Before The Dawn
= Tuomas Saukkonen + Lars Eikind. Yeah, it's that simple. Collaboration between a skilled composer with an outstanding and unique style and multi-instrumentalist on one side and a brilliant singer on the other has no right to turn wrong, and rest assured, neither Before The Dawn
can be called a commonplace band nor this album can leave the listeners with bad impressions. During more than ten years of band's existence, Tuomas, who was, is and will always remain the mastermind, creative and leading force, endured a lot including lack of media and listeners' attention, poor contracts, wrong band mates, various line-up changes and other disasters, but whatever happened to his project, he had just one answer for everything — hard work, which just had to pay off. And
it did, which finally resulted in a deal with Nuclear Blast
, which issued Before The Dawn
's brand new sixth album, called "Deathstar Rising
The idea behind Tuomas' music may seem to be quite simple — “darkness and melancholy”, taking various shapes and forms in one or another project and metal genre, whether it's simply melodic death or more complex structure with doom and black metal brought into it. Despite
revolving around more or less the same subjects, his works are surprisingly never the same, being neither carbon copy of any existing project nor a replica of each other, taking new incarnations with each new band of his. Being as productive as Saukkonen is, each project of his has a firm and precise vision of how it should sound and what it should represent.
Therefore with first tunes of "Deathstar Rising
" those who are familiar with the band can undoubtedly say that "yes, it's surely Before The Dawn
and nothing else!" The nowadays style of composing and sound itself was elaborated when the vocals of Lars Eikind (of Norwegian Winds
fame), were first introduced here, namely on "The Ghost
" album, and it has remained more or less stable ever since; while certain new elements are surely brought in with each new release, the "core", which can roughly be described as "a mix of unusually uplift and eerie cleans with dark, aggressive music and harshes" remains intact.
What's different this time is that the album consists of mostly fast, dynamic and elegant songs, and there's less of the familiar "mid-tempo direction" which prevailed on the previous records. One can again hear that uncommon construction of "clean verse, harsh chorus" (the opposite for widespread "harsh verse, clean chorus" model), which was used several times in the past works (in songs as "Dying Sun
" or "Monsters
", for example) and which holds a very special ethereal touch.
While the drive in most of the compositions is very essential and tangible, the energy is not delivered via such means as harsh and rough guitar sound (as it was on the "Deadlight" album) or heavy, destructive atmosphere with massive, downtuned and thick bass (which was used on "Soundscape of Silence
") - it exists separately, while the production is very clean and smooth, a perfect embodiment of what "Finnish sound" in metal is. This is exactly what was necessary now, especially after two doom-tinged and therefore more slowed down albums in line, provided by the project Black Sun Aeon
. Most of the tracks reach the duration of around 4,5 min., which allowed Tuomas to put more linking passages and elements and refine the compositional architecture to a more enjoyable point because, after all, it's better when one can savor all the tunes and passages properly rather than get into the composition when it already ends.
Lars remains the main "melody provider" in the band, and on "Deathstar Rising
" his vocal share increased greatly (there's even one song without Tuomas' harsh vocals, "Sanctuary"). His parts get better and better over time, and though his voice is a gem for every project he takes part in, it's Before The Dawn
where his vocals have this distinctive heart-touching style. He manages to compose and sing not just some atmospheric lines but truly catchy melodies which can be valued as great on their own - when they're sung by Lars, they become simply incredible. And
it's impossible not to mention Tuomas' guitar skills, widely depicted with each inspiring riff and impressive lead, all amplified and supplemented with well-timed acoustic guitars. Let's also not forget about the band's second guitarist and long-time sound engineer, Juho Räihä, whose solos are sharp, filled with passion and desire to deliver some nice, both technical and melodious notes, all pertinent for this brisk and vigorous album. While it lasts just approximately 40 minutes, it's literally stuffed with highlights and remarkable moments, among the best of which is an acoustic intro, "The First Snow", fluently evolving into the prime killer, "Winter
Within" with its ace chorus and top-notch guitars; "Deathstar
" marks Lars most prominent vocal work and the closing "Wreith" has a gorgeous chanting in its end, right before the acoustic finale.
This CD is a worthy step after "Soundscape of Silence
" and a logical evaluation of all the previous ideas incorporated in Before The Dawn
's music, showing both spiritual succession and abilities to create something different enough so as to never be claimed as rehashing. It's a 'must have' for everyone who loves Finnish melodic melancholy in metal and enjoys the desperately beautiful feeling it gives.