Dawnbringer's new concept album Into the Lair of the Sun God received a 7.7 rated review from Pitchfork today.
Published June 14th 2012:
" For all intents and purposes, the anchor of the fifth proper album by retro-metal revivers Dawnbringer is the sort of classic power ballad that might serve your 1980s hair-band punch line well. "V", or the album's fifth track, twinkles open, its muted guitar riff offering the calm before the surge: "I am not alone now/ You're lying next to me," Chris Black starts over a sudden quake of drums and distortion, his voice dependent upon the same extent of entreaty that Jon Bon Jovi used at the prime of his popularity. The chorus opens like floodgates, with Black's arc hitting a fists-up, eyes-closed, mouths-open peak like never before. But that chorus, if you can call it that, appears only once, ceding its time instead to two long, rapturous guitar solos, meaning that Dawnbringer trades maudlin, lighters-up cheese for undeniable fireworks here. To be honest, it's completely awesome.
That melodramatic epic serves as the midpoint for Into the Lair of the Sun God, a holistically designed concept album built upon the tale of an ill-fated warrior who has succeeded in battle but still feels void of real merit. He longs to be a leader, praised in song and recognized as a hero. It all goes wrong at the album's start, when he begins to not only hear voices but to believe them-- namely, that of the sun, who taunts him as a simple if bold man who should just go home and live his humdrum life. So, he gets mad and brands himself "killer warrior, assassin of the sun." That's right: He wants to kill the sun.
Above the mighty thrash of "II", he vows to turn his anger into immortal fable: "Now my story starts/ Coming toward you/ Your ending has begun," Black shouts. The bile in his voice is mirrored perfectly by the band's confident romp, a text of would-be heroism painted perfectly by music of complete conquest. That lyrical and musical synergy is constant throughout Sun God, meaning that the composite parts are all complementary. When the ghosts of people the warrior has held dear tell him they'll show him the path to the sun's lair during "VI", Dawnbringer revert to a thirst for triumph, bass and drums cracking ahead with militaristic precision. With the warrior's conviction restored, the song ends with a dancing organ solo-- delightful and unexpected, a glowing arrow pointing the protagonist toward victory. One track later, when he awakes "on a shore of shadows," wondering where he is and what he's meant to do, the music creeps forward before exploding when he realizes he's footsteps away fom his victim, destiny, and glory. You can almost see the gleam in his eye within Black's resolute voice.
If all of this sounds a bit ridiculous, it is. Like the heavy-metal titans upon which Dawnbringer build their sound, Sun God is an unapologetic, all-or-nothing proposal. It's committed to its Bulfinch-worthy story, its NWOBHM-aligned sound, and its seamless fusion of the two. But it's also enjoyably silly. Sure, this is a serious fable about being hoisted with one's own petard and being ruined by vaulting ambition. It's also an album that keys on generations of metal bands who succeeded because they were happy to look, sound, and be melodramatic in order to make good records.
Black's played pivotal roles in a number of different metal acts and outlets over the last two decades, from evil tweakers Nachtmystium to classic blasters High Spirits, from record label head to journalist and critic. As he said in a 2010 interview, "Dawnbringer is kind of a respite from everything else that I'm doing... There's a playfulness that I can get away with, especially musically." Into the Lair of the Sun God succeeds exactly because of that commitment. After all, for the first time ever, Black (mostly) returned with the same crew he employed on 2010's Nucleus: producer Sanford Parker, guitarists Bill Palko and Scott Hoffman, and the record label Profound Lore. Two years ago, they were good, if a bit all over the map as a unit. This time, they have a script to stick with, a story to share. They do it so well, in fact, you'll have a hard time not singing along and wishing for the best for Black's valiant fool. Just try not to cry when it's over, OK? " - words by Grayson Currin.
Audio samples and purchasing options for Into the Lair of the Sun God can be found HERE.
Details on upcoming Chicago show HERE.