Friday, November 28, 2014

Dawnbringer - Night of the Hammer (2014)

Silly cover art, but don't be fooled: the music is excellent.
Dawnbringer's previous album, Into the Lair of the Sun God, was arguably the high point in the band's career, being praised for having all sorts of twists and turns that made the music a joy to absorb and pore over. With little indication, the instrumentals would morph from a drawn-out, distorted passage--with enough harmonization to make Iron Maiden jealous--into a clean acoustic section with chanted vocals. ...which was one of their biggest strengths.

2014's Night of the Hammer draws back the flamboyance, however, and is only similar in that it retains its traditional heavy metal flair. Much of the music is steeped in a primitive doom metal-based template that, for better or for worse, adds a bare bones feeling to the mix and helps enhance the patented Dawnbringer formula--that of big, basic hooks and memorable songwriting. Indeed, historically, the band has been known for particularly well-crafted choruses and melodies that retain replay value surpassed by very few in the business, and Night of the Hammer amplifies that by slowing the pace (which, in turn, makes the songs easier to follow).

Most of the black metal influence has also been dropped, save for "Not Your Night," which "Damn You" is connected to--both form a seamless set and demonstrate songwriting prowess gained through years of smoothing out the bumps. Nevertheless, the honor of best on the record goes to the mid-paced "The Burning of Home" and the eerily folky "One-Eyed Sister," which are absolutely stellar in regard to memorable songwriting. Simplistic, melodic refrains were the way to go, and Dawnbringer has the art perfected.

Coming from Into the Lair of the Sun God, listeners may label Night of the Hammer as an attempt at selling out and, as ridiculous as that is to say, it's not entirely incorrect. By no means is the quality of the music any lesser, but it's generally a less demanding listen and can be "understood" relatively quickly like most heavy metal and hard rock bands stripped of all but the essentials. What you hear is what you get, and very few surprises lurk around the corner--the sound is crystal clear, giving all instrumentals equal placement, meaning little is hidden from curious ears.

With all that said, you may wonder if Night of the Hammer is a better record than Into the Lair of the Sun God. In short, the answer is "no" because they're both too inherently different to fairly compare. One focuses on heavy metal with an occasional blackened aspect to it, while the other accents itself with doom metal, just as mentioned above. This isn't rocket science; if it were, a track-by-track review, describing each song would be in order. The songs are similar enough to one another that a good listen takes care of all that--Night of the Hammer is consistent and another wonderful addition to Dawnbringer's growing log of music.


1 comment:

  1. You and I have the same take on this one. I loved what Black did on the last Dawnbringer album (Sun God), it was one of my albums of the year in 2012. The new one reminds me of it at times, but there are some really garish moments here, like the song where he's aping King Diamond ---- was actually really painful to listen to. Overall an unfortunate misstep. Man I'm so behind on new releases, trying to catch up on like half a dozen ---- I still don't have a review up for this!