Throes of Dawn - _The Great Fleet of Echoes_
(Firebox Records, 2010)
by: Mark Dolson (6 out of 10)
I've been following Throes of Dawn (from Vaasa in eastern Finland) since 1999 when they released their second full-length album, _Dreams of the Black Earth_. Admittedly, though, I couldn't really get into the aforementioned album as I thought it was rather boring -- mid-paced "atmospheric" black-metal with horribly screechy vocals. Sure, the musicianship was fairly competent on that album, but the songs were lacking a certain kind of energy. The band managed to precipitate a subtle style shift with _Binding of the Spirit_ and _Quick Silver Clouds_ released in 2000 and 2004 respectively; however, other than the addition of some interesting electronics and clean vocals, I still found these albums lacking in the interest factor.

After a six year hiatus, the band proffers what I was hoping to be their magnum opus, _The Great Fleet of Echos_ (what a great title for a record, eh)? When I received the promo from Firebox Records, I must say that I was pretty excited as the songs titles (such as "Entropy", "Ignition of the Grey Sky", "Velvet Chokehold", and "Soft Whispers of the Chemical Sun") seemed to indicate that I was in for something pretty different compared to their previous releases. Well, I wasn't too far off, as I really was in for something different -- too different, I think.

The music, then? Ooops, they did it again -- because it's boring. This is, to me, the very definition of a band trying to sound overly modern. No, you won't find any Soilwork over-exertions here (they try too hard, if you ask me); or even anything like In Flames and their never-ending urges to sell out. No, this is something different, albeit just as uninspiring. Once you get passed the ubiquitous electronic beats, piano, and the clean and acoustic guitar (which aren't bad) an opening is made -- in a few songs; or, rather, a few sections of songs -- for a metallic guitar tone, expressed and given life via actual, albeit short-lived riffs. There's also a smattering of harsh vocals, double-bass drumming, and the occasional breath of atmosphere. The operative word being "occasional" as this album suffers a little from "atmospheric hypoxia". Unfortunately, though, for the most part, Throes of Dawn of 2010 are trying way too hard to be a cross between Alice in Chains -- doubtless inspired by the album _Dirt_ (1992), just listen to the chorus of "Velvet Chokehold" to see what I mean -- and Tiamat, from somewhere around the _A Deeper Kind of Slumber_ (1997) era. Honestly, after listening to the song "Chloroform", I was convinced that this was a cover of a Tiamat song (it's not, but it really, really sounds like mid-era Tiamat).

As _The Great Fleet of Echoes_ wears on, it becomes apparent that this is not really a metal album, but more of a hard-rock or maybe even post-rock album of sorts. Any pulse of real "dark metal" has been phlebotomized and drained away, leaving a rather flat sounding and bland precipitate behind. Sure, there are definitely some interesting ideas here and there, but there's not a lot to really latch onto. If you have the patience to wade through the mid-paced whimsical and ethereal vibe on this album, that's great. I'm sure you'll find something of interest here. As for me, though, I think I would rather listen to mid-era Tiamat.


(article published 18/4/2010)

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