Before the Rain - _...One Day Less_
(Major Label Industries, 2007)
by: Pedro Azevedo (9 out of 10)
Here is a doom metal band who had a demo reviewed in CoC three and a half years ago, and who have existed in some form or another since 1997 without a single commercially released effort. At long last, _...One Day Less_ has been completed, and the sheer length of time it took to see the light of day goes a long way in proving its creators' dedication to doom metal -- more specifically, its doom/death branch.

Before the Rain's five members have rather distinct backgrounds, and most of them have connections to other Portuguese doom acts: the band's vocalist and bassist both played in the long dormant Sculpture's only release to date (1998's superb _Like a Dead Flower_ EP), and the line-up also includes two current members of labelmates Process of Guilt.

While these links to bands who share a similar musical vision -- at least to some extent -- could be expected to result in a less unique outcome, _...One Day Less_ turns out to balance these elements very well while retaining its own character. There is an evident shade of Sculpture in the beginning of "You... My Ruin" and some similarities with Process of Guilt on opener "Wounds of Rejection" (although the style is much closer to Before the Rain's early work than Process of Guilt's), but the album still has a sense of individuality that ensures its relevance. Furthermore, while the fact that this is the band's debut may belie their experience, it quickly becomes evident in the music itself. There is a clear sense of maturity; of music that wasn't hastily put together in the recording studio.

The aforementioned "Wounds of Rejection" and "You... My Ruin" provide an outstanding opening to the album, as well as sufficient proof that this is going to be the best doom album of 2007. The mixture can be as hard hitting and pummelling as anyone out there, or just as easily strike you with a heartrending melody. This is reflected not only in the guitar playing, but the vocals as well: the range on display is staggering, including everything from vast, disconsolate growls to blackened rasps, solemn singing and almost mournful spoken passages. Combined with a fine instrumental side, these two tracks are doom/death metal of the highest quality.

This opening duo is followed up with the acoustic "Paragraph", which rather than come across as an afterthought used to break things up, manages to provide an interesting interlude on its own. "Frameless" comes next, another fine mixture of potent rhythmic riffs, tasteful leads and highly competent vocals that keeps the quality level stable; and before you know it, there's only two tracks left in the album.

The last two tracks are somewhat different from their predecessors. Stylistically they tread similar ground, but structurally they take the listener from the seven to twelve minutes per track of the first half of the album to sixteen and eighteen minutes each. This presents a different challenge, and while both tracks have their own outstanding passages, overall I find them somewhat less successful as a whole than their predecessors. This is mainly caused by a couple of passages that fall below the high standard set throughout the rest of the disc, much as they are offset by better ones. While I understand the purpose of slowly building up tension in a song, I would have preferred these two a little shorter, in light of what I mentioned above.

Impeccable musicianship and production values complete a package that comes wrapped in very appropriate and carefully arranged artwork (created by BtR bassist and CoC graphic contributor Pedro Daniel). After Process of Guilt's similarly produced debut, it is only fair to commend Major Label Industries for giving these bands the opportunity to release quality music with such suitable conditions.

With an entire decade of waiting now behind them, hopefully we won't have to wait so long to hear the follow-up to _...One Day Less_. For the time being, suffice to say that I do not expect to find a better doom metal album than this in 2007.


(article published 24/10/2007)

6/26/2011 P Azevedo 9 Before the Rain - Frail
2/29/2004 J Montague 3.5 Before the Rain - ...And With the Day Dying Light
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