Monday, April 30, 2012

Before the Dawn - Rise of the Phoenix

Roughly a year after releasing one of the best albums of 2011, the Finnish melodic death powerhouse known as Before the Dawn is back with a strong follow-up known as The Rise of the Phoenix. I’ve actually known about this release for several months now, so obviously, I’ve been eager to hear it for quite a while. A little over a week ago, I went on the Nuclear Blast website to check the status of the album. I went to Before the Dawn’s page to discover that one of the tracks off the new album had been posted for streaming! Although their overall sound hasn’t gone through many HUGE changes since the release of Deathstar Rising, there are quite a few differences Deathstar Rising and Rise of the Phoenix (I don’t know if they purposefully put the word “rise” in both of those albums).

Let’s start out with the first track I heard off the album, which turns out to be the “title” song off the record (which is also not the EXACT title as the album, just like the title track off Deathstar Rising). The thing that stuck out to me the most was the extensive use of black metal-influenced higher-pitched chords. What I’m talking about are those really atmospheric melodic chords used primarily in the more melodic variations of black metal (although they run through all black metal in some way or another, tracing all the way back to the earliest black metal bands from the late 80s). But of course, these chords are being used in a melodic death fashion rather than in the black metal style that most people are used to hearing them in. The amount of blast beats being used throughout the faster parts of the song has gone up as well as the overall style of drumming.

If you strip away the layer of gothic influence and sound, Before the Dawn’s music is in fact the precise definition of melodic death in its purest and most generic sense. Before the Dawn removes their highly recognized gothic layer in some parts of this album, showing the rawness and pureness of their music. But even though this may SOUND like a disappointment, this album still earned the same score from me that their previous album did (even though I still like Deathstar Rising better).

The growls emitted from the throat of Tuomas aren’t quite as deep and spine-chilling as they are in previous albums, but this was probably done on purpose because it fits the less-gothic sound better. Here’s probably one of the most noticeable changes that Before the Dawn has made: there isn’t nearly as much singing. If you’ve heard Soundscape of Silence (my first Before the Dawn album), then you should know that there’s actually a tad bit more singing than growling. In Rise of the Phoenix, there’s next to no singing; which (fortunately) doesn’t decrease the quality of the music in any way.

In Phoenix Rising, Before the Dawn decides to turn down the opacity of their widely recognized layer of gothic sound and expose the rawness of their music to their listeners. To be honest, I’m extremely glad that the gothic feel hasn’t COMPLETELY vanished, but the atmospheric and epic sound that they use to make up for the hole that they left completely blew me away. I would recommend this to everyone and I guarantee you, Rise of the Phoenix does not disappoint.