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Crimson Dawn - "Chronicles Of An Undead Hunter" (CD)

Crimson Dawn - "Chronicles Of An Undead Hunter" CD cover image

"Chronicles Of An Undead Hunter" track listing:

1. Twilight of the Wandering Souls
2. Eternal Is the Dark
3. Neverending Rain
4. The Suffering
5. The Skeleton Key
6. Gaze of the Scarecrow
7. Dark Ride
8. Checkmate in Red
9. To Live Is to Grieve

Reviewed by on April 20, 2017

"There is a fire present here that I had not heard in previous works, a full realization of the exact vision that Dario Beretta had for this band which he expressed to me personally for years."

There is an eerie dread that surrounds the impending doom of “Chronicles of an Undead Hunter.” One of the pinnacles this sextet has been able to achieve on this second full-length album is the perfect balance of darkness, doom, baroque, and melody – the pure essence of Italian doom. In my review for the band’s debut “In Strange Aeons…,” I discussed the differences between Italian and Swedish doom styles, with the former always laced with renaissance classical elements and the simplicity of hard rock. With “Chronicles,” Crimson Dawn elevates the game and further defines this unique offering on the music world making it the leading candidate for doom metal album of the year.

In what sounds like a direct response to the criticism that earlier works were too “power metal” to be labeled doom, Crimson Dawn distinctively ratchets up the dread. From the creepy “Twilight of the Wandering Gouls” intro right into the somber riffs of Dario Beretta and sorrowful vox of Tony Pecere on “Eternal is the Dark” – it seemed the mission was clear. Though “In Strange Aeons…” was stellar, “Chronicles of an Undead Hunter” presents much more of the vision that Beretta had with groove laden riffs, majestic Iommi-esque solos and highly melodic and soaring choruses.

One of the hardest things for a writer to do is write a review for a band that he/she is very good friends with, even if that band says “please be honest.” Its one thing when a longtime friend starts a band and then presents you with material, but it’s quite another when a longtime fan becomes friends with a band that already has a long history and then that band presents you with material. When I listen to “Chronicles of an Undead Hunter,” I have no hesitation in saying that there are songs on this album that rise to the level of some of the best doom songs in the subgenre. Composition, musicianship, delivery, production – the entire package is the best ever offered by these multi-talented musicians.

“Dark Ride” has a riff that is nearly Entombed-like in its tone, erupting into the exalted misery accented to greatness by the great Lele Laghli’s keyboards. “Skeleton Key” previews the towering intensity of the chorus from the opening note and it takes two minutes before the orchestrated melody takes flight before downshifting to a brilliant refrain of spine tingling sung Italian prose. “The Suffering” has an extraordinary creepiness (that child choir) and guitar work that comes direct from the first Black Sabbath album. Ditto for the “Gaze of the Scarecrow” – which conjures enough frightening images even before Pecere’s vocals start, making this one of the few modern songs that truly captures the spirit of classics like “Black Sabbath,” “The Wizard” and “N.I.B.”

If the compositions didn’t alone stand as instant doom classics, the production adds to the gloom. Without losing any of the pristine clarity of modern sound, there is a clear attempt to scale it back so that the drum sound retains a 70’s feel, the keyboards have a ghoulish echo and the guitar tone has a clear and menacing tone. It is another stellar job by Mat Stancioiu and the Elnor Studio crew.

When you boil down “Chronicles of an Undead Hunter” to its core and assess all of the elements, there is really only one conclusion – the album represents one of the finest in doom. Overt attempts by the band to ratchet up the dread solidify the album’s place as a classic in the genre. There is a fire present here that I had not heard in previous works, a full realization of the exact vision that Dario Beretta had for this band which he expressed to me personally for years. Crimson Dawn has finally arrived.

Highs: The band elevates its game for the finest work in each member's career.

Lows: The doom style isn't for everyone, especially Italian doom.

Bottom line: Crimson Dawn arrives...

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
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)