Dawn of Valor
Dawn of Valor EP
Dawn of Valor is a five piece hailing from Saint Paul, MN. Sounding like a blast straight out of the 1980's, these fellows are playing in a well-established and very well-respected genre. I'm proud to say that they represent the scene well, and while this is pretty rough 'round the edges (as are most self-released demos/EPs), there's a whole lot of shiny inside.
First of all, Dawn of Valor has EXACTLY the kind of frontman that you need for this. Sean Iredale has a distinct and powerful voice that is not only masculine and potent, but relatively smooth and tonally secure. (something occasionally lacking in music like this). The screams that he utters are perhaps not on par with better established acts, but he makes up for it by being almost theatrical on these four tracks. The backing vocalists contribute a great deal as well, and more than a number of bands I've heard playing in the same style. There are some great shout-along sections throughout these tracks which make Dawn of Valor very appealing live.
Preaching metal law, brotherhood, and strength, the lyrics are just what you look forward to hearing. All this evangelism is of course provided with passion and a significant flair of guitar. The axe work on this EP is quite catchy and really pushes the songs along. "Devil Within" is perhaps the most guitar-driven track here, while "The Land" leans towards vocals and group shouts. "Fight for Our Lives" is a much different track which relies upon tempo and dynamic changes to establish itself (which it does proficiently), as well as illustrating Iredale's knack for theatrical singing in both his "swooping" vocals and the sung-spoken narration in the softer sections. The final song, "Comrades in Arms", climbs in tempo from the beginning and boasts some of the most accessible moments on the album.
There's definitely room for improvement here, as the group vocal shouts come off as a little weak at times. This could just be the mix, but they seem to be lacking a bit of cohesion. The drums also need a different mix, as the snare is almost irritating at times. While I prefer the guitars a bit more polished and prominent, this particular part of the mix is very true to the older feel that the band is searching for.
On the whole, Dawn of Valor bears the flag for their chosen style of music very well, and with an excellent original twist. While this isn't quite my favorite genre of heavy metal, it's growing on me, and quality local bands like Dawn of Valor are the catalysts.
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The Protagonist's Rating: 7.0 out of 10