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Shadows of Dawn - "Of Death And Ruin" (CD)

Shadows of Dawn - "Of Death And Ruin" CD cover image

"Of Death And Ruin" track listing:

1. Dead In Your Eyes (4:24)
2. BodyCount 45 (4:24)
3. Envy (6:12)
4. Gluttony (6:42)
5. Greed (Broken) (5:43)
6. Pride (5:29)
7. Lust (6:23)
8. Sloth (1:44)
9. Wrath (4:07)

Reviewed by on February 18, 2009

"'Of Death And Ruin' shows a lot of promise in the future for Shadows Of Dawn. For a debut album, that’s really all you could ask for."

With their debut album, “Of Death And Ruin,” New Jersey metal band Shadows Of Dawn has taken the basics of thrash metal and added a melodic touch to it. Sure, there are the up-tempo, take-no-prisoner numbers that will get the circle pits going strong, but there is always a clean break around the corner. That’s not a knock against the band; it’s just that most bands play it safe on their first album, usually keeping the intensity level high the entire running length, something Shadows Of Dawn avoids. “Of Death And Ruin” starts out fast and heavy, takes a slight detour with some acoustic sections scattered throughout the longer pieces, then comes full circle for a brutal conclusion. Like most debut albums, some ideas work better than others.

Take the pure, unadulterated thrash tracks that comprised the beginning and ending of the album. “Dead In Your Eyes” has been a staple of the band’s for years, and with good reason. It’s a perfect opener; a calling card for Shadows of Dawn, if you will. The vocals of John Garafano are strong, with the backing vocals having an 80’s Anthrax-ish vibe, and the duel solo near the end being a highlight. “BodyCount 45” picks up where the first track left off, an intense thrill-ride with falsettos galore and a death metal breakdown with insanely-fast blast beats from drummer Shawn Eldridge. After a short, classical acoustic instrumental, “Wrath” is the “Damage Inc.” of “Of Death And Ruin;” a relentless and jaw-dropping thrasher that never lets up for one second. The only disappointment is the lack of a stellar guitar solo to elevate the track a notch further.

The middle portion of the album is where the band tries their hand at longer tracks, with songs lengths in the five and six-minute department. “Envy” is a slow-burning monster, building up to a great lead section, where the band utilizes their three-guitar attack to maximum effect. Three guitarists in the band lead to several memorable harmonic passages, most notably in the one-two punch of “Greed (Broken)” and “Pride.” These tracks also include a few acoustic sections, but they usually are intermixed well into the song that they don’t distract too much.

The only underachieving song is the ballad-y “Gluttony.” The first half of the song is mostly acoustic, with Garafano trying his luck with clean, melodic vocals. While his screams and aggressive barks in the faster songs works well, his range isn’t that impressive on the lighter tracks. He seems to struggle at times keeping sustained notes and the power that was present throughout the rest of the album was nowhere to be found. While “Gluttony” does pick it up for a nice ending, the first half of “Gluttony” is less-than-stellar.

For a self-released album, “Of Death And Ruin” has a good production value behind it. Obviously, the album isn’t as clean or in-your-face as major label albums, but it doesn’t hurt the album overall. The only knock on the production is the bass sound, which is pushed far into the background. When it can be heard, the bass work is decent, considering three different band members worked on it.

“Of Death And Ruin” shows a lot of promise in the future for Shadows Of Dawn. For a debut album, that’s really all you could ask for. The album isn’t without its flaws; the thrash numbers come off better than the slower material, but that is an aspect that can be improved over time. A lot of time and effort was put into “Of Death And Ruin,” and it shows. If Garafano can work on his vocals, and the three-guitar approach is utilized more often, Shadows Of Dawn could knock their next album out of the park.

Highs: Great thrash tracks, solid three-guitar attack, good use of acoustic elements

Lows: Vocals are mediocre on the slower tracks, songwriting could use some work

Bottom line: "Of Death And Ruin" is a good debut album that has enough worth-while moments to warrant a purchase.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)