Elay Arson – Dusk Incarnate (2020)

Elay Arson is the synth metal project of Daniel David Larson and Devin Harrison. I first became aware of them back in 2017 with the release of their album “Rites of the Damned.” “Dusk Incarnate” is their latest album, featuring twelve tracks of synth metal goodness. It was released in early February. “Dusk Incarnate” has not only helped to solidify Elay Arson’s presence in the Synthwave community but it has also helped to propel them to new heights outside of it. The stunning cover art work is by the illustrious Mizucat who’s done more than her fair share of work for the community over the last few years.

“Dusk Incarnate” is a concept album that leans hard into showing how heavy metal and synthwave can work together. If I had to explain this in an analogy, where Cradle of Filth combines the music of Hammer Horror with Black Metal, Elay Arson combines Carpenter Brut with Industrial Metal. While most of the songs on “Dusk Incarnate” comfortably combine both styles together, some are were written to highlight one aspect of Elay Arson’s personality. “Highway Machine Gun Fight,” for instance, sounds much more industrial influenced, whereas “Switchblades” is more of a traditional dark synth track. From the get-go “Dusk Incarnate” opens up with an 80s style dialogue scrawl that talks about an EMP weapon in the body of a sexbot. If she explodes it’s all over for Megacity.

In general, “Dusk Incarnate” is a very fresh sounding album. There’s a good deal of variation here. I can tell that a lot of attention was given to the overall arrangement of the tracks. The implementation of live drums on this album was a big surprise. I feel that it adds humanity to the music. It’s really hard for me to pick a favorite moment on the album, there are so many high points. As somebody who has a lot of nostalgia for the sound Cradle of Filth had on “Total Fucking Darkness,” I think “EMP Blast” stands out a lot to me. It has a similar dingy atmosphere that sounds romantic to my ears. I love it. “Killer Intent” is by far my favorite track to feature vocalist Megan McDuffee. This is a really polished song with outstanding lyrics. I think that this song can stand on its own two legs against big boys like Perturbator and Carpenter Brut. The first time I heard it, I was absolutely blown away. If you haven’t listened to “Dusk Incarnate” yet, start there.

My favorite track off of “Dusk Incarnate” is “Laser Castle.” It has a solemn postpunk tone to it that feels just right within the context of the rest of the album. It’s an absolute delight to hear Nova and the Ghost return on this track. Additionally, there was something about the way the lyrics were arranged to fit the music that really connected with me:

“As you turn your gaze
Your facade begins to fade
You can’t let your people
See you crying that way.”

Daniel Larson is an absolute songsmith. His greatest strength lies in his willingness to show his vulnerability. Delivering this message through Nova’s voice only reconfirms this willingness. I love when artists do this type of thing, which one of the reasons “Laser Castle” stands out so much.

Overall, “Dusk Incarnate” is a fantastic album that does everything correctly while breaking all of the rules. This isn’t metal. This isn’t synthwave. It’s something else entirely. Call it synthmetal or metalwave—all I know is that I like it. I can’t wait to hear what Elay Arson does next.

RECOMMENDED FOR: Fans of Synthwave, Fans of Metal, Fans of Music.

Stand-out tracks: “Laser Castle,” “Killer Intent,” “Switchblades,” “EMP Blast,” and “Cocaine Nightmare.”

Album Color Profile: #FFCCFF

You can find everything Elay Arson at https://elayarson.bandcamp.com/

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