When you get down to it, heavy metal is all about going there, pouring heart and soul into an outlandish, grandiose or just plain silly-on-paper concept in the hopes of achieving something ineffably awesome. It’s easy to caricature titans such as Iron Maiden, Manowar, Ronnie James Dio, King Diamond, Glenn Danzig or Cannibal Corpse, but what these artists share is a complete investment in their respective self-created mythologies, one that’s echoed by their rabid fan bases. If creative hubris really is the genre’s core tenet, then Into the Lair of the Sun God—last year’s fifth Dawnbringer LP, a concept album concerning a nameless warrior who sets out to “murder the sun”—might be the definitive metal album of our time.
Dawnbringer, a studio-oriented collective revolving around Chicago singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and all-around metal maven Chris Black, is strictly an underground enterprise, recording for tastemaking Ontario label Profound Lore and touring rarely. But Black’s ambition is the stuff of legends. He complements Into the Lair’s epic adventure fantasy with elements cherry-picked from disparate subgenres: the chopsy poise of late-’70s–early-’80s British hard rock, the headlong gallop of classic thrash, even a dash of power-ballad bombast. Thanks to Black’s economical songcraft and ear for FM-ready hooks, the endeavor leapfrogs absurdity and lands smack-dab in the realm of the timeless. Dawnbringer’s due a hero’s welcome this week, as Black & Co. play the first NYC show of their 18-year career. Show up and toast the glorious art of heavy-metal chutzpah.—Hank Shteamer
Follow Hank Shteamer on Twitter: @DarkForcesSwing