Sound: They're that band I saw supporting is probably the most common reaction to the name Dagoba: a band who have toured with just about every contemporary A-list metal band you'd care to mention. If you're one of those lucky enough to have seen them on one of these tours, you'll be familiar with their groove-industrial-death-core styling already, and if not then you're probably imagining a band of indecisive ambiguity. However, over their last two albums Dagoba have secured a death-grip around their niche, sitting comfortably between all varieties of heaviness, just out of reach of a solid classification.
Proceedings commence in typical Dagoba fashion with a 40 second appetiser before the main event begins, but there's something fishy going on here. A plinky-plonky piano slides into a feast of overbearing strings and melodies made entirely of pinch harmonics. Granted, it's all done over a chunky signature riff and a nice fat Yeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaah from Shawter on vocals, but it's still a little odd. Even so the title track, as the first song proper, really does start things off well; it's a sign of intent to escape the pigeonhole that I actually just put them in. The problem is that after the rousing opener, you have the next song, which is suffocated, rather than complimented by these strings and clean vocals. Then there's the next song, and the next, and the next, all featuring these melodies and clamorous synth tracks. This album really feels like a full length remake of 'Cancer', from their fantastic 'What Hell Is About' album. The difference is of course that 'Cancer' was a song, a brief bit of melancholy before diving right back into the carnage again. It's as if Dagoba recorded an ultra-tight, kickass album but then smeared the works of London god-damn Philharmonic all over it, and to me it stinks of Hey look! This studio has shiny equipment, what does this button do? // 6
Lyrics: Shawter sure does know how to get himself heard, and his roar was one of the biggest attractions, for me, to Dagoba's music. His clean, melodic voice is also quite distinctive, however on this album his harsh vocals are not used to their full potential and frankly his frequent use of clean vocals does tire after a while. Hell, he even gets his first chance at some balladry in 'Silence', with sadly disposable results. The lyrics have also adapted to fit this more personal sound, with more songs about feelings than about the dilemma between 'being f--ked or being roasted' (as it was so wonderfully put on 'The Fall Of Men'). Still, the lyrics are good and the vocals are good, if a little unbalanced in the arrangement process. // 7
Overall Impression: It would have been easy for Dagoba to ride on the success of 'What Hell Is About' and just to have made that album again. I know I would have been happy with that, but it's still a bold and respectable move to try and go somewhere new, it just didn't work out this time. There's still Franky's awesome drumming, some sick riffs and a few generally fantastic songs ('Sudden Death', 'Orphan Of You') to keep you going, but I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to get this one, especially not over 'What Hell Is About'. // 5
- Duncan Geddes aka duncang (c) 2008