I reviewed Funeral Horse’s 2014 EP Sinister Rites of the Master (Artificial Head) and still recall that marauding yet tuneful promise. Four years later, and I’m here with sophomore album Psalms For The Mourning (Artificial Head), a subtler beast shooting that Stoner template through with added invention and a touch of maturity. Continue reading
You’d be forgiven for thinking The Dagger, a band featuring former members of Grave and Dismember, might be a bit scuzzy. A bit riffy. A bit, denim-jackety. And, well, a bit Death Metally. You’d be forgiven, but you’d be very wrong. The Dagger (Century Media) swims in a different pool of influences to the past escapades of its protagonists, swinging its pants at Classic Rock and proto-NWOBHM with plenty of Deep Purple, Sin After Sin era Priest and The Who prevalent in the sound.
The first thing to note is the astonishing attention to detail. The Dagger doesn’t just reference these bands or that period, it has been painstakingly crafted to sound like it was recorded in the 70’s, finding those classic warm Fender guitar tones, that fuzzy bass groove and that thick Ian Paice pound and tickle on the skins. Vocalist Jani Kataja could well be singing on Very ‘eavy… Very ‘umble both in terms of his own delivery, but also in terms of the meticulously recreated rock sound playing around him.
But life is not all aesthetics, and while The Dagger has the tones, does it have the tunes? Opener ‘Ahead Of You All’ suggests so, as does the Mott The Hoople inspired ‘1978’ with its tales of weekend warriors and the Iommi worshipping Mob Rules of ‘Dogs Of Warning’. Elsewhere ‘Electric Dawn’ could have been one of the songs Iron Maiden left behind at the Ruskin Arms as they strode towards a recording contract, and ‘Call Of 9’ is all Blackmore stomp and swagger.
But for all the smiles it induces, for all that it is an enjoyable way to spend 45 minutes, you can’t but think that while the sounds can be replicated, for all the homage being paid, one thing that can’t be copied or magicked out of nowhere is greatness. Where are the distinctive, iconic riffs, and timeless choruses of the Purples, Rainbows, Mountains? The Dagger are a good band, losing the listener in a bygone age, but this album holds no ‘Speed King’, let alone a ‘Child In Time’. (Try and) sound like the true legends and you will invariable come off the worse for the comparison.
But, when the twin guitars bring in ‘Inside The Monolithic Dome’ like Saxon’s ‘Strangers In The Night’, or ‘The Dark Cloud’ dances like it belongs on a Di’Anno era Maiden album, The Dagger can be forgiven their indulgences in paying reverence to their forebears.