When I looked at all the top ten lists from 2002, this record wasn't there. It wasn't even mentioned in any of the posts. It seems that this album has been largely ignored by the punknews community. Hopefully, this review will get the word out about one hell of a record.
Personally, I would certainly put this album in the top ten, probably in the top 5. It is quite possibly one of the best hardcore albums I've ever heard. It rages with passion and power, and the intensity from this record can be felt just rushing from the speakers. Produced by Brian McTernan, Trial by Fire's "Ringing in the Dawn" is stock full of a kind of raw intensity the likes of which I have not heard from a record in some time.
Trial by Fire, a four piece hardcore band from Washington D.C. is able to blend the blistering speed and power of the DC hardcore scene with melodic strands. Sure Jason Yawn yells his way through most of the record and the backup vocals are mostly shouted, but Yawn's yells and screams have a melodic quality that make it unique and great to listen to. While the lyrics are mostly progressive and liberal in nature, I found myself not really minding because it just sounds so damn good. They're sung with great passion and fury, portraying the depth of Trial by Fire's conviction for social reform and progress.
The strength of Ringing in the Dawn is certainly the music - the blistering guitar, the pounding bass, the rapid-fire drums. They all combine to form one of the best hardcore sounds around, a sound that has been crafted to perfection by McTernan. Each song is great in its own right - there is no filler on this 11 song, 25:11 long album. "Ringing in the Dawn" begins with Test Pattern, a powerful, pounding two minute long song that sets the stage for the rest of the album. After Test Pattern, you know you're in for one hell of a ride. Steps of St. Johns is the highlight of the album for me, featuring a great breakdown section and outstanding vocals. Pilot Light, Vengeance, One Last Gasp, and Process of Elimination are the other outstanding tracks, although one cannot go wrong with any track from the album. Just about every song features a great riff and a unique breakdown that just adds to the depth and strength of the album. They all have the same intensity and power, the same speed and aggression, compacted into a nice 2 minute package that will make you want to get up and break something. They all portray the strong emotion and power that make Trial by Fire so great.
"Ringing in the Dawn" is definitely one of the best albums of 2002. It transcends hardcore, branching into different aspects of music that make it accessible to all fans of punk. This is a must have. Buy Trial by Fire's "Ringing in the Dawn" immediately, put it in the CD player as soon as you can, and get ready for the pure aggression and power of music at its best.