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Norwegian band Beyond Dawn’s 1995 opus, Pity Love, is an album best understood apart from the myopia of extreme metal. It is a hybrid, a bouillabaisse that takes equally from doom, industrial, gothic darkwave, and death and black metal, no one ingredient overwhelming any other. One hears in this record the celestial sounds of Dead Can Dance counterpoised against the jagged, percussive metal framework of Anacrusis. Although this combination places Beyond Dawn in the doom category, the electronic elements and ‘vampiric’ approach of the music could very well peg Pity Love squarely into the darkwave genre. As far as the latter style’s hybridization with metal is concerned, one automatically imagines Sins Of Thy Beloved or Silent Cry, bands aptly described as darkwave/doom acts, but possessing far more popular appeal than Beyond Dawn, who is no less enjoyable than the aforementioned, and in fact more so because of their uniqueness. ‘Gothic’ here does not imply a stage act, or an affectation upon an established format, but rather a pervasive feeling intrinsic to the mood of the entire album.
Pity Love begins with ‘When Beauty Dies’, a primer for the rest of the album’s electronica-infused style. The horns blast an introductory bellow and abrupt ‘industrial’ noises punctuate the atmosphere, complimented by rumbling percussion. A vocal style resembling Type O Negative and Tiamat appears, and becomes an almost omnipresent entity throughout the album. ‘The Penance’ is a more riff-based approach, and makes use of a raspier vocal style that appears in the album’s more aggressive moments. This track reminds me of Anacrusis, the riffing bearing a similarity, complete with the occasional harmonic squeal. ‘(Never A) Bygone’ introduces a primitive, tribal sound, ritualistic pounding on the tom drums a la Bauhaus, and an eeriness reflective of European darkwave. A touch of Dead Can Dance in places here, and an infusion of horns similar to Sopor Aeternus at its most majestic. ‘Teardance’ starts off as pure goth rock: mellow and brooding, with a catchy chorus, the virtuosic drum performance standing out against guitar flourishes, until the track’s denouement: a rush of mid-paced death/doom reminiscent of Beyond Sanctorum-era Therion. Every subsequent track follows the formula of one of the previous four: either ambient in approach, showcasing horns and sparse electronics, or presenting a brooding goth rock atmosphere evolving into a heavier, metal approach.
The better part of Pity Love is like sinking into a K-hole, until any one of its surprising spurts of violence pulls you out of it. Wavering between the eerily comforting and rage-inducing, the album’s many congruous influences create a product evocative and nuanced even after repeated listens. 9/10