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A noticeably new trend seeping its way into doom metal of late is the very ’60s-influenced “trip” sound, which is sort of a brilliant marriage of psychedelic grooves with some heavy D-tuned guitar work. When I once said doom metal might find itself stagnating in a void of nothing new I didn’t think this would catch on the way it has. I suppose a case could be made for its lineage being traced this far back; after all, Sabbath recorded its first momentous album in late 1969 with much the same heaviness, save for the typical ’60s psychedelic sounds. Well, some forty years after the fact it’s being done, and to a nice degree. While Dawnrider’s entire album doesn’t utilize this, sporadic inclusion is always a plus.
Portugal’s Dawnrider hits the scene with its second full-length titled Two, and while laden with Sabbath-like riffs and feel, it’s surprisingly fresh and modern in its own essence. While the track “Evil Deeds” itself sounds like it might have been left off Master of Reality (who would know why?) it feels a bit more modern that many contemporaries that manage to capture that early doom sound to such an amazing degree that there’s little room for anything ear-catching. It would seem the cure can be the disease in that regard, but sometimes a band hits one out of the park and Two is an essential heavy metal sojourn certainly worthy of more than casual introspection.
Another plus with this album is the production that while fine-tuned seems to have been recorded on the same reel-to-reel Master of Reality might have graced back in 1970. It sounds dated without sounding dated to the aging fan, yet it’s able to sound as vibrant and necessary in today’s fickle climate to warrant more than a fleeting notice.
Particularly interesting is the twelve-minute track “Irinia”, which is more a bustle of sludge metal meshed with a more modern doom foray. It does, admittedly, seem to get a little repetitive after the seven-minute mark with no real changes in tempo, which is only one complaint. It might have been a great jam extended maybe about five minutes too long. By the time the song does mix up the tempo a bit, it’s at the ten-minute mark, then too late to recapitulate on the original mind-frame. However, the mood is quickly kicked back into gear once the next track, fittingly titled “Redemption”, rumbles through the speakers like a huge dump truck plowing through a highway barricade. Definitely carrying a late Solitude Aeturnus sound, the track is a standout for me.
Vocalist Francisco J. Dias stampedes over the music with a solid vocal presence through most of the album, with only a couple of efforts that seem to border on a trailing wail more than singing, but overall it’s a good fit for the band. Hugo Conim seemingly has the doom metal handbook ingrained on the back of his guitar, creating a rich, heavy trudging sound that leaves memorable riffs in his wake. I also love the bass mix on this album; it’s not left for you to adjust your EQ to lift it, and Mr. Butler is a certain influence here.
Standouts are “Evil Deeds” and “Redemption”, as well as “The Hollow Path”, which has one of the best old-school riffs all over it. I’d spend the money on this one if you desire some doom with a kick to the head when you least expect one. Two is a fine sophomore effort that will hopefully be just another stepping stone to more greatness along the way.
(Originally written for http://www.metalpsalter.com)