If you were to listen to any individual song by Baltimore-based alternative rockers Night’s Edge, you may classify them as something they’re not. Their debut album, ‘Shades of Dusk‘, was released on June 29th, and each song on the record brings something unique to the table. Although not necessarily genre-fluid, I didn’t get the feeling that this was a group trying to find their sound, but rather one that knew precisely who they were. I quite enjoyed that they were able to implement and blend a number of different influences (AFI, Nine Inch Nails, and Bring Me the Horizon, to name a few) into something that is all their own. In each of twelve distinct songs on this album, and through lyrical compositions meant to inspire, a sense of pride and passion remains ever-apparent.
The first track on the album, “Be One of Us“, begins with layered chanting over power-chords and a rolling bassline that took me back to AFI’s “The Art of Drowning”, which is one of my favorite albums of all time. When the chanting is over, the verse begins with Brian Haran singing over a stripped-down musical arrangement of bass, drums, and keys. This results in energizing interludes mid-verse and pre-chorus. Lyrically, the song references the Lost Boys, and is told from the point-of-view of a vampire who’s looking to recruit new members into his pack. Although (to me) vampires are all a song needs to be interesting, this one is layered with a deeper message. Not only are the vampires of the film asking the listener to join them in a reckless, messy life of eternal youth, but this song is a reminder for us to hold on to our own youthful abandon, and I agree. Curiosity and chaos is what keeps life interesting, don’t you think?
Towers is another cut off the album that I think warrants mention. It is a completely different animal than “Be One of Us“. The guitar seems a bit heavier, and the riff is almost dizzying. The vocals in this one are harsher, and I think that’s because lyrically, the song is one of anger aimed at those in society who refuse to put in work- whose only contribution comes in the form of putting others down. It’s a jab to the loathing and the self-important, and even though the lyrics aren’t abundant, they effectively achieve their goal.
If you’re looking to raise your heartrate, “I Ignite” is a good song to listen to. The lyrics are fairly straightforward, but contain a message that is relatively important. In my view, it speaks on the same people discussed in Towers: those that put others down because they’re too lazy to forge their own path. With lyrics like “Don’t blame me Blame the machine,” and “I lean on this drink acting mean as I terrorize your city streets, Don’t understand how I came to be but you don’t see that you made me,” this could also be referring to politicians and police. My final thought is that the lyrics portray the characters as stereotypes that are cast down upon members of society that don’t fit into a particular mold. To me, all of them are enticing. The song has a hardcore punk feel to it, think the Unseen or early Anti-Flag. The first thought I had while listening to this one was that it could be construed as an anthem for rebellion. You know, something good to drink to while you pump your fist at the man.
Songs such as “Never Coming Down” exist to create a feeling of euphoria in the listener, as Haran sings about the experience of live music, specifically their live show. The line “Find yourself at last in the symphony of lights,” possibly alludes to their use of glowing face and body paint when playing live. This line is almost a reference to the video for Edge of the World, where audience members in a live setting pass around face-paint and join in on the “carnival” at hand.
“I’m Free” is also an anthem of sorts. The smooth, steady basswork by Tim Slack takes the lead in this one right from the start. Tyler Phillips brings forth a haunting element from behind the keys, as Haran works his way up the fretboard, singing about the freedom of accepting yourself and living life rather than simply waiting around to die. Wax is one of the more melodic tracks on the album. Much like Edge of the World, the song has a little lust and a little romance, and speaks on humanity’s carnal desires (and possibly murder). These songs were a changeup from the rest of the album in terms of both pace and subject matter, and I think it results in a fuller overall experience.
The closing track on the album, Everyday is Halloween speaks on the rise of the freaks that Night’s Edge stands for. It’s about blood and fear, and more than all of those things, I feel it is about belonging and acceptance. If you’re weird or outcast, there is a place for you. It’s important to know that. Dan Hunt does a good job on the drums in this song (and the whole album, really): there are portions where the percussion sounds awkward. But I think it does a good job in building a specific mood. I also like the multiple changes of pace throughout, and the style shifts seamlessly from punkish, to a more metal sound, and back again. This song, more than any of the others, explains to the listener what Night’s Edge is about: there is rebellion and anger, darkness and supernatural elements.
I feel that ‘Shades of Dusk‘ is an excellent debut album. Musically, it displays a knowledge of, and inspiration from a number of bands and genres. The lyrics tell us what Night’s Edge is all about: providing a safe space for people to be themselves. If the video for Edge of the World is any indication, the aesthetics of their live performance combined with the energy of their music makes for a good night of entertainment. Baltimore isn’t such a far drive. Perhaps I’ll make the trip.