Chris Black is a very busy man. Most people will probably know him for his work with High Spirits. But he has also been involved with Pharao, Superchrist and Nachtmystium. His longest running band, however, is Dawnbringer. They have been going in one form or another since 1995. “Half of my life”, jokes Chris. The band was formed in Malvern, Pennsylvania but relocated to Chicago in 2000 (when Chris moved). From 1999 to 2011 Dawnbringer existed strictly as a studio band.
“Into the Lair of the Sun God” is the band's fifth full-length studio album. “This was a difficult album to make”, confesses Chris. “Introducing a storyline had significant bearing on the lyrics but also the music and artwork. The story deals with a young warrior who feels entitled to some share of glory and fame. He embarks on a delusional quest to destroy the sun, thinking that he will be a hero once he has accomplished this impossible task. Of course, nothing is what it appears to be, and after a long, dreamlike journey, and a dramatic confrontation with his enemy, the assassin reaches his true destination.”
Going back to the first Dawnbringer album “Unbleed” from 1997, Chris thinks that all the band's albums are somehow connected to each other: “Each album has a concept, or maybe 'design' is a better word. This deals more with the lyrics, but also the music and production and definitely the artwork will all fit the design. With the new album having a narrative, the framework was of course a bit more rigid. It was challenging and liberating at the same time.”
Chris' approach to writing music has changed over the years: “Well, my background is piano, not guitar. Around the time Dawnbringer started, I learned from a friend how to use a basic MIDI workstation. I wrote the first three albums essentially as piano music. Then for the most recent two albums, I was finally able to write with the guitar. This of course can change the mechanics of the music in dramatic and subtle ways. I have also learned to use my voice well enough to make it a part of the music rather than simply a garnish.”
Playing in so many different bands is no problem for Chris at all, for him it all comes down to one thing: “To me, it's all heavy metal, and those other things are just a part of heavy metal. Gamma Ray and Impaled Nazarene have more similarities than differences. You may not agree, but to me these are simply heavy metal bands, and I am drawing influence from both to make my own heavy metal. I play in so many different bands because I want to and I can. I think if I put everything into one project it would be unmanageable, artistically speaking. Each band leads to its own opportunities, creatively of course but also in terms of the business side and in terms of the other musicians I interact with. To do one thing all the time would be boring.”
Although Danwbringer is Chris Black's longest running band, it seems as if High Spirits are developing into his most popular musical project in no time. “People seem to be in the mood for High Spirits”, is what he thinks. “I myself was in the mood for High Spirits, so I created it! To answer your question, yes, I am surprised how quickly things happened for us. But the truth is that was mostly the result of hard work from people over there who really, truly believe in us. Combine that with the luck of good timing, and some incredible things can happen!”
With High Spirits going from strength to strength, this does not mean the end for Dawnbringer in any case. “I think I am approaching the halfway mark now with Dawnbringer”, is what Chris says. Which leaves at least another 17 years ...