By Kyle Harcott
On his fifth full-length as Dawnbringer, and second for Profound Lore, Chris Black further perfects his witches’ brew of classic-sounding, New Wave of British Heavy Metal riffola, and throws in a few surprises this time for good measure. A concept album this time out, Sun God tells the tale of an arrogant, naïve assassin who undertakes the murder of the Sun. Eschewing song titles in favor or Roman numerals, tracks I-IX on Sun God absolutely gush with an unjaded, untainted love of the genre in its purest form. Listening to the album for the first time, I was instantly transported back to a circa-‘82 era of heshery, when bands with four-letter names like More, Tank or Fist [both of them] were at their arguable peaks. A time when twin-axe harmonics were the rage, bandanas were worn ‘round knees, and, most importantly, irony didn’t exist. Into The Lair of the Sun God plays like an open-hearted love letter to an age when heavy metal was the brightest star in the sky.
The album explodes into being with an attention-commanding power-chord bombast that leads into the kind of thundering gallop that reminds you why you love this stuff in the first place. Every note is perfect, the guitar leads and solos are especially masterful, setting just the right mood in their race to recall dozens of once-much-loved-but long-forgotten Banzai Records bands. Also noteworthy are the occasional ‘One Of These Days’-era Roger Waters bass lines that pop up more than once throughout the record. And dig that massive organ solo at the end of “VI”! Black’s clean-gravel vocals really lend weight to the record’s soul as well, the gritty cement to its classic feel, elevating it above anything falsetto shrieks or deathgrunts could have possibly done.
But it’s “V” that is the album’s Hope Diamond. Buried dead center of the record, to be uncovered when you’re least expecting it, Chris Black has, quite monumentally and with a grim-faced lack of anything resembling irony, brought back the gritty power ballad. You must understand, I do not say this lightly: we’re talking a Night Songs-era-Cinderella level of power balladry, but of course delivered via the throat of a Lemmy Kilmister. Grandiose, it’s the kind of song meant to be performed under an underlit, spinning disco ball at a highschool dance, circa 1988, “V” is full of the pageantry that heshers of a certain age will recall with a poker-faced fondness.
The album’s back half is no less impressive. “VIII” is another show-stopper, an absolute monster of dug-dugga-dug riffs and harmonized vocals, and the harrowing leads and depressed-pace death march of “IX” bring the entire epic to an earth-quaking close.
Chris Black has crafted a gargantuan, unabashed ode to classic heavy metal in Into The Lair Of The Sun God, without the slightest hint of irony, or need to pose like a lot of the revivalists do. This is absolute vintage in its purest form. Highly, highly recommended.