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Metal/Prog Metal DVD/Video Reviews

Before the Dawn

The First Chapter

Review by Gary Hill

This is a DVD from the Finnish band Before The Dawn. I have to say, any band with the same name as a Judas Priest song gets my attention - it's just a matter of whether or not they can keep it. Let me say upfront that these guys definitely sound nothing like Judas Priest. I hear a bit of Queensryche in their sound along with some Dimmu Borgir. They get considerably more heavy than the Ryche though and they don't go in for all the makeup and masquerade of Dimmu. What you do get is a goth/dark metal sound that is aggressive yet also lush. They use keyboards to good advantage while still featuring very heavy music. They make good use of both guttural growling vocals provided by one of their guitarists and melodic sung vocals from the other one. Their lyrics are in English, but on the melodic ones you can definitely make out a heavy accent. It takes a little getting used to, but is quickly overcome and doesn't really hinder the musical experience. These guys are quite good at what they do, but perhaps they lack a bit in diversity with much of their music sounding very similar. While some of that is a trait of the genre, certainly part is due to a lack of musical maturity as a group. Certainly if they keep at it, they will get better and better at the songwriting process and they are not bad at it now.

The DVD includes two concerts - well, actually three although the third one is listed as "Rehearsal Room Jamming". The first concert on show here, though is "Night of the Arts in Lathi". It is an outdoor show from 2003 and finds the band playing for over 45-minutes. The sound quality is very good here, although I might have a few qualms with where the camera-person chose to direct the camera at times - focusing on the bass player during a guitar solo, etc. Still, in a way that added a sort of raw charm to the video.

Next up was "Tuska Open Air Party." Filmed in 2004, the performance here already shows a definite difference in the band. At points it's hard to believe these guys are the same outfit. Their sound has matured and they have gained a definite comfort zone with the live performance. This one is definitely more consistent and on the money than the other show. This is followed by that "Rehearsal Room Jamming" - this is actually a twenty-minute show that looks to have been filmed in a club. This one is the weakest of the three, but it still rocks - and besides, it can be looked on as more of a bonus than part of the main course.

Next the DVD gets weird with a piece called "The Road To Hamburg." After being told by one of the natives where they can find the sex and the cocaine, the group take off on a tour of the red light district of Hamburg, Germany. Unfortunately, the vast majority of this is in Finnish, and if you speak it - or if they had provided subtitles it might be a lot of fun. As to me, I was lost. Finally there is a photo gallery - it is essentially a long slide show of pics of the band backed with crowed noise.

This is an entertaining video and showcases a band that really show a lot of promise. You get two solid concerts, even if some of the other content is a little iffy. That said, I do need to comment on a technical issue. My DVD player - granted it's about four or five years old - wouldn't play it - "disc type not recognized" or some such error. I was able to get it to work fine on the DVD ROM on my PC, though. Guess that means I need to go out and buy a new player, but I haven't had that problem often. If you have a newer player, I'm guessing it should work fine.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at

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