Dawnbringer’s Lost Album, Snake
Prolific singer songwriter Chris Black had a relatively quiet 2015. The Chicago-based multi instrumentalist dropped two albums in 2014: the critically-acclaimed High Spirits album You Are Here, as well as a Dawnbringer album, Night of the Hammer. Last year saw the release of Paranoia, the debut album by Aktor, his collaboration with Jussi Lehtisalo of Circle. Paranoia dropped 11 months ago. It’s unclear what Black has been up to in that time.
Four weeks ago, Black released “Return to the Shrine,” via YouTube.
This is our first taste of Snake, an as-yet unreleased Dawnbringer album.
Two weeks later, Black released “Inferno,” a longer, second track from Snake.
Both songs are pretty good, partially because they’re composed, at least in part, of Motörhead riffs.
“Inferno” is the more indebted to Lemmy of the two. The riffs to “Ace of Spades” and “Orgasmatron” feature prominently on the song. It also shares a name with my favorite ’00s Motörhead album. It may not, however, be named after that album, because it’s older.
Here’s what we know about Snake: Black confirmed the album’s existence in a 2012 interview with Crystal Logic. In that interview, Black says:
There is also an album from 1999 called “Snake” which has yet to be recorded. It is very progressive and bombastic, a bit like an opera. I still hope to record it sometime in the future.
Black dropped the first evidence of the album’s existence via a Facebook post from last April where he unveiled the record’s cover. In that post he said:
This is my birthday gift to myself: a fully-functional copy of “Snake” by Dawnbringer. I finished the demo version in 1999 on my 21st birthday and finally recorded the real version in late 2014. Even though this is a CDR with laser-printed, hand-cut inserts, it is quite satisfying to finally possess. There are no plans to release this album commercially. (Album cover by Chris Cooper)
Black later shared both tracks on the Nuclear War Now forums, and gave some insight into when Snake was recorded, and why it may never receive a full release.
It’s basically a Motörhead rock opera written in 1998-99 then recorded in late 2014. It hasn’t been released because nobody is really sure about the copyrights etc. But in the shadow of Lemmy’s death it has been cathartic to share it (however partially).
According to the YouTube posts, Snake was mastered by Sanford Parker which, combined with Black’s comments above, lead me to believe that the album is complete, which makes it all the more upsetting that we may never hear all of it. To my thinking, it’s the ideal candidate for some kind of free streaming release.
In an ideal world, one where the copyright issues that Black alluded to are resolved, Snake could be bonus material on a re-release package of the older Dawnbringer work, most of which is out of print and hard to find. I wouldn’t be surprised if a large-scale reissue project is what has taken up Black’s time last year. The Dawnbringer Bandcamp now features the first four albums in the band’s discography, including a newly-mastered version of his sophomore album Unbleed.
Even if Black never releases Snake, these two tracks are a joy to hear in the shadow of Kilmister’s passing. That black was able to re-combine Kilmister’s parts into new and still-affecting music is, in a way, a more fitting tribute to the man.
If you still want to hear Black do more Motörhead, here’s a video of him performing “No Class” at Hell’s Headbash with Midnight.