Profound Lore Records
9/10 – review by Jamie Cansdale
There is a very good chance you may have never heard of Dawnbringer, an American band fronted by none other than Chris Black. This name may mean something to you: he is the sole member of the hard-rocking outfit High Spirits, signed to High Roller Records, who released their second album You Are Here just months ago. However, do not put two and two together – the two bands could not be further apart. Dawnbringer’s 2012 album, Into the Lair of the Sun God, takes an epic heavy metal approach akin to many of the bands alive during the ‘80s, with plenty of pounding leads and soaring melodies. The release came at a time when retro was becoming the, dare I say, “in thing” in today’s metal scene.
Should you expect the same from the band’s new album? No. Night of the Hammer is a completely different work altogether. The ten songs present here are stripped down to the core elements of rock and heavy metal and what we get is an album more relatable to bands such as Trouble and Pentagram; the vocals however soar above the slow pacing, contrasting yet complementing the music perfectly. The Burning of Home for example features classic metal vocals against some beautiful melodies followed by the slow proto-doom riffs on Nobody There, sounding similar to Pentagram’s Into the Ground. Black’s vocals are deep in more ways than one here, sounding like he is crying out to someone during the chorus.
The album changes pace with every song: Xiphias rides along like a folksy ditty back from the days of travelling minstrels before returning to the slow riffs heard on the third track. It isn’t until the coupling tracks of Damn You and Not Your Night when we experience that peculiar pairing of heavy metal and black metal that the band has become known for. But everything still seems retro and a lot slower than Dawnbringer’s previous effort. They seem to have nailed this late ‘70s sound to the point where it seems we have stepped back to a time of long, thick free flowing hair and smoke-filled venues – One-Eyed Sister is testimonial to this. As far as this writer is aware, no band currently sounds as slow and heavy as this current incarnation of Dawnbringer’s sound. It’s crushing in places and melodious in others.
It is within the last three tracks that any sense of variety can be heard: Not Your Night is a furious orgy of blastbeats and harsh vocals; Funeral Child sounds like it was written for King Diamond and Crawling Off to Die is a fitting yet heart-wrenching farewell to the night. Despite going off a tangent to close the album these songs still fit perfectly in this puzzle, just as much a part of it as the first half. All round it is a perfectly solid album that will no doubt satisfy the palate of the metal connoisseur.