Traditional heavy metal revivalist Professor Black started flying the flag of pre-extreme riffs in 1996 as the multi-instrumentalist behind Dawnbringer. His adherence to the old ways predates the current trad metal (or US power, depending on your preference) revival by twenty-ish years. As such, it’s logical to see his later work with Dawnbringer, albums like Nucleus, Into the Lair of the Sun God and Night of the Hammer, all released on Profound Lore, as cultural godfathers to current cats like Eternal Champion, Sumerlands, and Visigoth. In fact, you might want to time the USTM revival’s beginning to the end of Dawnbringer: Black ended the project in February 2016 with the release of its final EP, XX.
The end of Dawnbringer, however, doesn’t mean the end for Black. A prolific artist and songwriter, he’s never been one to put all his eggs in one basket and has always kept up multiple projects besides Dawnbringer, such as the now-defunct Superchrist, underrated psychedelic metal outfit Aktor, and pop-metal live powerhouse High Spirits.
After all these years as the primary songwriter and multi-instrumentalists in so many projects, it’s strange to say Black hasn’t had a proper solo release until now. His first formal release as Professor Black, a six-song EP called You Bastard! will be released this Friday by Ektro records. Lucky you, it’s streaming in full right here.
Musically, it’s a relatively straightforward mix of NWOBHM worship and straightforward rock and roll, tempered with Black’s requisite dark and introspective lyrics. That darkness makes it tempting to think of this as a continuation of Dawnbringer (that hammer in the promo image seems like a deliberate callback to the cover of Night of the Hammer), but Black is eschewing most of that project’s ‘epic’ tendencies right now. These songs are concise, to the point, and packed with hooky riffs and choruses. In that sense, it’s more tempting to think of this as a sort-of dark reflection of his more optimistic work in High Spirits. That description won’t mean anything to anyone who hasn’t ever delved into Black’s expansive and rewarding discography. To those people I say: This is a stellar introduction to the work of a remarkable songwriter.