Review Summary: A flagship record for modern industrial music.
I’m fairly new to Dawn of Ashes, having only discovered them through their single “Blood of the Titans”, but let me tell you now – they had me in the opening thirty seconds of that track. For a guy who lingers over various streaming outlets in the hope of uncovering a present-day metal band who at least dabbles in the industrial ethos of the 80s and 90s, you can probably imagine my disappointment with how infrequently that discovery actually happens. However, 10th July, 2020 was not one of those days; not only did Dawn of Ashes’ The Antinomian
feed my yearnings for old-school aesthetics, it actually metamorphized itself into a flagship record that will undisputedly please fans of this niche style, and definitely lure in newcomers as well. Dawn of Ashes have crafted a record that pays homage to the industrial pantheon of the greats, whilst making it entirely their own thing and current sounding. It resides in the dense, dystopian worlds the likes of which Frontline Assembly have forged in the past, but it seamlessly integrates this clinical soundscape with industrial-black-metal, aggrotech, and at times a peppering of metalcore for diversity’s sake. More traditional offerings come in the form of “Mind Prison” and “Pawns of the Wretched”: quintessential aggro-industrial tunes jam-packed with Kristof’s cold, robotic hisses, a pounding drum machine, and a loop of whirring synthetic melodies that are sure to please purists of this type of music. While the big, booming neo-trance number “Sleep Paralysis”, or the industrial-black-metal chugger “Straight to the Core” are guaranteed to perpetuate constant immersion right up until the very end of the LP.
Generally, two frequent caveats recur in this genre: the first is a bloated run time which has songs overstaying their welcome, made more damaging with stubbornly repetitive loops; the second is vocal work which can lack variety or the staying power needed to retain the listener’s attention. What works in The Antinomian
’s favour is it manages to keep both of those issues in check. Kristof has a number of vocal variations that fluctuate around the aggro wheeze, metalcore growl, and the guttural, demonic purr Nero is known for on latter-day Psyclon Nine records. Couple that with routine instrumental shake-ups and you have one hell of an album on your hands. The Antinomian
runs at just under forty minutes in length, thus avoiding any potential padding, but its compositions are filled with numerous ideas, a fantastically cohesive, nihilistic atmosphere and a gritty production that really nails the zeitgeist of the industrial era of the 80s and 90s – with contemporary elements to ensure its vibrant vitality. The samples on the likes of “Scum of the Earth” are simply crushing to hear, and it’s hard for me not to talk about this album without sounding like I’m gushing all over it, but rest assured, if you’re a fan of this type of music you’re in for something special here. Dawn of Ashes overtly display their understanding for these genres and the results accumulate into the very best elements from them. Unlike 3TEETH’s last album, The Antinomian
takes a derivative headspace but develops something both faithful to their respective inspirations, whilst making something entirely contemporary out of them. It’s good to see bands dipping their toe into this kind of sound anyway, but when it’s done this well, it’s made all the sweeter for it.
SPECIAL EDITION BONUSES: