Nuclear Blast Records (2012)
Change appears to be a constant in this Finnish melancholic melodic death metal unit. Be it shifting record labels or the inevitable priorities with membership, one constant remains: vocalist/guitarist Tuomas Saukkonen and his fellow guitarist Juho Raiha who’ve now performed together in Before The Dawn for the past 8 plus years. So it really shouldn’t be much of a shock to the system that “Rise Of The Phoenix” signals a stylistic shift, as former clean vocalist/bassist Lars Eikind and drummer Atte Palokangas left last year for various personal and professional reasons. With newest members Pyry Hanski and Joonas Kauppinen filling the bass/drum slots, Tuomas can now expand his heavier visions for the band and relegate much of the gothic strains to the background.
Their seventh studio album in ten years, the 9 tracks on this record have a much more energetic presence, where the quartet feel unencumbered by any limitation as far as speed, heaviness, or level of ferocity. Blast beats when necessary, faster guitar lines that border on the edge of black metal, and Tuomas sticking to his conventional growling vocals to illustrate that you can still inject melody into the proceedings without succumbing to blatant commercialism. There are still subtle elements of gothic strains during the harmony lead work within songs like “Throne Of Ice” and “Pitch-Black Universe”, but Before The Dawn never relinquish the moody, dark rhythms and propulsive bass/drum work. Overall more of the transitions appear to have a thicker, groove nature - probably a direct result of the live road work the band did the previous year while refining this material.
Before The Dawn excel in the Scandinavian death scene due to their emphasis of strengths. When a part is quieter and more reflective, such as the acoustic opening to the aforementioned “Throne Of Ice” or the final track “Closure” there’s still this sense of deep emotional release you don’t get from most death oriented acts. Tuomas as a player and songwriter thinks in terms of totality - his multi-instrument background gets the listener to connect on several levels. Omnium Gatherium have some stiff competition here - 39 minutes later I’m eager to press play, never exhausted but exhilarated at the prospects of a productive period in Before The Dawn’s career.
Rating: 5 / 6
Composed by Matt Coe