While Crimson Dawn’s first two albums were presented in a doomy symphonic metal style, those doom influences are more prominent than ever on their third album Inverno. The guitars are more dominant than before, resulting in a more riff-oriented songwriting approach with beefy tones to match. There’s also a greater emphasis on slower tempos, but even the faster segments are based more on burly chugs than the power metal leaning gallops of before.
Thankfully this grounded attitude enhances the band’s symphonic traits more than it clashes with them. The keyboards complement the rhythms quite nicely, sprucing the riffs with Eastern melodies that are emboldened by a bright, shiny production job. The vocal performance is also pretty efficient as the operatic character suits the material well, and the lines are well crafted, even if I find myself their range went a little lower at times.
The songwriting navigates the grandiosity without getting too overbearing, even setting up subtle distinctions between the album’s two halves. Coming off the sprawling ten minutes of “The House on the Lake,” the songs on the first half seem more direct with “Thulsa Doom and the Cult of the Snake” riding an appropriately serpentine groove and “From Beyond” barreling in. From there, the symphonics seem more prominent in the second half; “Return to Agarthi” puts in a particularly swelling refrain, and “Condemned to Live” feels like something that could’ve come from Tony Martin-era Sabbath.
Overall, Inverno’s strong blend of symphonic doom metal makes for Crimson Dawn’s best showing thus far. The album’s bright tone and exotic flourishes give it a distinct character, and the balance of muscular guitars and varied keyboards paves the way for engaging songwriting. It reminds me of what would happen if Khemmis started leaning more on their prog-rock and epic doom influences, and I can imagine fans of groups like Crypt Sermon getting into it as well.
“Thulsa Doom and the Cult of the Snake”
“Return to Agarthi”