From Montreux, Switzerland comes Dawn, and Darker is their brand new album, available on none other than the always dependable Lasers Edge. And no, just because these guys hail from the city that has hosted one of the most prestigious jazz festivals for decades, doesn't mean they follow suit with that style of music. This is classic sounding progressive rock through and through, as Rene Degoumois (guitar, vocals), Nicolas Gerber (keyboards), Julien Vuataz, and Manu Linder (drums), have crafted 8 vintage sounding songs here that pay homage to the greats of the '70s like Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant, ELP, Jethro Tull, Eloy, Pink Floyd, and Camel.
As you can expect, the bulk of the tracks here are quite lengthy, and feature a wide selection of wonderful keyboard sounds (Hammond organ, Mellotron, synths, etc), dreamy melodies, tasty guitar passages, rock solid as well as intricate rhythms, and soaring vocals. "Cold" is a killer piece, as it floats from symphonic arrangements to more space rock styled explorations and then some heavy rock as well. The title track is another heavy hitter, with beefy guitar riffs & spacey synths kicking things off like a cross between Deep Purple & Hawkwind before more atmospheric passages kick in. The shorter, much more quirky "Lullabies For Gutterflies" is a must hear for fans of Yes and Gentle Giant, while the near 20-minute "8945" is a brooding piece featuring haunting Pink Floyd/Eloy/King Crimson styled soundscapes with loads of ominous Mellotron and synths. The more upbeat "Out of Control" rocks a bit harder, as weaving guitar & keyboard melodies drive this engaging piece, but look for some spectacular synth lines that will take you back to vintage Yes, Starcastle, Styx, and Kansas. "Endless" is the excellent closer, with crunchy Hammond/guitar riffs providing the punch but plenty of melodic vocal arrangements and airy keyboards (ahhh the Mellotron) floating around the mix.
Honestly, there's not a bad song in the bunch, as Dawn have done a stellar job of delivering vintage sounding prog here in 2014. I only wish the artwork on the cover and throughout the booklet was given as much care as the music; it's pretty drab and boring and a big disappointment considering how wonderful this album is, but hey, in the end, it's all about the music, and Darker gets two big thumbs up.
1) Yesterday's Sorrow
4) Lullabies For Gutterflies
6) Out of Control
7) Lost Anger