Before the Dawn: Deathstar Rising

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Before the Dawn: Deathstar Rising
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Before the Dawn: Deathstar Rising
Gothic Metal, Melodic Death Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
May 3rd, 2011
Release length: 41:09
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Not many have heard of the band Before the Dawn, and those who have typically weren’t too moved by them. The band’s more recent releases haven’t really gained a lot of popularity with the critics either, but the group definitely has a strong fan base despite the negative press the band has received for their material over the years. With that, Before the Dawn issue their sixth full-length recording, Deathstar Rising, through their new home: Nuclear Blast Records. But, with being signed to this label, will there be any sort of dramatic changes to the band’s material?

“The First Snow” makes for a decent introduction to the album that bleeds into “Winter Within”, a track to welcome the listener into this release well. The song is rather upbeat and has a strong Gothic Metal presence to it with softer, soothing clean singing during the chorus. The gutterals used during the song are pretty good as well, matching the more upbeat performance of the track, as well as throughout the recording. The music often comes across like a blend of Melodic Death Metal legends In Flames and even Soilwork coupled with some of today’s more traditional male fronted Gothic Rock/Metal acts. However, “Deathstar” makes for some interesting music that, in the long run, doesn’t really work out with exception to the catchy chorus with a more energetic clean singing performance backed with gutteral vocals behind them. The song seems to sound more like an In Flames track then anything, though this becomes the general comparison point of the album, and some of the verses feel a little open musically, almost like something to expect from a Metalcore release, and executed in a manner thqat makes the song feel more like it’s bridging to a breakdown, but it never arrives.

Sadly, that’s how a good chunk of this album plays out. Deathstar Rising is mostly composed of Melodic Death Metal music for everything but the chorus, which takes on a strictly Gothic Metal approach. The vocals are gutterals until the chorus, which then breaks into clean singing. However, the band typically offers up different variations to keep it sounding a little more unique from track to track, though the obvious repetitive foundation does still exist. As mentioned, “Deathstar” feels more like a Metalcore track at times along the lines of something Killswitch Engage would do. It’s not bad, but the more open music and feeling of it building up to a breakdown and it never occuring is quite irritating. “Unbroken” is a catchy and far heavier song on the recording that really focuses in on a Melodic Death Metal sound, slowing down to a more Gothic Metal tone for the chorus which includes clean singing, but this time in the background, and much lighter then on “Winter Within”, while the gutterals feel deeper and harmonizec with the clean singing, but louder in the mix that it takes priority in the song and sometimes like it’s masking the singing. This track isn’t as good as one would hope, given how many times the music shifts as you get to the end, mostly through changes in music that cause brief pauses here and there before, during, and immediately after the guitar solo. “Judgement” is another slower paced song that finds no gutterals and is composed solely of clean singing, which isn’t too bad, but some of the music relies on the bass, and the bass chords aren’t that impressive to not allow the music to sound hollow at times.

Overall, Deathstar Rising isn’t all that spectacular musically either. If the band were to stick to a primarily Melodic Death Metal sound, then chances are good the outcome would be a lot stronger. The mixture of that and Gothic Metal doesn’t work out too well here, and can sometimes become a litlte to bland. When the tracks are upbeat like “Winter Within”, or even a little heavier like “Judgement”, then often the music feels a little more unique and not as generic. There’s often no real energy into the music, but some tracks, like “The Wake”, do carry an atmosphere that is quite interesting, coming off more with a melancholic state of being then anything thanks to the more hook-driven songs. “Butterfly Effect” has the same kind of energetic performance at “Rememberance”, and it becomes of the stronger tracks that stands out on the recording despite it’s gutteral everything but cleanly sung chorus pattern, and the catchy music will have your head banging along from the start to the guitar rings out at the end, but it’s not until “Wreith” that you’ll want to start up a random mosh with it’s faster paced music that is as catchy, if not moreso, then “Unbroken” and even “Butterfly Effect”, keeping your head banging in rhythm to the song the whole time.

Overall, Deathstar Rising doesn’t really offer anything much that will make the listener’s jaw drop. Much of the music comes off as generic In Flames-inspired music with some Gothic and even Metalcore approaches to it, but those alterations are prodominantly in the chorus. Tracks like “The Wake”, “Sanctuary” and “Judgement” have some strength to them, and the are catchy, though “Judgement” feels a little hollow and isn’t too engaging, and those that are happen to be too few, and too far in between. For what it is, Before the Dawn have come up with an average sounding album coupled with some tracks that leave a very good impression, and often finds the album having a distinctive atmosphere that works in it’s favor, but simply can’t save the album on it’s own. Deathstar Rising is an album that you won’t be disappointed by, but at the same time you’re not going to go run around bragging that you grabbed it either. It’s not bad, coming off more as the kind of album you’d casually listen to, or just throw on in the background to have some decent music going, but is far from being an album to just up and completely ignore and is worth sampling some of the better tracks, as they do stand a chance of being stuck in the back of your mind.

01. The First Snow – 1:20
02. Winter Within – 4:32
03. Deathstar – 3:31
04. Remembrance – 3:38
05. Unbroken – 4:40
06. Judgement – 4:20
07. The Wake – 5:07
08. Sanctuary – 4;52
09. Butterfly Effect – 3:53
10. Wraith – 5:16
Overall Score: 8/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.