Released: 1999, Avantgarde Music
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
Look at this album cover! I mean just LOOK at this album cover!! Is this not one of the greatest album cover photos you have ever seen? And talk about a cool band name and album title too! I've read good things about this band, and after seeing the album cover I just had to take a chance! Well I couldn't have picked a better time of the year to buy this CD (as well as their first album "Rain Without End"). Cold winds, soft rain, leaves everywhere…autumn is the best time of the year to listen to doom-death metal. And "Grey Dawn" fits in absolutely perfect!!
October Tide plays slow, melodic doom metal with death vocals. They are basically Opeth slowed down…or perhaps the perfect cross between Opeth and My Dying Bride! The music is heavy yet extremely melodic, and the vocals sound very close to Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth. Plus, the production is similar to Opeth's first two albums "Orchid" and "Morningrise". But the tempo of the music and the haunting guitar melodies resemble My Dying Bride. The music on "Grey Dawn" is very emotional, dark, and gloomy. The harsh, blackened vocals and dirge-riffs mesh well with the somber, lonely guitar melodies. This is not a happy CD at all. Some acoustic passages are present, but not nearly as much as Opeth. And Opeth's songs are quite long and are filled with my changes and riffs, whereas October Tide bases their songs on much fewer riffs. I've mentioned Opeth's name too many times in this review…but believe me, you will think you're listening to them when popping in this CD! But this is not to say October Tide is an Opeth rip off, because they're not. Opeth leans toward the progressive side of melodic death metal while October Tide takes the doom route. Besides, October Tide is too cool of a band name! And just look at these song titles: "Grey Dawn", "October Insight", "Sweetness Dies", "Heart of the Dead", "Floating", "Lost in the Dark (and then gone)", "Into Deep Sleep", and "Dear Sun". The latter of these songs is an acoustic instrumental. Hail acoustic guitar! This instrument can translate emotion very well, and while I've heard many acoustic instrumentals, "Dear Sun" is different from all due to how softly it's played and the dark atmosphere it develops.
So who is October Tide anyway? They consist of two members: Jonas Renkse (drums, electric and acoustic guitars) and Fredrik Norman (electric, acoustic and bass guitars). Both of these guys are from the death metal band Katatonia. Now I must say I am very unfamiliar with Katatonia. So my comparison to that band will end right there. But from what I've heard, October Tide resembles early Katatonia material. If so, I am going to have to check that stuff out! But in comparison to October Tide's first album "Rain Without End", "Grey Dawn" is natural follow up. However, the first album had a little bit of keyboards and violin, both of which are gone this time, which really doesn't negatively impact the music because the guitars are just too damn good! In addition, the vocals are the higher pitched blackened type, like Opeth, rather than the lower death growl used on "Rain Without End". Vocals are performed by Marten Hansen (Jonas handled vocal duties on their debut). I prefer Marten's vocals. Plus, I just can't get over how awesome the production is on this album! Pelle Saether, the producer, did an excellent job at balancing the instruments, getting a nice, clean guitar sound, and having the drums sound more natural (especially that dirty hi-hat). Dan Swano (who produced the first two Opeth albums and helped with October Tide's debut) was excellent at doing all of this also. Thus, "Grey Dawn" sounds similar to "Rain Without End" and of course (here I go again) the first two Opeth albums.
My only complaint about this album is that no lyrics were provided. Other than that, this album rules! If there's ever a time for you to check out these guys it is NOW! Hurry up and do so before autumn is over with! And there's no reason not to get "Rain Without End" too at the same time. For some more information on the band and their label mates, visit the Avantgarde web site: http://www.avantgardemusic.com