The first Beyond Dawn release I heard was the “Longing for Scarlet Days” EP, a droning black metal affair with a bleak goth rock—dare I say Celtic Frost-influenced—atmosphere and a trombone. With its murky production, gimmicky brass and vocal histrionics, “Scarlet Days” was not very impressive. But you could see the potential.
“Pity Love,” Beyond Dawn’s first proper release, is a far better starting point, a realization of the band’s initial creative impulse and a convincing album in its own right. Its metal component is a hybrid of doom and black metal: slow, pounding and plodding for the most part, complemented with some black metal riffing and not so complemented by rather poor black metal yelps—Espen Ingeird’s wonderfully morose singing (then somewhat like Michael Gira’s) works just fine, thank you.
The louder sections of the music are made extra abrasive by the inclusion of the now-famous trombone, which blasts away in the heavier moments. The trombone performs a different function in the music’s mellower, somber moments, which are scattered throughout the album, both imparting beauty and spewing a tense urban atmosphere.
Unfortunately, Beyond Dawn’s transitions were still choppy, and the movement between the mellow and the noisy has a cut-and-paste quality. A DIY amateurishness sometimes undermines the music’s solemnity at certain points throughout the album.
Despite these drawbacks, inherent in any young band with outsized ambition, Beyond Dawn makes a strong early showing on “Pity Love,” an album with a lot of beautiful, poignant moments heightening the metallic ugliness. The main weakness is the band’s adherence to black metal staples, which can be great in the hands of the right band. But Beyond Dawn was never a natural fit for the genre, and you can sense their struggle to reconcile what they wanted to be with the scene they emerged from.
It wouldn’t be until “Revelry” that the band fully realized their potential (within the framework of metal), but “Pity Love” is a great starting point for anyone who wants to explore one of Norway’s better acts in their formative stage. And besides, there are plenty of great moments here to keep even the most jaded metal fan coming back for seconds.
01 – When Beauty Dies