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A tale of pompousness set to humble music. - 85%

hells_unicorn, June 16th, 2012

It’s difficult to truly create something original nowadays, or perhaps it was never something that was widely done even amongst noteworthy works and this whole mentality is merely the result of people inserting a vacuum to instant masterpiece leap that never happened in practice. Whatever the case, bands tend to be identified more by what they emulate, and whatever distinctive features are along for the ride tend to give one an edge over the other. The charm of Dawnbringer is that, much like Slough Feg, they make an active effort of avoiding whatever is common practice in the present American scene, while tending to conform all but completely to a form of music largely forgotten since the mid 80s, all the way down to every little nuance in the overall mix. It’s a craft that romanticizes the past, yet falls a bit short of outright dwelling upon it.

The subject matter of ancient superstitious warriors deifying/personifying phenomenon and then making war with it over some perceived grudge or rivalry is also something of a throwback, though quite a few more years than the couple of decades since writing traditionally oriented, NWOBHM inspired music with a dab of Motorhead ceased to be commonplace. But to be fair, “Into The Lair Of The Sun God’ does not fully stand alone in the midst of bands like Slough Feg and Manilla Road delving into similar sonic landscapes and mythical storytelling. Then again, Dawnbringer comes off as a bit humbler and more musically to the point, presenting melodic sets that aren’t bogged down in folksy quirks or progressively asymmetrical song formats. Instead, it sort of walks a line between brevity and epic sensibilities and presents a cycle of programmatic songs that seem much larger than they actually are.

When getting into the particulars of this album’s presentation, the specter of Bathory becomes unavoidable, particularly that of Quorthon’s initially scrapped and later resurrected follow up to his blackened thrash exploits “Blood On Ice”. And yet, this album seems to present this format as if trying to remember the past exploits of “Blood Fire Death” a bit more before proceeding on into quasi-Manowar territory. The vocal delivery carries a similar rasp and grit to that of Quorthon, but without the massive overdubbed choir drones and a less high 80s production character where the reverb makes the arrangement sound twice as big as it really is. To put it more plainly, this album is produced more along the lines of the original “Battle Hymns” rather than “Kings Of Metal”.

This band has been known for including black metal influences in their work, but this mostly consists of a production familiarity that is localized to the 1st wave, particularly that of Venom and Celtic Frost. “Into The Lair Of The Sun God” contains the least of these tendencies of any album by Dawnbringer to date, but it isn’t too much of a stretch to liken this to the recent spinoffs of Immortal in “I” and Demonaz’s “March Of The Norse” when discounting the toneless vocal work of Abbath in the former and the massive choir additives of the latter that were clearly imported from Viking era Bathory. It’s definitely an interesting niche, but perhaps not a wholly surprising one given that this is the sort of nuanced emulation that characterized former critics turned artists.

Anyone with a soft spot for the catchy, consonant melodic contours of the late 70s and early 80s will definitely see an appealing treat of an album here. It definitely has a good deal of crossover appeal to those not normally predisposed to liking a lot of the more pompous traditional metal revivalists cropping up of late. Pompousness is something of an improbability in itself for a band that has been purveying this sort of archaic art though out the dominions of nu-metal and metalcore, to speak nothing for the sleep inducing alternative rock scene that refused to shut up and die throughout the 90s and even up until today. So check these guys out and chuck a spear at the sun for the victory of heavy metal.