Order From Chaos "Dawn Bringer" CD
After three-minutes of abstract cacophony; swirling guitar noise; organ swells, twisted and reversed; monotone spoken word invocation, and the intermittent sound of the full band fading in and out of the mix, the pummeling opening barrage of “Labyrinthine Whispers” erupts at full speed—the trio of guitarist Chuck Keller, drummer Mike Miller, and bassist/vocalist Pete Helmkamp coalescing into a focused vortex of violence. Helmkamp’s commanding voice rises above the fray: “Oft spoken of only in whispers/The true embodiment is enshrined/Its roots reach down through slumbered soils/Swift branches scrape the skies.” And so begins “Dawn Bringer,” the second of three pre-planned albums by Kansas City, Missouri black death legends Order From Chaos. Originally planned as a 12” MLP on the Dutch label Shivadarshana Records, the label insisted on adding more material and tacked on two live tracks—known as the “Pain Lengthens Time” EP, though it was never independently released—and a cover of Voivod’s “War and Pain” taken from the “Jericho Trumpet” EP. By the time it came out, in 1995, the label ditched the vinyl edition and only issued it on CD. Perhaps due to the comparatively limited nature of the original release, “Dawn Bringer” has sometimes been overshadowed by the band’s other full-lengths, but it is a masterful album nonetheless. Order From Chaos is the sort of band that can’t be fully understood through examination of any single element of their output; one must appreciate the composite sum of their body of work, and “Dawn Bringer” is a crucial part the band’s unassailable catalog, capturing their transition from the militaristic barbarism of “Stillbirth Machine” to their esoteric and intricate swan song, “An Ending in Fire.” The band’s themes came into focus on “Dawn Bringer.” Helmkamp’s occult vision looked inside, isolating and exalting the self, whereas Keller, who shared the lyrical and thematic responsibilities, turned his gaze outward and upward, drawn to the celestial and cosmic. The iconic mutation of the Vitruvian Man design featured on “Stillbirth Machine” evolved into the “Conqueror of Fear” symbol adorning the cover of “Dawn Bringer,” representing the philosophical core of Order From Chaos: “He is the refuge towards which you crawl/Yet as poison fear has tainted your wine/Let fly the arrow marking you for death/He laughs- He represents foreverness.” Helmkamp dove deeper into this concept in his later lyrics, refining and expanding it, but the first coherent emanations of the Conqueror of Fear philosophy appear on “Dawn Bringer” during the second movement of the “Tenebrae/Draconis” track. One also hears Order From Chaos’ sonic evolution on “Dawn Bringer,” as several of the songs appear as reworked versions of tracks from earlier releases (i.e. “Labyrinthine Whispers,” which appeared with different lyrics as “Crimes Against the State” from the “Crushed Infamy” demo, “Megalomania” from the “Will to Power” EP was reworked to become “Ophiuchus Rex (He Who Plays with the Serpents),” and “Tenebrae” incorporated riffs from “Apocalyptic Visions” from the “Inhumanities” demo). Additionally, closing out the album is an extended, re-recorded version of “Webs of Perdition,” one of their defining tracks that first appeared on the “Will to Power” EP. On “Dawn Bringer,” however, the song ends with a stormy guitar solo panning back and forth in the background, disintegrating into noise as Keller ripped the strings off and tore at the pickups with a screwdriver. There’s an increased degree of complexity on display in the material on this album as well, especially on the song “Tenebrae/The Sign Draconis,” an eight-and-a-half-minute epic comprised of three segments—a compositional tool that would carry over to the band’s final album. This new reissue, which marks the first time “Dawn Bringer” has been released as a standalone vinyl edition (it previously only appeared in the “Frozen in Steel” box set from 2014), will hopefully elevate the album’s stature, firmly positioning it on the same plane as the band’s other full-lengths.
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