I had already written off Finnish DAWN OF RELIC as after their great debut "One Night In Carcosa" nothing happened anymore. Now "Lovecraftian Dark" has been released via Season Of Mist and things have changed a bit in the camp of DOR.
I sense melodic Death Metal elements in their melodic Black, which on the one hand adds a new element to the sound, but on the other side also makes their music a little more, hm, usual, but maybe with time these elements might just spice things up especially, so I won't really judge about the inclusion of those right here and now…
After the dark intro "Dawn Over Carcosa" begins the first of the three chapters with "Masquerade Of Sickness (The Eve Of Reckoning)" and folks, this is a steamhammer par excellence, powerful, with good riffage, but also with nice acoustic breakdowns and atmospheric passages to loosen up their compositions and bring in very nice dynamics, as already their debut some years back had contained.
But also the other tracks of the first chapter can convince with their good balance of furiousness and calmer, well thought through passages, which is full of good riffs, which are not exactly original, but that only as a side note, as long as they are good that does not weigh that heavily, does it?
The first track of the second chapter, "The Awakening" then surprises by very melodic music, with quite some keyboards, and female vocals, which at least I definitely would not have expected from DAWN OF RELIC. Oh, no, no, it is not purely sung by the lady, but Mika Tönning (CATAMENIA) lends his rough scream as well to form a duet with her, while the music, too, does not remain as almost tranquil as in the beginning. Also the following "Bowels Of Murder" can absolutely convince, thanks to the cleverly used tempo-shifts and varying intensity, everything topped off by great melodies.
The third and last chapter then consists of three previously unreleased demo songs, where you can hear quite some difference to the regular material, "Snowfall" for example again is opened with very good female vocals, which are the sole vocals throughout the whole song, which is very melodic, but never sappy. "Dormant From Kasmagoria" then features clean male and female vocals, with the music being very melodic, too, rather having a Gothic Metal-like feel to it, which maybe does not fully fit the rest of the album, but still, this is a great song in itself, I love it!
I have read quite some criticism about "Lovecraftian Dark", that it was too close to CHILDREN OF BODOM or too close to other bands, but it is very difficult to find your own path in the mass of bands and in my opinion the shifts in tempo and intensity, the calm, acoustic breakdowns and all of that DOES make DAWN OF RELIC a band that has its own touch, if maybe not fully an own identity, but even that touch is something you don't find that often anymore.
So all I can say is that "Lovecraftian Dark" maybe needs a few more spins than "One Night In Carcosa", but still is an excellent melodic/symphonic/atmospheric Black Metal album with some Death Metal touches that should cater to every fan of this style, no matter what the others say! (Online March 6, 2003)