Night in Gales – Dawnlight Garden (Album Review)

German Masters of Melodic Death Metal, Night in Gales have re-entered the limelight with Dawnlight Garden, set for release on July 24 through Apostasy Records.

Their seventh record overall, and second for Apostasy, Dawnlight Garden continues the recent return taken by the band. For those who have been paying attention, from their start in 1995, the band has undergone a few drastic lineup changes; original Vocalist Christian Müller left before the band recorded their 1997 debut Towards the Twilight, replaced by Björn Gooßes. Handling guitar duties from the beginning are brothers Frank and Jens Basten, along with Tobias Bruchmann on bass. This in mind, dispersing a flurry of changes, Adriano Ricci has handled drums since 2003 and Müller returned to the band in 2016 ahead of 2018’s The Last Sunsets; their debut for Apostasy and a stylistic reset for the band. 

As Jens told UK web magazine The Moshville Times, “We play pure melodic death metal the old-school way. I don’t think it’s very unique, but…people are loving bands who still play the pure shit…you will notice that we have our own unique style and some trademarks.” The younger brother makes good points, but also sells his band a bit short, even with the mention of the band’s distinct style caveats. That in mind, while Dawnlight Garden can, upon first listen, be quickly shelved alongside seminal-era works by At the Gates, In Flames, or The Crown, Night in Gales add enough quirks and unique touches to lift themselves out of direct competition with their genre peers.

The soft crying of guitar licks on tracks like “Beyond the Light” and “A Spark in the Crimson Eclipse” add a funereal, almost Doom setting the new album. Similarly hypnotic guitar work opens the title track, dragging you into a calm lull before the crushing drums of Ricci take control; indeed, the drummer is able to add an inhuman level of blast beat work without dragging the band too far outside their established area of Melodic Death Metal. This is while the marching bass progressions from Bruchmann add another unique aspect, standing out just enough for inspection without taking too much space. He forms a strong rhythm section with Ricci to ably back up the brothers Basten on guitar, but again, successfully straddling the line between overplaying and taking quiet respite in the darkness as other Metal rhythm sections may be comfortable doing. The two combine elsewhere, such as “Beasts Leave Tombs Again,” to again lay a strong foundation for the guttural snarls of Müller and swirling guitar work of the Basten brothers. Furthermore, a track like “Kingdom” adds a unique bass and drum flair as an opening before quickly falling into the Melodic Death Metal pasture. 

Other tracks follow suit, such as “Winterspawn,” “A Spark in the Crimson Eclipse,” and “The Spectre Dead.” The album also opens and closes with two largely instrumental tracks, “Atrocity Kings” at the forefront and “The Bonebed” at the close. Leaving these tracks aside, enticing though they may be, Dawnlight Garden may not break the glass ceiling, but certainly make an effort.

A quick two-hour flight separates Rhine-Ruhr area of Germany, where Night in Gales call home, and Gothenburg, Sweden, the birthplace and Mecca of Melodic Death Metal. Dawnlight Garden is a smooth approximation of what that ride could feel like. A few forgettable moments are largely washed away by the blips and unique twists Night in Gales have placed on the genre they clearly adopt as their own. As such, Cryptic Rock gives Dawnlight Garden 3.5 out of 5 stars. 

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