A word of advice for any band out there looking to get music reviewed; take a leaf out of the book of Dakesis. I have a long list of things to review and articles to write, yet Dakesis jumped straight to the top by offering the choice of a range of (imaginary) rewards for completion of a quest (review). I mean it’s not quite the same as the days when bands would send cocaine packaged with their record, but the promise of option 3, Staff of Spaaaaace, (+ 13/11 understanding of alternative time signatures, equipping immediately grants the user a waist length beard) still had me rearranging my priorities. Silly sells, or at least around here it does. Now on with the review (prepare my space staff, Dakesis).
The New Dawn is the British four piece’s second album following on from 2011s Trial By Fire. It’s a 78 minute progressive power metal marathon in the shape of a 13 track concept album. It’s a bold move from a relatively young band, but in my opinion at least, the risk has paid off.
Opening with the dramatic Overture: The Darkest Hour, the album fully kicks off with the title track. The New Dawn is the type of song that you really should be hearing when cresting a wave on the way to battle rather than sitting in your front room with Only Fools and Horses playing on mute. It has a slight sense of Fairyland (I question my own music taste sometimes) about it, and despite my hesitance to say it, an air of Nightwish lurks around the track as well.
My hesitance stems from the fact that the lead singer, Gemma Lawler, is female, and there’s an irritating habit of automatically comparing any female fronted power band to Nightwish in music journalism. Yet the Nightwish sound is more in the melodies, the choir and the instrumentation, so I feel safe saying that without resorting to silly comparisons. There are even Manowar-esque moments here and there which more than pleases me since this entire website is named after a line from Battle Hymn
The New Dawn joins Betrayal without a gap, an album effect I’ve always enjoyed and wish more bands would utilise. It also sees guest vocals from Matt Gore of The Mighty Wraith. Apparently they aimed to create something theatrical and I would say they achieved that goal. You can easily visualise the track in a dramatic setting, and then you wonder why there aren’t more shows in the theatre based around this type of music.
Theatrical is certainly a word that is applicable to the album as a whole. The keys give the tracks a massive boost of power and when combined with a whoa-oh or two (Destined For The Flame), gives the listener that “epic” feeling you don’t get when you’re just listening to guitars and drums.
The first half of the album is quite uplifting and leans heavily in the power metal camp, but then the instrumental Intermezzo: Meridian hits, and does it ever live up to its name. They move away from the power metal and upbeat sound into a darker, dramatic territory. This is where the bold move I spoke of previously really comes into play.
Most bands have maybe one epic on an album, and when you see The Sacrifice clocking in at nine minutes you think that’s it. Opening with a spacy feel as male and female vocals mingle, the soft spacy prog descends into a full blown metal affair. When it comes to an end you think that’s the obligatory epic done and dusted, is it buggery. You still have the near eighteen minute The Seventh Sky to go, and the eleven minute By The Fading Light to go. Not to mention Call to Freedom, my favourite song under Destined For The Flame.
The Great Insurrection – Official Video
The Seventh Sky opens directly into Devin Townsend Project town, I almost want Ziltoid to make an appearance. Yet this soon changes, as you would expect an eighteen minute song would do. It’s a marathon of its own, exploring the range of power metal and prog knowledge the band has. It’s impossible to objectively review a song like this, but the main thing I’ll say is that it doesn’t feel like a slog as so many songs like this wind up doing, while the final moments give the listener a sense of a payoff with the big closing chord
The album is ambitious to say the least, but it worked out for them. Lawler’s vocals are strong throughout, it’s an album that features a lot of sustained notes but she conquers them with no struggle. Matt Jones’ one man show on guitar should be noted as well. The amount of riffs, solos and harmonies present would be taxing for two, but he’s working solo. Another point to mention is the bass of Amie Chatterley, it’s refreshing to hear a power group who remember bass exists rather than shoving it down somewhere under the keys and drums. Finally, Adam Harris on drums who must have been exhausted after tracks like The Seventh Sky if he one tracked that bad boy, I don’t envy his job when it comes to playing live.
The New Dawn is an album you would expect from a band with multiple albums under their belt, and the fact this is coming from a band on album two means the prospect of future albums is very exciting. It’s a well written jaunt through the lands of power and prog, with plenty of short, catchy tracks to suck the Spotify/Youtube browsers in before hitting them with the grand epics.
With tempo, genre and atmosphere changes frequent, The New Dawn is definitely the album for the progressive metal fan.
And is also the album for a guy wanting a Staff of Spaaaaace.
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