"The Last Dawn // Rays of Darkness" is a double album release from Japanese post rockers Mono. There's a lot of music between the two discs. Of the two discs, "The Last Dawn" was a better listen overall. It features bright sounds, big sweeping melodies and lush orchestrations. The album starts slowly and calmly with the opening track "The Land Between Tides." It never rushes to get where it wants to go but rather gently takes you there. "Kanata" has a peace about it. The instrumentation is quite tranquil. Much of "The Last Dawn" feels more like a movie soundtrack than an album. It's an album in which you can easily lose yourself. Sometimes if you're not paying close attention, you can even lose your place on which track you are listening to. This is both good and bad: it shows the music flows well, but also suggests a sameness.
The second disc is called "Rays Of Darkness" and it is a more desolate affair - no orchestration, no sweeping melodies. It has a stripped-down sound and a much colder feel to it. This is not to say it isn't creative at times. The track "Surrender" is particular good, right down to the jazzy trumpet solo. But the album also has an unfortunate moment: the track “The Hands that Holds the Truth” has an odd, slightly uncomfortable, off-kilter guitar line. Then it starts to seemly wind down with a complete lull before you are greeted with only vocal on the entire album: a loud, shrieking black metal scream that is far too distorted. I love black metal and harsh vocals, but this is completely out of place and effectively kills the track. Closing track "The Last Rays," which is basically six and a half minutes of feedback and distortion, is just annoying.
If I were reviewing these albums separately, I would give "The Last Dawn" an 80 and "Rays Of Darkness" a 60, so a 75 overall seems more than fair.