Last week, the Chicago-based heavy metal institution Dawnbringer dropped an absurdly great new song called “North By North.” I’ve been listening to Dawnbringer for years — and beyond Dawnbringer, all the (many) other projects helmed by the outfit’s mastermind Chris Black — and I’m pretty sure “North By North” is not only my favorite Dawnbringer song to date, but my favorite Black-associated song period, as well as one of the very best tracks of the young year. As I wrote in my review of “North By North,” because the song arrived from absolutely out of nowhere, I was entirely unclear about either its origins or its place in Black’s broader catalog. Today, though, that’s been clarified. Black just surprise-released a whole new Dawnbringer EP called XX, on which “North By North” appears as the centerpiece. XX comprises five songs, written and produced by Black, recorded in January 2016, and mixed by the venerable Sanford Parker (Bloodiest, Vattnet Viskar, Leviathan, a million others). Parker also worked on Dawnbringer’s two best albums — 2010’s Nucleus and 2012’s Into The Lair Of The Sun God — so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that XX immediately feels like a career highlight from a guy who’s already built up a mightily impressive catalog. Obviously, you should listen.
The XX EP is out now via Dawnbringer.