After being blown away by Dawn Of Ashes‘ 2016 album ‘Theophany’, which earned itself a Loud-Stuff review rating of 4.8 (read it here), there was a sense of unknowing in terms of being able to top that release. Could their new 12-track album ‘Daemonolatry Gnosis’ exceed, or at least match, such an impressive showing last year?
Well, after much anticipation and a number of play-throughs later, it’s time to reflect on it all.
Starting with the intro track ‘The Initiation’ is darkly dramatic, with atmospherics that immediately set the mood with tremendous effect. With this release, the orchestration has a much “fuller” sound, whilst the production has been ramped up to a cinematic quality. The intro merges seamlessly into the grandiose Symphonic Black Metal opener ‘Gods Of The Antinomian Path’ and shows a promising start, with following tracks ‘Smash Thy Enemies’ and ‘Guardians’ proving Dawn Of Ashes can craft the dark, powerful & esoteric music along with the best of them.
Momentarily ‘Augoeides’ switches things up a little with a more classic Black Metal-style track. The orchestration is restricted to a more subdued, supportive role, whilst instead focussing on the traditional instrumentation of guitars, drums & vocals. It essentially demonstrates the band unleashing a little of that raw, oldschool style of Black Metal, even if only for a brief moment, as it’s all back on track by the time the orchestral atmospherics of ‘Sermon From The Horned God’ kick in.
The biggest surprise of the album is ‘I Am Nephilim’. This is a ferocious riff-laden beast of a song, mixing elements of Melodic Death, Black Metal and Modern Metal styles, including technical Djent rhythms – there’s even the good old Death Metal break-down section. I defy anyone not to head-bang to this – it’s got “mosh-pit track” written all over it!
The intro to ’Rulership Of The Inner World’ demonstrates DOA’s synth background, but this is by no means a nostalgic trip back to Harsh EBM, as the electronics make way for yet more powerful Metal goodness.
Another surprise is the darkly enchanting ’Magick For The New Aeon’, which features guest vocals from Lindsay Schoolcraft. For those unfamiliar with Lindsay, she is the current female backing vocalist for Cradle Of Filth. It’s a pleasant surprise for sure and matches the tone of the song brilliantly, leaving a lasting impression by the song’s close.
As a bonus, Dawn Of Ashes have chosen to end this album with their cover of Mayhem’s ‘Freezing Moon’. Listening to the original and the cover version side-by-side it’s very much faithful to the original structurally, but without DOA trying to imitate their sound, most notably Kristof Bathory’s vocals. Whilst I personally think the track is unnecessary in terms of adding value to their own material, it’s a nice little extra. If those guys decide they want to pay homage to Mayhem with a cover song and they’ve done it justice, then I can totally appreciate that.
Having toured with Dimmu Borgir in support of their previous album, it’s evident from the majority of this album’s musical direction that Dawn Of Ashes have been influenced by Dimmu’s more recent works, most notably the inclusion of ominous Horn sections, staccato & arpeggio String instrumentation and chilling choral passages. Whilst I’m sure critics would be eager to dismiss this as blatant imitation, it has to be said that few bands manage to successfully compose and produce such colossal musical passages and it’s evident that DOA have the ability to do so. A heavy influence is clearly present, however it’s evident they are also forging their own musical and lyrical path.
With ‘Theophany’ being what I considered to be their best material to date, I struggled to imagine how they’d be able to outperform it, but I can honestly say that the band have somehow managed to raise their game on ‘Daemonolatry Gnosis’, leaving me pondering “how can they possibly top this?” all over again.
As for recommendation, this is a must for fans of Symphonic Black Metal & Extreme music in general, especially if you enjoy the bands that aren’t afraid to push the boundaries by incorporating symphonic and/or electronic elements within their sound, such as Dimmu Borgir, Fleshgod Apocalypse, Aborym and Samael.
02- Gods Of The Antinomian Path
03- Smash Thy Enemy
05- Core Of The Black Sun
09- I Am Nephilim
Dawn Of Ashes – ‘Guardians’ (Official Lyric Video)