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Meridian Dawn – The Pagan Poetry

Meridian Dawn
The Pagan Poetry
by Alex Barnard at 20 July 2021, 1:45 PM

MERIDIAN DAWN is an Arizona-based Melodic Death Metal band with members from the U.S., Finland and Belgium. “The Pagan Poetry EP” is the band’s second EP, released independently on April 30, 2021.

The EP’s track list consists mostly of covers. The first, fourth and fifth songs, “Pagan Poetry,” “Dissolving Bonds,” and “Sleepless Nights” are originally by BJÖRK, KATATONIA and KING DIAMOND respectively. I’m starting my review with that statement because it is illustrative of my listening experience. When I saw the band had included the cover of “Sleepless Nights,” I got really excited. I absolutely love KING DIAMOND and everything he has done, so I was curious to see how the band would handle this cover.

The second Antony Hämäläinen started growling the chorus in his best impression of AT THE GATE’s Tomas Lindberg, I was disappointed. You CANNOT cover a KING DIAMOND song without at least trying to do falsetto. Plus, the down-tuned, BOSS HM-2-soaked guitars ruined Andy Larocque’s incredible riffs. But I knew I had to move past my dissatisfaction with this particular cover in order to write this review, so I bucked up and started listening from the beginning.

The most immediately noticeable flaw in this EP is the inconsistent mix. The group’s cover of “Pagan Poetry” and “The Moonlit Path” sound quiet compared to the second half of the EP. Additionally, on those tracks only, the guitars and keyboard melodies overpower the drums and bass, and the vocals are barely audible. It almost sounds like whoever was engineering the EP just gave up halfway through mixing the first two tracks and sent over the works-in-progress to the band without even mastering them.

When we get to “Goodnight, Tonite,” however, the mix sounds pretty solid. Even though the drums could use a little work to really make them stand out, Antony’s vocals shine through over a cavalcade of beautiful Melo-Death harmonies that almost belie a Hard Rock/Metalcore edge. Additionally, Nick Ziros’ solo on this track is a true highlight, as his style is precise yet soulful, teeming with influences from the great Joe Satriani. “Dissolving Bonds” also sounds pretty solid, though I think the number of keyboards and orchestra samples was a bit excessive for my tastes.

Overall, this EP was okay. The melodic choices were catchy, the musicianship was impeccable, and the production was good when it wanted to be. My advice to MERIDIAN DAWN is two-fold: 1. Find an engineer who turns out consistent mixes and 2. Don’t cover KING DIAMOND again, because that was truly shameful.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 4
Production: 2

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Pagan Poetry
2. The Moonlit Path
3. Goodnight, Tonite
4. Dissolving Bonds
5. Sleepless Nights
Lineup:
Antony Hämäläinen – Vocals
Nick Ziros – Lead guitar
Ibrahim Hechavarria – Rhythm guitar
Seth Funk – Bass
Nathan Bigelow – Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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