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Melodic black metal with atmospheric proportions. - 76%

ConorFynes, July 17th, 2015

Whenever I've asked folks for music recommendations, Dawn, and their final album Slaughtersun (Crown of the Triarchy) tends to get mentioned at a far more frequent rate than I'd expect from a record that's now close to twenty years old. My speakers have been ablaze lately with Sacramentum and Vinterland, so it's been propitious to continue by Swedish melodic black metal hit parade with an album I should, by every right, have checked out years ago.

Dawn weren't the only band around to traverse the incestuous ridge between death and black metal, but they're one of the few that made their transition smoothly. Their debut Nær sólen gar niþer for evogher was an impressive observation that caught the Second Wave on its ass-end. Come Dawn's complete realization of their black metal destiny with Slaughtersun however, the so-called golden age was over. Black metal (particularly from the Scandinavian reaches) was in for a bit of an overhaul, a greater part Dødheimsgard than Immortal, and even stalwarts like Mayhem were dipping their wicks in all manners of spooky industrial fuckery. That Slaughtersun came out in a post-Storm of the Light's Bane world is no question; it's not likely Dawn would have been writing music like this five years prior. Regardless, Slaughtersun distinguished itself from a lot of its experimental contemporaries by the sense that they weren't trying to flourish their music with bells and whistles. The songs, however long and intense, are fairly simple by design. This has been seen to give Slaughtersun a sort of timeless quality, even if I get the impression the band have overstayed their welcome by album's end.

Slaughtersun is straightforward, and relatively clean compared with Dawn's other album. Though these songs consistently taunt the ten minute mark (though rarely overcoming it) they forego Burzum-variety minimalism in favour of fast-paced, guitar-fuelled melodic songwriting with a terminal case of chorus fetishism. They draw standard songwriting out to expansive lengths. In a normal case, I'd prefer to hear a band be economical with their time, especially if they're sticking to a relatively narrow wave-band stylistically. I don't think Dawn are entirely out of the foxhole in that respect, but the quality of their riffs and soaring atmosphere make the song lengths worthwhile. I'd consider using the term 'epic' to describe the effect they were going for here if the word hadn't already been run into the mantle of the Earth. In any case, Dawn's reinvention of self can be effectively summarized as having taken the songwriting conventions of the Swedish melodic sound with the patient scope regularly associated with atmospheric black metal. Unlike some of the album's better-weathered fans, I'm not sure the pairing really works, but I am certain that Dawn bring enough spot-on riffs to their songwriting that they make it work.

Even if my laziness cost me a past history of listening to Slaughtersun, I've been long familiar with "The Knell and the World", the band's best-known- and possibly best- track in their catalogue. Dawn make use of fast, melodic guitar lines, but they're not as overt with it as the Dissections and Windirs of the world. The band's performance and production here is surprisingly meaty, with due consideration in the mix even given to bassist Lars Tängmark-- considering most of the Second Wavers no doubt went comatose when it came time to check the bass knob on the mixing board, this alone seems to set Dawn apart from a lot of the bands that influenced them. Though the first track rings strongest in my mind, I actually prefer the second song, "Falcula". There's some thread of melancholic vulnerability in Dawn's melody writing that gets highlighted on this song, and I like the album all the more for its inclusion.

Slaughtersun is a fairly consistent album, by most accounts. It seems a bit out of place to have included a short acoustic interlude ("To Achieve the Ancestral Powers") in an album otherwise populated by ten minute monsters, but I don't think any piece falls short of what it set out to do. Where I may be less inspired than this album's diehards however is its feeling of sameyness. I don't take issue with the long song lengths so much as the fact that one song offers little different than another. With an overall length pushing a full hour, this stands as a bit of an issue. I'm currently unsure whether I really prefer it to Nær sólen gar niþer for evogher, but there's no doubt Slaughtersun's left some imprint in my head. From Henke Forss' dismal screams and apocalyptic imagery, to the soaring drive and atmosphere, the album still earns its keep today. Swedish melodic black metal does get better than this, but it's worth than deserved being immortalized in the collective consciousness of those who would be interested in what they do.

The all consuming blood-red sun - 95%

androdion, January 3rd, 2012

The fiery giant is stepping just an inch above the water, falling down or rising up depending on how you look at it. Is it dusk or it is dawn? Does it signal the beginning of another day or the closing of all days? After a close look at this album the answer is unmistakable and unavoidable as the true nature of this red star demonstrates all its destructive force and fury. It is dawn alright, the last one that humanity will ever witness as the infuriated heavenly body rises up in its atomic shimmer, spreading radiation sickness and bombarding you with the end of all that you know and love.

This is it, the final step in the band’s metamorphosis, from another old school death metal band into an entity that will endure in the history books as the harbinger of sorrow and the herald of destruction. Dawn has reaped and sown the teachings of their peers and refined their songwriting style into a personal display of fury and bereavement where pain reigns supreme. Henke’s vocal delivery can only be described as stunning or superb, as his words carry the weight of the world and all its pain and sorrow with them. The production of the album is astonishing and gives a sense of fullness from all the instruments, the bass in particular has a great sound and is mixed very well, the drums sound as if they’re tearing the world apart with each struck of the kit, and the guitars spew some of the best riffs of the band’s career.

The band had significantly shifted their songwriting style from the demo days, with their debut showing what they had in their minds and hearts, but it was the previous EP that made clear the direction in which the band was heading for. It was on that work that the new sound of the band started showing itself but it is here on Slaughtersun that its true nature is finally revealed and unleashed upon us. With seven tracks all clocking over eight minutes, apart from the small atmospheric interlude “To Archieve The Ancestral Powers”, this is a record that really demands your attention and one that might seem like a cumbersome task to endure at first. But fear not because boredom isn’t something you’ll find here, especially if you’ve enjoyed the past efforts by the band.

The opening track, “The Knell And The World”, shows exactly what this album is all about with a soothing and atmospheric intro, accordingly knelling forth that amazing riff that makes for over of nine minutes of intense emotional cleansing. Their writing style of wielding a simple tremolo-picked chord progression and turning it into an enduring and overbearing riff that unrelentingly goes on for minutes is found here fully matured, leaving you in a state nothing short of full desperation as you gaze at the end of the Earth. That riff is repeated and twisted constantly, coiling itself and stretching farther away always to return to its original stance as if it was an enraged viper biting you repeatedly only to be back on its attacking position again and again. If there ever was a song defined by a riff then this is the apex of that descriptor, and if you enjoy this song and its composition you’ll be in for a treat with the rest of the album as it follows the same pattern found here on every song, all of them being filled with amazing main riffs and beautiful chord progressions that struck you as staggering and haunting.

There’s hardly any time to recover before “Falcula” strikes you in a seemingly unapologetic fury with another ten minutes of this simple formula that yet grips and grows on you, turning you into an adept, making you gaze at the violent destruction of all that is beautiful in a sea of blood and flames and you can’t seem to stop looking, you find yourself enthralled in all this apocalyptic fury and it’s very hard to let go of that feeling. This is only enhanced by the lyrics and vocal delivery, as Henke words out in his own wrathful and painful screams “No hope… No future!”.

All tracks in this album are of great quality and all show a delicate balance between aggression and melancholy, with the concept of the album being well exemplified by any of them. I could as well describe any other track here in the same poetic and fatalistic way that I did with the two behemoths that open the album, but I won’t as there’s no need of it. I can still point out some of my favourites moments though; “Ride The Wings Of Pestilence” with its intricate initial riff and bass leads that break into melodic sections, “The Aphelion Deserts” which features spiteful vocals and an amazing breakdown with a great thrashing section, “Stalker's Blessing” and its flowing melody that could melt an iceberg before it explodes in vicious anger, and “Malediction Murder” where Henke spews forth one of the most mesmerizing chorus of his career.

Slaughtersun has as many lovers as detractors and while the later will call this overlong and overblown I feel inclined to respectfully disagree with those arguments, although I can understand them. One thing that I do agree is that this album is particularly moody and does feel like an improved experience when you’re going through rough times in your life. It’s a bit doomy in its apocalyptic end of the world concept and carries a melancholic sentiment of self-reproach with it, making it a daunting task to listen to for the first time if you’re not in the appropriate state of mind. Nevertheless this is not an album to be ignored because of that and there will be a moment in your life where it will fit like a glove, that’s when you’ll either fall in love with it or dismiss it entirely. I happen to be in the first category and I can only say that this album warrants your attention and more so, it deserves it.

It's Hard Not To Like! - 85%

pandaemon, November 27th, 2009

Dawn might not be from Gothenburg, but its blend of brutality with melody is as great as the sound from the good bands of that area. "Slaughtersun (Crown of the Triarchy)" is a great experience from start to finish. An interesting and definitive fact is that the legendary Peter Tägtgren of Hypocrisy helped with engineering and mixing and I'm sure you know with what kind of bands he worked with...

Imagine this album similar to At The Gates' later work, heavy-melodic but with (even) more hate springing from the more distorted down-tuned guitars that create that black metal feeling. The songs are also much lengthier: around 9-10 minutes, the synth+acoustic guitar interlude called "To Achieve the Ancestral Powers" being the exception at only 2 minutes.

The following lyrics extracted from the album give a good glimpse of what you will experience musically: "Always spat on, hated, despised / Pure human waste / No hope... No future" or "Who is this, trapped inside of me? / An unfamiliar, violent breed / Raping innocents, vestal mutilation.". My first quote symbolized the black metal hate that the album emanates. The second marked the straightforward violent although complex death metal structures of the songs.

Quality death growls are used to maintain the omnipresent spiteful atmosphere throughout the songs (the only type of vocals used). Some moments are mid-fast paced and you can call them the "mellow" moments. They are heavy though not so intense as some other guitar crushing ones. The drumming fits the music very well, the record being blast-beat contagious and double-bass addicted. Guitar solos aren't something you should expect, but there are the fills between the main riffs that add variety. The music expresses very well the hatred, so the compositions of Fredrik Söderberg are a success, the only problem being the fact that being so long, the songs tend to become somewhat repetitious. That doesn't mean the songs are the same. They might be done in the same manner, but there are clear musical differences, not just a few changed notes.

A good thing on "Slaughtersun" are the keyboards that will join in and add a "haunting" element, but they are kind of rare, almost all songs having just one moment like this. The most keyboard-dependent song is "The Stalker's Blessing". Also one of the fills i talked about has has an acoustic guitar "involved". It is found on the track "Malediction Murder".

Most hateful song? Impossible to tell..
Best song? All of them sound great, it depends on your taste!
Underrated? Hell, yeah!

A decent album that should've been better - 76%

Karamunga, August 25th, 2006

Slaughtersun is a good album. As in, above average, but not something you want to listen to all the time. It should have been a great album but, alas, due to some flaws, it is merely 'good'.

If this album was about 15 minutes shorter, it would get a score around the 85% mark. One of the (many) problems with modern metal is that there's a constant desire for everyone to be seen as being progressive and intelligent. And progressive and intelligent metal bands write long songs. Aside from the acoustic prelude to Ride the Wings of Pestilence, there isn't a track here that doesn't break the 8 minute mark. Two of them break ten minutes. I do not dislike long songs. However, it is my rather strong opinion that a song should be as long as it needs to be. These songs do not require this length.

The riffs, chord progressions and melodies in this album are fantastic. I am no connoisseur of black metal, but this is the sort of stuff I enjoy. There is melody here, but the melody isn't created with over-the-top keyboards that drown everything else out in the mix. Keyboards are implemented, but they're used sparingly to enhance the over-all feel of the music, rather than dominate the music. However, these wonderful riffs, chord progressions and melodies end up being repeated to the point that, by the time there's a change, you hate them. This is major flaw number one.

Major flaw number two is that most of the songs are a little too similar. A whopping total of three tempos are used, and about 70% of the album is in a 12/8 time signature. For me, this results in me rarely actually listening to the full album, because much of it just feels like the same song. The blast beats and tremolo picking never stops, aside from the occasional interlude.

As I say, it is still a good album, and for many reasons. Henke Forss has a fantastic vocal style for this type of music. He does not, for example, sound like Pop-Eye. Pretty much all of the songs here are about death. And not in a Cannibal Corpse “Lo, for I have a sharp object, listen whilst I tell you how I am going to use it upon you” way. More of a “This world is full of scum who do not deserve to live, and I am here to end it” way. And good old Mr Forss genuinely seems to be filled with spite and hatred as he unrelentingly screams into the microphone. His vocals are also articulate, and somewhat clear in comparison to many black metal vocalists.

The rest of the band give a stellar performance as well. The band play with a certain precision that is sadly all too rare in black metal. The aforementioned blast beats and tremolo picked melodies are executed perfectly. Another great thing is the production. It's clear, but still has that raw sound that is a necessity for this kind of music. The bass is audible, though you sort of have to concentrate to be able to consciously tell what's actually being played at times.

This album would be one of my all time favourites if it was shorter.

Highlights: Malediction Murder, The Knell and the World, Falcula

Good album for fans of the style - 85%

Heian, March 20th, 2004

I'll start off by making the inevitable Dissection comparison. Like Dissection, Dawn are a Swedish melodic black metal band. Many Dissection fans point to this album as a continuation of Dissection's sound. I'm going to stop the comparison here because it's a bit unfair, as the album should be discussed on its own merits.

It used to be extremely hard to find this album, so I'd heard many black metal fans talk about it in a reverential tone. They'd rejoice at having found it on ebay or in a used record store. Fortunately Necropolis re-issued this album so it's no longer necessary to scour every source possible to find it. The re-issue also includes another full Dawn album and 2 EPs, so it's a lot of value for the price of a single album.

Once you listen to Slaughtersun, it's obvious that it's black metal album, no question about it. One of the first things that stands out about it is the very lengthy songs, usually around 10 minutes apiece. What this means is a fair amount of riff repetition, which can be good or bad. On a few songs they'll start to get a bit boring and then an awesome riff cuts in and seizes your attention. There's usually enough variety within each song to keep it interesting. There are some absolutely killer riffs on this album, particularly in "Falcula", that break out of the traditional black metal mold. There are also some neo-classical and Middle Eastern sounding riffs in songs like "The Aphelion Deserts" and a very triumphant and epic riff in "Malediction Murder" that comes back to finish the song with a bang. These riffs are what propel the album above average black metal albums and make it worthy of repeat listens.

The production is clearer than a lot of underground metal releases in this time period, but it still has enough of an edge to it to make it black metal. All the instruments and the vocals are clear. The bass is more audible than on most metal albums and the drums are insanely fast. Thematically the band shies away from the goofy Satanism that a lot of black metal bands espouse. The lyrics are very dark but they don't have to rely on corpsepaint or pentagrams to make the music sound evil. This isn't to say that the band is wussy or (Satan forbid) pro-Christian, but they deal with more advanced subject matter than your stereotypical black metal band.

I'll mention Dissection one last time and say that fans of Storm of the Light's Bane will probably love this album because it continues the tradition of highly aggressive yet melodic Swedish black metal and does it with a high degree of skill and integrity. If you get the re-issue you get almost all of Dawn's back catalogue as well. They're supposed to be working on new material now, so hopefully it will be as good as this. The best songs on the album are "Falcula", "The Aphelion Deserts", and "Malediction Murder".

Ride those motherfucking wings of pestilence!!! - 94%

Thorlock, October 11th, 2003

I really feel pity for those poor souls that don't own a copy of this absolutely amazing blackened deathmetal release. Dawn was one of those bands that took up the torch where Dissection left it, and they've carried it on throughout the years. This release is their absolute best one in all possible ways, the songmaterial is way beyond anything they've released prior to this. If you want your metal to have short songs, quit reading this review now! Most of the songs on this 7-song masterpiece are "quite" long...and I think you get what I mean when I say it clocks in at nearly one hour!!! The production is really fine, with a damn nice, crisp guitartone and a perfect mix of the drums. Vocalist, Henrik "Henke" Forss delivers some of the best blackmetal shrieks EVER and this work is definitely his best up to date. Lyrically, this deals with dark topics. Not satanic, but more misanthropic content with a pretty negative view on humans and their pathetic actions here on our planet called earth. Henke seems to be a very mistrusting, depressed and anti-social person and his lyrics (ok, he doesn't write all, but most of them) always express his inner feelings quite well.

And this album, not only by its long songs, delivers an extremely cool epic feeling. Especially the song "Ride the Wings of Pestilence" which lyrically deals with a little tale about when the plague had the world in its grip - this one tune screams of incredible epicness! Very, very good with thoughtful, frightening lyrics. Love it.

The only thing that possibly could be negatively said about this album is the slight lack of variety - some of the songs might be considered a bit too similair to eachoter. And I know for a fact that quite a few think the album is way too long. But seriously, that's not much of an issue if you ask me - atleast not when the music is THIS good. Atmospheric killer blackmetal with some strong deathmetal influences = yummy!

Dawn will release a new album in early 2004 (hopefully) and it will be called The Fourfold Furnace. Let's just hope it will be a worthy followup to this release. All bow to one of the best blackened deathmetal bands ever! Dawn Owns Ye All.