When Dismantling the Architects went on an indefinite hiatus, Kevin Rule (vocals / guitar) approached his former bandmates Alistair Dring (bass / backing vocals) and Josh Gready (drums) to start a new musical project. The initial idea was to transform a few acoustic songs he’d written into a heavier sound, the result of which would become the blueprint of With Dawn. Combining the light and dark aspects of metal, and inspired by bands such as Isis, Deftones, Cult Of Luna, Devil Sold His Soul, With Dawn are a post-metal/post-hardcore band that have come into being in the Cape Town underground music scene. More than just another metal sub-genre, their brand of heavy music is earnest, beautiful and creates an atmosphere that is both deeply perceptive and soul crushingly heavy.
Since the bands inception in 2011, With Dawn have spent 2 years performing and presenting themselves to a music scene that has occasionally been unfamiliar with their particular style of metal. And it is this style, combined with the relentless will to perform that has allowed them to fit almost any lineup alongside such bands as varied as Wildernessking, Past Haunts, Take Hand and Conqueror, as well as earning them the right to have performed at this years Wacken Metal Battle and metal4africa’s own WinterFest’13 alongside others of Cape Town’s finest metal bands.
I have been following the progress of With Dawn for some time, and needless to say that after months of listening to the occasional track posted on their soundcloud page, I was stoked to hear that they had finally gotten themselves into the studio and released an Ep. The 4 track Ep consists of both new and previously released demo tracks that have been repackaged for this release. All the songs were recorded, mixed and mastered at Serotonin studios in Simonstown.
The intro on the opening track, ‘Sensority’, subtly leads me in until about 50 seconds into the song, before a wall of sound crashes in on my ears and the song launches into a post-metal groove reminiscent of the tone and feel heard on the Isis release, Panopticon. The sound is exactly what I anticipated, its atmosphere drifting seamlessly between an alluring sense of remoteness to a sound that is focused and heavy. I must be honest, I do feel that it is Kevin’s impressive vocal ability that draws my attention and is worthy of a mention above that of the music itself.
It’s on track 2, ‘Passed Over’, that With Dawn’s song-writing abilities begin to shine. Still following the formula of the opening track, I’m beginning to hear textures that remind me of bands like the Deftones and Will Haven. With Dawn have captured a mood on ‘Passed Over’ that is melancholic and angry, yet reflective and hopeful, and I believe that this is the essence of the music they create.
Cue in ‘Anytime Now’. I have mixed feelings about this song. The intro possesses the sound and feel of what I have come to expect on this release, but the song soon adopts a more nu-metal approach that sounds somewhat generic and predictable and the song is left feeling void of any shadows and subtlety. It’s not necessarily a bad song, personally I just feel it is furthest from the sound that With Dawn has enthralled me with.
The somber ‘Watch Him By The Fire’ brings an end to the Ep, and a song that is on par and worthy of comparison to the opening two tracks on this release. The remainder of the CD is comprised of tracks from the Came The Gulls demo. Originally recorded by the bands (now former) bass player Alistair Dring and previously only available for download on the bands soundcloud page. Listening through the demo, I am left questioning as to why the song, ‘Came the Gulls’ was not re-recorded and included on the Ep itself, in my opinion it’s one of the stand-out tracks on the CD.
“We want to do something that is frantic as well as beautiful, and then round it off at the end with a sense of hope. That would be the main concept behind the band: hope…”
These are the words of With Dawn in response to the question I asked them on what they think defines the music they create, and I feel that their latest offering justifies that statement. My only feeling of criticism towrds this release would be that the production comes across as a little mediocre compared with what we’re hearing from a growing number of local bands these days. With Dawn have great songs and with a little more money (which we know is hard to come by) spent on production, that wall of sound that I referred to earlier has the potential to become just that much more crushing and evocative.
The live band now features Mike Cubic (also from Moment Of Clarity) on bass since Alistair’s departure for abroad. With Dawn released another track ‘Driftwood’ just prior to Alistairs departure, and after the orginal words of this review were written. All of the tracks reviewed can be heard on the bands soundcloud page. We’ve included the latest ‘Driftwood’ here now for your own assessment: