Dawn Of Ashes

Live at The Fox Theater

in Pomona, CA

November 27th, 2010

Review and Photos by Travis Baumann

Dawn of Ashes might be new to the metal world, but previous to this new incarnation of Black and Death Metal sounds, they existed for years in the Industrial and Dark Electronic genres as a staple of the darkside of the Los Angeles underground scene.

After several releases, and numerous shows, they tired of the finicky, elitist attitude of the rivet-head goth scene and retired to their studio for an all out rethinking of their musical expressions.

Black Metal was an almost obvious choice, seeing how their stage shows have always been bathed in blood and high in threatrics, as well as their vocals bordering on this harsh territory already.

The keyboard player and singer regrouped and brought in guitars, bass, and live drums as well as experts in the production field who have already proven their talent with many big name bands of the genre to complete their first album in the metal vein.

"Genocide Chapters" just came out on Metal Blade earlier this year and proved to be a professional undertaking for their "debut" metal release.

I have seen them many times before, everywhere from the now defunct Knitting Factory to all the way down in Tijuana with legendary Electronic acts such as Grendel from Amsterdam and Amduscia from Mexico.

I was really happy they had landed an opening gig for one of my favorite bands in the world, Dimmu Borgir. Having listened to their new album, I thought it was a fitting choice. I knew their stage presence would be dark and theatrical, but I wasn't sure what to expect.

The band emerged fully adorned in prosthetic makeup that made each look like flesh-torn creatures or demons. They were also sporting odd clothing, resembling a butcher's dress if they worked in a slaugherhouse in hell.

All of the masks were intricate and professionally made, the singer's standing out the most, bearing a crown of three horns and haunting dark eye sockets that made seeing his eyes impossible and gave it a truly evil emission.

People were still trickling in as the doors had only opened shortly before this, The crowd, myself included, were a bit taken by surprise when the band started playing.

Relegated to the opening slot on a tour of this nature means you have limited time to get an impression across to the audience, so there is no time for messing around. They blasted straight into their set with a fury and the crowd responded.

The singer is not a novice when it comes to working an audience due to his years of experience on stage for their previous incarnation. He moved back and forth across the platform and was a frenzy of energy.

Once all of the photographers moved out of the photo pit, he leaped down to stand on the back of the barrier and sang directly over the crowd, their hands held up in the two fingered salute of the horns in response.

I would have to say that the songs were really good selections and they did a great job, but the sound mix was a bit off due to the engineer and/or venue. It took them a couple of songs to get the keyboards to the right level in the mix, which still remain an important part of their sound even though they don't make up the entirety of the music any more.

At points the guitars, bass, and keys all mushed up a bit which was unfortunate as it did not show the production level illustrated on their album. What did stand out the most were the vocals and the stage presence of the lead singer. His constant motion and aggressive nature is what captivated the audience more than anything.

If I had one criticism of his performance, it was that in between songs the singer kept yelling to the audience that they "were fucking worthless" and that they "should kill each other". While all the other bands were super appreciative and congratulatory to the audience, Dimmu Borgir especially, this was at odds with that communal vibe and I understand it goes with their demonic impressions and is just part of the persona but when bands encourage mosh pit violence, there is a different connotation to it and the violence is all in good natured fun. New-comers, and there were lots of really young people in the crowd, might take this the wrong way.

Overall this scene appeals to misfits, underdogs, and eclectic people who find a way to fit in and feel a part of something bigger with this music and its associated followers. This is one of the things the dark and extreme metal scenes have hand over fist on top of the industrial and goth elitist crowds.  My advice to him is to loose the "worthless" comments and encourage a more friendly expression of violence.

That being said, I really did enjoy getting to see them in their new incarnation, and with this awesome opportunity to tour with the mighty Dimmu Borgir, they have the tools in their hands to reach out to an enormous pool of potential fans.

Talking to people afterwards there were a lot of audience members that thought they were really cool. A few people dismissed them as Slipknot or Gwar wannabes, but to me both of these bands have an almost cartoonish quality to them that Dawn of Ashes completely lacks. Yes, they do wear masks, but the nature of the music is as different as the personalities and delivery behind it.

I highly suggest getting to the show early and don't miss them, it will be worth your while to see their show. They are quite entertaining with their costumes and dark brutality.

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