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In Retrospect - 73%

UCTYKAH, January 10th, 2009

Even as a short precursor to the masterful "Pity Love", this must have been at least a notable declaration back in 1994 that raised eyebrows for those doom fans who cared to keep their ears open. Even if the material at hand is not flawless, and the recording is somewhat muted, I feel this release needs to be given its rightful due. Not nearly as off-the-wall as UNHOLY, it nevertheless stood far enough to the left of center, along with its big brother "Pity Love", to distinguish itself from the marching British death-goth-doom triumvirate of PARADISE LOST, MY DYING BRIDE, ANATHEMA on the one hand, and Scandinavian funeral cavalcade of THERGOTHON, SKEPTICISM and Norway's very own FUNERAL on the other.

Consider the opening track "Cold". During the first half a minute I thought I was listening to NEUROSIS' "Souls At Zero". Then a trombone comes into play along with half spoken and slightly moaned vocals, which then transformed into deeper roars quite reminiscent of Scott Kelly and Steve von Till and periodically broken by a few blackish screams. The opener smoothly flows into "Moonwomb", which continued to tease with more NEUROSIS worship up until psychedelic guitars are introduced into the fold and take over the proceedings. "Chaosphere" is a little more straightforward in its heaviness, forsaking tribal drumming yet throwing out a trombone solo. Oddly enough, the song is embellished in the beginning and the end with a pinch of robotic vocal bits right during the phrase "Arena of kings/Playground of wargods". Although lasting but mere moments and maybe not even worth mentioning, they did bring to my mind Snake's singing on VOIVOD's late 80's and early 90's post-thrash albums. The misspelled closing song "Clouds Swept Away The Colours" serves as EP's melancholic coda with its subdued, almost entirely distortion-free guitar picking and pensive atmosphere.

I am curious of course how familiar the band were with NEUROSIS, since the parallels seem to be more than accidental. Moreover, it seems that these similarities coupled with the band's own vision unwittingly made them the indirect pioneers of the then non-existent post-NEUROSIS strain. I am probably blowing it out of proportions. The band's roots were squarely within the limits of death and doom metal (so parallels to the Norwegian post- black metal clique that was beginning to take shape at the time can be largely ruled out as well), not sludge, hardcore and crust, yet that distinct if momentous correlation is hard to ignore. Years before first birds such as ISIS and CULT OF LUNA created a "scene" and spawned an army of followers, BEYOND DAWN walked through and did not even bother to dwell on it. After "Pity Love" it was all over, as the band gradually glided right into the enemy soil to simultaneously embrace and dissect the very mainstream they used to run away from in the early days. We, meanwhile, were left with formulaic recipes for heftier post-rock pretention to shuffle through. Oh well, such is life.