Since their formation in 1991, Dawn Of Winter have a string of demo’s, EP’s and a compilation appearance to their name along with two LP’s. Their third long player “Pray For Doom” finds the band flying the flag for classic doom metal both sonically and lyrically. The German’s have burrowed deep into the depths for this release and the results are darkly rewarding.

With Dio generation Black Sabbath sounding riffs that ooze melancholy and ache, “A Dream Within A Dream” is a hard driven opening statement with a lingering sense of menace that combines nicely with “The Thirteenth Of November” and it’s gritty sludge that is very much in the mould of “C.O.D” era Saint Vitus. Some seriously heavy guitar assaults with vocals kept well at the forefront bring a total sense of despair and clenched fist, evil rage and is enough to make the hairs on your arm stand on end. Drummer, Dennis Schediwy seemingly is on a mission to belt the shite out of his kit such is his ferocity at times and he, with bassist Joachim Schmalzried provided a mountain for the rest of the band to climb higher as “Doom Woodstock Child” propels the album to its next level; chest beating doom anthems keep rolling with irresistible force.

However it’s the next brace of tracks that really find the band on form and, for this scribe form the strength and pinnacle of the album. The buzzing sadness of “The Sweet Taste Of Ruin” is more of a melancholy exploration that bleeds regret and an inner turmoil that aches for release. Coupled with the title track “Pray For Doom” and it’s acoustic guitar introduction that bleeds into a moaned edge on the main riff, it provides the requisite light and shade that befits the character of the track. The soulful vocal despair delivered by Gerrit P. Mutz creates a tangible, cathartic power behind the raw simplicity of lyrics like: “There is no guiding light for me / I feel so numb can this be real…Shame on me, shame on you / Shame-on-you / Pray for me, Pray for you/ Pray-For-Doom”. Jörg M. Knittel works those meaty guitar chords hard to drain every bit of emotion possible.

The band pull back from the depths after this as they move into a more Led Zeppelin styled roll on “The Orchestra Bizarre”. None of these tracks overstays their welcome, including 10 minute closer “Father Winter” that commences with a cold, funereal beat turning into a militaristic edge with a slant to the riffs proving to be a fitting finale as a single repeated toll of a bell leads to the fade out.

The power lies in the album’s mid section. Lyrically quite simple but the raw honesty and powerful delivery provides an open earnestness that many will embrace. There’s no reinvention of the wheel here but this is a heavy slab of old fashioned doom metal as it’s meant to be.

(8/10 Johnny Zed)