Nov 15, 2012

Dawn Of Winter - The Skull of the Sorcerer EP ...

I am sure most doom fans know about Dawn of Winter. They should by now, the band have been doing it since 1991 and if it wasn't for the fact that they have only released 2 full length albums in all that time, they might be major players in the doom scene by now. About 4 years ago the band released the very good and very underrated 'The Peaceful Dead' which went largely unnoticed by a lot of doomsters. Now they are back with a short EP, 'The Skull Of The Sorcerer.' The good news is nothing has changed, they are still the old-school doom metal band they have always been and the vocals of Gerrit P. Mutz are as over-the-top as usual. Not since the hey-day of Messiah Marcolin has there been such a overly dramatic vocalist in doom metal. However comparing this to 'The Peaceful Dead' and you may feel a little disappointed.

The problem is the songs just plod along and apart from one song ('Dagon's Blood') there isn't much that could be considered memorable about these songs. The EP starts with that song which is heavy classic doom metal and is very infectious while being fairly short. There are huge riffs with the usual Candlemass vibe that Dawn of Winter are known for but the next three tracks seem all too meandering and kind of clumsy in their execution. The pick of these 3 tracks is the title track which follows 'Dagon's Blood' but at over 7 minutes it lacks the twists and turns to make it anything more than a band following a well-used formula. It is not helped by the vocals which seem to be all over the place at times. At their best, the vocals are dramatic and enjoyable in their epic, larger than life, over-the-top style but at their worst they warble and frankly are a bit irritating. Now that is not to say that this guy can't sing, he has a perfect tone to his voice for traditional doom metal but he seems to be enjoying himself a little bit too much on this EP. At times his high notes miss the mark completely and his growls seem to be out-of-place.

Despite that and the very rough production, there are still elements of excellence within these tracks. There are fine leads and better than average riffing but some passages sound like they would be served better in a power-metal band. The worst offender is 'In Servitude to Destiny' which is a power-doom ballad which simply goes off the rails right from the start and is so riddled with cliches including a acoustic intro, overly emotional vocals and of course a dramatic lead break that brings the track to a close. There is nothing really horrible about any of this but there is nothing too memorable either. The other track that I haven't mentioned is better - the very Candlemass sounding 'By the Blessing of Death' but it is still nowhere near as good as anything from 'The Peaceful Dead' album. After 4 years between releases, this EP does seem to be lacking in some vital areas of doom metal craftsmanship. EP's often get accused of being "filler" and with EP's like this one, it is no wonder.....5/10.

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