Dawn of Solace are one of those bands which you’ve probably never heard of. A solo project of the ever busy Tuomas Saukkonen, the band released their first album The Darkness back in 2006 and was planning to release a further album a few years later. Due to an issue surrounding the usage of the name however, the project was ultimately shelved and then ended in 2013 when Tuomas ended all his projects to focus on Wolfheart. In early 2019 though, this legend of the Finnish metal scene announced he had been working on a brand new Dawn of Solace album scheduled for release in 2020. And so, over 13 years later, we once again journey into the dark and melancholic world of Dawn of Solace.
Opening track “Lead Wings” serves as the perfect introduction to the album and picks up rather nicely where the last one left off. Melancholic melodies, layered guitar harmonies and the sorrowful soaring vocals of Mikko Heikkilä combine to make one of the strongest tracks on the album and an excellent ‘welcome home’ to the music. Following track “Ashes” slows the pace considerably and could almost be considered a Black Sun Aeon track with the overall vibe being more akin to “Wreath of Ice” from Routa as opposed to “I was Never There” from The Darkness.
That vibe continues into the following track “Silence” which introduces the piano melodies which excellently complement the overall feel. Drawing some elements in from Shadow World-era Wolfheart, it can be argued that the track would be at home alongside others such as “Abyss” and maybe even “Last of All Winters”. “Hiding” further introduces new instruments to the fold with baritone acoustic guitars dominating the majority of the verses in the tracks with the other instruments only really coming in for the choruses. The contrasting changes and simple but superbly fitting guitar solo make this track another standout.
“Tuli” is when things really start to get dark however. Sung entirely in Finnish and featuring harsh vocals, this track is easily the darkest present and one which really plays on the emotions. The aptly titled, “Numb” follows on and is once again a fantastic track. Having more of a Black Sun Aeon vibe once again, the track further showcases some of the fantastic singing from Mikko and is almost the polar opposite of the previous one.
The throwbacks to former projects continue with the opening section of “Choice” drawing heavily on elements from Before the Dawn. Flowing guitar melodies and the introduction of the vocalist from the first album, Lars Eikind, combine to create a song which could easily be at home on other releases such as Deathstar Rising, Phoenix Rising or even Soundscape of Silence. Rounding out the release, “Ghost” could be argued to be the most sorrowful track on offer. Featuring just a piano and the vocals of Mikko, the shortest track echoes the final section of “Veri” on Shadow World. If you’ve not heard that, then it’s definitely worth a listen as it further cements just how special this track is.
Whilst Waves is being released under the Dawn Of Solace name, in many ways the album is more of a culmination of all of the various projects that Tuomas has been involved in. There are elements from Wolfheart, Black Sun Aeon, Before the Dawn and RoutaSielu amongst the obvious ones from the first Dawn of Solace album. To say that Waves is merely just another Dawn of Solace album would be doing it a major disservice. If anything, Waves is the culmination of the past 13 years of all the projects that Tuomas has been a part of and is, quite simply, breathtaking.
Waves is out on January 24th