"The Burning Horizon at the End of Dawn" (Crash; 2004)
Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter
Colorado-based death metal act The Mandrake is an American death metal band that has incorporated stylistic elements from classic metal (think Iron Maiden) and melodic death metal (think early In Flames later At The Gates). Slight touches of black metal make appearances as well (and I understand that the band has abandoned most of its black metal influences at this point in their career). And there's nary a traditional hardcore sound to be heard – which is good considering the overwhelming flow of metalcore being thrown into the market these days.
The twin guitars are a revelation with the work on "The Burning Horizon" being exemplary and the acoustic piece "Bringer Of Dreams" clearly showing that The Mandrake is not a one-dimensional outfit. The songs are generally strong and the riffs are quite interesting. The traditional death metal style gets a needed update from The Mandrake's inclusion of the aforementioned traditional metal and melodic death metal styles.
The vocals have that lower-than-Hell sound that few bands even bother trying for. The only band I can think of that consistently utilizes the ultra-low growl to similar effect is Garden Of Shadows. The vocals are definitely more in the American death metal style than what we've heard for years from Scandinavia.
Although I am generally impressed with The Mandrake's "The Burning Horizon At The End Of Dawn" I'm not quite ready to award the album with more than two-and-a-half guitarsaws. The Mandrake are obviously aiming to match or better their European/Scandinavian counterparts and they're not quite there yet. I am, however, pleased with the effort considering I'm not the biggest death metal fan. I believe The Mandrake have the skills, confidence, and song-writing chops to continue their careers on an upward trend.
And, finally, the more I write for Rough Edge the more I realize that the Crash label is fulfilling an important niche in promoting underground metal acts. I think that the Crash label has a good find on their hands with The Mandrake which follows other decent acts with recent releases (including Tartharia and Hypnosis) and some not so recent releases (Twelfth Gate and Omen). Crash Music is definitely a label to keep your eye on if you're interested in the underground metal scene.
"The Burning Horizon At The End Of Dawn" was produced by Dave Otero (Serberus). The production is decent, but given that the band is probably still clinging to the underground style high-production values probably weren't a big priority for the disc.
The Mandrake: J. Ryan Taron on vocals, Ron Carillo on lead guitar, Kelly Tussey on rhythm guitar, Bret Phillips on bass, and Mike Horn on drums. Keyboards, bass, and backing vocals contributed by A. Shalenko. Dan from Skinned contributes guest vocals.
For more information visit http://www.themandrake.com.
A classic. This record will kick your ass.
Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.
So-so. You've heard better.
Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.
Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.
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Copyright © 2004 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights
Revised: 30 May 2014 09:59:16 -0500.