Tuomas Saukkonen must know a thing or two about breaking hearts. For a time, he appeared to be a machine initiating projects left and right, from the generally celebrated Black Sun Aeon to the fairly established Before the Dawn to the more obscure RoutaSielu. Then, as if with the snap of his fingers, he lit a fire that swiftly burned the bridges for every one of these projects, allowing him to focus on his then-latest creation, Wolfheart. Although this squandering of potential is tragic, there is a fine line between potential and realization, a line that Saukkonen has frequently struggled to cross. No one could ever doubt his ambition, especially prior to 2013. What has been up for debate, however, is his sense of adventure--his willingness to take risks and attempt something different. A wide host of melodic death metal albums may be ambitious, but tackling a wide range of genres would be adventurous. Dawn of Solace, a moniker that lands closer to RoutaSielu’s popularity (or lack thereof), is an acute example of Saukkonen closing in on the realization end of the spectrum, only to meander back into a phase of familiarity.
After a deceitfully ambient opening, The Darkness
comes to life with an accessible blend of melodic death/doom metal. How the album is performed is distinctly melodic death metal, with mid-tempo rhythms dominating and comprising the backbone, reinforced by the expected contrast of intelligible growls and mournful singing. The latter isn’t entirely for show, since it aides in grounding the doom metal elements. Further laying the groundwork is the sense of droning every song seems to go for; tracks that could have just as easily been about four minutes are carried out nearly twice as long. Pacing, thankfully, is hardly an issue, since the lead riffs are just catchy enough to keep the momentum going. Guitars appropriately take center stage, and despite their performance model, they’re tuned in a way that’s thick and dense, likely in an attempt to give the admittedly-generic album title more credence. What this creates is a tightly woven blend of styles, one that achieves its tone in a way that breaks the surface, but just barely. It’s an effective technique, provided you don’t expect the unexpected. A melodic death metal frame with doom metal decor is the name of the game here, a game that’s fun if a bit light on substance.
makes a compelling case for what it is: an album that’s somewhat intriguing yet completely unchallenging. Saukkonen likely aspired to create a more atmospherically-inclined shade of his music through Dawn of Solace, a shade that undoubtedly creeps through, but only so slightly. There’s enough to be entertained by, even repeatedly so, but not enough to fully invest and sink one’s mind into. The Darkness
simmers with potential, welcoming you to peer inside its dismal caverns, yet it struggles to realize the extent of this potential, leaving little to examine once you hold a light to it.