(CD, Seeing Red Records, 2020)
For some reason, I’ve connected melodic Death Metal with the mid-90s era, and therefore whenever a new release of this genre blips into my radar, it makes me feel a bit nostalgic. I got exposed to this high-voltage genre by bands like IN FLAMES, AT THE GATES and DARK TRANQUILLITY back in the day (haven’t we all?!), that remain a big influential part of this still-producing-new-material scene. But, how can one band be interesting and fresh-sounding belonging in the nowadays’ oversaturated scene? The more years pass, the harder answering this question will become but not everything is lost. American / Finnish MERIDIAN DAWN have the knowledge and the right set of skills to be part of that answer via their debut full length release, “The Fever Syndrome”.
MERIDIAN DAWN was originally formed as a side project by vocalist Antony Hämäläinen (NIGHTRAGE, ARMAGEDDON, CRYSTAL TEARS) and guitarist / bassist Nick Ziros (INTO THE MOAT, REMEMBERING NEVER. This band’s intentions are not to satisfy the melo-Death clichés but to create an amalgam of sounds and music styles, with the result having an identity of its own. Album opener “Iconic” channels strong AT THE GATES / Tomas Lindberg vibes, especially through Hämäläinen’s type of singing that shines throughout the entire album, and the melo-guitars paint the rest of this aggressive picture with the most vivid colors. It’s headbanging time as soon as the title-track kicks in, and although it is following the same path, the complex guitar work does add the twist in MERIDIAN DAWN’s music to steer it away from being another ‘re-heated’ dish. This track is one of the most memorable ones, along with “God To All”, and I’ll credit the catchy main riff that is enhanced with tons of melodic layers, keyboard- and guitar-wise.
Speaking of that special something on MERIDIAN DAWN’s sound, I’ll drive your attention towards “With A Heavy Burden…” that to my ears sets foot on Prog territories, with complex yet powerful drumming and scattered technical guitar breaks. The same goes for “It’s All A Dream” that starts with dreamy guitar effects before switching to aggression with the double-bass drumming and the guttural yet clear vocals (you can tell what the lyrics are saying) that kind of remind me of the early ‘00s MOONSPELL. The rest of the album sees MERIDIAN DAWN being effective and faithful to their influences but without copying/pasting them. For example, “Involuntary Seclusion” carries some strong IN FLAMES energy, and then, MERIDIAN DAWN push the ‘same-all’ melo-Death envelope by serving beautifully complex riffs without overdoing it. If I had to choose one track as the brightest moment on “The Fever Syndrome” that would be “Thieves”; here, the band has gathered all the strong assets and the result sounds amazing - there’s that catchy IN FLAMES-esque groove, the melodic guitar parts are truly inspired and the snare-drum blast-beat-esque break sets the mood for some serious headbanging.
This is a release you should be on the lookout for, especially if you crave for something with lots of melo-Death spirit that is powerful enough to stand side-by-side with milestone records from the bands that have inspired MERIDIAN DAWN - especially on “The Fever Syndrome”, since it sounds so powerful and fresh.
02. The Fever Syndrome
03. With A Heavy Burden...
04. God To All
05. Involuntary Seclusion
07. It’s All A Dream
09. Dressed In Ice
Antony Hämäläinen - Vocals
Nick Ziros - Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Johan Nunez - Drums (additional personnel)