Raging Beyond the Dismal Swamp with Sacred Dawn
Raging Beyond the Dismal Swamp with Sacred Dawn
Sacred Dawn burst onto the Chicago metal scene in 2005 with an innovative mix of progressive metal and old school hard rock. The band’s unique blend of vocal harmonies delivered by front man and lead guitarist Lothar Keller set the band apart and launched numerous live appearances across the Midwest in support of international acts such as Symphony X, Cage, Firewind, Kamelot, Epica, Loudness, and Testament just to name a few. Dismal Swamp is the name of the latest magnum opus from Sacred Dawn, now available via Qumran Records! Highwire Daze recently interviewed Lothar Keller to find out more about the almighty Sacred Dawn and their raging journey into the Dismal Swamp and beyond…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Sacred Dawn, and how long the band has been together?
My name is Lothar Keller. I am the lead vocalist, guitarist and primary songwriter for Sacred Dawn of which formed in early 2005.
Where is the band based out of and what is the local music scene like there?
Sacred Dawn is based in the Chicago area. The overall music scene is pretty strong throughout Chicagoland (sorry I have to include the suburbs LOL). There is definitely no shortage of good shows to see around here……..and Milwaukee is just up the road from us as well.
Is there any story or concept behind the Dismal Swamp album title?
We chose Dismal Swamp as the album title to be kind of an abbreviated name for The Lake of the Dismal Swamp.…..but beyond that we felt the shortened title kinda wraps up how dismal of times we find ourselves in and how some may view the world right now.
Select two songs from Dismal Swamp and what inspired the lyrics.
1. Truth Be Told which we released as our first single is inspired by how we receive our information and news. So many smokescreens and media manipulation has plagued our world…. so who is really getting the real truth anymore. We can only hope our interpretation is correct.
2. The Lake of the Dismal Swamp The song is built around a poem written in 1806 by Thomas Moore that tells the tale of a young man who has lost his mind in search of his deceased love. He believes she’s still alive and has gone to the Lake of the Dismal Swamp where by fire-fly lamp she can be seen paddling her white canoe.
Your last full-length album for Sacred Dawn was released in 2011. How frustrating was it to wait so long to release new music?
The reason for the temporary hiatus that Sacred Dawn had since the 2011 release was because in 2012 I joined The Skull (formed by myself along with former members of Trouble – Eric Wagner and Ron Holzner). I also joined another band called Divinity Compromised as a vocalist of which had we had the honor of playing Progpower USA 2013. Unfortunately, Divinity Compromised disbanded after a 10-year run. When the pandemic happened in 2020 it forced us all to adjust. It also allowed for John Vitale and I to start writing and finishing up tunes that we had started on. We had a lot of fun putting Dismal Swamp together and we are already talking about the next record.
What could one expect from a live Sacred Dawn show?
We thrive off of live shows, so we put it all out there. We take time to organize our songs to create a flow and keep things moving. No one wants to see a band on stage going …(um what do you wanna play next?) haha. As of recent Brad “Sabbath” Sabathne who was our drummer on Gears of the Machine: A new beginning has come back into the band as our drummer of which we are very excited about. The 4 of us have an incredible chemistry on stage!!!
Who are some of your favorite bands Sacred Dawn has opened for?
We have had the pleasure of opening for bands like Kamelot, Symphony X, Primal Fear and Testament to name a few. However, I absolutely love Symphony X and also struck up a good friendship with Mike Lepond which also led to asking him to play the Bass solo on The Lake of the Dismal Swamp.
Has Sacred Dawn ever played in the Los Angeles/Orange County area, or is that something you would like to do in future days? If you played here, what was that experience like?
Sacred Dawn has not played in the Los Angeles area yet but would definitely like to. I have played Los Angeles several times with The Skull of which was pretty awesome. So Sacred Dawn is due for a trip to LA.
When you look back on your first album Gears of The Machine, what do you think of it now in retrospect?
When I look back at the Gears of the Machine release I think it was a great debut for who we were at the time. There are several songs from that album we still play out live and have fun doing so. Plus, the fans still like hearing those songs so for us that’s a good thing!
Are you currently active with The Skull and are there any new recordings on the horizon?
Yes, I am still active with The Skull now also known as Legions of Doom. We are actually going into the studio to record the 3rd album at the end of February so we should have a new album out by late summer.
Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of Sacred Dawn and The Skull?
Sacred Dawn and The Skull keep me pretty busy that’s for sure. I do on occasion play in a newly formed tribute to Savatage called Edge of Thorns. I am also working on a Prog recording project with David Gryder (the keyboard player from Blood of the Sun).
What’s up next for Sacred Dawn?
Sacred Dawn will be supporting the album with playing shows throughout 2024 while also working on new material. We will be doing another album…….and no it won’t take 10 years to get it done.
Any final words of wisdom?
Be good to one another……it will make the world a better place. Support musicians as much as you can because I don’t wanna live in a world where computers are writing and performing all of our new music. Just think about that for a minute. Thank you.
(Interview by Ken Morton)
Sacred Dawn on Instagram