In the late '90s, metallic hardcore started leaning into its metallic side more than the latter. Atlanta, Georgia's Dawn of Orion were a perfect example of that stylistic shift.
I remember being floored by their debut, 1997's Twilight Eternal demo, loving both the music and the artwork. Dawn of Orion would also go on to release a 7-inch entitled On Broken Wings in 1998, and a full length album, For the Lust of Prophecies Undone, a year later.
With all of their releases, I was always impressed by every aspect of Dawn of Orion's songwriting and performances. When Immigrant Sun Records recently announced a discography from the band called A Celestial Ballad, I was thrilled. Not only does it contain all of the aformentioned releases, but there also three unreleased songs included in the collection.
Dawn of Orion vocalist Mike C-Town was kind enough to answer some questions about the band and the discography.
What brought about the Dawn of Orion discography?
It was really [Immigrant Sun Records'] Sean’s [Mallinson] idea. It’s something I’ve thought about a lot over the last 10 years or so but, since Immigrant Sun wasn’t active, I really didn’t know of any label that would want to do it.
We were a fairly small band and really only had a cult following when we were active. And, even though our popularity has actually increased over the years, we’re not some super well-known band. So, the idea of any label wanting to step up and do this was ludicrous.
With the release of the discography can we expect any live shows?
[Laughs] Maybe if we sell enough records to fund me getting a knee replacement and a robotic back. We’re all old dudes at this point and I didn’t treat my body very well when I was younger. So I can’t fathom getting back up on that stage. But a few of the guys in the band have been really pushing for it, and I know Sean would love to see it. So, never say never?
There are three unreleased songs included on the discography. Are they songs that didn’t make the cut for one of your releases or were they a separate session meant for something else?
So, we actually recorded a whole other album that never came out. It was a session in between the Twilight Eternal demo and what, eventually, became the For the Lust of Prophecies Undone full length. We went to a local studio and recorded 10 songs. Seven songs were going to be FTLOPU and three were originally planned to be one side of a split 7-inch with Creation Is Crucifixion (that we later canceled). But they sounded like absolute dogshit.
We scrapped the whole thing and went back to the drawing board. We ditched a few of the songs and then rewrote some of the others and almost a year later, we went back to the studio and recorded again. But during this recording session, we also recorded a redone version of one of our songs from the demo. This song was gonna be on an Atlanta comp. that never came out.
So, what you’re getting with those extra tracks is the song from the abandoned comp. and two songs that we ditched from that scrapped recording session. I’m especially stoked to see the release of those two songs because I always loved them and never agreed with scrapping them. And the new remix and remastering job sounds amazing! Shoutout to Sean Hansen on the mixing and Sun Room Audio on the mastering!
I remember picking up your first demo from a distro and being really drawn in by the artwork. All of your releases—including the upcoming one—seem to have a similar vibe. Is this intentional?
Whoa! You found our tape in a distro?! That’s awesome [laughs]. Thanks for grabbing it! I actually designed that one myself during my first year of college in '97. I can’t remember details but I know I had zero design skills and I look back with amazement that I was able to pull that cover off. Side note: I also drew that original ridiculous logo [laughs].
But the demo used Doré art because I absolutely loved Doré back then. The On Broken Wings 7-inch was more of an Egyptian feel because we just handed it off to a friend of ours, Phil Dwyer, and gave him free rein. That cover is what he came up with and we loved it.
For the FTLOPU album, we came across the artist Zdzisław Beksiński and just sent him an email asking for permission to use his stuff. He actually sent us those pieces we used and, as I remember, just wanted a copy of the album when it came out. When it came time to send him his copy he just stopped replying to us.
If you look up what happened to him around ’98/‘99, you’ll get a good idea of why he went ghost. All that’s to say I never really thought of the releases as having a similar vibe in artwork. But I guess that’s a good thing if others saw that!
I never saw you live but I assume you’re a band that had more ties with the hardcore scene even though your sound was just uncompromising metal. Something I recall becoming more of thing at that time. What specific bands influenced your sound?
Yeah, we definitely had really strong ties to the punk and hardcore scene. That’s where all of us met (with the exception of Sam). We were all friends going to local house shows and such. But, as far as the music, from my recollection, in the beginning, it was a lot of death metal like Cannibal Corpse, Monstrosity, Morbid Angel, and Malevolent Creation, mixed with hardcore bands like Integrity and Morning Again.
Around the time of FTLOPU, we really wanted to be like Slaughter of the Soul-era At the Gates. Not much as far as hardcore influenced us musically in the later years. We were really into the Gothenburg sound like Dark Tranquility and In Flames, which I think you can hear a lot on the full length if you pay attention.
Do you feel that in the time the band existed you accomplished all you set out to?
Not at all. I really feel like we could have been much bigger if we’d stuck together. Right around the time we broke up we were getting interest from places like Germany and Japan and I was super stoked to actually tour those places. But we broke up before any of that could happen.
The really shitty thing is we broke up right around when the full length came out. We didn’t even really get to tour for it. I’m surprised Sean doesn’t hate us! But, around the time we broke up, the sound we were doing was getting really popular in the hardcore scene. Bands like Darkest Hour, As I Lay Dying, Black Dahlia Murder (RIP Trevor), Shadows Fall, etc., were all getting popular and gaining traction and I firmly believe we would have fit right in with those bands. But we just couldn’t hold it together.
Have any of you been in any other bands after Dawn of Orion broke up?
So our drummer, Zack, didn’t join any other bands as far as I know. Eric, the guitarist, didn’t either. Craig, the bassist, joined a death metal band called Vastion after. They had a great album called Closed Eyes to Nothing. He was also in a band called R’leah that was a killer blackened doom band. Sam actually quit our band to join another band called Signs of Dying, which was incredible super-technical brutal death metal. I always say if I ever get rich I wanna release their EP on vinyl.
As for me, I lost interest in creating music after the band. I had a few ideas to do some things on my own but none of it ever came to fruition. The closest thing I’ve done since is reviewing and talking about music on YouTube:
Can we expect any new music from you?
At my age I’ve learned to never say never. Also, at my age, I’ve discovered that my screaming voice now sounds like a drowning cockatoo [laughs]. Not sure how well that would go over on a metal record that doesn’t, somehow, involve Mike Patton. But we’ll see.
Maybe this release will renew interest in what we were doing and push us back in the studio. But I’ve never been a big fan of “comeback records,” so I highly doubt it. Right now, I just want to get this music out to people in a format that I’m a huge fan of. So, if that’s all that comes of this, I’m more than happy!
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I just want to thank you, Billie, for doing this interview. It was really cool of you to take the time. And, of course, I wanna give a huge thank you to Sean from Immigrant Sun Records for seeing something in us 20 years ago. And for showing a renewed interest in us today. It means a lot to see all this coming together.
"To do a dangerous thing with style is what I call art." —Charles Bukowski
A Celestial Ballad is available on vinyl and digital via Immigrant Sun Records.
Dawn of Orion on social media: Instagram
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