Wayward Dawn – Haven of Lies Review

During this unprecedented time when the future seems utterly unpredictable, I’ve been taking solace in the contemplation of the holy scriptures. I know many of you are ambivalent (or worse) about the Bible, but I bet you’ll find something to love in the New Riffvised Standard Version from which I like to read. Take for instance 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in riff, but perfect riff casts out fear.” Or 1 Corinthians 13:13: “And now faith, hope, and riff abide, these three; and the greatest of these is riff.” I love when Jesus said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s sick riffs for one’s friends” and when he gave the ultimate moral mandate, the Golden Rule: “You shall riff your neighbor as yourself.” Riffs may not be the secret solution to stopping the coronavirus outbreak, but they just might be the secret solution to weathering the storm.

Less than two years after dropping debut Soil Organic Matter, Danish band Wayward Dawn are back with Haven of Lies, a 36-minute dose of highly concentrated old school death metal riffage. While the debut was a varied take on OSDM, Haven of Lies sees the young band’s sound refined and focused down to the bread-and-butter essentials of the genre, and its impact is all the better for it. Inhabiting the same realm of death metal simplicity as modern bands like Vastum and Witch Vomit, Wayward Dawn lives and dies by the riff, and I’m here to tell you that they’ve come that you might have riff and have it abundantly. After an intro track consisting of an excerpt of Charlie Chaplin’s speech from The Great Dictator played over melancholic piano, Haven of Lies jumps right into its Incantation played through a Dismember filter groove. Embedded video “Sophomania” is both a great example of the band’s sound and a great example of how a band can practice social distancing.

Haven of Lies is bisected by acoustic guitar/keyboard instrumental “Bliss,” and while the tracks that precede it are quite good, the record finishes in punishing fashion. As “Bliss” ends and the organ fades, a monolithic chord brings in the opening of “Abhorrent Ignorance,” a slow chugging atrocity that allows the vile growls and shrieks uttered forth by guitarist/vocalist Rasmus Johansen and bassist/vocalist Kasper Szupienko Petersen to take the wheel and drive. “Apathy” dials up the speed a bit, “Slave of the Self” ends things on a death/doom note, but “Ridicule” is the crown jewel of this record. Johansen and Petersen have crafted a stupidly simple groove on which to anchor the latter, and I’ve found myself repeating this song over and over and over. It just might contain the holy of holiest of sacraments—the Riff of the Year. Listen to this in remembrance of me.

Haven of Lies sounds amazing regardless of your chosen listening device. Producer Jacob Bredahl delivers some high praise by saying “Wayward Dawn delivers no bullshit old school death metal, from when daddy here was young. Three and a half days was all it took these young lads to get the shit in the box.” I’m inclined to believe that this short recording time has had a hand in the success of the album. Without an ounce of artistic pretense or a hint of overthinking to be found, Haven of Lies is basically pure, unadulterated riff and its short runtime flies by as a result. There may not be a single bit of innovation or experimentation to be found here, but what you will find is good, clean, nasty fun. Wash me in Wayward Dawn dish soap and slather me with Suave body lotion, these youngsters have delivered a platter of yummy death metal that’s as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you riffs.” These are the words of Christ found in Matthew 11:28 and apparently the favorite scripture of Wayward Dawn. I highly recommend that you accept their offering of unconditional riffs into your heart, and may it grant you peace. Amen.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Mighty Music
Websites: waywarddawn.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/waywarddawn
Releases Worldwide: April 10th, 2020

« »