AHNA – Crimson Dawn

Genre: Death Metal | Label: Caligari/PRC Music
Location: Vancouver, BC | Listen: Bandcamp

ahna crimson dawn

It’s been five long years since Vancouver’s AHNA released their crushing mLP “Perpetual Warfare.” The band has talked about the “Crimson Dawn” full length ever since the release of that mLP, even including a demo track of one of the songs on the vinyl version. In the meantime, members have been actively involved in a variety of side projects, leaving many fans wondering what was going on behind the scenes. Thankfully, Caligari Records put a tape of it out earlier this year, with the Quebecois label PRC Music putting it on CD this summer. Needless to say, the wait was totally worth it, as the album is oozing with stenchcore tinged death metal.

AHNA has had quite the change in styles over the years, but found themselves settling on a death metal as the 2010’s progressed. This sound was ultimately realized on “Perpetual Warfare” with traces of punk influences, and it resonated well throughout the Canadian underground and beyond. “Crimson Dawn” takes these influences even further into the death metal territory, taking influences from the likes of Bolt Thower and Autopsy, but still keeping some of that thrashy Sacrilege sound. AHNA’s variety of influences help each song stand out throughout the record.

For those that have seen AHNA play live throughout the years, the first three tracks will probably already be familiar. “Run For Your Life” starts off with the sound of galloping horses, distant horns, and screams of agony, before breaking into a Bolt Thrower style riff. The UK influence shifts into a more stenchcore/Sacrilege style, which works well with drummer AS’s vocals. “In Death’s Grip,” which was the song that appeared in demo version on the previous mLP, shows off a definite Autopsy influence that intermingles with a thrashier verse and guitarist GC’s deathly low vocals. The title track gets even darker with more Autopsy like riffs. This song in particular stuck out to me while seeing it performed live, and hearing it in recorded format is nothing short of satisfying.

The production of this record is well in tune with the unsettling sinister atmosphere created by the music. While clear, it feels far from clinical, and it really comes together as one dense piece of metal. The bass has a satisfying amount of string clang, the drums are powerful without any exaggerated amount of click, and the guitar tone is massive. It’s encroaching on murky territory, but not all the way, keeping it cohesive. There’s some interesting layering of lead tones, especially with some that sit more in the back, acting more as soundscaping than lead playing.

Everything about this album just sounds like the apocalypse in audio form. The pacing of the songs, the evilness of the melodies, and just the atmosphere and sounds the band puts forth. The other four songs that I wasn’t familiar with are all refreshing to hear, and all have their own unique characteristics between infectious riffs, frantic pacing, and sinister melodies. They get quite bestial at times, utilizing some war metal style blasting between the more traditional blasting and thrashy punk beats. The dynamics between the two vocalists very different styles gives this album a wider dynamic too.

It’s hard to imagine them making a record like this when I first heard this band during their drone/doom days, but death metal just seems so right for them, and all their work has paid off as far as I’m concerned. From what I understand, “Crimson Dawn” was recorded on three separate occasions, including the initial demo session. The final version was recorded in 2017, followed by mixing and mastering over the next two years. I’m sure the band feels relieved to finally have it out, and they should be proud of how well it turned out. As mentioned, they have kept busy with other bands, so make sure to check out Grave Infestation, Ceremonial Bloodbath, and Encoffinate if you want more music with a similarly evil vibe.