Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mr.Clean Reviews Dagger's Self Titled Album

I grew up in the mid 1990s listening to 80’s metal when it was considered un-cool. I have no regrets fighting for Judas Priest and Iron Maiden when everyone thought Third Eye Blind, 311, and Chumbawamba(I’m dating myself, I know) were far superior to my metal bands. Dagger from Tempe, Arizona released a self-titled release that combines elements of straight up 80’s and early 90’s metal, but with also a hint of glam. Usually you hear bands that pick the heavy over the glam side in metal, but Dagger is one of those hybrid bands. I get to be a tough critic on Dagger’s self-titled album because I’m a seasoned metalhead and study all styles and subcategories of metal.

Dagger Stagger Records 2009

The opening track “Why Not” is my least favorite track on the album. This is a good album to listen to, don’t get me wrong, but I cannot stand “cadenzas” in the beginning or ending of albums. A “cadenza” is an explosion of notes that are improvised for intros or outros of songs. They are overused in southern rock and are a lame excuse for music passages; they just kill time.

This album does build though. I really like Howie Macreno’s mid-range Geoff Tate-influenced vocal style. In fact, his vocals help narrow down the style for Dagger. For this caliber of music, guitar solos are expected and do exist. You don’t hear a total “wank-fest” on guitar, which a lot of listeners don’t want on their albums. These solos are unique and tasteful. I wish the drumming was more dynamic because a lot metalheads want tasteful grooves. Instead, they are simple and on time—which gets the job done.

As the album progresses on, you can hear influences by Skid Row, Jackyl, Metal Church, Vicious Rumors, some Anthrax, and maybe Savatage—minus the keyboard work. The vocals scream Queensrÿche, but once you listen to the songs over and over it feels like there is some 80’s thrash influence in the vocals as well. I’m happy that there are background vocals in the choruses that remind you of Accept and Queensrÿche big choruses. The albums cohesiveness on songs is a bit questionable, but mainly because of going from straight up metal to glam style guitar riffing.

Drummer John Harper pummels the skins at this year's Rocklahoma
(Photo by Bigfoot Diaries)
A metalhead like me would recommend Dagger’s “Dagger” album to metal fans who are open minded and can appreciate all styles of metal. It would be a hard sale to metal fans who are stuck on one type of metal or just don’t care for the hair metal/glam metal to begin with. Dagger is a band that I could see doing extremely well in the Midwest for representing metal that isn’t heard on today’s commercial radio. I really do enjoy this album, even with my higher standards, and do hope for follow up album that blows the first one out of the water. I recommend this album to metal fans who remember bands like Banshee and Artch for their heavy metal/glam crossover music.

-Written by Mr. Clean


Pertinent Links:

Dagger Official

Dagger Facebook



Derrick (Phoenix) said...

John Harper is a great drummer live. Might be one that you have to see in person to fully appreciate. In fact this is true for the entire band. Nice honest article Mr Clean.

Hang'em High said...

Nice! thx bro. Gar

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