Dawn of Solace – Flames of Perdition Review

Dawn of Solace‘s 2020 sophomore platter of sadboi goth-doom, Waves ended up my top album that year, surprising even me. It had heavy competition to be sure, but throughout 2020 the album kept its sullen tendrils wrapped tight around my iron lungs, and in the end, it became the soundtrack to a strange period of quarantine, unease, and uncertainty. I suppose this shouldn’t have been a surprise as I’ve long been a sucker for the kind of unhappy tidings Tuomas Saukkonen churned out in projects like Before the Dawn and Black Sun Aeon, and Dawn of Solace is the ultimate vehicle for his weepy ideations. Third album, Flames of Perdition was originally slated for a 2021 release but got pushed back to this week, giving me much more time than I usually have with a promo. After months of spins, the thing that keeps jumping out at me is that this plays like the second half of Waves. All the same soundscapes are present and with the same lineup and scant time between releases, this really does seem like a collection of songs meant for a larger version of Waves. This is not a criticism mind you, and once again you get a clinic on how to write depressive goth-doom tuneage sure to chill the happiness of any sentient being.

If you heard Waves (and you should), you know what’s coming – bleak odes to broken spirits and dreams crushed in the cold, cold snow. Opener “White Noise” is the spiritual kin to “Hiding” from the predecessor album, and it works in all the same mournful, gloomy ways thanks to Mikko Heikkilä’s plaintive singing and Saukkonen’s trademark doomy leads and introspective doodling. “Erase” is a bit more upbeat without losing that depressive gold, and there’s a hint of One Second era Paradise Lost in its makeup. The chorus is beautiful and the downtrodden will be further trod upon.

Cuts like “Dying Light” and “Event Horizon” deliver all the cold, Finnish heartache you long for, and “Black Shores” reminds me of the better moments from Charon and Poisonblack, managing to walk the line between punchy goth metal and doomy despair. Many moments here strike me as the kind that would play on the film soundtrack as a lonely character assesses the benefits of suicide, and I mean that as a positive. At just 39 minutes (35ish if you exclude the acoustic outro) there’s very little fat on the bone to worry over. All seven songs pack a goodly amount of emotion and hooks, and you can’t shake a frozen Finn at that, can you? That said, though the writing is consistent, the overall quality of the material is a bit lower than what we heard last time, and the title track though good, lacks that crippling emotional sabotage the better selections inflict. If you were to merge this album with Waves and jumble the tracks, you’d have one highly effective double-play, but as a separate entity, this is a slight notch downward.

Mikko is the best possible frontman for this project and he wrings every ounce of pathos from the material. He’s the textbook goth-metal vocalist, imbuing every line with despair and soul-ache. His unique voice over Tuomas’ bleak, ‘dead puppy for Christmas’ leads and forlorn noodling is bound to work magic and it does on most of the tracks. Tuomas’ acoustic work is tasteful, his doomy riffs are weighty enough to balance the core fragility of the songs, and he’s always adept at mixing the heavy with the soft. The aggressive riffing on “Black Shores” is the right uppercut at the exact right moment, and the use of minimalist piano lines in that track hits right in the hurt locker. Regular Saukkonen project contributor, Jukka Salovaara returns to lay down some emotive guitar work on “White Noise” and his talents are always greatly appreciated.

While one or two more killer cuts like “Erased” would punch this album up to that same level as its esteemed predecessor, what you get on Flames of Perdition is well worth the price of admission and sure to please lovers of depressive goth-doom. The Tuomas-Mikko connection continues to pay dividends and I hope it continues to result in potent platters of pain like this for many cold winters to come.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Noble Demon
Websites: dawnofsolace.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/dawnofsolace
Releases Worldwide: January 28th, 2022

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