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6 earthly years passed and Professor Black would go without releasing a single Dawnbringer release, possibly to focus on other projects or life itself. I'm unsure when this album was written, but I gamble this breathing period was certainly beneficial, as this is one incredible return to form. Structured like a hardcore/punk album and colored by an amalgamation of metal subgenres, this album is nuts! You can't even build expectation from looking at the cover, it's bizarre, to say the least...
The album itself is definitely very different, even for metal standards. Songs are very short and over in a finger snap, they are small buckets on which Chris Black and company threw riffs and solos until it resembled a song. Clocking in at a very short 24 minutes and donning an impressive repertoire of tasty guitar work, this record does not overstay its presence, if anything, you'll be craving another spin by the end of it.
Cleaner vocals are adopted this time, but he still has his rough gruff and alternates between them, providing more variation. You even get falsettos a la King Diamond or Halford on "11:58" and "Midnight", crummy unidimensional falsettos, but falsettos nonetheless. The production remains muffled and muddled, his voice seems to be even deeper in the mix when compared to Catharsis Instinct. However, it suits the theme of the album, which is dealing with personality disorders and slightly psychedelic principles.
Just to give you a notion of what we are dealing here song-wise: "Scream and Run", the opener, will have you believe you purchased a weird "drony" industrial/heavy metal release, as Chris Black repeats the words "Scream and Run" about a dozen times over minimalistic guitar backgrounds. Only to be bashed by the unbelievably catchy power/thrash metal to be experienced in "Anomie" and "Hell is a Desert". "There and Back" goes for a more traditional route, sounding similar to something out of the NWoBHM scene. You get a taste of Burzum/Darkthrone on "You get Nothing", folkloric speed on "Attack of the Spiders", Celtic Frost on "The Snitch". And finally, the album ends with "Endless Guilt" and "No Answer", the former is a "speedy" NWoBHM affair and the latter, a return to the style of "Scream and Run" only with an incredible guitar solo that ends in the most unsettling abruption, literally! Everything mutes and the album ends right there.
I apologize for adopting the infamous track-by-track review style in the previous paragraph, but I feel that if there was ever an album that could make use of this reviewing style, it's this one. And I didn't even mention the lyrical themes and how they intertwine with the sound at any given moment of the record. It's a very special record like that and Dawnbringer made something truly unique, and I wholeheartedly applaud the effort. The only reason I refuse to give a perfect score is because of that solo cut at the end, because back then, I firmly believed I had a faulty CD and went to hell and back just to confirm it. It wasn't faulty or corrupted or broken, the album simply ends with an unfinished guitar solo.
I was recently sent this disc completely out the blue by a friend of Nachtmystium's, and had no idea what to think of what I was looking at. I admit, I was a bit thrown off by the Calvin Kline-esque model portrait for the cover, not to mention the weird ass song titles and bold-printed "HEAVY METAL IS THE LAW" on the back of the case. I honestly had no idea what to expect. Naturally, my mind was thrown into an even more lachrymose state of confusion when the first track came on, and, while reading the lyrics, was completely dumbfounded, yet completely fascinated. The strange, sung vocals repeating "Scream and run" had me set to believe I had been duped into some weird techno/industrial "metal" shenanigans, but as soon as the next track started ( not even a minute later) I was completely floored. Dawnbringer is some of the most strikingly original, forward-thinking, and just plain fucking METAL music I have heard in a very long, long time. Shit!! The tracks go from epic blackened death (think Dissection + Rhapsody) to straight NWOBHM or power/speed metal a la Judas Priest, and then off into some grim, droning, trance-like black metal that would make Thralldom or Wolves in the Throne Room at least turn their heads.
I implore you to listen to this album as many times as possible. Really. It gets better and more fucking out there with ever listen, but every note you hear that's totally weird is just backed by some of the most brutal fucking shredding you've ever heard. Seriously, this fucking dude (Chris Black) is a genius, and this disc just flat out kicks ass.
All of the tracks are very short, but flow into each other incredibly well, making for a colossal album that's very easy to get lost in. There is a very consistent theme throughout the album, and the lyrics only help. At first, I couldn't get into them that much, but I later realised that it was simply me that was off, and since then this disc has not left the player.
and on a side note, Rhapsody previously held the title for "Ultimate Party Music No Matter How Grumpy Someone Is Being", but this...this should be making them very, very nervous.
The only reason it's only a 98% is because it's a compact disc, and everyone knows how lame that is.