Dayseeker – ‘Dark Sun’

By Dave Stewart

We all love music so much because it provides us with an outlet. It doesn’t matter if you’re a casual listener or one of the talents creating it – it provides an escape, therapy, an unbiased ear, a helping hand and so much more, and when bands lean into that it can make the end product something that’s really moving and impactful. That is exactly what Dayseeker have done with their new record ‘Dark Sun’, with vocalist Rory Rodriguez using the album’s duration to explore the feelings surrounding the tragic loss of his father. Get your tissues at the ready folks, this is an emotional journey.

If you came here for the big riffs and the irresistible choruses then there’s definitely some treats for you here. The albums first three steps – the towering ‘Dreamstate’, the stunning first single ‘Neon Grave’ and the passionate ‘Without Me’ – all deliver what you’d expect from this band; Rodriguez’s pristine vocals, thick walls of guitars, simple but incredibly powerful drum work, all working together to create a familiar metalcore picture. Upon closer inspection, though, there are traits on show here that hint at what to expect from the rest of the album, and it’s those characteristics that really make this stand out from anything else the band has released.

As previously mentioned, this album’s lyrics are all centred on the death of Rodriguez’s father and both the instrumentation and their textures create an almost dreamlike setting, like he’s confronting his feelings inside his own mind rather than in real life. The rest of the album really explores that, traversing blinding highs and crushing lows whilst maintaining a feeling that your feet are never touching the ground. ‘Homesick’ has those light and bright synthwave tones that transport you right into a neon-lit world, dancing around you like fireflies as Rodriguez cries “I was free in the fall, now I’m lost in the moment”. ‘Midnight Eternal’ carries those textures forwards, floating towards the towering title track and its pulsating bass lines. It feels almost like an 80’s club hit before it erupts into more familiar territory in the closing moments, blending both of this record’s worlds together.

The tail end of the album is an exquisite blend of the serene mixed with a few well placed punches, wrapping the whole narrative up nicely. ‘Quicksand’ is an almost lo-fi pop track, ‘Paper Heart’ is a softly spoken heart-wrencher, ‘Crying While You’re Dancing’ is 80’s disco worship with metalcore choruses – it’s all so powerful. If you aren’t crying yet ‘Parallel’ might just tip you over the edge with Rodriguez’s line “I’m holding your hand but it’s losing colour / I know you weren’t ready to go”, delivered with such anguish that it transports you to the moment. ‘Afterglow (Hazel’s Song)’ rounds everything up so wonderfully, delicately weaving those ethereal synth tones with cavernous reverberated melodies and tidal waves of guitars, like the aggression of the beginning of the album and the pain that emerged after it are meeting one another and coexisting.

This doesn’t spend as much time in the heavy side of their sound as you might have expected or wanted but, when you consider the subject matter, it makes sense as to why that is. There’s a lot to unpack when it comes to grief, and anger and frustration is just a small part of it. All of the other emotions and feelings that swirl around it can be interpreted in so many ways, and the way Dayseeker have explored that is really beautiful. The record is an ode to an important figure; it’s about Rodriguez’s dad, sure, but the lyrics can be applied to loss in general. Anyone that’s experienced it will feel like this album is speaking to them, like it understands them, and ultimately like it provides a space where those complicated feelings don’t have to be masked. That in itself makes this record a real diamond.

‘Dark Sun’ is a deeply sad and harrowing album, but there’s comfort to be found in it too, and that really makes for a special listen. It’s easily the most delicate and fragile record in Dayseeker’s discography, but quite possibly the most hard-hitting. Simply stunning.

DAVE STEWART

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