[Album Review] Dawn Lights – My Will Alone

Dean Johnson and Eric Hess are Dawn Lights (Photo credit: Jocelyn Petruccio)

Dawn Lights is a studio project that includes Cleveland rock scene veterans Eric Hess (Battlestar, Audiblethread) on vocals and Dean Johnson (Via the Sun, Burning Vegas) on guitars, drums and everything else. The band’s debut album, My Will Alone,  is set for an October 21, 2011 official release.

The album is a musical odyssey charged with emotion and power, with an emphasis on that which is simultaneously heavy and beautiful. Quiet, ambient song intros give way to walls of sound, which subsequently give way to chugging guitars and urgent vocals. My Will Alone seems to be a mission to “ignite the sky” with melody and well-placed harmonics.

The standout tracks were some of the last to be completed, according to the band. The heaviest hitter on the album is “Watch It Break”. This song starts out with an electronic intro giving way to soaring guitars and somber yet powerful vocals from Hess. The song is a perfect cross-section of the album as a whole, an example of the elements of beauty and power that permeate the 12-track disc.

Dawn Lights, according to Johnson, was a three year process, as he took two years to write the songs and search for a singer, and then another year to actually record the album. It seems Johnson’s insistence on getting everything sound just right may have contributed to the lengthy recording process.

“I played all the guitar parts in the original recordings,” Johnson said, “At first we just had synthesized bass and drums, but it just didn’t sound right to me; I felt that we could do better.”

Johnson’s quest to re-record the bass lines eventually turned into a quest to re-record all of the drum parts, as well. What remains is a polished final product that will surely excite fans of bands like the Deftones or Quicksand.

Working with Johnson on the album was hard work, but very rewarding, according to Hess. “One of the things that was so great working with Dean was that he really would push me on every take,” he noted, “I’m proud that we didn’t have to use Autotune anywhere. It was difficult at times, but it came out just the way we wanted it.”

We recently submitted a review of Chimaira‘s new album (check out that review here), and if you are familiar with Chimaira, you know that they are a band that practically defines brutality in musical terms. My Will Alone was recorded in the same building as Chimaira’s newest work The Age of Hell, a fact that added to the challenges of recording with Dawn Lights. “They were working on their new album in the studio right below us,” Johnson noted, “We had to wait until they were between takes to record anything – wait until it’s quiet, then hurry and record what we were working on.”

This album, as mentioned earlier in this piece, will officially be released on October 21 of this year. The release will be commemorated with a one-off concert put on by the band at Brother’s Lounge (11609 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland, 44102). Johnson will man the drums and Hess the vocal chords; the live lineup will be rounded out by Eric Antonik (No Loot, Audiblethread) on guitar and Chris Donley (Sindust, Via the Sun, Pop Rocks) on bass and backing vox.

Dawn Lights – My Will Alone
1. Intro
2. Imprint
3. Watch It Break
4. Not Dreaming
5. Bruises
6. Initiate
7. Smokeless
8. Brace For Impact
9. Kindle
10. The Rising
11. Empire
12. Blue and Grey

Gene’s must-listen tracks from My Will Alone:
1. Watch It Break
2. Kindle
3. Initiate

Recommended for fans of Deftones, Audiblethread, and Tool.

Dawn Lights Facebook
Dawn Lights Myspace
Brother’s Lounge

Ed. note:This article was also published on Radio923fm.com, available here.

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2 responses to “[Album Review] Dawn Lights – My Will Alone

  1. Pingback: Sgt. Pepper Spotlight: “Within You, Without You” | The Rock.

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