Aug 252023

(Here’s DGR‘s review of the comeback album by Finland’s Before the Dawn, which Napalm Records released at the end of June.)

When you follow music for a long time there are bands that after a while you figure are well and truly done — even though this is proving to be less of the case year by year — their logical conclusion reached or the fuel behind that particular project redirected into other forms.

When it came to Before The Dawn, it seemed like all of the energy driving the band had been redirected well into other directions when the group finally hung up its hat. Tuomas Saukkonen had multiple projects going at that point, and after Rise Of The Phoenix — which honestly is starting to feel more and more like invoking a curse, since naming your album something after a phoenix following a drastic lineup shift almost seems to doom future endeavors — closed up shop on nearly everything he had going and folded it into what would become Wolfheart.

However, after returning with Dawn Of Solace — another project that would’ve figured to be wrapped — in January of 2022, it seemed like the embers for all of those earlier projects hadn’t quite burned out like we thought. Continue reading »

Apr 212023

Oh hell what a week it’s been. One of those weeks when I’ve barely had time to write up the premieres I agreed to do, much less focus on other new music and videos. So now I’m staring at all the links to the stuff I wanted to check out, featuring big names known to all and names I’ve never seen before. Time is still short, but I’d better make a start and then hope to fill in more tomorrow and Sunday.


In 2019 we gave a lot of attention to this Spanish band’s debut album Come the Tide. It popped up on a lot of the year-end lists we posted, and a lot of year-end lists at other sites acclaimed it as well.

To quote only from our own staff, Andy Synn (who included Come the Tide on his list of 2019’s Great Albums) wrote that “if there’s one band who might just be able to kickstart a brand new Melodic Death revolution, it’s Eternal Storm“, and DGR (who put the album at No. 14 on his year-end list) summed it up as “a master class of progressive death and melodeath hybridization that makes an hour just fly by”. And for my part, I hosted a song premiere and then put a different song on our list of the year’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs. Continue reading »

May 012021


It’s been a long time since I resorted to this Overflowing Streams format for spreading the word about new music I’ve enjoyed, but last week seemed more even more insane than usual — just a ton of new tracks were revealed by old gods, new gods, and assorted minor demons. As bloated as the following collection may seem, it’s still far from complete — I’ll include a few more in tomorrow’s SHADES OF BLACK column.

Without further ado, here we go with lots of sights sounds and not many words, though I do encourage you to add your own in the Comments.


Speaking of old gods, I might have included the news about Darkthrone album No. 19 (Eternal Hails), but there’s no music yet, so I’ll wait. You can peep the cover art here. But among the old gods, At the Gates did give us a new song, and I had to lead with it. Continue reading »

Oct 082013

(NCS guest writer Kevin Page interviews Tuomas Saukkonen of Wolfheart and formerly of Before the Dawn, Black Sun Aeon, Dawn of Solace, and Routasielu. Wolfheart’s new album Winterborn will be released October 11.   This is Kevin’s second NCS interview of Tuomas; the first one can be found here.)

K:  The last time we spoke in March 2012 was when Rise of the Phoenix came out.  You seemed energized over the new direction of Before the Dawn and were ready to move forward.  Now, here we are 1.5 years later, Before the Dawn, Black Sun Aeon, Dawn of Solace, and Routasielu have been stopped, and your sole project is now Wolfheart.  What happened ?

T:  Well I kept on moving forward . There are a few songs on the last BTD album like “Throne Of Ice” and “Eclipse” which opened the door for Wolfheart musically and I didn’t feel like to follow that path with Before the Dawn anymore. Also Before the Dawn started to feel more and more as a job during the years and I needed to regain the passion toward music even if it meant taking a few steps backwards career wise.


K:  Was there a sudden realization one day that “I’m bored, I need to stop this” or was it a gradual thing?

T:  A gradual thing.  Already while working on Deathstar Rising I felt like this might be the last album for Before the Dawn. Then came big changes and a lot of energy came with that album.  But that energy went to music and song writing instead of leading the band.


K:  Was there ever a time over the years where it felt mentally draining juggling numerous bands at the same time?

T:  Nope.  There were times when I felt mentally drained by one band.  Sometimes crazy schedules, just simply a lot of work, problems with labels etc.   And during those times it  was a big relief to have other projects to pour my creativity into. Continue reading »

Feb 042013

(In this post, Colorado-based writer and guest NCS contributor Mike Yost (whose own blog is here) shares a duo of infectious songs from 2008.)

I have a mind that refuses to be linear.  My spasmodic thoughts love to jump around from past to future to present.  I wanted to contribute to the blog on the most infectious songs of the year, but my head has recently been stuck in 2008.  So, I shall share with the throng of NoCleanSinging readers some of my favorite, most infectious metal songs of that year.  These pandemic tunes are sure to burrow themselves into your brain and inject slimy pulsating egg sacks which hatch a multitude of ravenous squirming larva that devour your mind from the inside out, eventually crawling out of your blood-soaked ears.

This is not an exhaustive list of contagious canticles, so stay tuned for more (as soon as my brain jumps to another year).  And be sure to turn those speakers up.  If the music isn’t knocking over skyscrapers, mountains, or deities, then it’s not loud enough.


Continue reading »

Jan 112013

(all photos by Janica Lönn / STORM Photography 2012)

As bombshell news goes, this is a pretty big detonation: Tuomas Saukkonen announced yesterday that he is shutting down all of his current musical projects — Before The Dawn, Black Sun Aeon, Routasielu, Dawn Of Solace, and Final Harvest — and starting a completely new one under the name Wolfheart. At the same time, he released a teaser of new Wolfheart music.

Saukkonen disclosed his decision and his future plans in an extensive interview published late yesterday by the Finnish Kaaoszine site. Fortunately for non-Finnish speakers, the article includes an English translation. In a nutshell, Saukkonen explained that he had been growing disenchanted with his most popular vehicle, Before the Dawn, for several years, and that even after the release of BTD’s well-received 2012 album Rise of the Phoenix, BTD no longer gave him the artistic freedom to make the kind of music he wanted to make.

Perhaps ironically, the success of Rise of the Phoenix gave him the freedom to finally leave it behind without regrets. Once that decision was made, he explained, “it was logical for me to clean the table at once and start building something from scratch again.” And that led to the demise of his other bands and the birth of Wolfheart.

Saukkonen says that he began writing new music for Wolfheart in the fall of 2012 and at this point he has already finished recording and mixing half of the songs for the band’s as-yet untitled debut album, with plans to complete it in March and then explore label opportunities. His goal is to release the album before the winter of 2013. Continue reading »

Dec 302012

This is Part 3 of our list of the year’s most infectious extreme metal songs. Each day until the list is finished, I’m posting two songs that made the cut. For more details about what this list is all about and how it was compiled, read the introductory post via this link. To see the selections that preceded the two we’re announcing today, click here.

2012 was a great year for melancholy, doom-influenced melodic death metal, and both Finland’s Before the Dawn and Sweden’s In Mourning can claim two of the best releases in that genre. Both of their albums supplied multiple candidates for this list, and it seemed like a natural fit to pair the two that I ultimately selected.


The dulcet clean vocals of Lars Eikind may be gone, but Tuomas Saukkonen is still at the helm of Before the Dawn, and on Rise of the Phoenix he masterfully charted a new post-Eikind course that proved to be tremendously satisfying. As Andy Synn wrote in our review of the album, “at its best this album marries melodic power and precision in a way few others can match.”

My initial temptation was to put the song “Phoenix Rising” on this list, but ultimately I couldn’t resist the siren’s call of “Throne of Ice”. Continue reading »

Oct 172012

(UK-based NCS scribe Andy Synn makes an appearance with another five-fold list of “favourite” things.  Such wasteful use of vowels.)

I realise I’ve been off the grid for a bit now (though I am working on some reviews, a 30th edition of The Synn Report, and an awesome interview) so in between balancing all that, work pressures, and 2 bands, I thought I’d drop you another irreverent column on five of my favourite things.



Such an odd choice, but one which works perfectly, taking the darkly gothic atmosphere of the original and replacing its more pop orientation with some heavy metal riffage and a meaty drumming backbone. The vocal interplay is also sublime, the predominant clean croons matched with a bullish, anguished growl from Tuomas Saukkonen. Continue reading »

Sep 062012

(Our UK-based writer Andy Synn made the trek to Germany for this year’s edition of the SUMMER BREEZE festival, and provided us with a review of the bands whose performances he witnessed.  We’ve divided the review into two parts. In this post, Andy covers the festival’s first two days, and tomorrow we’ll have his impressions of Day 3. We’ve also collected videos of many of the performances at the end of the post.)

So… German festivals go Thursday – Saturday, not Friday – Sunday… who knew? Well apparently everyone else in the world except for us, when we booked an overnight stay in Cologne on the Wednesday night! Still, Cologne was awesome, and only a mere four hours drive away…

Anyway, on reaching the site (after a desperate last minute rush to the petrol station – seriously, make sure you fill up before you reach the Dinkelsbuhl exit guys and gals!) we joined a surprising, infuriating, queue of cars, followed by an interminable security check… time was ticking away and Be’lakor (one of my primary reasons for going to the festival) would soon be taking the stage! So with some slightly rushed stunt driving (I’m pretty certain I went down that grass verge as much sideways as I did forwards) and a breathless scramble… we made it. Just.


Justifying our desperate, occasionally slightly risky, efforts to get to the festival on time, Be’lakor were undeniably awesome. Live, the Agallochian overtones of the music come through a lot more, a melding of misty melancholy with swells of oceanic heaviness giving the band a more distinctive and individual live presence. The group’s image is a little difficult to reconcile with the music though, encompassing a host of short haircuts, laid-back Australian accents, and inappropriate t-shirts! Shame on you guys!

The next band I was dying to see also happened to be one of my favourites, my loyalty to Darkest Hour forcing me to choose them in an unfortunate clash with Glorior Belli. And though it pained me to do so, I’m glad I did. Darkest Hour never disappoint, their punky, hyper-energetic take on melodic death metal fitting perfectly with the blazing sunshine and free-wheeling atmosphere of the festival. Plus, I was still yet to see them live with either the new material or the new line-up, and both absolutely killed it live. Continue reading »

Apr 262012

(In this post, Andy Synn reviews a new album that’s been highly anticipated by your friends here at NCS — Rise of the Phoenix by Finland’s Before the Dawn.)

So, to atone for my most recent sinning, I’ve decided to bring you an album that thoroughly adheres to the site’s name. Truthfully, there is no clean singing on this album.

That in itself might be a bugbear for some, though, as Before The Dawn have become somewhat synonymous with their clean vocal sections in recent years. Indeed, mainman Tuomas Saukkonen’s declaration that he has decided to make a conscious shift away from this sound puts the listener in something of a quandary – as good as this new album is (and it is very good), how will previous records be represented in the band’s setlist in the future?

This, and other important questions remain to be answered, but Rise Of The Phoenix sets the stage for another new era for Before The Dawn. Remember that the band’s sound has shifted and grown since its very inception, shedding its more gothic skin along the way to become the Number 1 capturing entity they were up until this, their most recent transformation. Quite where they will go from here only they can say, but credit to Saukkonen for pursuing a purely artistic change in direction, having achieved chart-topping dominance with their previous style. Continue reading »