Dismal Euphony - Autumn Leaves - The Rebellion of Tides
Napalm Records
Experimental Black Metal with Gothic elements
8 songs (34'52")
Release year: 1997
Dismal Euphony, Napalm Records
Reviewed by Alex
Archive review

Recently deceased metal musicians have got me into an unhealthy habit of writing my reviews with an RIP dedication. Elin Overscott is the latest victim. Former keyboard/synth player and model cover for Norwegian band Dismal Euphony was found dead in September of 2004. The death was caused by a heroin overdose after Elin stayed clean for a while. What a loss of life, what a waste of talent! Another grim reminder – drugs kill, slowly or suddenly, but the end is not pretty.

I remember once scouring a “nobody interested” bin in a used metal CD store and stumbling upon two $4 discs by Dismal Euphony, their original 3-track demo Spellbound and Autumn Leaves – the Rebellion of Tides. I was simply mesmerized with the band’s name. Such a beautiful play on words – how could euphony (pleasing sweet sound) be dismal? With time I have collected all of Dismal Euphony albums. The demo, as well as the first full-length Soria Moria Slott, are pretty much black metal, not very brutal and with some female vocals. Two albums that followed after Autumn Leaves, namely All Little Devils and Python Zero, saw significant lineup alterations and drastic changes in sound. After Python Zero, the album I purchased only because of my inertia to slow down buying everything from a band I once liked, Dismal Euphony hasn’t been heard from. Not very successful release, lineup problems, who knows.

Autumn Leaves, however, is the album that I consider to be the best by Dismal Euphony. Still retaining some of the black metal traits, the album brought in a lot more experimentation than Soria Moria Slott, highlighting Dismal Euphony as a band marching to the beat of their own drummer. Addictively melodic throughout, it saw Keltziva contribute more with her vocals. Keyboards and electronics handled by Elin Overscott also received an expanded role, and that is another reason I picked this archive review to commemorate her untimely demise.

I am almost certain that black metal purists dismiss Dismal Euphony with their Autumn Leaves entirely. If you live by the motto “No female vocals, no keyboards and no compromises” you probably don’t own this disc and should not be looking for it. While not claiming this to be state-of-the-art black metal, even in 1997 when the album came out, I hear a band striving for individuality, trying to be different and non-conformal. The end results are uneven, but the effort is worthy of applause.

One can certainly question 3 min one riff piano/synth intro to An Autumn Leaf in the Circles of Time as well as keys-bass intro on very much electronic Carven. Long and overplayed moments, maybe, but they set the atmosphere nonetheless. Not so brutal melodic muddy riffery is definitely far from extraordinary. Even where drums and guitar crank up (In Rememberance of the Shroud) keys still manage to riff along and provide main melody. Something that starts half-agressively (Simply Dead) can quit midway and slide into another desperate melody. Some people will find these melodies cheesy and gothic, but I tend to hear despondency and depression. Keltziva can sound very boyish (Simply Dead) or weep alongside some blastbeats (Carven). Bassist Ole Helgesen doubles on vocals and the best description I can have for his shriek is whispery. The man does sound like a banshee, a tired one, sitting up on a tree not thinking of flying to snatch some human souls. My personal favorite is a slightly slower doomier A Thousand Rivers where Keltziva and Ole do a strange duet along with folky synthesizer and simple catchy riffs. Closer Splendid Horror is a whacky experimental techno track with drum machine and voices distorted beyond recognition. At the end of the song the keys jump in dissonance and heart beat (drum machine simulation) stops, just like poor Elin’s.

This album holds pure sentimental value for me. Far from perfect, but different, out-of-the-box and most importantly honest, Autumn Leaves has a special place in my collection. As it is unlikely Dismal Euphony is going to make a comeback it will probably remain their shining moment.

Killing Songs :
An Autumn Leaf in the Circles of Time, A Thousand Rivers, In Rememberance of a Shroud
Alex quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Dismal Euphony that we have reviewed:
Dismal Euphony - Python Zero reviewed by Marc and quoted 94 / 100
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