If you are an aficionado of all things doom then you will have probably heard of Portugual's Dawnrider, they are probably not the most well known of the bands that ply their trade in doomic circles but they have, since their 2004 formation, been one of those names that seems to be always knocking around when discussing underrated bands in the doom genre. The band have gone through many line-up changes since the release of their 2007 full length album "Alpha Chapter" but no matter what the line-up the quality of Dawnrider's music has never faltered. Dawnrider's current line-up of Hugo “Rattlesnake” Conim (guitars), Filipe Relêgo (bass/vocals), João Ventura (drums) and Diogo Simões (keyboards) march into 2022 not only with a brand new album, "The Fourth Dawn"(Alma Mater Records), but also a commitment to widen their international profile and introduce their music to whole new fanbase.
Calling the first song of your brand new album "A Farewell To Hope" is a bit like announcing the apocalypse after building a hospital, you just know things are going to get a little bleak and dark from here on in. Surprisingly the song is a quite beautiful, if somewhat mournful, instrumental played out on acoustic guitars around which swirling wind effects and the howling of animals give things a requisite feeling of doominess. "Order of Dawn" follows and here we have the perfect example of why its so hard to pin the band's sound to just one form of doom, bluesy guitar solo's, Iron Maiden style galloping bass lines and ear catching clean vocal melodies and choruses are all cleverly thrown in over a groove that is essentially proto-doomic but devoid of all the usual Sabbathisms we have come to expect from that sub-genre. "Reaching Glory" brings with it all the trappings of traditional doom, thick toned reverberating guitar refrains, swirling solos, ponderous rhythms and grizzled low end but then adds into that mix an almost Viking metal flavoured middle section that finds Relêgo recanting the songs chorus over and over again in an almost war cry meter. Next track "Unwanted Sorrows" begins with a guitar motif worthy of gracing the soundtrack of a sci-fi/horror movie or TV show then slips into a low slow traditional doom groove over which a strong vocal tells a tale of grief, woe and disappointment. The songs middle section ups the pace to a tempo of a more proto-doomic nature, with the vocals taking on a more strident dynamic and guitarist Conim trading off scorching solos with keyboardist Simões, but then slips back into its initial slow low groove to take things to the close. Electrical effects, keyboards and Relêgo's deep booming bass introduce next track "Those Who Parted" then Ventura's thunderous drums join the fray and the band shift into another of their wonderfully ponderous doom grooves with Relêgo regaling the songs lyrics in strong wearied tones. For "The Final Call" Dawnrider again mix their doom with a little Maiden-esque NWOBHM, the song dank and atmospheric one minute galloping and strident the next. Final track "Lord" is one of those songs you immediately know is going to be a firm favourite in a live environment it is big bold and brash with a groove that will appeal to stoners metalheads and doomers alike, it also boasts a vocal hook just perfect for audience participation.
Note: "A Farewell To Hope" is available only on digital downloads and CD not on the vinyl version
© 2022 Frazer Jones