Review : Dawnbringer - Into the Lair of the Sun God
PopmattersAny fan who came of age during metal’s heyday in the ‘80s will fondly remember a simpler time, when bands wrote ambitious and adventurous tunes ridden with catchy barbs. In the contemporary metal world, Gordian knots of sub-genres, or über-extreme or wildly progressive ventures frequently obscure traditional pursuits. However, the work of bands like Dawnbringer highlight why traditional metal will never fade away. The band’s latest release, Into the Lair of the Sun God, is the perfect example of why the classic metal sound continues to resonate with fans around the globe.
Chris Black is the multi-instrumentalist and prolific artist who founded Dawnbringer in 1996. He operates under various banners, and his work with bands Superchrist and High Sprits is resoundingly applauded, but his traditional metal projects, Pharaoh and Dawnbringer, are those spoken of with the most passion. Both acts celebrate a time when heavy metal was free from ironic winks, both unashamedly rejoicing in the glory years of metal without drifting into the realm of pastiche or tired homage.
In 2010, Dawnbringer released Nucleus, its debut album for label Profound Lore. This brought the band a new level of recognition, and while Nucleus was completely vintage, it exhibited the finest elements of the traditional aesthetic at work, adding something novel to metal’s canon. The album’s street metal hue was a rousing reminder of carefree days, and Dawnbringer delivered its material with such sincere enthusiasm that Nucleus ended up on many “best of” lists at year’s end....full text
AngrymetalguyDawnbringer, the somewhat offbeat project band helmed by Chris Black (Pharaoh, Nachtmystium, High Spirits), is back for the attack after 2010′s stellar Nucleus. That opus really took yours truly by surprise and ended up being one of my favorite releases that year. It possessed a charming blend of classic metal, NWOBHM, thrash and other odds and sods that was compelling, fresh and a whole lot of fun. With high expectations and nerd-raging glee, I finally got my grubby little hands on Into the Lair of the Sun God and I must say, I’m happily surprised once again with what these guys crafted. This time out, it’s more in a classic metal framework, borrowing liberally from NWOBHM luminaries like Iron Maiden, Diamondhead and Saxon, while also taking tons of influence from American acts like Cirith Ungol, Hallow’s Eve, Slough Feg and Pharaoh. It has a more “epic” vibe than before and it adds a cool twist to the sound. It lacks the all-over-the-place chaotic charm of Nucleus, but has a lot going for it and a ton of wild guitar work and interesting riff/harmony ideas. It’s a freaking winner.
This is one of those albums that forgoes song titles for Roman numerals, which always annoys me. Nobody likes telling a friend to “throw on IV and crank that mutherfucker!!!” Anywho, opener “I” (see? that’s annoying!) is an instant standout and one of my favorite songs so far this year. It has a stately, epic feel and tons of NWOBHM riffing. It’s mid-tempo but has an infectious, rolling gallop and surprisingly well done, soulful vocals by Chris Black. His vocals were definitely a love-or-hate proposition on Nucleus, but here he sounds more able, confident and listenable. The star of the show though, is the riffing and solos by (I assume, since lineup info is vague) Matt Johnsen (Pharaoh) and Scott Hoffman (High Spirits). There’s a warm, slightly upbeat, but very traditional flare to the playing (not unlike Slough Feg) that keeps me hooked in. Sometimes they head into quasi-thrash like the Nucleus material (“II”, still annoying), at times it’s Maiden mixed with the bass-heavy rattle of Cirith Ungol (“IV”) and they even attempt something like Thin Lizzy meets hair metal (“V”). The combination of aggressive riffing and “borrowed” Manowar lyrics in “VIII” and the doomy, drone in “IX” also deserve honorable mention....full text
MetalreviewBack in 2010, Dawnbringer’s fourth album Nucleus arrived on Profound Lore with a groundswell of acclaim. Given Profound Lore’s reputation for unnervingly consistent quality, and Dawnbringer mainman Chris Black’s impeccable pedigree in High Spirits, Superchrist, and paragons of American power metal greatness Pharaoh, there was seemingly every reason for me to join the throngs of adoring fans thrusting their crotches in a gleeful paroxysm of collective air guitaring.
So I got my grubby hands on it, and I listened, and I waited. Listened, and listened, and waited, and…nothing. Try as I might, I just couldn’t find the prime metal vitality that so many others were celebrating. Which is fine, of course – we can’t all dig on the same sounds – except that, for the life of me, I couldn’t really articulate why Nucleus left me so cold, and that, more than anything, is what became the major irritation.
The nearest I could come to explaining it was by concocting a far-fetched scheme to write a review of Nucleus in the form of a script for a long-lost episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. (One at a time, ladies, please.) You see, as near as I could figure it, the problem with Nucleus was that the entire album felt too ruthlessly composed. Every note was laid out exactly in a very careful place, so that even as the album aimed for a freewheeling heavy metal classicism, it felt excessively mannered, almost polite.
My plan, therefore, was to draw an analogy to Commander William T. Riker’s luxuriant beard. A beard which, in all its potent contrast to Picardian cue-ball-ness, seemed to give the impression of a reckless, devil-may-care attitude; Riker the roué. In reality, however, The Beard was fastidiously trimmed and tidied, without so much as a single hair out of place; Riker the reticent, reluctant rogue. Well, friends, with the advent of Dawnbringer’s fifth album Into the Lair of the Sun God, I am delighted to report that Riker’s beard has really let itself go full-on mountain man. There’s food matted in the beard now, probably, but it’s delicious....full text
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