Well, this is a surprise. Brit rockers Dawn After Dark caused something of a stir on a local level in the late eighties, with their very-much-of-it’s-time mashup of goth and biker rock styles; Fronted by former Kerrang! (and later World Soccer) journalist Howard Johnson, their joyous live shows were never accurately captured on the three EPs they recorded contemporaneously for the Chapter 22 label.
After hearing that they had reformed for a one-off show that had morphed into the inevitable ‘we went down so well we decided to get back on the horse’ reunion, I must say I was a little trepidatious at hearing what they’d come up with. I needn’t have worried.
Johnson was never the greatest vocalist, but, at thirty years remove, his vocals now have a pleasantly lived-in, comfortable tone that fits the gung ho, proudly retro tunes to a tee. Gratifyingly the band haven’t really made any concessions to the fact that we live in a different century now, preferring instead to bash out some beautifully unreconstructed hooligan rock and roll that will have old fans rolling in the aisles, in the process capturing a few new ones along the way too if there’s any justice. Originally DAD existed at the point were the goth rock of The Cult and The Mission intersected with heavier bands like The Almighty and, ooh, I don’t know… the much-missed Horse (London); Now, the formula has coalesced into something more akin to The Cult before they went a bit mad after Sonic Temple; aided by a superb production from Andy Taylor, who knows a thing or two about harnessing the power of an eighties rock guitar, tracks like Truth and Freedom will transport you back to a steamy, beer n’fag flavoured club in the twitch of a Tony Henderson hihat. It’s a glorious listening experience, let me tell you, even if the start of (I’m Not) The Man I Used To Be sounds a little too close to Echo and the Bunnymen for comfort. And is that the old wild hearted son himself, Ian Astbury, helping out on the chorus of The Shifting Sands of Time? I dunno. But I’d like to think it is…
Guitarists Ollie and Russ Frame lay down the riffs in quite superb, cutting fashion, with bassist Drew Gallon keeping things simple with his pulsing presence next to drummer Henderson; in tandem with vocalist Johnson, these guys have rolled back the years in quite scintillating, uproarious fashion – like I said, this is a hell of a surprise, but now it’s here it’s great to have these guys back. British heavy rock n’roll at it’s brightest and best!
New Dawn Rising releases on December 4th.