Review Summary: Haunting vocals, atmospheric instrumentals, and fantastic songwriting set this apart from the rest of Before the Dawn's catalog.3 of 3 thought this review was well written
The first I ever heard of Before the Dawn was “Deadsong” from their album Deadlight
just a few years ago. I really enjoyed the track, listening to it several times off of their music video that someone had uploaded to YouTube. Only within the last couple weeks have I given a listen to any of their older albums since they had been sitting in my library and Deathstar Rising
had just come out. I was pretty impressed with the band's early works and particularly fond of their original clean vocalist. Needless to say, My Darkness
impressed me and I moved on to their next album.
Here enters the band’s sophomore album, 4:17 AM
. What was most apparent on this album was the drastic increase in production quality, as compared to (at least my copy of) My Darkness, which was rather quiet and a bit muffled. 4:17 AM
, on the other hand, has plenty of clarity and is a breath of fresh air in a genre that is often overblown. Not only is this album great musically, but what is perhaps the most important part of this record is the tremendous atmosphere created. The instrumentation, though relatively basic, is all-encompassing and does an amazing job of capturing the listener in a universe that the sounds create.
has a bleak mood which, despite its heaviness, is often very relaxed. Because of this, the album retains much more of a doom metal style despite its typically high tempo compositions. A surprising amount of the album’s atmosphere comes from the haunting clean vocals, which often serve as the focal point in the tracks. Meanwhile, the guitar parts are surprisingly diverse not just in notation, but in the different rhythms that they utilize. Each melody, riff, and rhythm sounds and feels unique and creative despite their relative simplicity.
The only place where this album doesn’t quite live up to its own standards is in its lyrics. They aren’t bad, of course, but they aren’t really great either. Unfortunately, the lyrics aren’t as creative as the rest of the album, but follow in the same vein as the instruments and vocals in that they are aren’t particularly. In a way, however, this is what makes 4:17 AM
such a great album; without trying to focus on making complicated or convoluted instrumental, vocal, or lyrical sections, the album is free to explore the atmospheres that it creates through the band’s unity.
Though most of the album is power chording and rhythms with little in terms of advanced lead guitars, it is easy to forget this in the presence of the haunting vocals and melodies that comprise the songs and the creative instrumentals. 4:17 AM
utilizes a somewhat stripped-down approach to songwriting that works wonders for the band’s atmospheric playing.