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A Portrait in Black: Blistering’s Top 10 Daylight Dies Songs

By: Matthew Bowling & David E. Gehlke


*Click on each song title to listen*

1. All We Had (from Dismantling Devotion)
Gehlke: The obvious choice for the top Daylight Dies song, "All We Had" is led to the fields of desolation via a wistful opening segment, full of haunting guitars. Once the baton is passed to the band's patented mid-tempo plunder (the riffs turn and churn, like a dangerous tide), it's simply a matter of letting the dark dynamics do their thing, amounting to what is essentially the band's most harrowing song to date.

Barre: One of my personal favorites. The intro/outro riff works so well because it has a rhythm that pounds the emotion into you. This was one of the first riffs we started working with for the Dismantling Devotion album, and "All We Had" was the first song we wrote for the album. Nathan’s vocals sound particularly sorrowful on this one.
Jesse: This is one of those songs that I’ve seen fans really gravitate towards years after the release of Dismantling Devotion. The song fluxuates between restrain and release really effectively and the result is a thick unbroken melancholic atmosphere. I also love slow lead when the whole band comes in at the beginning.

2. Cathedral (from Lost to the Living)
Gehlke: The opening number on Lost to the Living, "Cathedral" operates in standard DD fare, only to give way to what is perhaps the band's most melodically-pleasing moment at the 3:44 mark. This portion buttresses "Cathedral," a savory ode to woe, a song that appears to be shorter than it really is.

Barre: The middle section was our first attempt at 7/8 time. The subtle half step key change when the middle section kicks in from the leads before it was inspired by a similar key change from At the Gates' "Under a Serpent Sun."
Nathan: One of my favorites from Lost to the Living, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people immediately associate the lyrics with religion when (at least to me) they clearly have nothing to do with it.

3. A Dream Resigned (from Dismantling Devotion)
Gehlke: A song title worth stealing and livened up by a spate of spacious chords and momentous lead melody courtesy of Gambling, "A Dream Resigned," as the band states rightfully below, is a live charmer. Its emblematic of the push a lot of the songs on Dismantling had; coarse and rigid, with various peaks and valleys, highs, and lows. Actually, this song makes one experience the lowest of lows...

Jesse: Another one of my favorites from Dismantling Devotion and one of the most ambitious on the album. It’s also a great live song, and it has become a staple to shows ever since.
Barre: Many people cite the breakdown as their favorite moment in this song.
Nathan: This is one of my favorites to play live. Whenever we play it, the lyrics take me back to some bleak, bleak times in my life, and it’s very easy to flip on the “auto pilot” switch and really let those emotions take over and drive the performance. Definitely a fan favorite live as well.

4. Ghosting (from A Frail Becoming)
Gehlke: The biggest head-turner and best song on A Frail Becoming, "Ghosting" takes the road less travelled for DD, with bassist Egan O' Rourke handling all vocals. However, the song is hoisted up by an unbelievably heavy middle portion, capsized by a flowing lead melody and Haff's double-bass work. Their boldest piece to date.

Jesse: I loved this song from the first demo Egan sent around, but he was on the fence about whether or not it would make sense on the album. I was very vocal early on that it added a dynamic that would boost the album as a whole, and thankfully Egan eventually agreed.

5. Strive to See (from Dismantling Devotion)
Gehlke: Biting melodies make "Strive to See" go, especially when the band leads into the chorus. They run in the opposite direction of a bruising middle section, a portion that is one of the band's heaviest to date. Another quality example of the ying and yang of DD's sound...one moment they're as melodic as can be, the next, they're doling out nasty riff-action.

Barre: We used to call the heavy dissonant middle riff ‘the vomit riff’ because of the triplet over double bass beat lurch.
Jesse: The main thing that comes to mind is the “vomit riff."
Nathan: Oh yeah! The vomit riff! This is one from Dismantling that we’ve not played live very often, but we should dust it off sometime! Lyrically it’s one of my favorites. Here’s an easter egg for you: Can you spot my homage to Queensryche in the lyrics for this one?

6. Hold on to Nothing (from A Frail Becoming)
Gehlke: Gambling's solo is the first thing that comes to mind when pondering the impact of "Hold on to Nothing." Placed at the back end of A Frail Becoming, the song is effectively the most melodic entry on the band's new album, allowing one to recoil in one of DD's more sobering moments.

Barre: The music and title came to me in a period of a few days while living alone, broke and unemployed in Los Angeles.
Jesse: This song has my favorite Daylight Dies solo of all time. You can tell how much time and emotion Barre put into composing it. I have to admit there are times I’ll stop whatever I’m doing, listen to this solo, take a deep breath, and then continue with where I left off.
Nathan: Definitely my favorite Daylight Dies guitar solo ever. When I heard it the first time my jaw dropped. So emotive, so tasteful, and it just keeps going. It’s unfortunate that Barre doesn’t get widespread recognition in the guitar player community. He exercises a lot more restraint that most players, but the stuff he writes is incredibly tasteful, and deceptively technical. I recall being at Egan’s place working on some vocal demos one day, and I made the comment to Barre that I wanted Operation: Mindcrime/Somewhere In Time level guitar solos, both in number and in awesomeness” for the new record. While we may not have gotten quite that many, I think the guitar playing on this album stands out as some of the best I’ve heard in a while. Am I biased? Maybe. But in my opinion, Barre and Charley killed on this record.

7. Unending Waves (from No Reply)
Gehlke: One of the few DD numbers that can relate to Brave Murder Day-era Katatonia, "Unending Waves" works so well because of Gambling's constant lead guitar churn. As the guitarist builds the song during the verse, he takes over the pre-chorus, then heads to truly barren lands in the chorus. Special nods to an ultra-dreary center, with you guessed it: more downtrodden melodies.

Jesse: We were all very pleased with how this song turned out, and we knew it would be a template against which we’d judge ourselves. It became a defining song of the first phase of the band.

8. Lies that Bind (from Dismantling Devotion)
Gehlke: "Lies that Bind" introduced O'Rouke's clean vocals to DD's sound, becoming yet another tool in which the band to operate with. Of course, the tune runs headfirst into death territory, as Ellis's hefty roar makes mincemeat out of the band's aggro movements.

Barre: This intro was forged from a full band collaboration. We were all in the practice room trying our hardest to make a riff out of some dark chords I brought that day, and we eventually tried the chords followed by a death metal type rhythm guitar part over a double bass beat, and then we knew we had the part. Following that madness with a clean guitar/ clean vox part provided a great dynamic moment, and is (I think) the first clean vocal part Egan ever did with Daylight Dies.

9. Infidel (from A Frail Becoming)
Gehlke: The opening number on the band's new A Frail Becoming album, "Infidel" benefits from Gambling and Shackelford's crunchy guitars, setting the pace for the album that is probably the band's heaviest. Naturally, the song segues into unforgiving dark territory, with ugly chords firming up what should be a live opener for years to come.

Egan: Barre and I wrote the intro to this song in the studio. Essentially he just played various broken chords until we came up with a series that set the mood for the song. It may surprise some people but there are zero keyboards in the intro-- It’s all guitars. We were doing crazy stuff like blowing on the strings, shaking the guitars and bottoming out the tremolo to get the creepy atmosphere stuff.
This may be the first time we used naked rhythm guitars with no lead or clean for a major riff. It may not sound like it in context but that was a pretty big departure for us. It’s also the first solo that Charlie played on a record and I really think he nailed it. His style is very different from Barre’s and it worked fantastically in this spot.
Nathan: This song is so dissonant and so ugly. Egan’s bass sound during the verse riff is just HUGE. When I heard the song with the creepy intro for the first time, I knew it had to be the opening track for the record. Opening with something as heavy as "Infidel" is a big departure from the last three albums, but I think it really sets the tone for the record perfectly.

10. I Wait (from No Reply)
Gehlke: Routinely slotted on various CD compilations (remember those?) and a former live staple, "I Wait" served as the introductory point to DD for many. Like most of the songs on 2002's No Reply, it operates in unorthodox fashion, churning out rose-colored melodies, only to be stained by death growls and ready-for-headbanging tempo.

Egan: I think this song defines the Relapse era of DD. The demo of this probably got us signed on Relapse and lots of fans still site it as a favorite. To me it really shows some maturation from the Idle era stuff.
Barre: This was the first new song written for the No Reply album, which helped us seal the deal with Relapse Records at the time. It’s one of those old songs with so many parts it borders on progressive. We put a reversed snare drum effect leading to the snare hits in the tom breakdown towards the end, we all thought it was cool like Symbolic (Death).
Jesse: This was one of the more high energy songs from the No Reply era. It definitely demonstrated how we were growing as songwriters, and we played the hell out of it live for a couple of years.


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