Before The Dawn - Archaic Flame

Artist: Before The Dawn

Album Title: Archaic Flame EP

Label: Napalm Records

Date of Release: 8 March 2024

I’ve been aware of Before The Dawn since their debut album was released back in 2003, some twenty-one years ago now. The album sits on my shelf along with others from the band but, if I’m being truly honest, they have never been an absolute go-to for me over the years. Created by Tuomas Saukkonen as a ‘solo’ project away from his work with other bands, such as Dawn Of Solace, Black Sun Aeon, and more latterly Wolfheart, the melodic death metal band released an impressive seven records over a nine-year period before disappearing.

However, Before The Dawn returned after a decade last year with the release of ‘Stormbringers’, albeit with a much-changed line-up and now bring us a four-track EP consisting of two original tracks, a cover of Bryan Adams’ ‘Run To You’ and a live version of ‘Dying Sun’, recorded at Logomo in 2023.

The 2024 incarnation of Before The Dawn is identical to that seen on ‘Stormbringers’ meaning that Tuomas Saukkonen once again sits behind the drum kit, whilst also offering some rhythm guitar parts too. Alongside Saukkonen is vocalist Paavo Laapotti, lead guitarist Juho Räihä (Swallow The Sun), bassist Pyry Hanski, and keyboardist Saku Moilanen.

Now, for the honesty bit. I have a real hard time accepting that this is a particularly worthy and welcome release, given that there are only two new studio tracks on offer. I get that the band want to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak, and keep the band in the public eye as much as possible, but I’m not sure that this EP was the best way to go. But this could well be my own prejudices coming to the fore, because I’ve never been much of a fan of cover songs, and live recordings can be a bit hit and miss as well, depending on the quality of the recording, and the energy of the band on stage. In this case, as good as the original undoubtedly is as a fun, up-tempo rock song, I can honestly take or leave this beefed-up ‘Run To You’ cover. The recording of ‘Dying Sun’ is actually pretty good to be fair, but again, I just wish we had another original track instead of this.

Before The Dawn - Archaic Flame
Photo Credit: Teppo Ristola

Moaning over, let’s tackle the two new songs, because that’s where this EP really shines, the title-track in particular. The opening riff is a down-tuned, sludgy and heavy affair that is pulled along by a really powerful rhythm section, showcasing just how multi-talented Saukkonen truly is. When the song opens up a little, it has a vibrancy and urgency about it, a little reminiscent of early Amon Amarth to these ears. The roar of Laapotti can be heard amidst some rich keys, before he delivers his deep, gritty bark. But then, in the chorus, the melodic intent is ramped up to eleven, thanks to a lovely lead-guitar line, more atmospheric keys and clean vocals that are impressive and top things off nicely. On this showing, it’s not surprising that Laapotti was a finalist in the ‘Voice Of Finland’ competition. It may not change the world, but I instantly liked this song and still do. I just wish there was more of it.

There is one final new song, and that’s entitled ‘Chaos Sequence’. It has a much more modern-sounding sheen to it, thanks to the keyboard sounds utilised especially at the beginning of the song. However, the chunky riffing also has a gritty, old-school death metal feel to it. The soaring chorus is good, albeit not as instant as the title track, that brings with it a few vague In Flames nods.

Overall, I do really like the new material and I am definitely keen to hear what Before The Dawn come up with on their next full-length studio album. ‘Archaic Flame’ has certainly done it’s job in whetting the appetite for new further new material from Before The Dawn. However, I will not be making a purchase of this release, because there’s just not enough value for money here in my opinion. It’s great to hear new songs, but there simply aren’t enough of them here to release the moths in my wallet.

The Score of Much Metal: 60%



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