Sometimes it takes a little longer for a band to come up with a follow up after a strong debut album. A good example of this are the Swiss progressive rockers of Dawn. It took no less than seven years before the four musicians released the successor of Loneliness (2007). This was a very fine first musical effort of an international level. On this album they manifested themselves as a neo progressive rock act in the tradition of bands such as IQ, Pendragon, Pallas and early Marillion.
Their second album Darker, starts with the short instrumental Yesterday's Sorrow. At first you'll think something is wrong with your sound system, because at first you don't hear anything, before the music reaches a level that can be heard by human ears. A trick that's often been used on an opening track, to make sure the listener turns on the right volume. Right from the start the music sounds very enjoyable, and most of all the electric guitar, played by René Degoumois, and the Mellotron, touched by Nicolas Gerber, make sure progressive rock is on the menu all the way. Before you know it, the song moves into the next piece. At first, when the lead singer starts to sing in Cold, you get the impression some kind of Jon Anderson-copycat can be heard, and therefore the music seems to move in the musical direction of the British rock act Yes. The rhythm section, consisting of Julien Vuataz on bass and Manu Linder on drums, certainly help to make this comparison too. However ,after singer Degoumois sings more and more, you realise he doesn't always sing in the higher regions and you can't call him a copy cat anymore. The Mellotron, once again, makes over-time in this piece of music, and very soon a band like Genesis comes to mind. The same can be said about the title track in some way. This is a song with lots of strong parts again, performed on electric guitars and keyboards. Occasionally, more heavy guitar parts take over from the more mellow acoustic guitar parts. The next instrumental piece, Lullabies For Guterflies, is rather short compared to the two songs following the opening tune. Many times, just like in the opening piece, they're a kind of intro or interlude to the more epic song that follows. This can also be said about Lullabies For Guterflies, because in a way it is the intro for the longest track on the entire album, 8945. The nineteen minutes lasting 8945, move very much towards the music made by a band like Pink Floyd. Furthermore, influences are notable from several neo progressive rock acts, and Genesis. This long track is an anti-war song, which shows the ways of thinking that have led to the dumping of the devastating atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during WWII. This is very well 'visualised' by parts taken from radio fragments from those days, and the way the music develops along the way. Room for lots of solos is reserved on the next track, Out Of Control. The synthesizers and electric guitars have a moment to stand in the spotlights. After the last short instrumental, Lost Anger, it's time for the final track. Endless is another epic track on which the band shows what a fantastic progressive rock act they are for the last time. All four musicians shine on their instruments once again, and reveal their musical influences in full-splendour!
I'm very much aware of the fact that I didn't mention every possible influence the Swiss Dawn displays on Darker. Besides the aforementioned bands Pink Floyd and Genesis, it's quite possible acts like King Crimson, Anekdoten, Änglagård, Van Der Graaf Generator or Caravan are among their favourite bands. All those names are a good indication in which direction you should move to describe the music of this fine band. Finally, I have to mention the good sound on the entire album. I'm not sure if Grammy-Award winning engineer Bob Katz was responsible for all this, but he did master the album and probably improved the overall sound of every track! Highly recommended to everybody who likes the music of all the bands mentioned in this review.
**** Henri Strik (edited by Esther Ladiges)
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