Before the Dawn // Deathstar Rising
Rating: 4.5/5.0 —This is a fully operational deathstar!!
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Websites: myspace.com/beforethedawn
Release Dates: EU: 2011.02.25 | US: TBA

Ah, the life of a reviewer. It has it’s share of perks for sure. The promos, the forum for spouting self-righteous opinions, the money and of course, the women. However, all of that glory fades when compared to the thrill of reporting that a beloved band’s new album is fantastic. This right here was a release I’ve been waiting eagerly for and I had to beg, harass and  Before The Dawn - Deathstar Rising harangue Angry Metal Guy into letting me review it. Because he’s a harsh but fair employer, he finally relented and let me address the sixth album by these gents from Finland (although that probably means I have to review a crapload of cheesy metalcore albums in the near future [How’d you know!?AMG]). For those unfamiliar, Before the Dawn is a little difficult to pigeonhole neatly into one genre. They’re essentially a melodic death metal unit with a fair amount of gothic, and at times, doom metal added in. It’s been a successful and highly enjoyable combination and these guys always impressed me with how they blended heaviness with melody and huge hooks. I’m very happy to report that Deathstar Rising is another big success for these guys, contains some of their best material so far and is one of the best releases of the still early year.

After a short, mood setting acoustic intro, things get off to an excellent start with “Winter Within” which demonstrates what makes these guys special. Founder Toumas Saukkonen’s  harsh death metal rasp and crunching riffage, the fluid and melodic leads by Juho Ralha and very importantly, the outstanding clean vocals by Lars Eikind. The vocal trade offs and harmonies by Lars and Toumas are what really makes Before the Dawn shine and they kicked it up a few notches on this album. Things only get better with the title track which is heavy, mournful but instantly catchy and memorable. When Lars comes in for the chorus the song just ignites and its a real blockbuster. Tracks like “Remembrance, “Unbroken” and “The Wake” all hit hard with great heavy riffs and excellent vocals (the guitar melodies on “Unbroken” sounds  a lot like those on the new Omnium Gatherum album). The major highlight is “Sanctuary” which features forlorn, haunting and emotional vocals by Lars over the top of some heavy riffing and cool, winding, melodic guitar leads. Before the Dawn - 2011The effect is moving and this is a great fucking song and reaffirms why I love this band. Also worth noting is the contribution by new drummer Atte Palokangas who creates a lot of noise behind the kit and his authoratative performance puts a big exclamation point on many of the tracks.

Throughout the album there’s great balance between their aggressive death metal side and the haunting, morose side that comes through in Lars vocals and Juho’s melodic lead work. They really have a sound all their own and with each album they seem to develop a deeper insight into creating beautiful yet heavy music. There aren’t any weak tracks and the whole album reeks of quality writing and musicianship. The production is very clear and crisp and the guitars have a great tone to them so when they go heavy, it sounds mighty heavy indeed. This is a win across the boards.

Deathstar Rising is a must have for fans of melodic death metal and intense, dramatic music with top-notch musicianship. It’s better than 2008’s Soundscape of Silence and as good if not better than 2006’s Deadlight which I worship muchly. No matter how many asstastically bad metalcore albums I get stuck with reviewing, this was worth it and I regret nothing. Nothing!!

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  • http://www.deathmetalbaboon.com Niek

    I’ve been listening to the album myself as well today, they’re streaming it in its entirety on their Facebook page. I’ve ordered a copy too, but it’s not out yet in the Netherlands apparently. Anxiously waiting and will review it myself as well once I get it. Luckily I’ve got that Omnium Gatherum album to keep me busy (fuckin’ great album as well!).

  • Steel Druhm

    Between this, Omnium Gatherum and Korpiklaani, I don’t have time to listen to much else. Finland is owning my iPod.

  • Diogo

    For me, it would be more like a 3/3.5. No way this one is better than Soundscape, not to mention Deadlight that still reigns at the top of their discography.

  • Jon

    I’m sorry to say I can’t agree. I’ve heard through the album twice now, and it’s just been kind of dull imo, which I find achingly sad as I absolutely worship their old albums. It just feels like they’ve lost something and now they sound bland and unremarkable. This new album is nothing compared to the likes of Faithless or Deadsong… the melodic parts are weak/unimaginative and the heavier parts are simply bland.

    In the end, music for me is about how it invokes emotion, and this latest long waited-for album just barely gets off the ground for me. Sad, very sad. What happened?

  • Steel Druhm

    Jon,

    I’m surprised you feel this is such a let down. I think its right there with their older stuff and may be one of their best.

  • Christian

    I am so much in line with Steel Druhm.

    Before the Dawn peeked with Deadlight – that was up untill now anyway. Deathstar Rising – which I have only had the chance to stream so far – tops it. Can’t wait to hear it in full range on a “real” stereo.

    The balance between heavy and melodic seems nearly perfected. Somehow it seems to me that Saukkonen has managed to get more of the feeling from Dawn of Solace’s The Darkness combined with more “traditional” Before the Dawn.

    Before the Dawn’s best effort so far, and one can only worry how they will moveon from here…

  • Steel Druhm

    Christian,

    I for one am thankful when my only worry about an album is if the band can ever top it. I agree it will be tricky to do.

  • Rob Lipton

    Steel Druhm,

    Good to see a reviewer who recognizes Before the Dawn’s greatness. Looking forward to hearing new album-I have everything this guy has done and consider almost every album to be essential. His corpus of masterpieces is getting fairly large.Criminally underappreciated. Rob

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