Review: Before The Dawn – Stormbringers
Dawn of the Stormbringers
Stormbringers is a victorious return by Finland’s Before the Dawn. Eight years after initially splitting, these masters of melodic death and doom metal returned in 2021. Two years go by and the band delivered their eighth album June 30th 2023, via Napalm Records. BTD hasn’t missed a beat, if anything they’ve gained a spring in their step and broke into a full on sprint. Adding in a flare for progressive song arrangements, coupled with years of more experienced playing, Before the Dawn surpass expectations and delivers an epic slice of genre spanning metal.
Tuomas Saukkonen (Wolfheart, Dawn of Solace), the nucleus of the project provides not just the harsh vocals but rhythm guitar and drums. He keeps the project grounded, while Pyry Hanski’s expert bass work acts as a strong heartbeat of the record. Juho Räihä’s lead guitar is both furious and melodic and attacks the listener head on. Relative newcomer to the group, Paavo Laapotti has been the clean vocalist for Before the Dawn since 2022. His melodic and spacey vocals are an absolute highlight and meshes with Saukkonen`s course and abrasive guttural lashings brilliantly. This lineup of BTD gel together super well.
The record opens with “The Dawn”, its synths and atmosphere are palpable. It builds nicely and subverts my expectations of what I expected the record to initially be. My interest definitely peaked going into “Destroyer”. Its energetic first minute dissipates into a melodic vocal interlude tinged with spectacular harmonies. When the song picks up and fires on all cylinders, the drums, guitars and synths fit together superbly.
“Reveries” is a really interesting track with really expressive bass work. The clean vocals on this track are slightly out of place here but work well with the slowly expanding harsher tones. Hell breaks loose when the chorus hits. The solo is expansive and impressive and the drum work builds super well off the solo, culminating in the thrilling last minute of the track. “Downhearted”, the fourth track is one of the standouts of the whole album. From the progressive keys, prophetic vocal delivery and furious drumming, it serves as a triumphant declaration of Before the Dawn’s brand of metal. The ear-wormy “Chains”, builds well and showcases some of the best guitar work on the record. The band`s mastery of song structure is colored by the cherry on top of this track, a tasteful acoustic implementation that does wonders for the piece.
Track six, “Divided” has some of the strongest vocal takes on the whole album. However it’s not as unique as some of the other cuts. It’s a well orchestrated number but might be the low point of the album. Still good but not gripping. The record completely rebounds with “The Dark”. It`s slow, heavy, brooding atmosphere is a welcomed change of pace. While it’s a bit tonally confused, with the keys causing some dissonance compared to the harsh vocals that precede it, the expertly executed tempo change hits super hard and is a great shot in the arm to the album beginning the climax of the record as a whole.
“Chaos Star” is an upbeat and energetic tonal shift. With its excellent melodic chorus and fantastic bass work, it’s another shining moment on the project. Track nine “The Weight” is a fitting conclusion. Not the most gripping or brilliantly constructed, but it feels perfectly suited as the end point, a nice bow on top.
When a band expands their horizons while simultaneously coming off a hiatus of making new material it can be a bit of a messy set of results, however Before the Dawn demonstrates not just a taste for integrating elements of entertaining orchestration but also known the virtue of temperance. None of the tracks overstay the welcome, the album has a great pace and nothing feels out of place, making Stormbringers a joy to listen to and a fitting entry into BTD’s discography. Definitely a comeback worth checking out.
Top Tracks: “Downhearted”, “The Dark”, & “Chaos Star”
Stormbringers gets 3.5 out of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Before The Dawn’s Stormbringers is out now via Napalm Records.