Dawnbringer – XX (Ektro Records)

Monday, 26th December 2016
Rating: 7.5/10

This may nor may not be Dawnbringer’s farewell, it just depends on how one depicts Chris Black’s “If confusion will be our epitaph, I gratefully accept” quote. Then again, the accompanying bio for the XX EP starts off with “Like many funerals, Dawnbringer’s XX is sudden, solemn, and brief, a dreamlike twist of old faces, bizarre incantations, and false comforts.” We’ll read the tea leaves here and venture a guess this is the band’s swansong.

Now that those particularities are out of the way, XX is a five-song outing that finds Black and gang exploring melancholic terrain that wasn’t as present on their landmark Nucleus, or more recent Night of the Hammer. Both “Into the Maze” and “North by North” are excellent jaunts, the latter finding Black realizing the full breadth of his distinctive voice, complete with backing vocal pile-ons. While “Earth” puts its head down and pummels in a sort of drive-by biker metal fashion, the closing instrumental “The End of the Beginning” leaves XX feeling a little unrealized.

Black, of course, has plenty going on with his most-rad High Spirits band, so the possible disbandment of Dawnbringer isn’t a total travesty. However, there’s something to be said for going out at the right time. If the time is now, end of 2016, then so be it. Dawnbringer has had a great run.