I got a real kick out of the Dawn of Solace album, Waves, a couple of years ago. It's a second album rather than a first but it served as a restart to the project, given that fourteen years had elapsed since the debut. I say project rather than band, because it's a side project of Tuomas Saukkonen of gothic death metal band Before the Dawn. Dawn of Solace strips the death away and adds a little doom in its place to play in a more alternative gothic metal framework. Saukkonen contributes all the instrumentation, with Mikko Heikkilä once again stepping in to add vocals over it.
It's solid stuff, but a little more emphatic than last time out. It's heavier than Waves, even when it calms down on a song like the title track, decorated with piano and laden with melancholy, rather than the chugging that shows up in Erase and is especially glorious on Black Shores. I have to point out that Flames of Perdition heavies up too, so that while Waves was often gothic rock as much as gothic metal, this is clearly gothic metal throughout. The knock-on effect that this has is to, if not remove the Soen comparison, to shift it somewhat. I got more of a Tool vibe from the vocals here, especially on the opening couple of tracks. That's not a huge shift, of course, given how much Soen were influenced by Tool, but it's there.
Generally speaking, the mindset is the same though, even if it's heavier. This is a depressive style of music, unsurprisingly given that it mixes gothic with doom, but it's somehow far more upbeat a depressive style than it ought to be. Like Waves, it's the sort of depressive that makes you take a look inside your brain and your heart and reaffirm your connection to life. It's more a comforting reminder that the abyss is there than it is a deep yearning look inside it. The darkness is safely in that abyss, so you can concentrate on living, starting with enjoying this album. Don't panic.
Also like Waves, it sounds OK on a first listen. This isn't music to grab you immediately for flirting, it's music to settle down with and get to know deeply. With each song, it feels closer and truer. It's stronger as it ends than when it began, but we want to let it loop on forever and the beginning is stronger the second time around. That said, while I enjoyed the increased heaviness, I don't think this one's wrapping itself around my soul as much as Waves, which was my album of the month for January 2020, so I think this is a 7/10 for me right now. Maybe it'll grow to another 8/10 over time but, if it does, it's not there yet.
There are some killer tracks here though. Flames of Perdition gets me every time, especially when it heavies up, because that's a wonderful contrast. Skyline stands out for me each time through as well, with its layers of melancholy. It feels like this would be a great song to add harsh vocals to, as a doom/death number, but Heikkilä remains clean throughout. Waves went harsh on one song but this steadfastly resists that urge and it's a good decision. There's only one song here after Skyline, called Serenity, and it's not really a song, more of an outro, but it's a killer too, slow and characterful over a very simple but effective pulsing beat. It leads very nicely into White Noise too, if we loop the album. Which, because this is a Dawn of Solace album, we will.