If the very mention of melodeath conjures images of legions of At the Gates rip-offs slaughtering the soul of the subgenre, then boy howdy are you in for a surprise! Germany’s Dawn of Disease are self confessed devotees of Swedeath, which is pretty obvious even upon cursory listens, incorporating the traditional melodies of Unleashed and Dismember, but with a more clean, polished approach to production, omitting the standard chainsaw guitar tone, yet replacing this with a brutal bite reminiscent of 2nd generation Swedeath such as God Dethroned amongst others.
This album is interesting inasmuch as it diverts expectation repeatedly throughout its duration. From instrumental opener ‘Descent into another World’ you would be forgiven for assuming that Dawn of Disease were about to embark upon a relatively unremarkable outing on Crypts of The Unrotten, as its slowly building harmonised strains do little to differentiate it from the more consumable likes of Arch Enemy or (early) In Flames. However, what meets the ear is actually a volley of frantic blasting offset against the aforementioned Swedeath riffs to provide melody, in the vein of Vomitory. This vibe continues up until fourth track ‘The Unrotten’ when things start to go all Amon Amarth. From this point Crypts of the Unrotten is littered with melodic hooks, with harmonised riffing and soaring solos proliferating.
As mentioned the production is crystal clear, which can make the drums sound somewhat mechanical during blastbeats, however as is often the case with melodeath, the clean production is advantageous during the more intricate lead guitar work and ensures that every part of every melody can be heard as clear as a bell. The highlight of this release for me comes on track 6 (‘Enter the Gates’), which nestles a very Amon Amarth style breakdown in between two gulfs of staccato blasting. This is more or less a representative cross section of the album as a whole, with the perfect balance between brutality and melody, typified as the breakdown ends in a melancholy clean break erupting into a conflagration of speed.
Although the second half of Crypts of the Unrotten settles into much of the same pattern, it’s remarkable that certain parts keep leaping out at you. When you dissect what’s on offer, you can more or less attribute each and every part to an identifiable influence, and there’s virtually nothing which can be identified as completely original. However, Dawn of Disease establish a niche for themselves here, sitting snugly between the more brutal Swedeath fare of Vomitory and the uplifting yet savage melodeath of Amon Amarth. So, lack of originality notwithstanding, they do a very admirable job of combining the best elements of both approaches and twisting them into penetrating hooks. This is going to be a tricky one to score, as I don’t believe this album will be received particularly warmly, due to its perceived unoriginality. The way in which it’s constructed, however is potent, skilful and enduring.