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As the 'The Ultimate Eclipse' gets going, all throaty growls and burly death doom riffs augmented by Crematory style keyboards... it becomes clear that this is more than an attempt to emulate the sounds Ecliptic Dawn might have heard on recent goth albums. The nearest comparison I can think of is Keltgar, a disbanded Belgian group who operated mostly through demos and produced some fantastic deathly gothic doom.
Like Keltgar, the usual male narration and female singing accompanies the growls, but the sound on the guitar is good enough to keep those with short attention spans interested. Some interesting lead work later on the opening track has an Eastern feel akin to Melechesh. Sole fixed member Sam is in charge of keyboards (which are fairly ubiquitous here) and has an excellent deep grunt, put to good use again over the death metal propulsion of 'Moonless Nights', which sounds something like early Amorphis.
So Sam belongs in the early '90s with his robust vocals, and with a bit of work his keyboards could be integrated into a very satisfying early Crematory-type recipe. His only problem is instruments. Most people in Syria with an interest in playing metal want to be guitarists (like most people everywhere) and bassists and drummers are hard to come by. So there's a lot of keyboards here, since it is Sam's band after all, there's a drum computer and a number of guest musicians recruited to supply the actual metal. The instrumental 'Prologue into Darkness' is pointless, but then again I'm not the best person to talk to about short, instrumental keyboard prologues and interludes, unless they are stupidly fucking good for some reason. This isn't. It leads into 'Death of Eclipse Poetry', which lacks the frankly boring female vocals of earlier tracks but neither delivers the pounding guitars of the first two songs. This may be as a result of there being different musicians on each track.
It's nudging towards a combination of elegant Eastern-flavoured metal, which is certainly popular these days, and some very nice thrusting death doom. Unfortunately the record's final track is nothing memorable, but I can listen to the first two again for the cool, gruff death/ doom packed in among the soprano and other gothic flourishes. If the whole thing was like the second minute or so of 'The Ultimate Eclipse', just with a human drummer, it would stand a good chance at slaying. There's a lot of hard work gone into this, and the concept behind the band shows definite potential.
Ecliptic Dawn's first offering to the public, Eternal Night Of Eclipse, came to me claiming that it is the debut of the first Gothic Metal project to hail from Syria, that it fused oriental and extreme elements with the more traditional Gothic style. The first minute or so alone satisfies the latter of the two claims, drawing the listener in with a distinctly Eastern melody and leading them to a rough, growling Gothic Metal track.
It is generally the typical Gothic Metal offering however, despite the rather bold introduction. The guitars drone in the background, mostly just used for ambiance and strength. Melodies are driven either by the soprano vocalist, who certainly delivers with her cold, delicate voice, or by the keyboards. The sound could be related to Vampiria, with a more Eastern style and a less developed or less controlled mindset.
The first two tracks of the four supplied both follow in the same vein, while the third is a haunting, but anti-climactic instrumental with a lightly distorted narration. The fourth track closes the release in a more traditional Gothic Metal sound that could be compared to a number of the earlier artists in the genre. The songs fit well together for the most part, but there are quite a bit of untamed, rather rough-around-the-edges moments within each song.
The quality of the music is very decent in light of how it was created; as stated by the band's official page, there is a lack of interested musicians in Syria, which forced the main-man, "Poet Of Eclipse", to collaborate with session musicians over the internet. Though there is much to be desired production-wise, as an amateur effort created in such a manner, it is a rather impressive quality.
Though it is safe to say that Ecliptic Dawn has a number of elements that it could bring to the Gothic Metal genre, such as its beautiful Eastern melodies and its two satisfying vocalists, there are some significant segments of it that feel a bit recycled. At times it seems sloppy or bland, but the general idea is there. As a debut offering, it is certainly worth looking at, as it is a project that can certainly flourish if refined, but the release on its own is quite a stretch from flawless.etch from flawless.
The Internet has made it possible. Such should the headline of this release be, because it sums up the way this release came into being. While bands in the Middle East struggle to get their art done in an appropriate manner and may be willing to turn to Mr. Computer in order to get some assistance, "Poet Of Eclipse" was able to gather some musicians who were willing to support him in his project. Who these were can be read in the additional notes of this demo at the Metal Archives.
Well, four tracks can be found on Eternal Night of Eclipse and except for the third track – this would be an instrumental – all of these are metal ones. Gothic metal is what the band attempts to play and as such a good amount of symphonic facets, along a combination of male and females vocals, can be identified. As the guitars were performed by the guest musicians, their sound and style is actually not bad, but as they are supported by slightly cheesy keyboards, the overall impression of the sound is a rather ambivalent one. Furthermore, the drum-computer does have no positive effect on how the music is perceived as well. Everything sounds a bit too controlled and without emotion. This is by no means limited to the vocals and their impact on the performance, but the way the growls appear and also their style is a bit tiring. So, while some ideas are actually not bad, Ecliptic Dawn is never really able to ignite a spark. Eternal Night of Eclipse is a nice demo and a solid start but nothing more. You can listen to it now and then, but do not expect it to make you sit in awe.
The bottom line of this release would the following:
While the music is well crafted in general and pretty listenable, it lacks a bit of fascination as well as surprising moments.
(edit1: one small edit, as requested by the band)