Review Summary: By the books melodic (death) metal that is engaging due to being alive
Besides the lack of innovation, it is just pure dullness that is marring the quality of many a modern day melodic death metal band’s music. The riffs that we have all heard before, the familiar melodies and passages - they wouldn’t sound so mind-numbingly hackneyed all the time, if only the band would put a little extra extra into bringing the songs to life. Now, I’m not going on another melodic death metal rant because, frankly, these kinds of tirades are already as cliche as the music some of the bands produce, but I will say this: you need to have an endless pocket full of self-thought melodies and wicked atmospherics coupled with fresh riffing if you want to play original melodic death metal nowadays, but you can still create a good melodeath album even if that’s not the case. You just need to put some extra effort into the album. Sometimes, all it takes is the ability to be convincing, without actually having anything original to add.
That’s exactly what Before The Dawn have done on their sixth full-length album, Deathstar Rising. Straight from the opening pair of songs that include an expected acoustic intro track "The First Snow" that leads into the lively and melodic "Winter Within", you will know what you are in for. While predictability could technically be counted as a downside, try to remember, when was the last time a standard melodeath release really surprised you from a musical standpoint? And while, yes, Deathstar Rising is kind of predictable, it's in the nice, evocative way. The melodies don’t sound tired nor lazy and the use of two vocalists who are both skilled at their craft (Tuomas Saukkonen at growling and Lars Eikind at cleans, although the latter’s singing tone is definitely not for everyone) helps to carry forward the record's modest yet tasteful feel.
Typical but still engaging, Deathstar Rising is bound to please fans of melodic metal. It is driven by simple but elegant and lively melodies that lead into catchy choruses, and clocking in at around 40 minutes, it doesn't overstay its welcome. During a time in which at least every second melodeath release sounds uninspired and insipid, a pertinent album like Deathstar Rising is very welcome, despite possessing the feeling we've heard it all before (I swear to god, Saukkonen uses both the build-up and the chorus riff in "Judgement" on every album he's part of). Sometimes, simply sounding motivated enough is sufficient to do the trick, and that's exactly how Before The Dawn sound on Deathstar Rising.
They really, really shouldn't have used "Deathstar" as a their lead single
Yeah but it's pretty obvious why they used it, since it's the catchiest song on the album. I didn't mind the vocals, though it was kind of hilarious to hear the lyrics "Darkness has come, to blacken fires of the light, deathstar rising" sung in a power metal-esque style lol.
EDIT: Thanks Thomas. I can assure you that the review wasn't rushed though, it's just that there isn't too much to say about a good but by the books melodeath record like this.
You're probably right about Insomnium. Be'lakor is badass though, I love both of their albums and I'm pretty confident that they'll make a third great one as well. Reminds me that I should probably let the mods delete my review of Stone's Reach, as my opinion has changed pretty drastically over time and I didn't let the album sink in properly.
Yeah they do have a nice dark undercurrent that I very much appreciate. At the moment I can't imagine any other melodeath band besides Be'lakor surprsing me this year, but I'll always leave a door open for possibilities.
EDIT: Actually Ceremonial Perfection did surprise me because I didn't think I'll enjoy their debut as much as I do. It's a little short, but it's energetic as fuck and those guys definitely have a lot of potential as they work on their songwriting chops.
To be honest Crysis I don't know if you'll like this. It's prety standard stuff afterall, and seeing as you've literally listened the shit out of the genre, I don't know if this will be enough to tickle your fancy.
As for Insomnium, I'll still give it a shot, but I'm not expecting it to wow me in any way.
Worth a shot, though. The last good melodic death band I listened to was Hypocrite, and since then all I've heard is boring junk. Kind of a shame because it's causing me to really distance myself from the genre.