Having followed L.A’s Dawn of Ashes since their Harsh Elektro days and through their transition into an Industrial Black Metal style, I’ve been highly anticipating the release of their latest offering, “Theophany”.
DOA’s founder Kristof Bathory describes the new album as “Dawn of Ashes on steroids”, a direct statement which holds true as it’s evident that everything has progressed and matured on this album. The music itself sounds massive and has been ramped up in terms of darkness and heaviness, which has benefitted hugely from high standard production and mastering letting the quality shine through with every song.
Many of the bold, heavy, symphonic songs, especially “Tribe of Chemosh”, “Equilibrium” and “Bleeding Perfection”, feature a strong lyrical narrative and plenty of atmospherics in the form of dark, ominous chugging guitars and ethereal synths.
“Equilibrium” is particularly dark, yet is also rich in melodic riffs and complimented by a hypnotic groove. Stylistically, initial comparisons that spring to mind are with Early-2000s era Dimmu Borgir, though it is so much more than simply a carbon copy. Dawn of Ashes have carved out a distinctive sound by blending buzz-saw synth melodies and dirty bass-lines from their Electronic background, mixed with choral pads, which are more akin to Symphonic Metal.
Hearing the re-working of “Still Born Defect”, it’s a pleasure to experience what is musically one of my favourite songs from their 2008 album “The Crypt Injection” in an entirely new light. The original was such a beautifully composed song, but the lyrics were hard to distinguish due to an over-processed vocal filter. This heavier, re-imagined version doesn’t suffer from the previous lack of vocal clarity, making it far more immersive than before.
Bringing the tempo down for a brief moment, “Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches)” provides pure Industrial Metal, featuring rhythmic, distorted electronics, cold, metallic synths and gritty, crunching guitar passages. Tonally chaotic with an unsettling atmosphere, it’s practically the musical equivalent of the mind unravelling.
Another highlight is “Fire of the Phoenix”, with its title holding much significance given the band’s name and may be the reason for the inclusion of the “D.O.A” chant heard repeatedly throughout this song. It’s hard not to get caught up in the hooky guitar riffs, blistering machine-gun blast-beats and those infectious chants. I’d be surprised if this isn’t included in their live setlist.
The album closes strongly on “Last”, which bares striking similarities to another Industrial Black Metal band, Samael, which is an apt comparison given some of the subject matter Dawn of Ashes has explored on this album.
It’s both rare and refreshing that I cannot pick fault with a single track on an album, nor criticise a particular element within any of the songs. Each of them make sense, nothing feels ‘filler’ and the shifts in pace have been carefully planned so that the album flows without loss of momentum. As a fan of both Industrial and Black Metal music, the way everything has been fused together makes “Theophany” a joy to listen to – my head banging and horns raised all the way!
02 – Tribe Of Chemosh
03 – Equilibrium
07 – Bleeding Perfection