A Madness Within
Sacred Dawn is a band that could have a lot of great things going for them, but the album has some serious consistency issues. The band plays a mix that exists somewhere between prog and power metal, with song lengths tending towards 7+ minutes, but a melodic approach more indicative of power metal. I like to talk about great opening tracks, being someone who believes strongly in the album as a piece of art, the opener should set the tone, and prepare the listener for what’s ahead. At this, the opening track, “The Untold Story”, absolutely fails. The instrumentation on the track by itself isn’t awful, but doesn’t bring anything really engaging. The vocals on the other hand are downright boring. Almost painfully so. As a short song, it might be forgettable, but clocking in at more than seven minutes, we run into serious problems.
The second track, “What you did to me”, suffers the same problem, the instrumentation improves, but the vocals are still dry and tiresome. At only 4:19, this is a more forgivable offense, but back to back with the flop of an opening number, the band is taking a serious risk of people not finishing the album. Quitting at this point would be a mistake though, as the next track “Demonlover” really steals the show. Perhaps realizing the error of their ways thus far, Demonlover is a standout track that defies all the problems of the first two songs. I’m not the biggest fan of screeching, but hearing that as the first vocals on the track, over a fast paced rhythm, really creates the necessary contrast for this album to stand a chance.
Looking ahead to “A Madness Within” was slightly worrisome, it’s even longer than the opener, and at first seems to return to that same dull vocal delivery, but the vocalist puts out a lot more effort, and the band delivers melodies to justify going for a longer song. There’s darkness and tension, and comparing the last two tracks with the first two feels like looking at the band years apart in their development.
Summer of Treason begins with a vibe that might remind listeners of Falling into Infinity-era Dream Theater. Now, crunchy guitars are far from the only tool that an artist needs to make a good song/album, but maybe I’m still reeling from the beginning of the album, maybe this was their secret plan all around. After quite a bit of power metal leaning material though, Summer of Treason reassures the band’s prog credentials.
Just when listeners may begin to wonder if the band is really onto something, they have to go and do something like a ballad though. It might sound like I’m anti-ballad, and that’s not the case at all, there are bands that can pull off beautiful, emotive ballads, and from whom I always welcome the effort. What I have no tolerance for is filler ballads that are pure mimicry. Ballads are, in my listening, a risky business, because if you don’t pull it off, you’re sending me right back to where I was at with the beginning of the album, and that’s not a happy place as a listener. “It Shall Be” is filler through and through.
“Delerium” returns to a more listenable territory, the instrumentation is dark and foreboding, and the vocals seem to phase from adequate to boring with screams and growls thrown on top. If Sacred Dawn is teaching us anything, it’s that prog and power metal are near impossible to pull off well without an exciting vocalist, no matter how good of songs you write. “The Decision” and “Wrongfully Accused” are both proggier tracks, with Wrongfully Accused being a bit heavier and longer. There’s some nice classic prog influences going, and I can’t fault them for that.
The album then closes with Dawn of the Day, which really does a great job of representing the album as a whole. Poor to mediocre clean vocals, mixed up with some harsher vocals that get old very quickly, above average rhythms, and perhaps staying around a bit longer than necessary.
A Madness Within certainly isn’t an album that I’d readily recommend, but there’s flashes here and there that are worth hearing. When taken as a whole, it’s just a very inconsistent album that needed a lot of polishing it didn't get
Dagg’s rating, 2.25/5