Review Summary: BTD have created a great album here encompassing everything that makes this particular brand of melodic death metal so brilliant, yet there is still something missing, and they have yet to find that particular element to allow them to create a classic
Before the Dawn is a great name. As you know, dawn signifies the rising of the sun, and the end of night. At most times, it is a welcome time, as the darkness of night is often where the worst things happen due to the lack of vision, henceforth as a person you are more susceptible to feeling fear, anxiety, dread and worry at night. Dawn signifies the end of this, and the rising of the sun to wash all of this away, but for most who are asleep to witness this, it is hard to imagine what it would be like to be out there on your own, without any light, Before the Dawn.
This is precisely the atmosphere this band explores in the music, similar to bands such as Dark Tranquillity
and Swallow The Sun
, infectious guitar melodies mixes with atmospheric keyboard ambience to create an character that impresses despite the overall lack of innovation with this release. What Before the Dawn create straight from the outset are catchy, powerful and atmospheric melodic death/gothic metal songs that you find weaving themselves into your consciousness as you listen only to be repeated constantly in your ear. Yet while it is inherently catchy, it is by no means one-dimensional, there is sufficient variety in this album to keep the listener interested, yet the band never stray too far from their comfort zone, resulting in a straight forward metal release that is incredibly easy to listen to and demands nothing of you as a listener. Indeed, putting all your attention into the album will gain more benefits, as there are a lot of subtleties that are easy to miss, but this is an album that can easily be digested in the background as you do something else.
One of the main features of the band is the excellent use of keyboards in an almost identical way to Dark Tranquillity
, they create the atmosphere, driving the band forward and keeping each song memorable thanks to their simple, yet catchy use. Indeed, a small problem with them is that they sometimes overpower the guitars, but if they didn’t it wouldn’t make the band as identifiable as they are. The guitars bear little similarities to DT though, as they are much more straight-forward, letting the keyboards make the songs and instead just simply keeping a rhythm. What the guitarists do excellently though, is use infectious leads throughout some of the songs, ‘Morning Sun’ and ‘Wrath’ in particular stand out in this regard, both containing great guitar work and leads that practically make the songs. The production suit’s the band great, it is clear, yet the guitars have a slightly buzzy feel about them, and never empower the rest of the instruments. The bass is clearly audible in a lot of songs, standing out in ‘Deadsong’, and the vocals are often moulded in with the music instead of on top of it, so they blend in and help make the atmosphere so gloomy. The vocals alternate throughout as typical death screams to effective melodic singing, with the occasional female performance. Overall, the vocals are done very well, but nothing really stands out due to them being rather low in the mix.
Before the Dawn are thoroughly consistent on the album, but they write a few stand-out tracks. ‘Faithless’ being one of them, simply put, this song is one of my favourites this year. Starting off with a catchy melodic guitar wall of noise, it slows down, and you get treated to the solemn keyboard work that is so prevalent on the album. The screamed vocals kick in, rather low in the mix beside the guitars, and it quickly blasts into the ridiculously memorable chorus.
‘Believe in me
And my justified confession
Of the 7 deadly sins
I won't bleed from my palms
Or see the statues bleed
No faith left in me’
The song is simple, effective and a brilliant second track, setting up the rest of the album. While no other songs besides ‘Deadsong’ really reach the height of this, Before the Dawn never let up, and each song has it’s own highlights, some feature no clean vocals, and they are probably the least memorable, as what makes the band as good as they are is the memorable chorus’, and taking away the clean vocals somewhat stalls that. But what the band do best is to keep the atmosphere throughout the album, while listening you almost feel isolated from the world around you thanks to the sombre keyboards and the melancholic vocal performance. The guitars, while being powerful, don’t really pack a huge punch, so they never really bring you out of the feeling of the album. This is by no means a bad thing, but sometimes, you can’t help but just wish for an extremely powerful song to come blasting out of your speakers, but that never really happens.
Before the Dawn have created a great album here encompassing everything that makes this particular brand of melodic death metal so brilliant, yet there is still something missing, and they have yet to find that particular element to allow them to create a classic, this is still an extremely enjoyable ride through Before the Dawn’s own sombre nights though, and one that shouldn’t be missed.