Do you know what makes Noumena‘s Myrrys stand out from the mean crowd? It is their knack for metal melody, stellar – and unexpected – female output and down-to-earth, bearish growling right out of the Melodic Death Metal textbook. On the other hand, their Nordic brethren Insomnium solemnly flood their atmospherically-laden Melodeath juices out of Winter’s Gate with abandon. Of course, these two do not even start to describe the variety of the Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal scene that originated from the cold Northern plains. And these days good outfits play in many places pretty much around the globe.
The German band Dawn of Disease just unchained their newest and 4th full length record Ascension Gate. German accent lathered tunes comfortably lull yours truly into a day-dream, from whence bigger, totally metal ideas of musical grandeur should spout. But, wait, what?
Comfortable? Day-dream? Never should anything in Melodic Death Metal be comfortable, for Loki’s sake. Solemn, dark, brooding, imbibed with deathly, terrible growls. And heftily aggressive, snarling metal riffs and solos. ‘On your toes be, you must, when metal you listen to’ – as Master Yoda would say. Yet, here this feels like a visit of relaxation to the beaches of the Southern Sea. Okay, admittedly, a very desolate metal sea and it will be a metalhead’s trip to riff island.
So, what does not sync with Ascension Gate? Actually nothing. Growls, riffs, the odd solo all there and metally well executed. We kind of waited for an assault of raw, gnashing metal to attack our eardrums. Yet, we get a mix of Insomnium, the aforementioned Noumena without the female touch and some unsurprising dose of Omnium Gatherum. And sometimes, Dawn of Disease team up with Amaon Amarth, for instance in Fleshless Journey. Yet they have no ship to sail with.
So, in essence a certain sense of déjà-vu installs itself once you really progress into the entrails of the record. This reminds me of the situation of Metallica back in the ’90s, when the grand public had enough of Hetfield’s yelling about the stage. And the only thing he really wants to do – to this day – is yell and scream. So, management told them to get all touchy/feely and show some soul. And out came their namesake album first, then Load and Reload. All of them killer machines in sales and reach.
So, it is same or similar with Dawn of Disease. Scaling back the raw metal into the mainstream swamp got Ascension Gate exactly there. Yet, there it stops and the changes are not all that tremendous. And they don’t really drain that swamp neither to show some tremendousness later.
Akephalos kind of bridges this gaping abyss to an extent. A rare raw metal ray shines forward from the past and shows us how things could have been. This one really bombed poor RockmusicRaider out of her reverie. It was like Wolfheart possessed them and injected some juice.
All change is hard, of course, so let’s check what is there. Firstly, this is still throat-hurting Melodic Death Metal. The band went mid-tempo for most, with loads of Northern Melodic Death Metal thrown in for good measure. In Passage – the very first track – is a good example for this. The pounding riffing, the occasional solo and – for sure – the rock-solid blast beats that never overwhelm are the main ingredients for this metallic stew. Together with Tomasz Wisniewski‘s throaty croaks, their tune positively heads down this dark, foggy metal pathway to Melodeath nirvana. And it is also what makes you want to continue torturing your eardrums with Ascension Gate.
The album clearly gathers steam after the aforementioned Akephalos. It is as if the band needed a warm-up first. Two souls inhabiting the body of Dawn of Disease perhaps? One yelling for the rough, the other going for the warmer melodic sound. This album feels like devouring five starters until you get to the real sturdy main course. Fleshless Journey – the Amon Amarth soundalike – with The Growing Emptiness, plus the blackened Lucid attest to that.
In the end, Dawn of Disease deliver a rock-solid, true metal album. Melodic Death Metal reigns supreme, yet the tune may have moved a tad too much South, down mainstream lane. And – sometimes – I would have appreciated a trifle more metal bite. Yet, with the 2nd half of Ascension Gate taking on some serious steam, the overall outcome is still a slab of sweet, unvarnished metal. Tempered in the fires of the Northern metal masters and delivered with gusto.
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