The Australian trio Damnations Day was founded by the brothers, guitarist and vocalist Mark Kennedy and drummer Dean Kennedy. At first the two were accompanied by bass player Luke Vinken, but after their debut Invisible, The Dead in 2013 he was replaced by lead guitarist by Jon King, who completed the trio again.
Their debut was a powerful album that crossed power metal with trashy elements, an album where help came from Teramaze's Dean Wells as lead guitarist and co-writer. Now I hold the successor A World Awakens in my hands and perhaps not surprisingly the trio renewed their partnership with Teramaze's main man. This time Dean Wells not only plays bass on the album, but again he participates in the writing process and also is part of the production team.
Over the years, the sound of the band has undergone some changes; the band still plays a fine form of power metal, but the trashy elements now are accompanied by a more trendy progressive metal. Trendy? You might say. Yes, Progressive metal seems to be hot. Especially with Australian bands, who are rapidly gaining popularity. Very rightly so, bands like Caligula's Horse, Voyager, Hemina, Karnivool, Chaos Divine and Toehider made the world notice the amazing talents Australia holds on the progressive metal front. In one way Damnations Day matches themselves with these afore mentioned bands, on the other hand DD shows other influences. Take the powerful opener The Witness, here parts of the old Queensryche; the vocals, are blended with the staccato power riffs and double bass drums. Mark's vocal parts really stand out here. The following Dissecting The Soul also shows the vocal capacities of Mark Kennedy, but also shows the progression the band has made in writing catchy, though progressive rock songs. The track is filled with great guitar playing, solos as well as djenty riffs, which makes the addition of guitarist Jon King a very well chosen one. In Colours Of Darkness the band has a strong ballad style composition, a track that shows influences of the early Queensryche, as mentioned before, as well as Fates Warning. Trashy riffs and a bit more of an alternative approach take I Pray towards the style Mark Tremonti displays on his solo albums, a perfect addition to the already well accepted tracks. Strings and acoustic guitars form the base of the “obligatory” acoustic ballad Into Black. A fine track that again shows the versatile vocals of Mark, but still feels like an obligated composition. Luckily the power is gently cranked up again when we get to listen to To Begin Again, a pretty impressive more mid-tempo track with nice atmospheric elements and according string parts. Back to the absolute power I like about this band, The Idol Counterfeit burns, rips and shreds. A full speed ahead power metal track that holds amazing double bass drums and fine down tuned guitars. The album's tittle track A World Awakens highlights the progressive metal part over the still very present power metal, creating a nice composition that shows a lots of diversity in spheres and moods during the song. The final track Diagnose strangely reminds me of Devin Townsend meets Pearl Jam during the acoustic part. Nevertheless this is a brilliant song where the gentle side of Damnations Day gets beaten up by the very strong midsection where Mark absolutely shows the best of himself.
In my opinion Damnations Day has come up with an amazing album, an album where the band on one side reflects the Australian Progressive metal, but on the other hand embeds the old school US progressive metal. This blend makes them differ from the other Aussie bands I mentioned earlier, which is a positive thing and more, they created their own sound with this combination.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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