Before the Dawn – Archaic Flame (Napalm Records)

Wednesday, 6th March 2024
Rating: 9 / 10

After a decade-plus long absence from the scene, Before the Dawn came back with a vengeance through last year’s Stormbringers album. Latest vocalist Paavo Laapotti fits like a glove into this Finnish unit, who straddle the lines of melodic death and gothic metal in this seamless bond for aggression next to beauty, presenting the outer limits of both genres. Nine months later, we have a four-song EP in Archaic Flame that presents two new tracks, an intriguing 80’s pop/rock cover, as well as a live rendition of a song from the Soundscape of Silence record – proof that founder / guitarist / drummer Tuomas Saukkonen is back with his multi-act attack in full force.

The title track contains a sinister main melodic death riff beyond its tribal-oriented opening drum maneuvers, transferring into this catchy montage of jagged parts that groove at a comfortable mid-tempo pace, the savage growls as well as emotional clean melodies contrast effortlessly against the musical components. “Chaos Sequence” is another clear winner, the spacious keyboard spots sprinkled in when necessary, the rhythm guitar foundation of Tuomas deadly while the melodic chorus runs concurrently next to a stunted, circular riff parade. “Run To You”, the blockbuster Bryan Adams hit from the Reckless album, is given a Before the Dawn transformation – Paavo’s natural melodic register perfect for this style of song, the extra level of distortion girth and Saku Moilanen’s reflective keyboard approach difference makers to the good. “Dying Sun” finishes off this quick hitting record, taken from a gig in Finland when on tour last fall – an established crowd favorite that sounds as relevant today as it first did back in 2008.

Before the Dawn has always been a favorite on this site with many scribes – Archaic Flame will keep the light burning bright once again for these gentlemen. Let’s hope much like Wolfheart, we can get some touring action going across North America to let the melodic death/gothic hordes savor the outstanding performances, songwriting, and talent on display.

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