Taking Dawn – Time To Burn

In a generation where the boundaries of metal are consistently being pushed far beyond their supposed limits, as anyone who has listened to Mastodon’s Crack The Skye can verify, the mere existence of a band with such an outdated, irrelevant style as Taking Dawn comes as something of a surprise. If Time To Burn was the creation of a veteran collective approaching the twilight years of its career, there would be little cause for concern. However, this is in fact the sound of Roadrunner’s newest, freshest-faced recruits, which is somewhat alarming. Taking Dawn’s debut album is certainly disappointing, and one can only hope that this will not spawn some kind of tedious, 1980s “hair metal” renaissance.

There is no doubt that the style of music on display here is glaringly obsolete, but it could be argued that a skilful band would perhaps utilise this style in such a way that it would not seem out of place in today’s metal culture. Unfortunately, however, Taking Dawn cannot be described as truly “skilful”, and Time To Burn is littered with flaws. There are a few glimpses of impressive musicianship, but these are far too infrequent for the album to be deemed a success. The performance of lead guitarist Mikey Cross is one of the shining lights; his excellent soloing adds some much needed flair to the fairly decent title track which opens the album, and this level of finesse remains ever-present throughout the record. In fact, Cross’s technical proficiency is so vital to Taking Dawn’s overall sound that at times it appears to mask otherwise poor tracks, such as the rather irritating Save Me.

Another positive aspect of Time To Burn is the quality of some of the songwriting, although this is frustratingly inconsistent. The powerful melodic guile of Take Me Away, the quick-fire tempo changes of Godless and the rock ‘n’ roll supremacy of So Loud all prove that, when they put their minds to it, Taking Dawn definitely know how to write a decent rock anthem or two. It is at this point, however, that the encouraging signs grind to a halt, as virtually every other element of Time To Burn is inadequate at best. The vocals of frontman Chris Babbitt, for instance, are extremely poor. A voice which combines Trivium’s Matt Heafy with a failed attempt at mimicking Motley Crue’s Vince Neil, Babbitt’s performance is weak in some places, excruciating in others. The aforementioned So Loud falls victim to this despite Cross’s reasonable efforts, while the frankly awful Fight ‘Em With Your Rock and Endlessly are made all the more painful by Babbitt’s relentless, and slightly comical, vocal style.

Taking Dawn’s greatest fault, however, is the fact that Time To Burn is being released approximately 25 years too late. The band has opted to take a route which only accommodates a minimalist, completely straightforward musical approach where sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll are the only lyrical themes on offer, and it would certainly appear to be the case that this old-fashioned style is simply not compatible with the vibrant, constantly evolving world of metal today. Furthermore, the members of Taking Dawn generally do not possess the musical capabilities to execute high-quality music – this isn’t even a good “hair metal” band. There are a few positive attributes of the album that deserve recognition, such as the talents of guitarist Mikey Cross, and if the band has the foresight to place greater emphasis on these attributes on future releases, and adds a lot more ingenuity to its sound, then who knows, perhaps Taking Dawn might still become an established force in metal in years to come. At the moment, however, it’s looking bleak.


About JJPorter

JJ is a 20-year-old student hailing from Scotland, who lives and breathes music. His favourite genres include a variety of styles of metal, as well as hardcore, punk, and just about everything in between. Contact JJPorter on Twitter or via Email.

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