Dawn of Winter - The Peaceful Dead
Shadow Kingdom Records
Traditional Doom Metal
10 songs (56'02")
Release year: 2009
Shadow Kingdom Records
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

The instance the opener The Music of Despair starts playing there is no mistaking the style Germans Dawn of Winter represent. However, there is one feature which somehow jumped at me in their version of classic doom metal. True to the doctrine of the genre Dawn of Winter songwriters (mainly guitarist Jorg Knittel) do not chase to amplify the number of riffs per song. Instead, The Peaceful Dead compositions are all based around a rather limited number of very effective, methodically repeating riffs leaving strong impact. In another bow to the creed, these songs are played slowly, so that every chord, every snare/tom hit are magnified, making them more meaningful and placing the onus on musicians being mistake-free. The feature that did surprise me was the placement of Dawn of Winter vocals so high up in the mix. Not that Gerrit Mutz (also in the epic power metal act Sacred Steel) can’t handle being that much up front of the rest of the band, his throat is more than capable, but the vocals-first approach A – still appeared rather ballsy and B – made me pay attention to the lyrics, since every word on The Peaceful Dead is now crystal clear.

Sports magazines often resort to a trick on their cover trying to build the best soccer, football, fill-in-your-favorite-sport player. They do it by grabbing and combining body parts from this sport’s current day superstars. If one ever tried to build a perfect metal figurine, they absolutely must agree with Dawn of Winter quote from The Music of Despair that “doom is the soul of metal”. The opener sets the album perfectly, with the superinteresting concept of a doom song about doom metal as a genre, paying homage, by name, to every influential doom metal act which came before Dawn of Winter. Within this framework, the band goes on to deliver on the promise of The Music of Despair, pairing steady crushing riffs with larger than life choruses filled with flesh-ripping hooks. Becoming faster only on a rare occasion (closing of Mourner and speedier reverberating number Burn Another Sinner), the band instead takes pleasure in slow engraving sound of Holy Blood and All the Gods You Worship. The Oath of the Witch presents a slightly different beat with snare falling at the same slow molasses rate, while kick drum picks up the pace leading into the monumental “I Shall Not Confess” chorus. Clean acoustic Throne of Isolation could have been a trap, but Dawn of Winter carefully avoids cheesiness of some power metal ballads, however, this song (and some boyish moments in All the Gods You Worship) might expose Gerrit’s voice to be slightly higher in range than expected in traditional doom.

Speaking of the lyrics, the Germans raise a number of interesting topics. They are not shy to talk about loss of love, something uncharacteristic in metal (Mourner). Holy Blood resonates with many authors from Dan Brown to King Diamond, questioning some cornerstone Christianity dogmas about life, love and death of Christ. I hope that Gerrit’s son, to whom the title track is dedicated, is OK, as music turns quite torturous and funeral, with words breathing despair, while the rest of the album is rather philosophical than somber. But to close my review I want by coming back all the way back to the album’s beginning. Those of us who can appreciate doom can’t overestimate the validity of the line “And I know I’ve found salvation in the music of despair”. From the personal standpoint I could not agree more.

Killing Songs :
The Music of Despair, Holy Blood, Burn Another Sinner, The Peaceful Dead
Alex quoted 85 / 100
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