Dawn of Winter – Pray for Doom (I Hate)Thursday, 13th December 2018
There’s taking your time to release an album – and then there’s the method Dawn of Winter choose to employ since their inception in the early 1990’s. Pray for Doom is their third album – the previous two albums appearing in 1998 with In the Valley of Tears and 2008 for The Peaceful Dead. With no lineup changes in 25 years, this scribe can only assume the labor of love aspect comes into play for their time-intensive approach to making/delivering these records take. The German quartet aren’t treading lightly into the doom genre – they go full force to set up a record chock full of thoughtful, slow tempos, gloomy atmosphere, and a hint of epic, melodic spirit that heightens engagement over the course of these eight songs.
It’s clear from the opening dreary guitar chimes and subsequent tom hits that signal the end is near for “A Dream Within a Dream” that these musicians take the spirit of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus and swirl in a bit of Saint Vitus to the mix. Hammering home simple, dark minor chord combinations and letting the feel and atmosphere unfold over these arrangements – singer Gerrit P. Mutz (Sacred Steel, Battleroar) conveys his tormented lyrics in a lower mid-range melodic delivery, never stretching too high but conjuring up some Messiah Marcolin memories as far as phrasing and overall presence. Conveying thoughts of yesteryear for one of the most memorable music festivals of all-time, “Woodstock Child” contains similar 60’s elements in terms of a Hendrix-like lead break and a tribal march underpinning lyrics like ‘on the wings on the winds of freedom/ hear me sing flying free above’. Although the record begins and ends in epic fashion (the final song “Father Winter (Sacrifice Part 3)” the longest at 10:26), Dawn of Winter prefer to stay in relatively focused waters around the four to six-minute range for these songs – keeping monotony or extraneous activities at a minimum. Bass player Joachim Schmalzried gets a spotlight during “The Sweet Taste of Ruin” – but it’s again simplified and rudimentary, adhering to the direction of the arrangement.
You’ll get additions when called for in acoustic guitars, church bells, natural tones, and decent production values that feel natural and not triggered/computerized to cut the weight off the music. Sure it’s a decade per release pace for Dawn of Winter – but Pray for Doom delivers what it promises in spades.