There’s a lot to be said about the musical elitism that follows extreme metal around like a third wheel, but damn it if it isn’t sometimes completely justified. If not for elitism, Deicide would still be taken seriously, Cradle Of Filth would be seen as the epitome of black metal rather than the fairly decent gateway band they actually are, and that dreadful Morbid Angel record from last year may have actually found some fans. For if there’s one thing the beardy professors of extreme metal can be commended for, it’s this: they bloody well know their shit. Any proper, dyed-in-the-wool extreme metal fan will be able to tell you the fundamental difference between Darkthrone and Dimmu Borgir, Suffocation and Six Feet Under, Carcass and Carnifex and so on; the formers are seen as pioneers. The latters? Followers. Regardless of quality, any extreme metal devotee can spot the difference between an original and a carbon copy from a mile away.
This leaves The Everdawn in an undesirable position, and one that makes the re-release of this one and only full length offering from the band a questionable decision. For the one defining characteristic of The Everdawn, amongst all the well crafted riffs, world-class musicianship and throat cancer vocals, is that…well, they sound more or less exactly like At The Gates. And few of the pioneers of extreme metal in its various forms are held in as high esteem as At The Gates. The legacy of ATG’s utterly seminal Slaughter Of The Soul album is in full spirit on Poems – Burn The Past, its original release arriving only two years after the aforementioned classic. Seriously, listen to the opening strains of ‘Territory Loss’ and stick SOTS’ opener ‘Blinded By Fear’ on immediately afterwards and the similarities become almost all too obvious. The powerful, damn-near catchy chorus of ‘When The Sunset Forever Fade’ is also reminiscent of moments from Slaughter Of The Soul’s predecessor Terminal Spirit Disease, while the stripped down 6/8 groove of ‘Poems’ calls to mind a slicker version of ‘Unto Others’. It may seem bizarre to make all these comparisons to At The Gates, but if you’re familiar with the bands 1995 magnum opus, the tendencies they both share are so blatant it’s often only possible to tell which record you’re listening to by the quality of production. More to the point, despite being almost solely derived from ATG, The Everdawn’s main issue on Poems – Burn The Past is that they just don’t sound as inspired as the band they owe so much to.
This review is not to taint the album’s quality, as the songs are obviously strong in spite of all their mimicry. There are times on the album that the band show flashes of originality as well, with the more melodic (musically, at least) ‘Burn’ and this reissue’s bonus tracks (the more black metal stylings of ‘Nightborn’ and ‘The Silent Winter Sky’ offer some much needed respite) especially showing a side to the band that steps away from the derivative, shameless At The Gates worship. Overall, Poems – Burn The Past is a decent if unremarkable listen, but as a great man by the name of Henry Rollins once said – “It’s not that the bands are bad – I just can’t forget what I know”.
Poems – Burn The Past is available now via Century Media Records
1. Territory Loss
2. When The Sunset Forever Fade
4. Where Pain Never Dies
5. Autumn, Sombre Autumn
8. Opera Of The Damned
9. The Everdawn*
11. The Silent Winter Sky*
12. Opera Of The Damned*
* – indicates bonus track