Released: 2016, Ektro Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
“Time was never on my side.”
Chicago’s Dawnbringer originally released XX digitally through Bandcamp in February after separating from their longtime label Profound Lore, and is only now scheduled to see a proper physical release and international distribution (through Finland’s Extro Records) almost a full year after the fact. But it wasn’t so much the actual re-release of XX that caught my attention; it was the cryptic press release that accompanied it, subtly alluding to the band’s demise. Chris Black – say it ain’t so.
Dawnbringer is one of those band’s that has remained genre agnostic since the beginning, pouring everything from scowling black metal to fist pumping power metal into their musical cauldron and somehow managing to make it work. The five tracks on XX follow more of the traditional metal leanings heard on NIGHT OF THE HAMMER, but the exteriors are stripped bare, leaving a raw and powerful set of tunes to be found.
XX has an old soul. Listening to tracks like “Into the Maze” and “North by North”, I was reminded of everything from the darker moments of early Dokken and W.A.S.P. (think “Unchain the Night” and “L.O.V.E. Machine”) to the consummate despair of Dio-era Sabbath. There are flickers of Maiden, Priest, and all of the classic nods you’d expect as well, but none of it sounds premediated or contrived. Not a single note or moment of pause is wasted, as Dawnbringer rips through each tune with passion and fire like a band trying to outrun the reaper.
If XX does indeed represent the end of Dawnbringer, it’s a tremendous note to exit on. The songs are catchy as hell, the riffs are strong, and the whole thing vibes with the searing confidence of a band that’s got nothing left to prove. Hopefully that’s not the case and Black is just jerking our chains for the sake of drama, because the next evolution of Dawnbringer from this jumping off point could be something truly amazing.