I’ma keep it real with you, chief. I wasn’t really on board with the first single that Fuming Mouth released for this album. “The Silence Beyond Life” wasn’t a bad song, it just wasn’t very fumey or mouthy - great solo though. Still, I was so excited to see the band return in some form after vocalist/guitarist Mark Whelan’s hard-fought battle with leukemia a couple years ago.
Rigorous chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant later, it stands to reason that Whelan and crew would swing for the motherfucking fences with their next effort, having outsmarted death and all. But it would be tough to follow up The Grand Descent which blitzed its way to many an album of the year list in 2019. Their caustic combination of death metal with sludgy hardcore touches is hard to nail to the degree that its abrupt punchiness offered. And there’s no beating that Castlevania: Symphony of the Night “game over” sample at the end of “Out of the Shadows”. More like Alucardcore.
Try as they might though, there’s something missing from Last Day of Sun even though it still wears your dick as a shoe with how hard it kicks. “Out of Time” is the longest song on the album - unconventional for an opener - but sets the mood absurdly well. Diamond-tough guitar tones straight out of the Black Breath/Trap Them playbook, Whelan’s piercing vocals, and drums that only have one prime directive: fuck shit up. It’s far and away one of the better songs on the album, much more Fuming Mouth than the aforementioned, slightly off-putting single. And the good news is the rest of the album trends a lot closer to “Out of Time” than anything else, like the following track “Respect and Blasphemy” which acts as the final strike in a furious one-two combo.
Song by song, the band move melodic pawns on a board as if planning for a damn war, setting up moment after moment to assail you with little reprieve. A viscous lead here, a wailing solo there, and all the while there’s immense power behind it all. Bass is typically following guitar’s lead which bolsters the album’s sound and weighs it down in an endearing - and enduring - way. This is a dense album, and while this is far from an immobile, lurching affair, it feels like death metal with some ankle weights on it, or boxing gloves stuffed with copper.
Sometimes it does shed them though. Take “Leaving Euphoria” for example, a pensive, ambience-backed track with cleaner, albeit morose vocals. It’s reminiscent of “Distant Voice” from The Grand Descent, just with some vocals on it - a nice, gloomy detour that fits well enough. The end of “Postfigurement” flirts with this sonic aesthetic as well which caps off the album nicely.
Still, if you’re here to be dommed by heaviness, the rest of the album’s got you. Seeing a track named “R.I.P. (Rest in Piss)” makes you hope for the most ignorantly hard, Neanderthal, hunter/gatherer-ass song imaginable and I’m happy to say that it delivers. It’s another top track for Last Day of Sun with sinister riffs, a foreboding, cataclysmically massive ending, and good vocal stabs to keep things moving along.
The whole aesthetic of this album is one of darkness and doom. The artwork and title alone do some heavy lifting to weave this setting of abject despair and loss, blood in the streets, bodies piling up, no hope in sight, embodying a surreal life-or-death situation we’re all privileged to not have experienced… yet. In that regard, it’s an album well-executed. The only issues with Last Day of Sun is it still doesn’t hit the highs previous work did. I won’t surmise as to why that is because it’s a subjective matter anyway, but songs just didn’t feel quite as economical. Comparatively, this album’s a bit turgid and could have benefited from a trim or two to bring it more in line with previous work. It also starts a bit too strong and doesn’t sustain that momentum throughout unfortunately.
Bottom line: Even with all that said, Last Day of Sun is appropriately dark and heavy, a great soundtrack for our autumnal skies and chilling weather as long as you don’t mind being suplexed into a pile of leaves by the album’s rowdy tendencies. Happy to see Whelan and Fuming Mouth back at it - I know it’s just the beginning for them.