Dawn Fades - Ode

Angry Metal Guy 70

What makes a piece of music nostalgic? What is it that makes a song breathe new life into fond memories or help satiate wistful desires? The answer, of course, differs widely depending on who you ask. Some might say it’s the fact that they listened to a particular album over and over again during an emotionally charged stage in life. For me, it’s not any particular lyric or note sequence that evokes feelings of nostalgia but the analog, reverb-soaked, and fuzzy layers which ambient electronic bands like Boards of Canada and Tycho are built upon. It’s rare for me to stumble upon an album released by a metal act that I would describe with the word nostalgic. But Ode, the sophomore full-length album by post-metal band Dawn Fades plucks a nostalgic chord somewhere deep in my brain.

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Dawn Fades is a band that, despite having a sound I find to be on the experimental fringes of metal, maintains a modest demeanor which comes through in their music. Dawn Fades‘ specialty is not an ostentatious display of guitar riffs but rather the ethereal and sublime aura surrounding their songs. Ode begins with one of the most lumbering and underwhelming tracks on the album, “Dearth.” I’ll not waste any words here. “Dearth” is followed immediately by my personal favorite track, “Taste.” This song’s grandiose wall-of-sound production infused with dramatic melody is like a mashup of Russian Circles and Junius, a pairing which I don’t think I’ll ever tire of. “Taste” is a track I keep coming back to, not only because I love the drawn-out climax but because the crunchy, repetitive guitar riff around which the song is structured in the final minutes reminds me of the riff from another track which I haven’t been able to put a name to. I pride myself on being proficient at this skill of recalling song similarities, but this particular riff has had me stumped for weeks now.

Ode‘s tracks alternate between moments of laser-focused anger with intense, scathing vocals and more classic, mellow, and gelatinous shoegaze (“Front”). It is in the midst of penultimate track “Chains” that the feelings of nostalgia hit me most potently. “Why can’t we? Who will decide,” a child’s voice echoes out plaintively, dripping in reverb through clouds of hazy atmosphere. The track evolves halfway through when an acoustic guitar makes an appearance and the tempo becomes tortuously slow. Closing track “Turning” reminds me of none other than Slowdive‘s “Dagger,” both in terms of the lyrical themes of being tortured and pained by another and the fact that “Dagger” is also the final track of Slowdive‘s album Souvlaki.

At times, the clean, brooding vocals on Ode remind me of Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke (“Ode Pt 2”). Later on in the album, the vocals sound eerily similar to Slowdive‘s Neil Halstead (“Front”). The clean vocals, though, are unfortunately perhaps the weakest link on Ode. I appreciate the contrast between the apathetic, shoegaze vocals and the black metal shrieks, but the cleans lack the conviction of the growls and snarls. Of course, the cleans are far more exposed and allow for a deeper level of scrutiny. I firmly believe that the inconsistencies in the clean vocals heard on Ode are merely a minor snag that can be tidied up and fixed on future releases.

All in all, Ode is a high quality, highly emotional listen. The mysterious album artwork by Sue Goldberg is a feather in the cap, and I even spent precious time on the internet gawking at more of Sue’s gorgeous abstract acrylic fluid art. The juxtaposition of shoegaze and post-metal passages on Ode is unique. Dawn Fade‘s sound is earnest and heartfelt, and I hope you also have the pleasure of enjoying an episode of nostalgia while giving Ode a concentrated listen.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Metal Assault Records
Websites: facebook.com/DawnFadesBand | dawnfades.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: September 10th, 2021

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Mon Sep 13 15:38:55 GMT 2021