Burning Horizon at the End of Dawn

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Scandinavia didn't invent death metal/black metal any more than Chicago invented the blues or New York City invented Afro-Cuban music, but just as Chicago came to be considered the capitol of the blues (an art form that started in the Deep South), the death metal/black metal scene has been dominated by the Scandinavian countries since the '90s. Anyone who works at a label that puts out a lot of death metal and black metal is likely to come across plenty of names like Olson, Sweeney, Lundgren, Jorgensen and Lindquist. But despite that Nordic dominance, extreme metal hasn't disappeared from North America by any means; there are still plenty of death metal and black metal bands in the United States, and Colorado's The Mandrake is a perfect example of an American band with a lot of Scandinavian influences. Burning Horizon at the End of Dawn shows a strong awareness of the Nordic headbangers who are considered melodic death metal -- Age of Ruin, Opeth, At the Gates, among others -- and as ferociously bombastic as they are, the Mandrake can also be relatively melodic at times and are more musical than a lot of death-metallers. Not all of their influences are from Sweden or Norway; one of the non-Scandinavian influences on this CD is England's Cradle of Filth. Nonetheless, there is no getting around the fact that the Nordic death metal/black metal scene has had a major impact on the Mandrake, whose lead singer J. Ryan Taron tends to prefer death metal's deep, guttural growl but can handle black metal's rasp as well. Burning Horizon at the End of Dawn doesn't integrate ferocity and melody quite as effectively as Scandinavia's best melodic death metal and symphonic black metal units; nonetheless, it's a noteworthy, generally likable (if derivative and less than distinctive) effort from the Colorado outfit.

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