The Dagger [Sweden]
Century Media Records
Heavy Metal/Hard Rock
We already know the love for the old school with the ever-increasing number of bands emulating the style that Sweden pioneered, particularly in the death metal genre. On the other hand, there is an increasing number of Swedes moving away from their extreme metal roots, what with bands like Enforcer featuring former Tribulation bassist/vocalist Olof, and the rumoured involvement of Repugnant‘s Mary Goore in Ghost. Whatever it is, this trend is certainly one that is welcome for me, and The Dagger is one of the latest addition to this trend, featuring amongst its ranks past and present members of bands such as Dismember and Grave.
Honestly, knowing about the lineup left me thinking that this was another all-star death metal project, but having Sideburn vocalist Jani in the band should have been a dead giveaway. Kicking off with Ahead of You All, The Dagger instead indulges in some proto-heavy metal/hard rock with elements of early heavy metal. The opening riffs quickly brings one back to the material of early 80s Maiden, but things escalate quickly and gets much more interesting as the track progresses. Guitarist David shows off his knowledge and his enthusiasm in early hard rock and heavy metal, and on the leads of songs like Ahead of You All, one can’t help but be reminded of the works of Ritchie Blackmore in his works with Deep Purple or Rainbow.
In keeping with the rather psychedelic history of rock, the band also makes rather heavy usage of synths and the hammond organ throughout the album, and this works especially well on slower tracks like Ballad of an Old Man, with every element on the track, from the heavy riffs of David (that reminds us of Dio-era Black Sabbath), to the vocal harmonising having that nice old school touch. The lead guitars on the track even remind one of the ballads of Dio-era Rainbow and Black Sabbath, think a mix between Catch the Rainbow and Children of the Sea. Furthermore, Jani’s vocals, along with the groove of the music on tracks like Skygazer even give the band a rather stoner rock feel at times, though there are moments like on 1978 where one is reminded of the light vocals of Papa Emeritus II of Ghost fame.
As one already knows what the band is capable of, considering the aggression that is on other releases they have been on, one wouldn’t expect or imagine the band to be able to produce such mild-sounding music, yet remaining as infectious and addictive as ever. With releases such as The Dagger, and bands like Enforcer and Ghost, one can be assured that there is an old-school heavy metal fanatic in every metalhead, and with quality as such, I honestly have no qualms at all with this increasing tendency towards old school heavy metal.