Dawn of Disease – Procession of Ghosts [Things You Might Have Missed 2019]

Dawn of Disease - Procession of Ghosts 01My first “real” metal band was Iron Maiden. The second was Children of Bodom, and through them, I found other melodic death metal bands like Norther and Kalmah. These last three bands were all listed on Metal Archives as “power metal with harsh vocals,” as a kind of elitist bid to disassociate melodic death metal that was too melodic from the “death” part of the label. While it was kind of a ridiculous strategy, it is true that there’s a major subsection of melodic death metal that has little in common with death metal aside from growls or screams. Dawn of Disease, on the other hand, are a modern bastion of the style, restoring the balance of melody and brutality like the Avatar from the Last Airbender, except with metal instead of elements.

After the semi-atmospheric “Lapsarian” functions as an extended intro track, the title track demonstrates that Dawn of Disease are serious about their death. A thundering assault of bottom-heavy blasts bursts forth, with rapidly accented chords injecting just enough melody to avoid the track becoming a pure Swedeath avalanche. Such avalanches of bulldozers are deployed across the album in various locations, such as the silly “In Death We Blast” where a blackened tremolo takes the lead, or the chorus of “As Heaven Shatters” with its Vredehammer vibe. Between such entertaining bouts of charging jackhammer cavalry and Tomasz’ commanding, bestial growl, Dawn prove with absolute confidence they can throw a hell of a lot of weight around.

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But it’s the hooks that give the album its staying power, and picking a favorite here is like shooting fish in a barrel except you’re only allowed to hit one fish. Is it that blackened riff from the brutally cheesy “In Death We Blast?” The crazy death ‘n roll soloing on “Shrine?” The semi-gothic melancholic notes of “Autumn Days” or “May the Waves Take Me?” The shimmering semi-symphonic touches to the title track? Or does the proggy “Where the Clouds Reach the Ground” win out after all with its almost NWOBHM guitar licks? There’s hardly a weak spot to be found on Procession of Ghosts, a shining example of amazing consistency that still avoids the trap of all tracks sounding the same, thanks to good variety in moods and tempos employed.

If you need to have some original, inventive element to any album you hear, Procession of Ghosts may not be your cup of tea. It’s a fair assessment that Dawn of Disease don’t try to reinvent the wheel, and describing them as a blunter At the Gates would not be entirely out of order. But Procession of Ghosts goes a long way to prove that a high-quality addictive application of well-trod tropes can still make them feel fresh and new again. With no duds or dips for over 50 minutes of music, filled to the brim with energetic blasts and infectious hooks, Dawn of Disease have delivered one of the best melodic death metal albums of the year.

Tracks to Check Out: “Procession of Ghosts,” “Shrine” and “In Death We Blast.”

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