One of US metal's most undeservedly obscure and wholly under appreciated bands returns with their latest full length and it's mind-bogglingly good. For years Dawnbringer have lurked in the shadows, hiding in the crevices of extreme music's facade, continually serving up neo-classical hyperthrashing onslaughts for those diligent and patient enough to seek out the records. Now on Profound Lore i can only hope that Dawnbringer will receive more exposure and show so many sorry, sorry bands how metal should be played. This is some TRVE underground shit, played with a reverence for the classics and a professionalism and attention to detail that blows away most anyone else fucking around with this sort of recidivism.
"Nucleus" sees little change from the last record aside from an interest in writing longer songs. In that regard this feels more like a proper record as opposed to the "glorified EP" feeling that the shorter compositions foistered upon predecessor "In Sickness and in Dreams." The moment "Nucleus" starts blasting into the headphones you feel like you've been dropped in the midst of something fierce and utterly epic. You might as well be standing in a raging circle of horse-mounted knights doing battle, while dust and blood kicks into your eyes and the air rings with the sounds of death and battle. Obviously the classicism of Dawnbringer's approach lends to this cliched medieval feel, but when the riffs are this fucking fantastic you can't complain.
This is a guitarist's band and even more so this record is a six string wet dream. If you could seamlessly intertwine the symphonic riffing of Iron Maiden with the speed of early Megadeth you'd be getting close to the sort of chops on display throughout "Nucleus." Mastermind Chris Black brings some serious A-gaming to the table as far as shredding goes-tasteful shredding, even!-and defies every band on the planet to do better. This is a guy who's lived and breathed metal his entire life and it shows in the output. He even manages to once again integrate some modern black metal influence into Dawnbringer as evidenced by the minimalist blast beat punishments in "The Devil." His vocals have gotten cleaner without losing any of their intensity-overall i'm reminded of a slightly less hoarse version of Lemmy with a little Wino thrown in for good measure-and it works with the music perfectly, adding to the overall feel of metal romance and classical composition on display.
There's few bands mining this territory with any real success. I can think mainly of Hammers of Misfortune and Slough Feg, and i attribute their mastery of the form to the same reason as Chris Black's: these guys live metal. It's deep in the blood. It's like hearing an Iron Maiden riff and having to headbang to it no matter where you are. It's stopping the radio dial every time you hear the faintest snippet of Judas Priest. It's a fervent belief in the importance and vitality of this style of music and the fact that it's contributed so much to the lives of so many disaffected, jaded kids. "Nucleus" is a masterpiece of metal-as force, as music, as lifestyle. Don't fucking sleep on this.