Dawnbringer – Into the Lair of the Sun God (Profound Lore Records)

Monday, 25th March 2013
Rating: 8.5/10

A continuation of sorts from 2010’s excellent NucleusInto the Lair of the Sun God finds American-based traditional metallers Dawnbringer stretching their wings out a bit more, resulting in a cerebral and challenging offering. The traditional metal tag might not even suit these lads at this juncture…Dawnbringer’s scope continues to widen while having their feet firmly planted in the 70’s and 80’s. Yet at the same time, this stuff sounds hardly throwback-ish. What might be an arduous task for some (trying to make throwback metal sound authentic), proves to be easy work for Dawnbringer.

A concept album detailing a man’s journey through triumph and tragedy, Into the Lair of the Sun God is divided into nine chapters, with each song getting a Roman numeral. Song titles are a pain to come up with anyway. Nevertheless, the album’s motif is built upon steely, gritty riffs, and a large dosage of Maiden melodies (read: twin guitar harmonies). In fact, some rip-roaring Maiden moments take the cake on album opener “I,” which is a slow-building epic that is an instant winner, while “IV” pushes the needle toward power metal.

Black uses his raspy, Lemmy-derived vocals to great effect, as heard on the thrashy “II,” which is the album’s early high-water mark. Slower jaunts such as “V,” and album closer “IV” give Black additional breathing room to work within homegrown harmonies and spiraling compositions, the latter of which grapples with a simplistic, yet jarring chug riff and wide open chorus selections. Extra kudos to the solo guitar tandem of Bill Palko and Pharaoh’s Matt Johnsen for some always-tasteful licks.

Nucleus received rave reviews and garnered Dawnbringer some much-deserved high profile press clippings, but Into the Lair of the Sun God is a more thorough piece of work. It will challenge those bored with the predictable offerings of power metal, while satisfying the old ‘bangers never-ending quest for a meeting point between Maiden and bare-bones metal. Quite stoked to see what Black and crew give birth to next…

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(This content originally appeared on Blistering.com)