Dawn - The Eternal Forest – Demo Years ’91-‘93

Unless we are talking about one of my favorite bands, I don’t usually tend to bother with albums that repackage demos from early in a band’s career. However, I have been listening to a lot of Dawn recently in anticipation of the Century Media reissues of their first two albums (the first album, “Nær Sólen Gar Niþer For Evogher”, on vinyl, is already making its way to me through the postal system) so when I saw this one pop up on the iTunes new releases I decided to give it a listen.

Almost immediately I had to double check that this was in fact demo material, because these are some really great sounding demos (remastered by the master: Dan Swanö.) The songs on this release are death metal, and I have got to say, for being twenty-plus years old these songs sound incredible; a lot better than much of the death metal I am hearing these days. Let this be a wake-up call to the death metal community – time to step up your game.

Dawn has not released any new material since their 1998 second album, “Slaughtersun (Crown of the Triarchy)”, so I am not going to be surprised if most metal fans are not real familiar with the band. Dawn is one of those darling bands of obsessive compulsive collectors and black metal aficionados. Wait; did I just say black metal? I thought this was a death metal album? That’s right, Dawn are most well-known for their later black metal releases.

The material on this album pre-dates Dawn’s black metal period. Like many Scandinavian metal bands in the early 90s, Dawn started out as a death metal band (and apparently a damn good one) before laying down that mantle and reinventing themselves as part of the second wave of black metal. Darkthrone is another famous example of this evolution.

I would like to hear the original versions of these songs to hear how much they have been cleaned up, because if they sounded half as good as they do now that is some really impressive work. Regardless, this is an impressive work. The songwriting, much like on their later black metal releases, is pretty technical, fast and intense. The vocal style is frequently in a more guttural death metal style, but there is also some mid and higher range vocals that give us a taste of what would come later.

One might expect a review to say that a demo package is only really palatable for true fans of the band, but this album sounds so good that I think any fan of extreme metal, whether they are familiar with the band or not, could easily enjoy these songs.

When I went to find a song on YouTube I didn’t find anything from this reissue, but I did find the track, “In the Depths of My Soul” which opens the album…but the version is from 2011. So I am guessing this is how the song sounded before Swanö got a hold of it. Still sounds pretty good. Check it out.