|Review: Dark At Dawn - Baneful Skies|
Label: Iron Glory
Year released: 1999
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: February 23, 2008
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
It's always a shame when bands like this one go unnoticed. Dark at Dawn is a criminally unrecognized German Power Metal act, and by that I do not mean your usual style of fluffy, melodic excess; no - these guys play a dark, brooding style of Metal much like old Fates Warning, with dark, abstract Fantasy lyrics and a dense, intricate sense of melody to every riff and lead - and there are a lot of them. Not many bands play like this these days, and the only other comparison I can draw is to Tad Morose's Undead, which came out after this album anyway.
Upon starting this one and hearing the blazing opener "Within the Light," the first thing you'll probably notice is that vocalist Thorsten "Buddy" Kohlrausch's voice is not typical at all for this type of music. He has a deep, gruff voice with a lethally rich and dark texture to it, reminding heavily of Sabaton vocalist Joakim Broden, except a lot better, and again, these guys came first. The guitars are sharp and agile, the drums are hard-hitting, and while the music here is not as streamlined or catchy as Dark at Dawn would become later, it's still executed with an undeniable creative spark. Pretty much every song has quirky, crunchy riff patterns and flourishes of cold, shimmering melody, alongside Kohlrausch's distinguishable vocal style and the songwriting is just fucking first rate all the way through. Very dark, and very epic stuff. The opener is a bit weak (just feels half baked, really), but then the title track is stunning, just galloping along with Power Metal grandeur blaring out of all sirens. It follows with even more brilliance - "Silva Mea," "Thorns of a Rose," "At the Night's Plutonium Shores" (featuring AWESOME female backing vocals, probably the best "beauty and the beast" duet I've ever heard), "Throne of Tenebra," and especially the fantastic "Dragon Tears, which is a lush, romantic piano ballad for the ages, and it's got not even a trace of kitsch. Not one.
In all reality, though, the songs here are not nearly as catchy as they could be, and it seems like the band was focusing far too much on keeping their sounds as abstract and progressive as possible. They would luckily learn to write hooks later on, though, which would be a much needed plus. I also don't think the vocal lines here are very good at all, which is a shame, since Kohlrausch is very talented. He sounds good, but the stuff he's singing is often awkward and even pretty irritating (the title track's chorus, to name the worst example). This was a debut, though, and the band would duly improve later. Check this out if you want a breath of fresh air from the usual crop of flower metal wank. Top notch band.
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