Dawnbringer – Night of the Hammer (Profound Lore)

Sunday, 2nd November 2014
Rating: 8/10

Ubiquitous musician Chris Black lets the creativity flow, striking while the iron’s molten in a variety of bands. His longest running outfit happens to be the one under the current reviewing landscape, Dawnbringer, active since the mid 1990’s and appearing in the studio now on a seemingly regular schedule, as this sixth studio platter Night of the Hammer is the third Dawnbringer record in five years. Differentiation has been a constant in the band’s career – and this 10 song, 39 minute and change album follows a similar path – exploring more epic, doom-oriented pastures while still maintaining the heavy metal base that has gained these gentlemen strong audience support and critical appeasement.

You can feel it in the slow, snake-like instrumental segment that appears on “Hands of Death” where guitarist Scott Hoffman lays down a 70’s riff and lead break section that rivals some of the best Iommi, Blackmore, and Lifeson tricks known to man. Or the blasting segments of “Not Your Night” which allow Chris to delve further into the band’s early blackened roots, still travelling traditional waters a touch and proving Dawnbringer can still appeal to the heart of the underground. I’ll admit that the occasional vocal stretches the boundaries of Chris’ range as “Funeral Child” channels his inner King Diamond through an early Mercyful Fate-like mid-tempo riff, and the results can be mixed in terms of convincing execution.

It’s not easy to capture the ‘live’ analog recording element in the digital age, but songs such as “Alien”, thick and melancholic “Nobody There” plus the relatively simplistic, tension-building ballad “One-Eyed Sister” that harkens to medieval days would intertwine effortlessly in 1975 just as they will in 2014 – the bass, drum, and guitar tones pure, in your face, and addictive to the consistency of the end product. Chris is a student of the genre as much as a master of the songwriting craft, using as many tools as the shed can hold to give Dawnbringer a fascinating breadth of discography from album to album.

Night of the Hammer may not be as quick to digest as their last album Into the Lair of the Sun God, but give this numerous spins on your favorite medium and you’ll understand that this Mid-Western act mines mighty gems.

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