Dawn of Destiny - F.E.A.R. (Forgotten Enslaved Admired Released)
Phonotraxx
Power Metal
13 songs (63' 57")
Release year: 2014
Phonotraxx
Reviewed by Andy

Dawn of Destiny has had somewhat of a mixed record for me in the past, but despite coming dangerously close to generic goth-metal tropes, they've always managed to skim past that, leaving more than one reviewer to admire their work while still admitting its flaws. F.E.A.R., their latest album, makes a decisive turn in the right direction; more emphasis on power metal, more of their frontwoman, and less death metal vocal duets are the icing on top of this solid concept album.

The sound is heavy on the melody, with lots of crunchy guitars, medium-complex guitar solos, and a piano tinkling at the edges of the guitar riffs, and the distortion is tightly mixed almost to the point of over-slickness. Though the spoken-word piece at the beginning of And With Silence Comes the Fear is a slightly painful start, the melody is strong both on this one and its successor, Waiting For a Sign, especially on the chorus, and what makes it stand out the most is the deep and slightly hard-edged vocals of lead singer Jeanette Scherff. She's got some great guest vocalists to accompany, too -- both Mats Levén and Jon Oliva appear here -- but even by herself, her range is excellent and she can do a husky whisper and a high-powered shriek with equal talent. Innocence Killed and End This Nightmare have less powerful tunes than the previous tracks, but No Hope For the Healing, featuring Jon Oliva, makes for a good ballad, and Rising Angel, which gets back into power metal, brings a good deal of heaviness back after all the crooners. This is one of the few tracks that has harsh vocals at times, a difference from the past, where about 50% of the album was death metal duets. Sure, the band is still doing them, but they're clearly pushing in a clean-vocal direction, and that's a good thing in this case given what they have to work with.

Finally and Prayers are probably my favorite tracks on here, though I'm not sure other metal fans would say the same. They're major-key pieces and the content of both are basic love songs, but the melody is strong and uplifting enough to overcome objections, and the male/female harmonies on Finally, in which each sings half of each line, are delightful to hear. These, and the tracks following, appear to chronicle the happy ending to the initial gloominess of the first six songs (all the upbeat tracks are at the end except for the last track), but this is probably something a discerning listener might want to tune out, because for all the rock opera-like drama of the album, the actual storyline (at least, what I can get out of the lyrics) is pretty ordinary, which might not be so noticable if it wasn't for the fact that dozens of heavy metal bands have overwhelmed the concept album space with ridiculously bombastic storylines. I might be somewhat unfair here, but after all the space invasions, fantasy wars, demonic possessions and other staples of metal concept albums, the emotional pain and suffering of our heroine depicted throughout the album seems pretty tame, even though the annoying social-consciousness preaching of some of the past albums has been thankfully turned way down. That said, the subject matter is pretty easy to ignore given the awesome performance of the vocalists (the high notes hit on One Last Time are spine-chillingly good), and the overall songwriting never falls flat -- period. These are some of the best songs Dawn of Destiny has turned out in a while, and their focus on them more than makes up for some of the minor shortcomings one can nitpick about.

Last year I reviewed a rock/metal opera concept album with huge ambitions hampered by low production and some rather poor tracks, and F.E.A.R. is the exact opposite -- a beautifully produced power metal album with an all-star cast that just isn't particularly ambitious conceptually. But hey, who needs ambition when one has some good songs and a killer vocal lineup? Dawn of Destiny has put out a strong performance this year that puts to rest some of the past complaints about their offerings, and this one's worth picking up.

Killing Songs :
Waiting For a Sign, My Memories, No Hope For the Healing, Finally, Prayers
Andy quoted 88 / 100
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