Boasting some gnarly artwork, not to mention the killer band name itself, Dawn of disease have all the pieces in place before even a note is heard and believe me when I say that this release does not disappoint on any level. Hailing from Germany, Dawn of disease originally came together in 2003 and unleashed the MCD ‘through bloodstained eyes’ upon an unsuspecting public. Their first full-length effort, ‘legends of brutality’ was released in 2011 via the wonderful Noiseart records, and now the band return in short order with their follow-up, the blistering ‘crypts of the unrotten’, as unsubtle, powerful and yet also melodic a death metal release as you could wish for.
Opening with the short intro, ‘descent into another world’, which sets a sombre tone, it is ‘alone with the dead’ that truly lets you get to grips with the meat of ‘crypts…’ as a suitably grinding riff is drawn out over crushing percussion and neatly underpinned by a smooth, warm bass sound that keeps the whole thing as heavy as hell. The vocals, meanwhile, are exactly what you would expect from a death metal release, Tomasz possessed of a voice that is at least two parts gravel to one part humanity. Meanwhile, what elevates the track above the norm is the sense of melody conjured by the layered riffs and harmonised solos of Oliver and Lukas who know exactly when to launch an explosive attack and when to exercise restraint, instead introducing a melodic aspect to the song that keeps it fresh and memorable. It’s a great opening, taking in death metal’s brutality but also exploring a doomier side with clear lead breaks and alarming drops in tempo. No less impressive is ‘knife vs flesh’ which sees the band unleash a full on metallic assault in the vein of Deicide over thrashing guitars and percussion. ‘The unrotten’ is an early highlight of the album, the initial harmonised leads washing over you before being replaced by a fearsome groove that is as irresistible as a tidal wave and which recalls the might of Canadian death merchants Kataklysm who deal in similarly styled death metal with no little success. ‘Skinless and impaled’ is gloriously brutal, a slamming riff that is bought into sharp focus by Tomasz’s consistently excellent vocals.
‘Enter the gates’ opens with a nice sludgy riff, all rumbling toms and attitude before switching gear into full on death metal body-slam, the riffs see-sawing over and under the roared vocals with a nice mid-section that sees the guitars get a sweet workout that highlights the bands emphasis on melody in even the unlikeliest of places. Not that this compromises the core heaviness of the music – not at all – simply that the band employ enough melody to keep things both memorable and interesting as well as blisteringly intense. ‘Calcined bones’ fades in over a cyclical riff that builds to pure horror-movie climax and then launches into the rolling juggernaut that is the main body of the song, and one that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Autopsy record. ‘Catacombs’ is another track that builds on the back of a massive chugging groove, the sheer relentless monotony designed to sap the will, whilst the chainsaw riffs that scar and sear the surface add colour and texture to maintain the attention. It’s a trick that works well, the rhythm section laying down a solid wall of mechanistic noise whilst the vocals and lead guitars take the track to a higher level altogether. ‘Final resurrection’ is the next up and it makes you sit up because it seems to operate in a different time stream to its predecessor, the battering ram riff blazed out at high speed in contrast to the devastating sturm und drang of ‘catacombs’. ‘Devouring obscurity’ opens on a reflective note, a chiming guitar in the darkness, a melodic lead and half-time percussion before the pace picks up once more for a brief instrumental run that demonstrates the skills of the various musician on the album. For downloaders the final track appears in the form of ‘but death goes on’ which closes the album’ on suitably furious form, the guitars surging and chugging away whilst the vocals are a glorious, deathly smear although, seemingly despite this fact, the chorus is curiously memorable and you can imagine festival crowds chanting this one with pleasure as Dawn of disease desecrate the stage. For those buying the retail CD you’ll also get the bonus track ‘soulless shape’ although sadly this was not included on our promo so we can’t comment upon it.
Dawn of disease are a very good example of the death metal genre. Although much of their devastating craft is well trodden, they will, every so often throw in a sonic curve ball in the form of a guitar lick that’s pure classic rock, or a hit of melody that’s unforgettable even whilst clothed in the most powerful of metal armour – these flourishes demonstrate a band not content to simply recreate death metal’s standards and whilst nothing on ‘crypts of the unrotten’ can be said to be pushing the boundaries of the genre, Dawn of the disease can at least be said to be exploring within it to keep things fresh. If you’re a fan of solid, well-written death metal then this album will most certainly be for you, and there are enough memorable riffs and glorious, head-banging moments to keep the CD in your player for some months to come. Not spectacular then, but assuredly a very good example of the genre.