Solar Dawn - Equinoctium
Melodic Death Metal
8 songs (34'38")
Release year: 2002
Solar Dawn, Candlelight
Reviewed by Alex

Let me be completely honest here. I got this album by pure accident, just because of my superficial nature. The truth be told, the ad for Solar Dawn appeared right next to Insomnium, the band I grew to like, on the same page in Metal Maniacs. Thinking that Solar Dawn is a pretty cool name for a metal band I gobbled up Equinoctium along with Insomnium new album and something else from the Candlelight page I don’t remember. Undeservedly, Equinoctium spent a lot of time on the shelf before the wrapper came off. No reason why, but I am glad it did, and I am ready to tell you all about it.

These four pretty tough looking Swedes play generally mid-tempo and quite groovy brand of melodic death metal. Whether it is The Abyss Studio “brand” sound or the guys specifically asked producer Tommy Tagtgren to help them sound like Hypocrisy, similarities are plentiful. It could be that particular “wall of sound” approach with fuzzed out guitars (Deicidal Beliefs, the end of Autumns) or very pronounced booming bass drums (which is probably the only component new Amon Amarth lacks). Or, it could be those drawn out long melodic sections going through individually undecipherable chord progressions (Deep in Mourning, Artistic Blasphemy). Similarity does not make a copycat, don’t get me wrong, even on top of the fact that whatever Solar Dawn does, it does it well. Moreover, the band manages to touch upon “other” melodeath directions in their eight songs thus bringing enough variety and making the tracks individually memorable. Punished by Silence, probably my favorite song on the album, has very definitive Amon Amarth-styled bouncy main riff, while Spellbinder follows the frenetic melodicism patented by At The Gates. Solar Dawn is not afraid to experiment even more, Broken-Winged being half pretty brutal, half almost gothic with acoustic accompaniment and clean vocals.

Along with interesting compositions and aforementioned strong sound all individual instrumental performances are equally impressive. My only complaint point is the vocals. Bassist and one of the main songwriters Christian Alvestam handles vocal duties on Equinoctium. I am in no position to give the band advice, but just think what a vocalist like new and improved Johan Hegg would do with Punished in Silence. While few clean vocals passages are interesting, Christian’s growls are muffled and croaked, not projecting, to me anyway, the strength and brutality of music. A full-time vocals only member may solve the problem and lift Solar Dawn into the elite band status.

People often complain that melodeath genre is overpopulated. That may be true, but I still love those bands that bring in quality performances in what was started by At The Gates, Hypocrisy and Dark Tranquillity. As long as we give high marks to the “second-wave” bands like Within Y, The Duskfall and Insomnium, Solar Dawn deserves just as high a mark and your attention. I know that after that wrapper finally came off, Equinoctium will receive more listens from me. And that is a sign of personal satisfaction.

Killing Songs :
Punished by Silence, Spellbinder, Artistic Blasphemy
Alex quoted 81 / 100
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