From aggrotech to industrial, Dawn of Ashes has flirted with many metal subgenres across 20 years in the scene. Channeling the likes of MINISTRY, BILE, and more, the band’s sound is both familiar and difficult to pin down, and this reflects much of modern industrial metal – new frontrunners emerging to follow in the steps of their forerunners, but heavy-handed homages often seem to supersede innovation. However, Dawn of Ashes manages to eke out territory of its own in Scars of the Broken, bringing electronic elements into a more orchestral metal-driven context. Numbers like “The Despondent Hole” delve into heavy, triplet-defined gallops, balladic refrains breaking through the blistering drums beneath it all, whereas “Love is Asphyxiation” and “Turn It Shallow” feature symphonic scores blended with bits of downplayed down-picking and scalar, choral keys.
The electronics bleed through in songs like “Bane of Your Existence,” which resounds with a casual Skinny Puppy-meets-Depeche Mode flair, more goth club than gristle mill in its languor and open power chords, whereas the titular song “Scars of the Broken” returns to the more ‘80s vibes of the former track, wet vocals atop gently flowing synths and sixteenth note guitar chugs. However, after the umpteenth sample-based pause and return to sixteenth notes, a lack of significant vocal and instrumental variation does begin to wear thin… but such is par for the production-niche. And this is perhaps both the essence and the ostensible downfall of Scars of the Broken – limited emotional variance despite the length and breadth of the album. Its structure supposes a voyage or growth, but this progression only comes through in a limited fashion. Concept albums are ambitious, but bite both ways if the execution isn’t immaculate. To be fair, this is picking a few nits as most industrial/metal fans will find large tranches of the album to enjoy and appreciate the invocation and fusion of so many past influences in the genres therein. Strong production and a dedication to the sound shines through; one just wishes there were a few more risks taken in terms of deviating from the orthodoxies of the niche.