|Review: Dark At Dawn - Crimson Frost|
Label: Iron Glory
Year released: 2001
Genre: Power Metal
Review online: February 29, 2008
Reviewed by: Larry Griffin
Rated 4/5 (80%) (4 Votes)
Listening to Crimson Frost is sort of like being crushed by the rolling, nonstop waves of the evening tide. Dark at Dawn's first album was very loose, meandering Fates Warning-esque Power Metal, and they've headed in a bit of a new direction here, focusing less on ornate, mystical song structures and more on creating a dense, crushing atmosphere that will do no less than completely suffocate you under its heavy mass. The guitar tone is a rumbling, doomy crunch that (especially the lead guitar) actually sounds more akin to something Candlemass or While Heaven Wept would do, as opposed to the more Power Metal-ish style embraced on the band's other three albums. The riff patterns are still somewhat quirky and unorthodox, but not nearly as much as on the previous album, and in a similar fashion, the raging bark of vocalist Buddy Kohlrausch has been tamed to a deep, slow, and even at times menacing tone that fits the darker music here like a glove.
This is very, very hard to "get into." There's nothing remotely catchy or radio friendly about it, and at times the music is so oppressive and bleak that it seems like the band didn't WANT anyone to like this album at all. Aside from a fair few Power Metal styled opening riffs and solos (and the bizarre cover of Gary Moore's "Out in the Fields," placed garishly in the middle of the album...), this is not what I'd call Power Metal at all. It is all too often that the songs on Crimson Frost slow down to a very Doomy, sorrowful plodding pace with gloomy, almost Gothic melodies drenched with a dreary, gray atmosphere. There are heavy moments and a few slightly more upbeat songs, but these do not make up the bulk of the album, and they're still subdued by the cool, wistful sense of melody that the band incorporates. The songs here don't stand out a whole lot from one another (again, aside from that cover song), but anyone who enjoys beautiful music should find solace in songs like the sprawling, tearstained "Across the Oceans of Time," with its masterful male/female vocal duet performance, the pounding, oppressive "Isle of Smile," which might be the most evil Power Metal song ever recorded, or the liberating, dark power of "The Oasis," and of course the brooding, calculated, serpentine manner in which the rest of the album uncoils.
Crimson Frost isn't for casual listeners, and it isn't for people who think Gamma Ray's last album was a good representation of Power Metal as a genre, either. I could weave rhapsodic about this stuff for a while, but I think the cover art, with its depiction of a bloodstained, misty forest, speaks volumes, setting the mood perfectly for the music at hand: tragic, moving and powerful.
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