Meridian Dawn – The Fever Syndrome Review

In the late 90s and early 00s, yours truly bombarded himself with an unhealthy amount of melodic death metal. Basically, anything and everything that came from Gothenburg, Sweden was feverishly devoured at an alarming rate. All blame goes to At The Gates, of course, but quite a few great albums came from there. Sadly, so did some absolute dreck. But there’s no denying that the groundwork that they, Dark Tranquillity, and In Flames laid for bands to come, because no matter what, it just keeps coming, much to our joy and/or dismay. Hence, Belgian/Finnish/American duo Meridian Dawn seem hellbent leaving that Judas window open forevermore, seeing as how their debut EP, The Mixtape, was apparently fire as it turned some heads in 2014. Now, a full six years later, we have their debut, The Fever Syndrome, featuring the three band-penned songs from the EP.1

One thing that’s apparent right off the bat is how talented guitarist/bassist Nick Ziros (Nervosia) is with his looping guitar melodies and impeccable leads. The ultra-tight, ultra-clean melodic run that opens up “Iconic” immediately draws you in and keeps your interest, and it reminds me a bit of Mors Principium Est‘s latter material in terms of sweeping melodies and hooks. In fact, just about every song on The Fever Syndrome features at least one incredible melodic run or a fantastic lead, such as the opening melody of album standout “God To All” where, again, the Est-isms run rampant throughout. That said, there are far worse bands to idolize, and Ziros already possesses a good command on writing a catchy hook.

But another thing that’s apparent right from the start is The Fever Syndrome‘s mix. The bass feels punchless, but even if it possessed actual heft and presence, it (like everything else on here) would have been colossally dwarfed by the drums. Session drummer Jo Nunez (ex-NightrageFirewind) is a fantastic drummer, but his drums are mixed way too loud and way too front-and-center. His cymbals sound too much like static at certain points, and when he blasts, like he does during “Iconic” and “Thieves,” it’s migraine-inducing, even at low volumes. This goes to show that you can produce an album with great dynamics and a bad, compressed mix, and that mix muddies quite a bit of the shine off of The Fever Syndrome.

The other notable problem with The Fever Syndrome lies in the vocals of Ziros’ Nervosia bandmate, Antony Hämäläinen which, with his one-note hybrid shout/scream, could best be described as “acquired taste.” In short, it seems like Hämäläinen drew vocal and lyrical influence from In Flames‘ Anders Fridén, with some radically mixed results. When it works, like his gutturals on “God To All,” he’s on-point, but it’s rare. Otherwise, you have moments like on “Involuntary Seclusion,” where he starts off on good footing before the chorus, but then seemingly says “fuck it” and goes off-the-rails in terms of rhythm. Elsewhere, he growl-sings on “Luminescent,” and let’s just say it didn’t work for Mikael Stanne on the majority of Dark Tranquillity‘s Haven, and it sure doesn’t work here. Finally, many of the lyrics come across as self-deprecating clichés, such as “All my life, everything I am/Is dressed in ice,” (closer “Dressed in Ice”) or “Despair is my middle name/I have only myself to blame” (the title track). In fact, due to such a poor mix, the last post-solo chorus of “With a Heavy Burden” pulls an In Flames “Crawl Through Knives” moment2 where it sounds like Hämäläinen is screaming “I need to fart/with a heavy burden.”

The biggest hurdle tripping up The Fever Syndrome (and by proxy, Meridian Dawn) is that it sounds like a collection of influences from other bands without its own identity. I do love me some good melodic death metal, but I already own a plethora of albums from bands that carved something unique out of the genre, whether it’s MPE‘s early use of techno-inspired keyboards that complimented their riffs, or In Flames‘ early dalliances with acoustic folk music that brought a tranquil shade to their music. Here, it just sounds like another melodic death metal album that, despite the great solos and melodies, can’t break away from the genre’s tropes. The talent is there, don’t get me wrong, but there’s not enough yet for them to stand out. I’ll keep a cautious eye out regardless.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Seeing Red Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: July 10th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. The other two were covers of Type O Negative and Fear Factory songs.
  2. You know which one I’m referring to.
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