Throes Of Dawn

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Throes Of Dawn - Pakkasherra ©1997 Woodcut Records
1. Across The Loveless Horizon
2. The Night Belongs To Us
3. Pakkasherra
4. Watcher In The Tower
5. As A Spirit
6. Cosmic Seas
7. End Is Silence
8. Autumn Winds
9. Cold Goddess
10. Winter Romance

Everyone has to begin somewhere and there are more than a few moments in metal history where a band's introduction to the world simply doesn't give a great first impression. Finland's Throes of Dawn had one such debut with Pakkasherra, a mediocre album that hardly shows any of the promise of what the band would become very shortly.

Throes of Dawn are attemping apply a darkly romantic vision to the coldness of raw black metal with the occasional softer interlude and hints of folk. Yes, this is a description that has been applied to more records than you or I could count even in a bean counting convention. With the guitar production as tinny as the worst of Abigor and an overall atmosphere of an annoying midafternoon drizzle, Pakkasherra spends more time floundering in unrealized promise and potential than standing up and being noticed for high quality. It sounds as though the band was enthusiastic but unable to properly realize their vision for the album. There are occasionally moments of inventive playing and songwriting ideas, but much of it comes off a bit too forced and unnatural. The lushness necessary for the band's softer passages isn't flushed out and the raw edge of the majority of the music seems highly inappropriate.

Many of the band's problems would be worked out on their next album, but as far as this debut goes, it's not exactly the type of thing that would get me terribly enthused about the band if it was the first thing I heard from them. I'm not in the habit of putting on CDs solely to hear moments of promise as I'd rather stick to the albums where potential was fulfilled.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/2002

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Dreams Of The Black Earth

Throes Of Dawn - Dreams Of The Black Earth ©1998 Woodcut Records
1. The Withering Goddess (of Nature)
2. The Weeper
3. The Blackened Rainbow
4. Spring Blooms With Flowers Dead
5. Of Scarlet Skies Made
6. Titania
7. Where Once The Sun Rose
8. Dreams Of The Black Earth

Dreams of the Black Earth represents the second full length release from Finland's Throes of Dawn. The CD is leaps and bounds better than their fairly pedestrian, black metal tinged debut Pakasherra and more importantly, sets the stage for the band's eventual development into one the more impressive melodic gray metal bands out there.

Despite the drawbacks of cumbersome and relatively goofy song titles ("Spring Blooms With Flowers Dead" is a bit of an oxymoron if you want to get down to brass tacks), Dreams of the Black Earth is a highly enjoyable release that hopefully will find its way into appreciative hands. Taking occasional cues from the black metal world (mostly in the vocal department), the band offers a slow paced, slightly folky and entirely melodic (in a grand sense of the term) approach that allows for the songs to adequately develop. The songs might be long, but they never seem like they are abandoning the listener at any point to either show off instrumental prowess or bog down in repetitive, monontonous structure. Keyboards and beautifully melodic (yes, I'm going to use this term a lot and you simply have to deal with it) guitar leads create a sweeping, monumental and (of course) epic feeling. The rhythms of the songs, albeit often turtle-paced, may even lead to slow motion headbanging in the more ardent of metalheads. But most importantly, the songs convey a broad painting of vibrant color and texture. This is what Dimmu Borgir might have become had they not gotten so fussy about overly-busy and brutal-as-a-declawed-kitten heaviness. Some might complain that Throes of Dawn is a bit on the cheery side, but those are the same people who think natural disasters are sexy.

As with Primordial, Throes of Dawn is one of the very few bands who can successfully meld a folkish structure with black and doom metal influence to come up with a highly listenable music style. There are few flaws on Dreams of the Black Earth and if you're looking for a powerful and moving melodic metal experience, Throes of Dawn are utterly keen.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2002

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Binding Of The Spirit

Throes Of Dawn - Binding Of The Spirit ©2000 Wounded Love / AvantGarde Music
1. The Last Rainbow Warrior Is Dead
2. The Warprophet Dreams
3. Binding Of The Spirit Onto Earth
4. The Hermit
5. Master's Garden
6. The Wanderer
7. On Broken Wings Of Despair
8. Stardestroyer

I had a particularly hard time deciding whether or not I liked this CD at first. On the one hand, Throes of Dawn's Binding of the Spirit is a consistent and solid, melodic yet folksy black metal album; on the other side of the George Washington, I can't get past the feeling that I've heard this all before. You can only digest so much Dimmu Borgir-style black metal before you start getting that queasy feeling in your stomach. And as far as I am aware, Heavy Metal Tums™ have yet to be invented.

Onward ho to the review: Throes of Dawn call Finland their home, though I suspect a careful examination of their birth certificates would reveal a Norwegian pedigree, as they do borrow heavily from the Enthrone Darkness Triumphant-era Dimmu Borgir and Bergtatt-era Ulver sounds. "The Last Rainbow Warrior is Dead" sets the direction for the rest of the album, with guitars playing catchy, simplistic melodies and keyboards providing the mandatory atmosphere. A couple acoustic folk moments and a clean tenor singing segment can also be found here. "Binding of the Spirit onto Earth" is a very classy piece that begins with horns, woodwinds, percussion, and strings before the black metal pushes the symphonic stuff aside. Keyboards are now put to the fore, with guitars assuming the supporting role in an intimate homophony. On "Master's Garden", Throes of Dawn bring to mind In the Woods' epic scope and non-linear songwriting, while "On Broken Wings of Despair" is another symphonic piece featuring alternating sonorous singing and cacophonous black metal screeching. Also, the music has an airy, spacey quality to it, probably traceable to three agents: the premium production, the de-emphasis of the bass guitar, and the liberal use of keyboards. One thing that vexes me a little is that the tempo of songs like "The Warprophet Dreams" rarely, if ever, wanders away from the moderato. A little intra-track rhythmic variation would have spiced things up some more, although one can make the case that Throes of Dawn are shooting for a more trance-like, hypnotic feeling.

Well, to sum things up, it took me longer than expected to appreciate this album, but I have learned to love it. And so should you.

Review by Jeffrey Shyu

Review date: 04/2000

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The Great Fleet of Echoes

Throes of Dawn - The Great Fleet of Echoes ©2010 Firebox
1. Entropy
2. Ignition of the Grey Sky
3. Velvet Chokehold
4. Soft Whispers of the Chemical Sun
5. Chloroform
6. Slow Motion
7. We Have Ways To Hurt You
8. Lethe
9. The Great Fleet of Echoes
10. Blue Dead Skies

The last time I paid any attention to Throes of Dawn was around the time Binding of the Spirit came out. Although on a whole that album has some pedestrian moments, it also contained a few songs that I still absolutely love to this day. The subsequent album, Quicksilver Clouds, found the band shifting styles away from their black metal tinged beginnings to a more gothic infused style to mixed results. It's not a terrible album, but it never did grab me in any significant way. For whatever reason, Throes of Dawn took a few years off before beginning the recording of The Great Fleet of Echoes, their most recent release.

According to the liner notes the recording took place over many months. Despite that, The Great Fleet of Echoes has a nice cohesive sound and finally nails the sound they were attempting on Quicksilver Clouds. This undoubtedly has a lot to do with vocalist Henri Koivula's comfort level in delivering a somber, clean style. The songwriting also greatly enhances the band's ability to create and deliver on a solid atmosphere. It should be noted for black metal purists that the band has fully moved away from their earliest efforts as this basically can be described as a gothic metal album. But before you scatter in terror at this prospect, it should be noted that somehow Throes of Dawn avoids the worst aspects the "goth metal" label might suggest and in fact is what a good gothic influenced metal record should sound like. At times it sounds as though the members sat down and had a Fields of the Nephilim listening party and successfully incorporated that band's moodiness into The Great Fleet of Echoes. In general the songs are all solid, but it should be noted "Soft Whispers of the Chemical Sun" is an absolute knock out of a song, with a commanding bass line and a complete fulfillment of what a gothic tinged metal song should be about.

This album is a fine return for this Finnish band. It serves as a great addition for those who want to like the direction Tiamat took in the 2000s but couldn't stomach the cheese factor of their gothic influence. In fact, I suspect when Johah Edlund heard The Great Fleet of Echoes, he immediately wished he had come up with these songs. A rather enjoyable effort and good return for Throes of Dawn!

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2011

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