Germany’s venerable yet relatively obscure traditional doom act Dawn of Winter may not be as prolific as many other bands that have been forging onward for two decades and counting, but the band has a solid if sparse body of work that holds its own against many of the titans of the genre. Dawn of Winter’s newest release, ‘The Skull of the Sorcerer’ EP, picks up where the 2008 full-length, ‘The Peaceful Dead’, left off. The band continues its thematic explorations of suffering, isolation, and dwelling in the depths of despair while conjuring forth fantastical elements of horror and the occult straight from the bowels of the pulp era.
Musically the band plays a pretty straight-forward style of traditional doom that would fit comfortably among classic acts such as early Trouble, Candlemass, or the often criminally overlooked Cold Mourning. What really gives Dawn of Winter an edge is the over-the-top, distinctive vocals of frontman Gerrit P. Mutz whose style is akin to the theatric wails of Scott Reagers while sporadically including the melodramatic vibrato of Messiah Marcolin.
"Dagon’s Blood” is equal parts classic heavy metal and traditional doom while featuring Mutz’s most excessive, yet varied vocal delivery resulting in one of the catchiest songs of the EP. The title track, “The Skull of the Sorcerer”, reels in the heavy metal edge of “Dagon’s Blood” and, instead, champions a slower, more ominous doom riff. The B-side of the album features “By the Blessing of Death” and “In Servitude to Destiny”, two tracks that seem to emulate the formula established by the A-side of the album by alternating from heavy metal crunch to inconsolable doom.
Dawn of Winter certainly isn’t breaking any molds, but that doesn’t prevent ‘The Skull of the Sorcerer’ EP from being one hell of a fun ride, particularly for fans of traditional doom that can appreciate a classic if not idiosyncratic vocal approach. ‘The Skull of the Sorcerer’ EP is a vinyl only release intended to celebrate the band’s 22 years of existence and it is limited to 500 copies. Fans of traditional heavy metal and doom can track down the album, along with other Dawn of Winter releases, through the Cyclone Empire web-shop.
Words: Steve Miller