Dawnbringer are an American metal band who have been hailed in underground circles for years – allegedly. You see, they’ve never really done much business with the mainstream despite the fact that they’ve been around since 1995 and seem to have a bit of a cult following, possibly due to mainman Chris Black also being involved with Superchrist, Pharoah and High Spirits.
Still none the wiser? “Into the Lair of the Sun God” is the band’s fifth full-length album and would no doubt have the word ‘METAL’ running through it if you cut it in half. Each track is given a number rather than a title and although ‘epic’ doesn’t accurately describe the songs, there is an overall feel of the band trying to achieve something bigger than just simple headbanging anthems.
The songs all follow the classic metal template of big riffs and catchy choruses but wrapped up in a slick, modern production that keeps everything sounding streamlined. It isn’t until ‘V’ that a bit of a stadium rock influence creeps in, sounding like a power ballad that mid-80’s Kiss would have churned out. ‘VI’ adds a bit of Coverdale-style swagger to the mix, albeit with a straight-up metal edge, and is probably the most memorable song on the album.
Despite the band having a sound as tight as a spandex codpiece, what really lets the album down is Chris Black’s vocals. Not that he has a bad voice but his gruff, low-key delivery just doesn’t seem to gel with what’s going on musically, like on the track ‘VII’ where the band build an escalating intro worthy of classic Metallica or Iron Maiden but Black’s weak exclamation of the opening line brings the song down to where any fist-in-the-air dynamics are lost. In the hands of someone like Rob Halford or Bruce Dickinson that song would have been huge but the underwhelming vocals just make it all sound a bit flat.
Overall, “ITLOFSG” is an average heavy metal album by a band who seem to have bigger ideas than what they seem to be putting down in the studio. It isn’t that it’s a bad or terrible album but there’s not a lot here to lift it above anything of a similar ilk that has come out recently. It isn’t going to trouble the none-more-metal likes of 3 Inches of Blood or Furyon, let alone the big guns like Judas Priest or Megadeth, so for now it looks like Dawnbringer will remain in that vast metal underground.