Falling From Grace

SKU: CDDAWN5
Label:
Excess
Category:
Power Metal
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"The phrase, "A New Dawn" has become one widely used these days with the ascension of the Obama presidency in the United States, and certainly, that is a breath of fresh air for most of us. However, it’s also a good time for a metal band, with that phrase as a name, to make a serious arrival on the international music scene.

A New Dawn isn’t really new. They’ve actually been around since 1998 in one form or another, although they began as a side project. Several demos and one semi serious EP and DVD later, the band has released the title under review here and is primed for a run at the big time.

The band is a 6 member group headed up by a duel female lead. That lead, Sanne Kluiters and Jamila Ifzaren do something of an operatic front end. The guitars are provided by Elbert de Hoog, bass by Michel van Beekum and drums are compliments of Rik Bruineman. The final member is Michiel Glas whose responsibilities include vocals and grunting. Poor Michiel has the unenviable task of replacing the lovely Monica Janssen who played bass and was clearly the most impressive female grunter in metal. She was always, for me, a significant interest in this band and will be missed, but, as they say, the show must go on.

It should be noted, however, that this CD was actually produced with a different lineup, and Monica is the grunter and bass player here. The additional clean vocals are done by a friend of the band, David van Santen. Willem Cremer performed on guitar and Peter van Toren did drums on this recording. With the completion of the CD, the changes came about, so this is the swan song for Monica. And that’s unfortunate but certainly not devastating. Lineup changes in European bands, unlike many American bands, are like changing your clothes in the morning.

Doesn’t matter really who does the grunting, this is a B & B Gothic metal band. That Beauty and the Beast approach serves as the focus of A New Dawn and carries through much of the music presented here. And, as B and B bands go, this one is pretty good. They’re Dutch of course, and utilize a style found in numerous western European bands, even if the composition is a little unique. The sound, however, is pretty much mainstream metal, with a few twists.

Falling from Grace opens with a beautiful little piece called Black Lotus, the two female leads doing an operatic harmony over a lovely symphonic background. You get the feeling we’re in for a lovely bit of harmonic Gothic, heavily orchestrated. Something like what we’d hear for a movie about life in the Middle Ages. David van Santen even joins in with a lovely male vocal component to augment this direction. The tome lasts some 1:22. . .. and then things change.

As mentioned previously, A New Dawn is Gothic Metal, fairly hard Gothic Metal over a solid guitar base. The vocals, the female vocals anyway, are operatic, but they ride a cushion of heavy guitars to get where they’re going. Living Lie begins this journey, and pretty much introduces the real A New Dawn. And Monica’s grunting provides a highlight to the composition.

Arguably, the most interesting song might be the following title, Veil of Charity. It made the Sonic Cathedral release A World of Sirens and gets significant airplay on the radio outlet. The song opens with an interesting guitar line over a metal core. Things heat up fast and flow to the duel female lead, which is juxtaposed against the grunting female vocals. This is, of course, the core of the A New Dawn sound and is probably the best implementation of that sound on the CD. Guitars are always secondary to the vocals with A New Dawn but they cannot be ignored, especially on this title. They are solid and get significant solo time, as well they should.

The CD being somewhat new I haven’t been able to get lyrics online. However, the English of singers Kluiters, Ifzaren, Janssen and David van Santen is excellent so you can pretty much understand everything they’re singing. That’s not always the case with European bands, especially as they move further to the east. When you get to the Russians, they quit trying.

A New Dawn does most of its work in heavy mode. However, there are exceptions. Wisdom of Hindsight is actually something of an acoustic number, at least at first. Vocals are different as well. The band does a sound like a Medieval Folk song on occasion, and this is one of those numbers. However, even here, the metal comes back at some point, but the movement back and forth is really interesting. There are almost three or four distinct styles here in one song.

The acoustic sound carries through on other numbers as well, especially as an intro. A short number, Prelude to a Farwell, uses this technique to serve as a mid point on the CD, almost like an intermission, very beautiful and moving.

That midpoint takes us to the second part of the CD, introduced by Kissed Goodbye. Again, the song starts slowly with a moving guitar that takes us to the lead female vocals. It should be pointed out that these vocals are not all that similar and are used differently, even when done at the same time. One is more operatic, the other less so, and they work in different ranges. Very different in the style and effect. Anyway, the slow stuff doesn’t last long, the guitars crank up and the metal goes full tilt.

Much of the second part of the CD follows this format, slow and dreamy intros that lead to a crunching guitar guiding the female vocals to their face offs with Monica’s grunting.

The final number, Ascension, Part III, is worth mentioning. It’s been a favorite of mine for some time and has video clips on YouTube where you get to see Monica (and the rest of the lineup at that time) in performance. This is one of the songs where the grunting is more up front, the guitars are a bit harder and we get the image of A New Dawn on stage. Of course, the two female vocalists are a delight and the band performs this number in much the same style as they would on stage, there is an electricity to their sound that transcends the recording.

I’m sure that, in all respects, the band is every bit as good as ever, but I’m sure going to miss that little brunette bass player with the killer voice. Fortunately, we still have the strong contributions from the two female leads who carry the majority of the load.

Oh well, progress is inevitable, and, in this case, we move with the tides. A strong offering from a band we will, no doubt, hear much more from in the future." - Sonic Cathedral

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  • THIS NORTHERN VIRGINIA BASED BAND is a three-piece at heart, musically rooted in the raw energy and rhythmic interplay of RUSH and KING’S X. Fans of dark, guitar-driven rock bands from ALICE IN CHAINS, DEFTONES to the contemporary metal riffing of LAMB OF GOD and PANTERA, will connect to the heavy core of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. Add to that progressive complexity and moody synths inspired by DREAM THEATER and PORCUPINE TREE, and a liberal dose of memorable hooks and melodies, to understand some elements of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. And yet, the band has a distinct identity, not quite sounding like any of the aforementioned bands, and with an emotional urgency that pulls subtly from alternative and other influences.KARMA SOWN IS A TRIUMPH OF A DEBUT ALBUM, immediate and memorable but revealing layers and depth upon repeated listens."Progressive metal is in a rough period right now. The old guard are either releasing sub-standard albums that only make it more obvious how far they have fallen, or they are drastically uncool with anyone who didn't become a fan when progressive metal was first being created. Progressive today tends to mean djent, a style that has sapped all the life and humanity out of music, turning metal into a math equation of time signatures, and not songs that anyone can actually remember. There was a time when progressive metal remembered the ultimate goal of music; to have listeners enjoy the songs so much they would return to them again and again. Today, progressive metal is mostly the sort of music that could pass for muzak, if you don't turn the volume up too loud.Iris Divine wants to change that. They set out with the mission of writing progressive metal that is intricate and challenging, but still produces the kind of songs that listeners who don't have an advanced degree can love and sing along to. It's a challenge, and it goes against the tide, but it's a desperately needed revolution if progressive metal is going to flourish anytime in the near future.I knew from hearing the pre-release track “A Suicide Aware” that Iris Divide was special, and the full album reinforces the point. “The Everlasting Sea” comes out of the gates with plenty of tricky riffing and unusual rhythms, but they lead into big melodies with strong hooks and vocals. Their progressive playing isn't meant for show, it's a tool used to set a tone that juxtaposes with the more melodic moments. Finding the proper balance between these elements is not easy, and many a band have failed miserably trying to do so, but Iris Divine doesn't. On their debut record, they show a skill some bands have spent their entire careers failing to learn.What I love most about the record is that it can be seen in many different lights. If you like straight-ahead metal, there is plenty of heavy riffing and pounding drumming here to keep you satisfied. If you like progressive music, these songs have twists and turns, and Rush-like keyboards, in enough quantity to match the djent crowd. And if you're a fan of old-school radio rock, the choruses in these songs will be music to your ears. Keeping all three of these in mind at the same time can be tricky, but it's worth the effort.For being a trio, “Karma Sown” is a massive sounding record. The production is flawless, big and clear, without ever sounding too polished. The heavy parts are heavy, the vocals are up front, and you would never believe this was a self-produced record that was crowd-funded. I can put it up against many, many of the big label releases, and it would win the fight.In fact, I can think of a dozen so-called progressive metal bands that should immediately hand over their label contracts to Iris Divine, because it's a crime that a band that is advancing progressive metal in the right direction doesn't have the backing of one of the labels. Not to name names, but this album would be bigger than half of the progressive metal released this year if it had the media push behind it.In case you haven't noticed, what I'm saying is that “Karma Sown” is a fantastic debut, and the future of progressive metal. Iris Divine isn't a Dream Theater clone, and they're not djent. What they have done is integrate all the strains of progressive metal into a singular sound, one that could set the standard moving forward. If every band sounded this good, progressive metal wouldn't need to be underground. “Karma Sown” is the best progressive metal album of the year, bar none." - Bloody Good Horror
    $13.00
  • "Well, Italy is known for being a country with extremes: on one hand, you have very good bands of extreme Metal; on the other, bands of more melodic and technical Metal. And the both ways granted the world with excellent works. Going into a more Power/Progressive Metal way, coming from Trieste (Milan), we have the trio STARBYNARY, which released their first work, the album “Dark Passenger”.We can say that they follow a technical and heavy path of the style, making an elegant work on the same vein from old SYMPHONY X, but not eclectic as DREAM THEATER (so you won’t hear elements from Pop and Jazz on this album). Excellent vocals (a legacy from Italy in terms of Metal), very good riffs and solos (being melodic, heavy and technical in the due proportions), good rhythmic kitchen and powerful and grandiose keyboards parts is what they offer in a musical work full of elegance and weight. And we must accept it with opened heart and soul, for their efforts in create good music had success!The sound production is fine, granting their music a clear and heavy sound quality, so we really can hear all the musical arrangements and little details that make the difference. Yes, they are near perfection on sound quality. To speak about this album is a pleasure, for the trio’s music is wonderful, flows spontaneously into our ears and souls, and really conquest, but to name songs on this album as the best ones is an act of injustice. From “…Dawn of Evil” to “The End Begins” (a very long song, divided in three excellent parts), they show that they made their songs with hearts and wisdom. So hear it, and you’ll understand what your Ol’ Big Daddy here is trying to say." - Metal Temple
    $13.00