Sound: Outside of their native Finland, Before The Dawn are a little known band. They've been described as melodic death metal, but with a 'gothic' twist. After a 10 year long career, they've released this new EP which I can only describe as the perfected record for all their material so far (much in the same way as Meshuggahs 'ObZen').
Their sound is based on the 'idea' of melodeath, but its a more simplified form. The riffs are mostly powerchorded and simplistic, while leads like solos and fills are uncommon in their music, although they play at fast paces. However, this is due to the 'gothic' nature they have too, as those characteristics apply to gothic metal as well. What makes it all the more intersting is the operatic clean vocals that accompany the music. This formula has made them a very popular act in Finland and scandinavia. So much so infact, this very EP made it to the #1 spot in the Finnish music charts in early April, beating acts like BFMV and Cradle of Filth (and even Pink) and scoring high in the charts too in the rest of Scandinavia. The band really manage to create perfect song-writing, combining powerful hooks and riffs with soft and soaring melodies.
The EP itself is what I feel is the best recording they've made so far. This is due to previous efforts having terrible mixing issues (especially the vocals) and containing few standout songs (listening to the album as a whole is what makes them sound good). The EP contains 4 new studio tracks, 2 'live' tracks and a symphonic/piano version of a previous single ('Deadsong'). // 8
Lyrics: Before The Dawn are influenced by gothic music, so naturaly they focus around related themes such as isolation, depression and poetic stories. There are a few recurring themes within their lyrics and songs, most notably, what I call the 4am theme: It starts with their 2nd album title (4:17) which continues to the single "Dying Sun" on their Soundscape Of Silence album (Lyric: 'Dead, at 4:18 am') and finally on this EP in the song 'Insomnia' (which is a very relaxing accoustic song) with the lyric: "4:19 am, I have been here before in a corner on the floor". I'm not sure about the story line presented, although it seems to be about one particular individual remembering certain events that lead him to depression. General lyrics are a little cliche as far as gothic music goes, many mentions of the words "dead", "dying", "black" and "angels" but the stories contained in the songs fit with the melodies the band play.
Vocals are handled by band mastermind Tuomas Saukkonen on growls and cleans are handled by Lars Eikind, known for playing in a variety of supergroups (Age of Silence, Winds) and also well known for his signature operatic voice. Both perform on the EP very well and really show why they're among the most popular musicians in Finland. // 8
Overall Impression: Before The Dawn are mostly in a league of their own, sharing few similarities with related bands and other melodic death metal bands and they're not exactly hard to get into. The only bad thing with the EP and the music is the general simplicity, but even so, its not exactly deathcore.
The songs to listen to are "Decade Of Darkness", "Painless" (if you get the Japanese edition) and "Insomnia" but really, the whole EP is great and the piano version of "Deadsong" is a much needed listen. Be sure to listen to the EP and pay attention to the possible upcoming album next year. // 8