Last year BEFORE THE DAWN’s debut “My Darkness“ had been one of the biggest surprises in Gothic Metal and already this year the Finns follow it up with “4:17 am”. Thankfully this is not the time that I write this review at, but the weather in Calgary very well fits the style, as it is just raining heavily and is really grey.
The Finns hardly have changed, they still celebrate Gothic Metal beyond the HIM uniformity, with a very dense, but never sappy atmosphere, which as already on the debut has a certain old KATATONIA feel at times and with the stronger Gothic Metal list, compared to the Swedes, they create something pretty original in the realm of darkness.
Almost every single song makes clear that we have a band here that wants to differ from the rest, not least because of the strong clear vocals of Tuomas Saukkonen and the Death Metal vocals by guitarist Panu Willman, an element that you only rarely find in this style and gives the songs an own character, which is continued in the amalgamation of melancholic darkness and waking up heaviness.
„Heaven“ sets out with a very catchy, but in the riffing surprisingly heavy song, during which the two gentlemen take turns, which threads through all songs. Where other bands drift off into the melancholic-whiny, a powerful guitar comes in or Panu lets out a roar or the other way around, before a song gets too hefty, we get a great melody to bed us on clouds again.
And BEFORE THE DAWN unearth an energy and dynamics that lets me esteem this band even more, the completely Death Metal vocalled “Dreamer” (fitting, isn’t it?) is a very good example for this, “Fade Away” even tops it off, starting out very quietly, then suddenly getting heavy, just like “The Black”, which gains more and more intensity and utilizes the two different vocal styles for best effect.
With the exception of the Death Metal vocals BEFORE THE DAWN do not really use any elements that would be atypical for Gothic Metal, yet still the guys manage to stay pretty original and forge character strong songs, which give Gothic Metal some freshness and that do not show any wear after several listens.
For the second time the proof that we here have a band that has a lot of potential indeed! (Online August 20, 2004)