Album Review: Dawn of Ashes – Theophany

This is the most fun album I have heard in a long time. Now I know what you are thinking “How can a harsh EBM/black metal album be fun!?!? I think you mean nihilistic and grimmmmmmmmmmm.” Nope. This album is jut a hell of a lot of fun to jam out to.

Now, right away some people are probably gonna get all pissy and say I have my sub-sub-sub-genre labels wrong by calling this Harsh EBM(No! it Aggrotech, No! its Industrial!) and Black Metal (No! Its really more blackened deathcore. No! Its symphonic groove metal!) Shut up, no one gives a shit. I call it Fucking Awesome.

The genre mashup, which in metal is nothing new, going on here is just bang on. It bounces effortlessly between metal and electronic, while retaining some of the best parts of each. Yes, it does get a bit too far up its own ass once in a while with the whole “Oooh I’m SO EEEVVIIIILLLL BLEeerRRRCCH!” but the overall package is so ridiculously over the top and fantastic, I can forgive a little pretentiousness. Plus, lets face it, that is a huge part of anything remotely involving the genres on display here.

The not-quite-title-track Equilibrium is a perfect example of how the sounds of this album meld. It starts off with a heavy bass synth and distorted kick underneath a single note guitar riff that is rhythmically doubled up with the “live” drum kit, busting into furious of double kick meets synth verse. Then some choral parts crop up as the drums and guitars back off, it builds up to repeat a similar cycle…then it just drops (after an absolutely throat ripping scream) to the dirtiest and most evil synth break and build ever. You can’t help but get ready to freak out in the pit.

This album manages to keep the main ideas for each section of each song as the focal point. That’s a tough thing to do for any band, but especially when you are blending the types on instruments and genres DoA do on this album. I mean, in one genre, the big, simple driving kick and synth lines are always the forefront, while in the other, its primarily either the nasty guitars or blast beats.  Groovy, rhythmic “-core” patterns on the drums also frequently carry weight. Here, they realize which idea is central at any given time and don’t try to overshadow, but support it. Its great writing.

As for sound, its solid. I feel like this album was one of those where large mix adjustments were made during the mastering process to compensate for the overabundance of compression to get to the desired volume. Something like “Oh man, when we master it nice and loud, the drums get buried. Ok, then lets just go back to the mix and crank the drums!” No. NO! That is not how you do it. When you do things like that to a mix (which I’m sure was really good at first) you screw the balance of everything up. You can hear the compression pumping on this sucker. Just eating and releasing frequency bands and entire instrument sections. Its not as bad as the older Fleshgod Apocalypse albums mind you, as this is still completely listenable, but its pretty audible.

I only have two minor gripes about the album, and they seem to be intertwined. One, the album is maybe a track short. Now, I will take an awesome 35min album over a bloated album with 4 crap tracks any day, so its not a big deal, but its so good I really WANTED one more song! I guess that makes it my problem then. Oh well.  Also, since the album essentially ends and then the NIN cover comes on, it seems like they realized they could use another track and whipped that cover up. But that leads me to my second small issue, that cover is absolutely terrible. The track feels really barren and sparse (read as “rushed”) compared to the rest of the album, and Kristof just doesn’t have the vocal chops to do that track justice. His vocals work great on the rest of the album, so I’m not saying he’s a bad vocalist at all, its just that maybe NIN was not the best choice. Its just not really his bailiwick.

I really love this album. Its groovy, heavy, danceable, moshable, memorable, and epic. I think this album could really appeal to a lot of different genre fans. Well as long as they have open minds and aren’t snobs about it anyway. It has a lot of everything and miraculously manages to put it all together in a way that succeeds. And it not only succeeds, it thrives.

Go check it out!
https://dawnofashesofficial.bandcamp.com/

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Album Review: Dawn of Ashes – Theophany

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