THE DAGGER - The Dagger
July 22, 2014, a year ago
The lazy comparison is inevitably going to be Ghost, but there’s a lot more to The Dagger’s narrative than a simple assessment based on superficial similarity. The Dagger calls itself a “heavy metal rock band”, and that endearing description is no doubt an intentional move to create the aura that this band is looking for: when Metallica’s James Hetfield, in an early interview pre-Kill ‘Em All, said that he and Lars were “heavy metal rock ‘n’ roll” fans, they weren’t referring to the extremity that would eventually become what we now simply call “metal”. Instead, Hetfield, Ulrich and The Dagger were referencing their worn-out and tattered LPs by UFO, Rainbow, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult, Thin Lizzy and, above all, the first Iron Maiden and Judas Priest records. And while that, on its own, is a cool storyline, there’s more to this debut from The Dagger. The Dagger’s lineup is made up of three-fifths of the mighty Dismember (drummer Fred Estby, guitar player David Blomqvist and bassist Tobias Cristiansson) fronted by Sideburn vocalist Jani Kataja. And that’s where things get really interesting.
Fred Estby is, of course, one of the key players in the Stockholm Death sound and ethos. Along with Sunset Studios producer Tomas Skogsberg and ex-Entombed/ex-The Hellacopters metal king Nicke Andersson, Estby played a crucial role in the early Swedish death metal scene and then moved on to be involved with the initial The Hellacopters records, the man an icon amongst icons. But what’s become clear over the years (and through the progression of The Hellacopters woefully underrated discography), is that when those Repulsion, Death and early Sepultura albums were taken off the turntable for a couple of minutes, the ‘70s were then seemingly all that mattered. Whether it was Andersson’s attachment to Ace/Peter-era KISS or Estby’ very apparent love of early Iron Maiden (“Iron Maiden is our favorite band!” Dismember vocalist Matti Karki would exclaim during live shows) 1976 through 1979 was omnipresent, whether we knew it or not, while Left Hand
Path or Like An Everflowing Stream were wrecking their sonic (“as fuck”, according to liner notes) havoc.
So with Dismember now very sadly entombed, Estby and his one-time Dismember cohorts have created a record that is a distillation of late ‘70s hard rock’s peak moments. Written by connoisseurs for connoisseurs, The Dagger’s debut is bursting with memorable hooks, I’m-the-man-on-the-silver-mountain riffs and solos worthy of The Dagger’s source inspiration. Though The Dagger is, much like Bloodbath or Chaosbreed, a full-on embrace of a time and its era through the most rose-coloured of nostalgia-stained glasses, that doesn’t matter. This record is composed by scene veterans with credibility and experience and, not surprisingly, a masterful LP has resulted.