If you love doom and classic heavy metal as much as I do, then you’re going to fall head over heels in love with this one. But before I get to spilling out an amount of praise equal to that of Niagra Falls, I need to throw up some background information on the act. First off, these gentlemen come from the faraway lands of… well, Connecticut where they’ve been together since 2013. But despite such a lengthy tenure as an act, this is their very first recording. Yes, period – As in there are no demos, EP releases or even so much as a split from these three master musicians. Aye, like a thunderous smack from the boulderous hand of a fearsome rock golem, this massive metal monstrosity snuck up on an unsuspecting heavy metal audience and will surely take hold within the first listen.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect at first, but I loved the fact that not only did such an act have the basic doom formula down, they were also able to pepper it with a slew of killer melodies and pulse-pounding progressive atmospheres. Around the time “Into Exile” came into place, I slowly became enraptured by the kinds of worlds that these gentlemen were creating, not even aware that I was in for such a treat. You see, these days when I get a record it is kind of a mixed-bag. I don’t know what kind of album I’m getting, I just get a disc in the mail and start playing it from there with (sometimes) next to no background information.
Though from what I’ve researched online, the band seems to be a collaboration between Victor Arduini (Entierro, ex-Fates Warning, ex-Freedom’s Reign) and Butch Balich (Argus, Molasses Barge) with additional drum support by Chris Judge (ex-Freedom’s Reign) as it recalls easily acts like Black Sabbath and Candlemass, for starters. There’s already a review for the disc on Metal Archives which puts it at a solid 75% although I will place it just five points higher as I felt that it was much better than just a solid disc. Yes, I think that even though the formulas here are pretty commonplace for doom metal and do not exactly achieve anything out of the ordinary, they are still extremely potent and entirely memorable. According to this reviewer, the record was mainly Arduini’s baby with Balich providing vocals towards the end of the recording process; but it still managed to turn out quite well. As it stands, four of the six tracks here are definitely well over the eight minute mark and one of them manages to work it’s way towards twenty minutes of rippling, classic heavy metal fury. Doom in general is a genre that sees very few alterations, and that is the way that most doom fans like it. If you don’t believe me, then check out the Metal Archives reviews for the first couple of Pallbearer albums. So even if one reviewer might think this is dry, I can bet you a thousand screaming Viking hordes that the majority of doom fans will find exactly what they’re looking for within this release. Perhaps Balich is a little thin on some sections of “The Wraith” but Arduini’s guitar playing and his immensely crafted solo pieces on said track seem to more than make up for it.
At times, almost every song here seems to take on a life of it’s own, as a different influence seems to have inspired it – and those range from the dusty greats to some of the more modern riff-raff out there, all managing to have a notable direction on the band’s sound. Balich sounds incredible, coming in with a memorable tone that seems to echo that of a powerhouse like that of Ronnie James Dio or even former Judas Priest/Iced Earth frontman Tim “Ripper” Owens. He even sounds a little like Iced Earth’s current frontman, Stu Block. I think it’s that level of power combined with such an impressive display of musical texture that keeps me listening and seldom bored with the release.
Like most people when they hear something they like, my body begins to move in tune with the riff structure as my head may bob a little (but not too much, as I’m usually jamming on my lunch break) and I’m sure that some of the other employees are wondering exactly what is going on over there at my table that has me so entranced by the music I’m listening to. And don’t think that I don’t commit this to observation, but several of the people with their headphones on don’t even really seem to be taking notice of the music they’re listening to, as if it’s just some kind of background noise. Are they even feeling it at all? Admittedly, I can’t say for certain – but what I can say is that with a record like Dawn Of Ages, I most certainly am. If the vocals don’t floor you, then the uncanny musicianship definitely will. Between the wonderfully melodic leads, the potent progressions and the all-around potent songwriting on display, I am certainly entranced.
There are times when I look at that other writer’s review back on Metal Archives and often wonder, “is he hearing something that I am not?” Clearly he mentions many of the greats by which he felt the band might have been copying over here and there. I can’t really say if that’s the case here, because I haven’t quite heard all of the Sabbath or Deep Purple albums yet, admittedly. I want to, but I just can’t find the time in all of the myriads of other records that I am asked to listen to and cover. It’s nearly impossible to discover the classics anymore. Chances are that if you’d grown up around that era, maybe something of this nature won’t be quite so special to you as it was to me, perhaps it won’t even be that mind-blowing. But to me, this was a rather stellar recording and I’d certainly love to play it a couple more times and am sure that you would do the same. It is obvious that Arduini put an immense amount of work into this piece and that shines admirably brightly, making it one of my favorite doom discs of the year so far. I know I’ve said that with a few other records in this genre that I’ve covered, but it is nothing if not a good sign for a genre that is rolling on forty years of longevity. Dawn Of Ages is simply put, a testament to the power of doom and traditional heavy metal music. It was a real eye-opener for me.
(8 Tracks, 62:00)