Dawnbringer’s Night of the Hammer takes the relatively straightforward traditional metal of Into the Lair of the Sun God, slows it down to a more traditional doom metal pace and showcases Chris Black’s now clean and clear vocal delivery through an array of stunningly composed and performed standalone songs.
The songs mostly plod along at mid pace like Argus or Solstice but, the devil is in the details with Night of the Hammer. My initial reaction to the record was positive, but no more than most other solid traditional metal and traditional doom bands. But then I couldn't stop listening. I just kept playing it again, and again, and again. (It helps that the it’s only about 40 minutes long, so it’s over before I’m really ready for it to be).
There are so many small touches that make Night of the Hammer so fantastic. “Nobody There” ends with a slide guitar solo. “Xiphias” and “One-Eyed Sister” start out as folk songs and gallop into twin guitar NWOBHM fury. The extremely doomey “Damn You” ends with on a run down a scale, but blast beats explode on the final note, turning into the first note of “Not Your Night”, a full on black metal track, with the only distorted vocals on the album.
While the composition and performance are stellar, I have one quibble with the production. The drums sound lack punch. It certainly doesn't ruin the experience, and they hit enough at high volume. But everything else is so excellent that it would have been nice for there to be just a bit more “oomph” in the drums.
This is the hardest part to put into words. Night of the Hammer just feels metal. The riffs, the melodies, the vocals, the transitions, every part of every song comes together perfectly to make an album that just exudes pure metal glory. It’s a showcase for songwriting, rather than any technical wizardry, and the songs are so, so good. They all beg you to sing along and lose yourself in the storytelling.
Album of the year, so far.
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