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Melodic death metal four-piece and probably the only reason I still listen to the specific genre Bloodshot Dawn are a band based out of the United Kingdom. With their debut full-length record, the kids have kicked shit into overdrive and delivered a technically-proficient, devastatingly-heavy, and soothingly-melodic listen. Their self-titled is without a doubt one of the best death metal releases we’ve seen in the year of 2012. Here’s why.
The opener of the album, “Beckoning Oblivion”, is a set of tasteful and foreboding strings that lead into an explosive opening of death metal. Under these circumstances, I usually like to put on my robe and wizard cap and imagine that I’m leading an army of angry hermit midgets into a battlefield, complete with rainbows and some elves fucking off in their wooden trees, but then the drums and vocals annihilate my entire army in one fel swoop. As the corpses of my once-divine empire fall to the ground (midgets are even smaller when they’re cut in half), I quickly realise that this is no power metal record. Fuck you, Domini Magica. This is Bloodshot Dawn.
The first thing I noticed upon listening to this record was that the vocals are very varied. Many of them are basic middle-pitched screams found in many of the band’s contemporaries, but it’s common for a much harsher, much lower growl to take precedence, and there are some highs layered in every now and then. The reason for this is that three of the four members of Bloodshot Dawn do vocals, and they’re all pretty god-be-damned killer at the job. The presence of the more common middle-pitched screaming is undeniably intense, and commands your attention, but lightens up when the shredding is about to begin.
And when it begins, it lasts a while. I wouldn’t go as far as to call the two guitarists of Bloodshot Dawn “virtuosos”, but they’re damn fine musicians. Their skills in composing amazing riffs, spiraling leads, and powerful solos are unmatched by many of the bands in their genre, which allows them to vary the instrumentation with impunity. Varied instrumentation makes me a happy metalhead, and I’ll be damned if I’m not ecstatic every time I listen to the solos on this record. A great example of this stuff is in the fourth track, “Godless’, and the fifth track, “Vision”, but there are amazing riffs and interplay between the guitars across the whole album. Fans of early Gorod and Origin will probably cite those bands as inspiration, even though the interplay is based less on technical skill and more on melodic structuring.
But good guitarists need a good bassist, and it’s a good thing that Bloodshot Dawn have one. On tracks like “The Quantum Apocalypse”, his bassplay is valued at somewhere around one thousand midget heads (quite a high price, if you ask me). The only reason the solos, leads, and riffs sound as good as they do is because of the basswork, which is just as varied as the guitarplay. The bassist’s fingerwork is instrumental (shut up) to the success of the rest of the album’s sound, and additionally helps to set the mood during the slower parts of the record. Aside from a few instances here and there, the bass is almost always audible, as well. That’s a plus in my book.
Drumming-wise, the drummer handles his duties just as well as he does with his vocal performance – he fucking kills it. The drum tracks of the album are just as varied as the rest of the instrumentation is, and they’re produced in such a way that gives them every bit of oomph that they need in order to destroy your ears. Most of the drumming revolves around constant bass kicks, powerful blast beats, and a great amount of hat hits to even everything out. Though it’s nothing extraordinary, it’s powerful and commanding enough to suit the band’s needs and create a powerful backdrop for their sound.
Tying it all together is how important their mixing is. The real beauty of this record is how easily and naturally it flows and fits together. Almost none of it feels out of place or at odds with itself: the record has a tight production, a powerful sound, and a skilful execution. At very few times did I find myself thinking that something should have been changed. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but it’s far from mediocre. A lot of experience and effort went into the making of Bloodshot Dawn’s self-titled album, and they deserve recognition for their efforts. Personally, I can’t wait for their next release… and neither can my army of dead midgets.