Review: Dawn of Disease – Procession of Ghosts

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Sometimes things don’t need to be complicated. We’ve got a limited amount of time on this hellish planet. From time to time, it’s good to take in something that hits the spot, that does the job and moves on. Like a cold, inexpensive domestic beer after mowing the lawn on a hot day, Germany’s Dawn of Disease get the job done with a minimum of fuss.

On Procession of Ghosts, Dawn of Disease uses the same elements you expect for melodic death metal: melancholic guitar melodies; an “epic” feel leavened by the occasional keyboard; a bassist whose job is to be somehow both the fattest and least visible band member; and, supporting it all, drums pummeling away beneath churning riffs.

 

This may not sound like praise, but it really is. There’s something to be said for a band that fully grasps a style and writes well within its parameters. Procession of Ghosts is a solid album written and performed by musicians who know what they’re about and don’t waste time getting there. I won’t waste a lot of time comparing Dawn of Disease to melodeath pioneers like At the Gates; newer bands who stick to a genre formula are necessarily going to show the influence of the people who invented the formula. However, after five albums, Dawn of Disease knows how to consistently take the elements of melodic death metal and assemble them in interesting and enjoyable ways. 

Although relatively low in the overall mix, Matthias Blässe really lets it rip behind the kit. His blasts provide a significant amount of the band’s momentum, and although his style is largely without flash it provides a solid contrast with the occasionally more sedate guitar work of Oliver Kirchner and Lukas Kerk. 

Intro “Lapsarian” serves as little more than a taste of what’s to come, although for a metal intro track it has the benefit of actually being music rather than noise or a sample from a forgettable slasher flick. From there things really get rolling with the title track and “May the Waves Take Me.” The latter, in particular, hits the same sweet spot of epic melody that Amon Amarth has made their trademark, without sounding like an out-and-out copy.

Those of us who prefer more “death” in their melodic death will find a lot to enjoy in “Shrine” and the title track, both of which tone down the soaring melody for greater focus on churning riffs and Tomasz Wisniewski’s rasping vocals. Although Wisniewski doesn’t have a lot of range even for a harsh vocalist, he meshes well with the band and adds a lot of punch to songs like “May the Waves Take Me.”

Despite several good songs to start the record, it isn’t until deep in the album where the band really hits its stride. “Where the Clouds Reach the Ground” and “Autumn Days” each break the seven minute mark and provide the band an opportunity to stretch out. Sandwiched between the two is “As Heaven Shatters,” which features particularly satisfying interplay between the band’s two guitarists, one playing a discordant treble figure while the other riffs below.

If there’s one thing that struck me after repeated listens to Procession of Ghosts, it’s how little flash Dawn of Disease rely on as part of their general schtick. Solos are kept to an absolute minimum, and the band in general reins in the instruments to exactly what’s needed to complete the song.

That kind of restraint is hard to find, and I found myself enjoying Kerk and Kirchner’s melodic work outside of the soloing context because of their choice to work primarily as band members rather than soloists. Procession of Ghosts is a testament to what a band can accomplish with focus, a deep understanding of the genre, and some solid songwriting.

4 out ov 5 Flaming Toilets

Procession of Ghosts is out now through Napalm Records.

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