The evolution of DARK AT DAWN is pretty astounding, if you look at the two releases so far, "Baneful Skies" (1999) and "Crimson Frost" (2001), and now compare with the brand new long player "Of Decay And Desire". Ever since the beginning DARK AT DAWN had been Power Metal, but anything but the typically German sound, more powerful, darker and first and foremost with the very characteristic rough, but still melodic vocals of "Buddy" Kohlrausch they could always claim to have an impressively own and even more so damn good sound.
"Baneful Skies" back then had been an outstanding debut, which id not only clearly show the potential of the band, but also the originality of the formation, while the following "Crimson Frost", for which reason ever, almost completely passed me by unnoticed. Well, the band has shrunk to a trio by now, but still album number three still has all trademarks of the DARK AT DAWN sound, just with one big difference: As good as never before! Since the release of "Crimson Frost" the band has lost both guitarists, but instead of dwelling on it and trying to find suitable replacements, drummer and multi talent Torsten Sauerbrey also took on the six string and at no time makes us feel the absence of his "predecessors". Quite the contrary, the DARK AT DAWN sound still is there, even a bit more intricate than before.
So what makes DARK AT DAWN so original? Well, even though they without a doubt play Power Metal, Swedish SABATON are the only other band on this world, that I know of, that goes into the same direction. Intricate, melodic guitars, driving and variable rhythms, the already mentioned powerful and rough, yet still very melodic voice of Buddy Kohlrausch, really cliché free song writing and a hard to describe or compare dark atmosphere are the pillars of the third output of the three Germans and let them stand pretty much alone, even more so as they manage to combine it all in very tense and cohesive songs, which can easily withstand almost any challenge.
Packed into a clear, differentiated and very powerful production of Andy Classen in the MetalSound studio, which gives every instrument exactly the space it needs and deserves, we unfortunately do not get one of these outstanding cover versions that could be found on the two first albums (Chris de Burgh's "Don't Pay The Ferryman" and Gary Moore and Phil Lynnott's "Out In The Fields"), but the twelve own compositions let us forget this fact as they once more are on a remarkably very high level. Right at the start the crunchy "The Sleepwalker" and the epic, technically demanding and altogether just outstanding "End Of Ice - Warriorqueen" build a great foundation on which the other songs can build very nicely.
"Luna" brings us some female vocals (also to be found in other songs) as accentuation, "Forever" uses some more prominent keyboards (also played by Jack-of-all-instruments Torsten Sauerbrey), embedded in an a bit more complex track, while "The 5th Horseman" gallops right through, with brilliant melodies. "...And The Sea Wept" then right away the next highlight, mid paced, this song draws you in more and more with its great melancholic lead and the irresistible chorus. And…well, I think that you by now know what's going on here, eh?
The cover and booklet, which very well visualises the lyrics, round off a through and through strong and original (also very much because of the expressive and charismatic vocals of Buddy) album, which in my opinion should establish DARK AT DAWN at least in the German, if not even the European leaders' group, as this band has managed to find its absolutely own style within Power Metal and to also realise it in a very demanding and qualitatively high standing way. Therefore I just have to give them a fat 9 as rating! (Online January 20, 2004)