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I'm not feeling it - 70%

PorcupineOfDoom, February 22nd, 2015

You know when something's good and you can recognise that but for whatever reason you just don't get into it? That's what I get with Rise of the Phoenix. Something about it just doesn't quite click with me. I don't know why because it's really done very well, but it just doesn't move me in the way that it should.

I think one of the things that puts me off is the shallow sound that the band has. The riffs aren't really thick and just sound like the top layer of the recipe. There needs to be something underneath that to hold everything together, and evidently the bass isn't capable of that given that it's barely audible when nothing else is even playing. The keyboard might be an attempt to add that missing something, but while it does plug a few of the gaps it still doesn't fix the issue.

Another issue that I have is that nothing seems to have a purpose. I mean, the leads are really nice to listen to and all, but they hardly ever sound like they're feeling the emotion that they're banking on the listener feeling. Listen to Throne of Ice and tell me that it sounds like they're putting their heart and soul into it. Sure it's played well, but it isn't like listening to Heart of Flames by Astarte where the emotion is really channeled through the guitar. And then we come to the drums. What are they meant to be doing? To me it just sounds like they're there just for the hell of it. They play for speed and that's it. It really detracts quite severely from the melodic guitar work, probably one of the reasons that it sounds like they're missing something.

The vocals have a tendency to be drowned out by everything else, but they're fairly average growls anyway so it doesn't detract too much from the album. To be honest I kind of expected some cleans to be mixed into the music too given that the music sometimes fades to quiet sections with only the keyboard playing. Whether it'd work or not is another matter, but there are parts that are just begging for someone to start singing and Before the Dawn really kind of misplaced those parts here.

Ultimately the band just don't sound like they want me to cry along with them. That's what the problem is. They're talented individuals, I have to give them that much, but there's a difference between playing well and playing something that's good. Unfortunately I just don't feel it with these guys.

Seitsemän - 93%

OzzyApu, May 9th, 2013

I’m not one to be keen on a lot of melodic death metal since it gets pretty generic. That can be said for a lot of genres, but it stands out for melodic death. A band like Before The Dawn teetered on this plateau more than once, with only one previous instance of a breakout. Deadlight was years before, and for their swansong, Before The Dawn goes down with their most ambitious, passionate, and compelling release in their career. They may have been known for wandering the realm of melodic death with the gushy cleans of Eikind, their standardized riffing, or the rapping in “Ghost Town” (ugh), but they’ll be remembered for this. They’ll be remembered for trailing alongside Insomnium and only reaching that same level once, doing metal a favor by ending on a high note that’s out of their own league.

Deathstar Rising was plagued by already decent clean vocals sung in an awkward way and inappropriately utilized. It compromised the songwriting, which at times was hampered by the instrumentation anyway. It buckled the band into giving in to one type of sound that wasn’t compelling to begin with. Underneath it one could hear blazing riffs and soaring harmonies akin to Insomnium’s Across The Dark, like a whirlwind of ferocity trying to escape. The link that bound them to that crippling crutch was, thankfully, now gone for good, leaving Saukkonen with full vocal duties. That means everything sung here is harsh vocals, and for the better. The harsh vocals here are a notch heavier than before, with a noticeable end-grunt to them. They’re still not the most remarkable for melodic death, but hearing it as the only vocals on here makes me love them more.

The intro “Exordium” builds serenely, easing into the atmosphere that glosses the album skillfully. What defines this album though is the dual attack by Saukkonen’s riffs and Räihä’s avid leads. “Pitch-Black Universe” is everything I could have hoped for – it destroys the entirety of Deathstar Rising with its captivating atmosphere, tsunami-like riffing and drumming, and those touching harmonies which are very prominent. It’s the trait of each song on here, all distinctive and varied to create an album packed with memorability. Never in my life had I wished a metal band incorporated fucking blast beats in order to make the songs interesting, and damn it Before The Dawn did it here.

I could go on and on about how all the songs on here are some of the band’s best like “Perfect Storm,” but that goes more for the increased standards in regard to the rest of them. The only downside I can even give is on “Throne Of Ice” being misplaced in the middle of the album. It ruins the flow by starting out softly and rising to become another powerhouse. Until that point, the band was on a roll of aggressive, fast strikers, so having a longer song stopping the momentum wasn’t the best choice. It’s still epic as hell, and it could have been placed somewhere else, but it is a speed bump. After it the band resumes its offensive of polished, riff-fueled frenzies. The final outing is the unconventionally structured “Closure,” my favorite Before The Dawn song for the way it starts softly and rises to the absolute peak of melodic death. I swear, this song has one of the most amazing harmonies I’ve ever heard, and it keeps ascending and ascending into another harmony of complete melancholic bliss. Once the harsh vocals come in with the spiraling melodies that ride the song out, I’m already beyond astounded.

Every song here has focus and payoff that leaves me wanting more. That’s something that can’t be said about a lot of the band’s work. I do enjoy much of the band’s work, but the craving for more isn’t something felt on many of their albums. Rise Of The Phoenix is the band’s ultimate album in terms of obtaining that satiating feeling. Even the beefy, faster re-recording of “Unbreakable” destroys the original. This is the band as they should have been, as it best represents who they are and what they’re the most capable of playing well. Hearing it completely reimagines who they were, and to me it’ll be this album at the top when it comes to the band’s legacy.

Consistency saves this album - 65%

sharkruisher13, November 28th, 2012

There will always be bands in music that you just does not understand why they have become as big as they are. For me, some of those bands are Sabaton, High On Fire and this band, finnish Before The Dawn. This melodic goth/death metal band has just been a big question mark for me. What is it with this band that makes them stand out? I could not find it on their last release, Deathstar Rising, and I do not think i have found it her on Rise of The Phoenix either. But first I have to admit that this album is better than the previous offering. Mostly because there is only harsh vocals here since Lars Eikind left the band last year.

The thing about Before The Dawn that really gets to me all the time is the melodies. Sure, they are beautiful and good but are they original? I have heard several bands putting out similar material. Some has made it better and some has made it worse. I would barely put this album in the better category cause even though the songs are good, the whole experience is just one big mash up. The songs in Rise of The Phoenix does not do much to stand out against the others. Everything goes around in the same tempo and the structure of the songs are just changed slightly. It gets quite boring from time to time.

The only thing that is saving Rise of The Phoenix from being some what of a disaster is that the album has no lows. Let us do the math. 9 x good, but not memorable, songs = a good, but not memorable, album while 4 x bad songs + 5 x great songs = a good album where you skip some of the tracks. So the consistency of Before The Dawn is a savior for the band. I'd rather have an album filled with songs that I am okay with instead of a album with fillers. It makes a greater wholeness to the album itself. But if you would put a gun on my head and demand an answer to which song you should listen to on this album I would pick "Cross To Bear" Since it is the only song that is some what memorable.

So yeah, Rise of The Phoenix definetely beats its predecessor but it doesn't convince me that Before The Dawn is a band that I should look more into. I hope that the band continue on this road cause they may be heading for something really good. But so far I am unimpressed.

Songs worthy of recognition: Cross To Bear, Perfect Storm

Rating: 6,5/10 Eclipses

Strong, consistent, and enjoyable. - 88%

TheMorticiansFlame, May 3rd, 2012

Melodic metal, ah the sweet sounds of heavy riffing and soaring guitar melodies. Melodic metal, though a general term, certainly is one of the oldest forms of the genre, and can be traced back to heavyweights such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, and in some instances has changed little since then. With all of this in mind, Before the Dawn has formed another brick in the ever growing wall of melodic metal with their newest release, “Rise of the Phoenix”. The album combines heavy and harmonious guitar work, with a dark tone and atmosphere to create an undeniably “metal” album. This approach to writing metal, performing sections and writing in a style that is almost guaranteed to “work” succeeds in some aspects, and falters in others. While being a splendid album to listen to, it no doubt struggles under the weight of its own genericism.

The album starts off with an intro track, something I think is necessary for metal such as this. It works to put the listener into the mood for metal and sets the stage for the rest of the record. “Exordium” performs this task well. After that the songwriting comes into full effect. The songwriting on this work has two main components, that of the heavy riff, and the melodic riff. Before the Dawn is able to balance these two styles of songwriting to create a very listenable album, the best example of this may be the intro to “Eclipse”, which combines melody and heavy guitars. The melodic riffs and solos sometimes run together, and I feel as if they over-do it in that sense. This causes some of the songs to run together, something that relatively traditional metal should avoid. At best, these riffs are emotional and create a powerful effect in the song, sometimes launching it to a height of feeling that the vocalist on the record does not often reach. Harmonies add flavor to the lines and give them an even stronger punch. It’s clear that Before the Dawn can write impressive melodic lines, and while they manage to balance this aspect with their riffing, sometimes the melodies get tiresome. The riffing on this album, when present, is heavy, fast, and works well in moving the song to where it needs to be. Sometimes smothered by the more melodic parts, these riffs can go unappreciated if the listener isn’t focusing on them. “Rise of the Phoenix” could benefit, in my opinion, from an increase in this type of guitar work, and more balance between that and the melodies. Neither element is wholly groundbreaking, but they are each written well and provide for interesting listening.

The quality of the record is near perfect for what they are trying to achieve. Each note is distinguishable and clear, yet the guitars do not suffer from too much overproduction. Some genres may require more or less clarity, but for what they are writing, Before the Dawn did an admirable job of making the record sound good. The drums are sound a little manufactured at points, and could maybe benefit from a little more depth, and the bass is mixed rather low, and when noticeable, is slightly too distorted. The drums sometimes are played too fast, and take away from the guitar parts. The guitars were given first priority in the mixing process and it shows, as they shimmer and glisten, as well as crush and crunch. The guitar solos are well done, many times tasteful and enjoyable, while somewhat generic. They start to run together towards the end of the album though. The guitarists have a strong command of their instruments, and are able to display their talent when necessary. The vocalist is gruff and powerful. He adds a lot to the dark atmosphere of the album, as well as keeps it interesting. He does not vary his style too much, but the album does not run long enough for it to become too tedious.

The album was set up effectively, with the song order giving it a good cohesion. They chose to put “Throne of Ice” towards the beginning middle, this song, which starts with around a minute of acoustic guitar gives the listener an early break in the heaviness. After that break though, the song continues into a full band piece and ends with one of the first very noticeable guitar solos on the record. This track serves to give the listener a break from the heavy songs, but by making it end with a full band section, it does not create a “skip track”, a clean interlude that once listened to, will be glanced over upon repeat listens. Overall, the album is put together with repeat listening in mind. It paces itself well; it divides itself into two sections, with “Throne of Ice” being the dividing line. The first section is all that you’d expect from a melodic metal band, while the second is a little more aggressive. This aggression comes to a peak in the song “Perfect Storm”, which is a fitting title for this dissonant track, although the chorus seems a little out of place. The album ends with the song “Closure”, a song that prepares the listener for the end by starting off with an acoustic intro, after which the song launches into a huge guitar solo. This solo, while predictable, serves to end the album strongly and with character.

The atmosphere of the album is a little unoriginal. It uses the usual dark toned acoustics and melodramatic metal feel. For what it is though, it works. The mood of the album helps to put the listener into that fantastical world of melodic metal, which has always been an escape music of sorts, and does so effectively.

Overall, Before the Dawn’s “Rise of the Phoenix” does what it intends to do. It is a well crafted melodic metal album, and will be enjoyed by most fans of the genre, unless they have a strong aversion to some unoriginality. There is nothing too groundbreaking about it, and some may consider it generic, but it is enjoyable in its own context. It will fit in nicely with the rest of Before the Dawn’s discography.