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Autumns Eyes - "Surrender The Fire" (CD)

Autumns Eyes - "Surrender The Fire" CD cover image

"Surrender The Fire" track listing:

1. Greedy Demon Parasites (5:50)
2. Empty Bliss (6:03)
3. What's Left of Flesh (7:04)
4. Feast of the Dead (4:00)
5. Mourning Palace (5:29)

Reviewed by on February 28, 2009

"It’s a bit like if a base of industrial music ala Nine Inch Nails got the twisted fantasy make over by Elfman and Burton and then Dimmu Borgir picked up the score and decided to add in their own brand of metal. "

Sometimes the best music in the metal scene comes out of the most surprising places. Symphonic black metal originated in Europe, cut its teeth in Europe, and continues to almost uniformly hail from Europe with only a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is Autumns Eyes, a one man band hailing from New England that has produced an album easily the equal of anything getting exported out of Norway. “Surrender The Fire” features some of the most innovative symphonic techniques blended with black metal mayhem that the genre has ever seen.

“Greedy Demon Parasites” starts the album off strong with the sound of a burning fire and crumbling bricks falling to the ground. A disheartening and depressing guitar riff lumbers along slowly to let the listener know they are in a universe where good very much does not triumph over evil. The first low growl bubbles out of the sound effect mixture just as the guitars reach their peak and proceed to race through the rest of the song at a much higher speed. The vocals heard throughout the song are a good representation of what to expect on the rest of the album, swinging back and forth from the high pitched Dani Filth style shriek to the much lower death growl when necessary. Distorted spoken word and whispers get put to work for a fuller horror effect as well.

The second track “Empty Bliss” is the best track on the album, combining all of the symphonic and metal elements together into a seamless composition that is disturbingly eerie but still has enough power to force head banging from its audience. The building and echoing sound effects mixed with the far off hint of a demonic baby crying out its discontent is enough to make the most hardened horror fan turn on the lights. The musician behind Autumns Eyes has stated that Danny Elfman and Tim Burton are big influences on him and those influences are clearly heard throughout the track. It’s a bit like if a base of industrial music ala Nine Inch Nails got the twisted fantasy make over by Elfman and Burton and then Dimmu Borgir picked up the score and decided to add in their own brand of metal. The drumming on the track is surprisingly impressive, considering that the drumming is usually the first element to get dropped by the wayside when dealing with a band that has less than a full roster of musicians. Anyone dreading a sub-par production can lay that fear to rest as well, as “Surrender The Fire” beats out some of the most well known names in the genre when it comes to production value.

While the music will without doubt please fans of symphonic black metal the lyrics may be a bit of a letdown to many. They tend to follow a simplistic rhyme scheme and don’t foray into fantasy or Satanic territory but rather stay within the realm of standard reality. There are definitely some poetic aspects present, but overall the lyrics stick to issues like feelings, death, and violence. Some fans might see this as a maturing of the lyrics of symphonic black metal, while people who crave the departure from reality may see it as a step in the wrong direction. The delivery of the lyrics can’t be criticized however, even when the words themselves leave something to be desired. For example when growling out the phrase “The scent of death’s echo in reverse” the vocals get played forward, backward, and echoed in different directions all the same time for an interesting take on combining lyrics and vocals.

In a nod to the genre kings the album ends with a cover of Dimmu Borgir’s “Mourning Palace.” It’s a little jarring at first to hear the vocals delivered so differently, but that’s only because all of the other elements of the song are so spot on. The keyboard parts have been slightly overhauled and the guitar distortion is slightly different, but overall the song is nearly a match to its original source material.

“Surrender The Fire” is an amazing symphonic black metal composition that was clearly scrutinized over and carefully arranged so that each sound went in exactly the place it was meant to go. While it only has four original songs and an extra cover clocking in at under 30 minutes, it has still earned a place in the collection of any symphonic black metal fan.

Highs: Excellent composition of horror sound effects and high quality black metal

Lows: A little too short, simple rhyming lyrics

Bottom line: A must hear composition of creepy sound effects and Dimmu Borgir style black metal

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)