It’s pretty close to impossible to keep up with the recorded output of “Professor” Chris Black, the Chicago-based trad-metal genius behind High Spirits, Superchrist, and Aktor, to name a few of his many musical associations and identities. Black’s best-known alias (and the one via which he produces much of his very best music) is Dawnbringer. As Dawnbringer, Black has released six outstanding LPs, including 2012’s Into The Lair Of The Sun God, which we named that year’s second-best metal album. Dawnbringer are going on a very short European tour next month — their first ever — and in anticipation of that jaunt, Black has dropped a new Dawnbringer song, called “North By North.”
Like I said, it’s really hard to keep track of Black’s work, partly because he’s so prolific, partly because he operates under so many different monikers, and partly because he’s not particularly interested in cataloging any of this stuff for his fans. He just kinda releases it into the world and assumes we’ll figure it out. For example: He’s apparently completed an LP called Snake: “a Motörhead rock opera written in 1998-99 then recorded in late 2014,” which hasn’t been released in full, but from which he unveiled two songs earlier this year, in the wake of Lemmy’s death. Where did this unveiling occur? Why, in the Nuclear War Now forums, naturally. Anyway, I don’t think “North By North” is part of Snake, but I’m not sure. I have no idea where it comes from, actually, or when he recorded it, but I will say this: It’s my favorite Chris Black song since Sun God, and it might actually be better than anything on that album. Black’s work can sometimes sound overtly retro — it’s part of his approach and his appeal — but “North By North” feels absolutely of-the-moment, while still drawing from the genre’s archetypal artists. When he’s on his game, the dude writes the best riffs and pairs them with the sickest melodies, and this right here is peak Black for seven straight minutes that fly by in what feels like three. I love it, and I hope there’s more to follow. For now, feast on this.