Monday, July 1, 2013

Black Dawn Deserves A Reintroduction

Matt Kotten of Black Dawn
It has been almost 10 years since the Long Island-New York City metal band Black Dawn released Age Of Reason (2004), an overlooked outing that has since earned a decade of mileage. It was the fourth release and second full length for the band, founded in 1996.

Since then, they have maintained a consistent showing, booking smaller shows or jumping on part of a longer ticket event at places like the Revolution Bar & Music Hall in Amityville. The schedule really isn't enough to remain top-of-mind aside from loyal fans but it has kept the band as sharp as when they started.

This year, they are hoping to find themselves back in the spotlight with enough support to produce their third studio album. And although we don't often cover nearly 10-year-old albums, Black Dawn has enough hooks and chug that a retro-review seemed like a nice investment to hear something new.

Black Dawn reimagines another Age Of Reason.

Black Dawn has never been a band that relies on brute force alone, but tends to deliver on a blistering middle ground between thrash and groove that once prompted comparisons of the band playing like Metallica meets Pantera. The description is relatively accurate, given that the album stays on melody target while delivering some big riffs and hooks that sometimes transition into rapid-fire rhythm.

Age Of Reason opens up with Reflect, a heavy-handed anti-apology song that lays down the aggressive tendencies of the band. The live version doesn't have quite the power and punch of the studio session, but the vid from Sullivan Hall still captures their spirit.

Every member shown has been with the band since they first came together as an excuse to party with friends. They include Matt Kotten (vocals/guitar), Tom Kelly (rhythm guitar), James Lane (bass), and Enzo DiPaolo (drums). And while there are times it seems Kotten could use someone standing in on guitar so he can focus on his vocals, the clip does catch the band's timelessness.

Reflect sounds almost as fresh as it does on Age Of Reason. Other standouts out on the album include the pounding title track Age Of Reason, the relentless chug of Push, the harshness of Dangerous, and the moodiness of December Moon, which is also the longest track on the album. (Age Of Reason also has a standup guitar solo.)

All in all, the album is largely reminiscent of a heavier amalgamation of thrash and groove metal that emerged in the 1990s. Only Four Rings Of The Moon breaks ranks as a straight-up metal acoustic instrumental throwback of sorts that breaks from what the band does best.

Through These Eyes is one of several tracks that the band has been play testing for their third studio album. As an album contender, it sounds even darker than some of the earlier Black Dawn material, a direction likely set by principal songwriter Kotten.

He generally takes the lead on compositions, which is why songs play so well to his vocal and guitar skills. But that's not to say that other members don't contribute. It seems pretty clear that DiPaolo is a primary influencer in setting the pace while Kelly and Lane lend structure and soul to the music.

Age Of Reason By Black Dawn Rises To 5.4 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

After listening to Age Of Reason and the equally stunning Absence Of Time, two things seem clear. Their music plays best as a complete set because few of their tracks truly stand out as signatures and the band broke ground when nu-metal grabbed the spotlight. No matter.

There is ample interest in rediscovering great bands that have stuck it out for almost 20 years. A new album now would rock. You can find Age Of Reason [Explicit] by Black Dawn on Amazon. Age Of Reason and Absence Of Time can also be found on iTunes. To check for shows in the New York area and other updates, check out Black Dawn on Facebook.
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