Hawthorn – “Dark Tales”


dark tales 2013Epic black and white skull cover, metal font used for the band name but still somewhat intelligible…must be some sort of dark metal going on with this album.  Oh, it’s also from Brazil, the home of Sepultura and Skin Culture, so far so good.  Hawthorn is a band I have never heard of before, but then the world is a big place and I actually haven’t been to Brazil, so that’s my excuse.

Hawthorn is working on their tenth anniversary as a band this year, starting in 2004 in Curitiba – Parana, Brazil.  To their credit, the band has previously released two ep’s, Dawn of Blood (2008) and Thorns and Blood (2010), but neither of these were released in North America.  In 2010, Sullen Records combined the two ep’s and released them as Blood and Thorns, making them available in North America.  Following this, Hawthorn went on to play a shows over the next year, culminating by playing a show with Eluveitie in Sao Paolo in 2011 and a regional metal battle of the bands in the city of Curitiba.

Following the epic, movie soundtrack intro, “The Last March” kicks off the real songs on the album and starts with an almost groove black metal opening.  Female black metal vocals, dark and raspy, open up the verse sections of the song and in all honesty are a bit rough and abrasive.  Vocals then shift to some male black metal growling vocals, followed quickly by some clean female vocals.  All in all, the shifts make for a bit of a confusing listening experience.  Compounding the difficulty is that the mixing is a bit off with the guitars, bass and drums relegated to the back behind the dominating vocals and keyboards.  This continues into “Fall” and through the rest of the album which is somewhat disappointing as there is some good drumming and some good black metal/extreme metal music in the background.

“Premise for War” has some of the more melodic music on the album and some clean vocals, mostly male but at times in harmony with clean female vocals, that on the whole reminds me of something closer to folk metal than black metal.  The tune is quite catchy and shows another side of the band that I certainly wasn’t expecting after the first four songs.  Again, keyboards dominate much of the song over the guitars and drums which is somewhat of a shame.

“Past Hurts” starts our very similar in sound to “Bloody Scream” but after around 2:30, switches to all acoustic guitars and clean female vocals with keyboards lending some atmosphere and this carries through the end of the song.  The clean vocals work very well but again are a bit too loud for the overall mix.  The black metal returns for the rest of the album and if nothing else is consistent with the rest of the album.

The female black metal vocals are close to the ragged edge and just don’t seem well mixed with the music, only adding to their abrasiveness.  That was one of the difficulties I had with this album in that the vocals were so dominant in the mix that it highlighted the grittiness and roughness and drowned out much of the music. There is a lot of promise in these songs but it does feel as if the band is trying to decide which direction to really go.

Rating: 6/10

Written by John Jackson

1. Intro
2. The Last March
3. Fall
4. Bloody Scream
5. Premise for War
6. Silent War
7. Inner Battle
8. Past Hurts
9. Shadows of Silence
10. The Time of the Sword
11. Victory and Sacrifice

Band Members:
Guilherme – drums and vocals
Amanda Brotto – Lead vocals
Keizi – Guitars
Charles – Bass
Paulo Shure – Guitars

Record Label: Independent, Nov. 2013

Weblinks: Website / Facebook / Myspace / Bandcamp

Buy the album here:
First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission
Metal Helm

Video for ‘Past Hurts’

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