favoring an off key lyrical delivery, which is often little more than oddly spoken words. The drums, lost in the bottom layer, do little to stabilize the track, which may have done better as an instrumental, the way it was originally conceived and recorded. There is a better use of balance in the melodies of the title track, though the muffled production on the guitars only exacerbates the problems that lie here. Vocally, you are stuck between the classic rock and a hard place. A-melodic speaking clouds the majority of the track, with a few deathly screams cutting in early and sporadically throughout. The latter fits more successfully than the former, but both leave the song somewhere in treacherous limbo, unable to advance and move forward. Instead, it feels as though you are treading water. The one shining star is the keyboard work, which comes through eerily clear.
Easily the most complete of the original three tracks is "Army Of Winter (March Of The Thousand Voices)." Distorted guitars blast ahead, layered atop light plucking. Even the use of electronic effects adds an extra bit of depth to things. But in the moments where you have a full ensemble of guitars, bass, drums, vocals, and keys, there is no separation in sound or tone. Rather, you have one solid clump of sound waves huddled together. On the other side of things, the areas devoid of vocals are easily picked apart, with each piece working in harmony with the others. However, the "breakdown" portion that inhabits the four minute mark seems to take a step in the right direction. Though not completely clear, the vocals finally feel like part of the mix, rather than an oily film on top. After three hard to digest pieces, the closing track may be the icing on the cake of bizarre. "Endless," a newly recorded instrumental, takes the techno metal concept we have wrestled with to a new level. A trip-hop beat is the lead, with light synths and off time guitar chords seeing equal partnership in the mix. Fortunately, this track embodies two things that were absent earlier: it is both well recorded, and blissfully short.
Only the creator of music, such as this, can ever really know what the intention was; we are only peeking through a small window into his mind. But with production work that falls flat time and again, it becomes increasingly harder to understand the finished product. Dead Summer Society isn't a project that is predestined to fail. Santoro has the opportunity to turn this one man band into something more than nothing. But for him to realize that dream, there has to be some form of quality control; some kind of security for his music. Because, thanks to the failings on "My Days Through Silence," his next full length album, due out next year, may prove to be the twisting of the knife in his rib cage.
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