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RottenDawn Rises: “Dawn Dwellers” Welcomes Dark Melancholia


In the earliest days of death metal’s atavistic first wave, some of the subgenre’s most adventurous and stylistically experimental offerings emerged from the icy forests of the Nordic countries. Finland’s scene in particular was one of the first to diversify the genre in truly meaningful and forward-thinking ways, with groups incorporating elements from black metal, thrash, and even traditional folk music into their sinister yet virtuosic material as early as 1990. While the jagged, demonic timbres of the Finnish strain have seen a notable return amongst this decade’s new wave of OSDM, one group in particular has created a modern interpretation of this niche that simultaneously pays faithful homage to its roots and adds a modern, hard-to-categorize twist of eclecticism to the style.

This group is RottenDawn, a Helsinki-based quartet infusing the eerie atmospheric compositional approach of Nordic death metal with Gothically-influenced funeral doom sensibilities. With a timeless sense of forlorn stoicism, RottenDawn borrows motifs and concepts from remote corners of the metal spectrum and blends them seamlessly together into a towering wall of sonic viscosity. Comprised of an all-star cast of seasoned metal musicians, this newly active outfit is manned by steadfast scene veterans that were present at the inception of Finnish death metal. Originally formed in 2010 by guitarists Joni Halmetoja and Make Mäkinen (of Legacy and Protected Illusion, respectively), the band’s sound gradually evolved from a more straightforward take on extreme metal into its current iteration with the addition of Unholy vocalist Pasi Äijö and drummer Mikael Arnkil, renowned for his work with Impaled Nazarene and Abhorrence.

Equipped with this formidable lineup, the group’s meditative, cathartic sound has culminated in their upcoming debut full-length record Occult, a title that aptly illustrates the murky depths of its lyrical and thematic content. Gearing up for the album’s official release next month, RottenDawn have now issued another proclamation of dark, melancholic harmony in the form of “Dawn Dwellers,” a gargantuan monument to the obscure and the esoteric. Check out the premiere below.

While not the album’s longest track, “Dawn Dwellers” clocks in at a respectable nine minutes, carrying the listener over black stygian waters before plummeting into frigid caverns and climbing forth once again into the dismal fading light of day. The track (and the entirety of the record) are tuned down to release thick pulsating tones, creating a physically hefty texture to match its plodding doom rhythms. Like the solemn determination of a pallbearer’s gait, “Dawn Dwellers” unfolds at a painstakingly steady pace, with Äijö’s ghoulish, rasping vocals emerging from layers of instrumental fog and melodic lamentations that crest into waves of complex yet raw emotion. Around its five-minute mark, however, the track shifts gears into a much more aggressive, OSDM-oriented breakdown of sorts. As the band tears through a diminished, snarling riff overlain by especially bestial vocals, a more primal, passionate expression of rage is revealed to the listener. This is not to say that the transition is at all jarring or unexpected, but rather an effective showcasing of RottenDawn’s careful balance of death and doom, and their ability to quickly and effectively shift focus from the latter to the former.

Though the track’s more extreme passages are still steeped in the existential headiness of funeral doom, one can easily distinguish the unique old-school death metal features that lie at the core of RottenDawn’s sound throughout the entirety of the record. While they consistently incorporate an equal representation of both genres into their compositions, they are also capable of emphasizing certain moods to instigate emotive shifts within individual tracks and across the album as a collective whole. This utilization of ever-fluctuating sentiment effectively emulates a deep human suffering and angst to which both death and doom metal consistently refer. By uniting traditional perspectives on these subgenres into a modern aesthetic amalgamation, RottenDawn have created a timeless, undeniable statement concerning the cryptic darkness hidden at the core of the human condition.

Occult releases September 6th via Saturnal Records. Follow the band on Facebook.

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