In the beginning I was skeptical. Six tracks of original content only and three re-heated ideas? And of old, much rehashed base material to boot? Well, hell’s bells, not sure about that one. That is how the RockmusicRaider offices started on Arduini/Balich‘s début record Dawn of Ages.
The project saw its first flickering light of consciousness in 2013, when Victor Arduini wrapped up the experience with Freedoms Reign. He then recruited Butch Balich and the drummer Chris Judge from his former venue. A serious lack of creativity in the name ingenuity department notwithstanding, the band members are relatively well known. Arduini is a founding member of Fates Warning and was part of a number of other venues since the late ’80s. Butch Balich is best known as the vocalist of Argus. In the end, this is not a naming contest, but all about the music these guys deliver. And given the band members’ track record, their tune should be pretty good. Right?
So, what does Dawn of Ages deliver?
Well, the longish start with The Fallen and its endless intro of weeping guitars does not bode too well. It is only after a perceived eternity that some crunch starts to appear. It is also then that their progressive tendencies, mixed with a healthy shot of Doom and Heavy Metal become apparent. All of this is nicely gift-wrapped into a colorful and – at times – rather psychedelic Stoner Metal box. But not outlandishly so, just enough so that you perceive it at any turn of their tune without stomping you into the ground.
And this is already one of the strengths of this album: Arduini/Balich found just the right level of osmosis between Doom Metal and the Progressive Metal urges that drive them on. Often I hear the forerunners of prog of olden times firing up their gear in the background.
You’ll find the doomish tendencies of an early Black Sabbath. This mixes with a whiff of progressive rock of the ’70s, the style Uriah Heep liked to spatter across the scene. Plus – at times – a trifle Kansas mixed into their tune. It is thus not without reason that Dawn of Ages features covers of the aforementioned Black Sabbath and – indeed – a reasonable interpretation of Sunrise from UH‘s stellar old record The Magician’s Birthday. Well, the undercurrents that influenced this record are legion. But let’s leave it at that, lest we bore you with needless name-calling.
And we stand corrected!
As the saying goes, the first impression is – more often than not – the right one. But not for Dawn of Ages. The first six tracks of orginal content clock at about an hour of solid rock and metal. The majority of the tracks are beyond 10 minutes, which is a statement in itself. Whilst staunchly prog oriented, Arduini/Balich managed to keep their Progressive Metal at a reasonable djent level. It is also interesting to note that Dawn of Ages takes on steam as it progresses through its metal soundscapes.
Really serious and sturdy progressive currents only bubble to the surface in the epic Beyond the Barricade, the second before last of the original tracks. That is not to say there are none before of course. Same goes with doom and its tearful ways. A lot of that comes to the forefront in The Wraith – somewhere around mid-point of the album. This track is an interesting one, by the way. An amalgam of Doom and a subdued portion of some Progressive Metal elements. And I get a real kick out of the Iron Maiden-esque interlude towards the middle of this track.
The album clearly feeds off this progression. You got yourself a piece of work that turns out to be really interesting after a somewhat confusing start. And it never ends to surprise, with changes and unexpected turns at every corner.
Dawn of Ages does not invent anything new. Nor does it attempt to. Arduini/Balich however skilfully managed to take a ton of influences and mold them into a shape of their own. The outcome is a somewhat epic and artful mix of the progressive and doom universes, mingled with a mighty dose of Heavy Metal.
Revisiting old and often covered eras of rock and metal and not ending up as a tribute band of sorts is no easy feat. Arduini/Balich beautifully navigated these dire straits and created a technically high-standing, cool and delightful album in the process. And for that they deserve a lot of credit.
The record will release on 24 February 2017.
Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Cruz Del Sur Music | Web: –
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