Sound: Before the Dawn hold this unique sound that goes hugely unnoticed by many metalheads. Its a strange but workable cross between Finnish melodic death metal and haunting Gothic metal. Since their last album just over 4 years ago (good thing they finally released something), Before the Dawn spent time refining this sound into a cross between radio playable songs (most of their previous songs are around 3:30 long, perfect airwave time) and having this huge grasp of melody.
Now, despite the name, Deathstar Rising (queue the Star Wars jokes) is indeed the most the band will get out of their current sound and therefore possibly the greatest album they will put out for a while. Featuring the most diverse performances instrumentally speaking and Lars' (Eric Si/Eikind, bass and 'opera' vocals) incredible voice which never sounded better, BTD show people how genre mashing can go down well.
I can not stress how big these melodies are. Although the guitar work is hardly that technical, the riffs and leads enhance Lars' voice so well that when listening to it, its like a peanut butter and jam sandwich made of cake. For most countries, Disturbed is considered 'pop metal' while in Scandinavia, this is the accepted norm and when you put the two in perspective, Disturbed looks like Bob Dylan in the early years. // 8
Lyrics: Tuomas Saukkonen didn't throw this project together (Before the Dawn is one of many bands that he created and does vocals/guitar on) lightly and although he writes literally the same lyrics for nearly every album he does, Deathstar Rising is that bit more apocalyptic. From the song 'Deathstar':
Before the dusks descent
The sombre winds came with a promise
Of the end we saw the solar system shut down sequence
All stars concealed
Delivered with a raw growl that makes many other melodic death metal bands look like they're trying too hard, Tuomas has what would be a 'signature' voice due to his fingers being in many many tasty musical pies.
But shining out on this album is Lars, the bassist. This is where the Gothic side of things come into play as his voice has that neoclassical feel with a noticeable vibrato that's distinctive and powerful. On previous albums, he'd save it for the chorus's and soft, acoustic passages but here he's used for entire songs and been given a place to shine. // 9
Overall Impression: Before the Dawn can't really be compared to much, perhaps Dark Tranquillity for guitar work and epic, long tracks but aside from that, there's not much to compare them to. Deathstar Rising is a testament to what they've done so far, much like Meshuggah's ObZen, and showcases some of their best ideas. However, the album is very much like previous efforts on the whole, such as song/album layout and the typical formula of the songs that Saukkonen uses for most of his work.
Still, its good to have them playing now that Tuomas is done with Black Sun Aeons most recent album and it'll be good to see what they do next.
Songs to look out for: 'The First Snow/Winter Within', 'Deathstar', 'Unbroken', 'Judgement', 'Sanctuary', 'Butterfly Effect', 'Wreith'. // 7