Hardcore right now seems to be one of the most adventurously explored genres, certainly going by the evidence gathered and unleashed by Throatruiner Records this month alone, with It’s Not Jazz, Its Blues by Daggers arguably the biggest slab of unquestionable proof. The new album from the Belgian quartet is a brute of an unleashing, twelve tracks of distinct inventiveness from a band which has never been slow on pushing their limits anyway. Whereas their previous array of releases have been an indignant fusion of crust and hardcore, Daggers upon their new fury pushes the walls down between hardcore and extreme metal noise for a wholly unique brew of rapaciously imaginative rock ‘n’ roll to them and scene. It is a raw maelstrom of inciting imagination and voracious intensity which provokes and violates senses through to thoughts, a ferociously uncompromising adventure which though it needs time to state its persuasion, is an irresistibly compelling bruising.
Hailing from Liège, the foursome of Yannick Tönnes, Gregory Mertz, Thierry Tönnes, and Thomas Fagny has left a trail of satisfaction and exhausted emotions with a clutch of imposing releases, starting with their 2008 self-titled EP through to second album Euphoria in 2011. Across their five years Daggers has always been a provocation which has earned an appetite here if not a raging fire towards them, each release making a lingering and potent scar in the hardcore scene but It’s Not Jazz, It’s Blues is another matter entirely, in presence and impact. The album is a real journey through cavernous sceneries and ruthlessly stark atmospheres but constantly poised to thrust its instinctive punk breeding and metallic causticity down the throats of emotions.
Recorded live by Ben Phillips at the Lightship studio and mastered by Magnus Lindberg from Cult of Luna, the album opens on a reflective accordion croon as Apex slowly unveils its emotive invitation. It is a sinister if restrained enveloping which hints but gives no real clue to the impending and sudden explosion of vocal antagonism within an intensive and hefty weight of snarling riffs and cantankerous rhythms. The track instantly switches character at the expulsion, prowling purposely and intimidatingly across the senses as the guitars entwine a spiral of sonic acidity around things and the bass adds an extra rapacious menace courted by an inventive texture of lead and backing vocals, again their attack controlled but intrusive. Now that its heart is fully open, the song offers a true portent of the album’s intent and qualities, though not quite the maze of imagination and experimentation also to come.
The song’s closing riff is a bridge into the following Woolgatherer, the coarse link soon replicated with deeper hunger by bass and a grittier guitar tone. The track is an instant snarl of vicious rock ‘n’ roll employing numerous textures from rock and metal in its pungent incitement; an infectious repetitive groove aligned to a harsh roar of vocals which even in the briefness of the track steals keen attention and incites a greedy appetite for more which is soon offered by the similarly corrosive yet contagiously welcoming brawl of Blues. Also too short for these greed infused desires, the slice of combative causticity is an imposing wall of melancholic indictment and almost warring accusations lyrically and musically, which only intensifies the impressive start and persuasion of the album.
Both Asunder and Beacon push thoughts and passions into stronger enjoyment, the first a feisty confrontation of punk abrasion and metallic ferociousness which skilfully wrong foots not long into the roar with a delicious sonic detour employing seductive if acidic melodies and an irresistible twang to its breath before heading back into a riotous engagement with addiction sparking grooves and stomping attitudes, the bass wonderfully bestial once again. Its successor is a minute touching purge of the senses, uncluttered with twists and ideas taking it from its core intent but still infusing subtle hooks and lures which entice and linger within and after its offering. Again the swiftness of the assault is possibly thirty seconds or more too short but when so memorable and incisive you have to think that Daggers have got it right.
Wanderlust encircles the ears next, grizzled vocals taking their animosity out on air and senses whilst a sonic weave and anger ebbs and flows with inventive enterprise around the provocation. Arguably it is at this point where the album really starts to unveil its new rich pattern of experimentation and adventure, though earlier songs all bring a new character and potency from the band. In its forceful embrace, the song’s narrative takes the listener into sultry climates and melodic pastures, all shadowed and coated by unpredictable intrigue and evocative mystique, an emotive climate explored further by the instrumental Labyrinth, a piece which brings beauty under the sinister scrutiny of shadows and dark temptations.
The pair of Evermore and Dormant unveil the dangers, threat, and bewitchment of these new landscapes, the first an exhaustive charge which magnetically and urgently entices before slipping into a slower and equally incendiary intensive smothering of invasive rabidity which than alternates with a lasting contagion, and the second a stalking heavy legged predator which threatens and tempts the imagination. As all songs there is an agitation which will have its say and here with the most stringent pressure yet.
It’s Not Jazz It’s Blues saves its most thrilling experiments until the end starting with Sovereign, a track with a coarse and almost rustic glaze to its riffs and vocals as well as a hypnotic bordering droning repetition of sonic toxicity. There is a Killing Joke feel to the song as it feverishly works away tempting its victim, the unrelenting venom irrepressible even when the excellent twist of vocal delivery and haunting ambience leaves its compelling colour on the brilliant ingenuity of thought and sculpting. That brilliance continues into Cultist, its hive of waspish toxins an instant burrowing under the skin and across the psyche before relaxing into another persistent nagging which is impossible to resist or not find a new ardour for. Again a haunting, eerie atmosphere embraces the imagination whilst the track presents its venomous and mouthwatering bait with inventive bedlam and vicious veracity.
The release closes with Citadel, a dirty bleak stew of rare sonic abrasion and naked emotion which is punk in its purest form. The track impressively completes a blistering treat of a release. It’s Not Jazz, Its Blues is without doubt the best thing to strike from the minds and hands of Daggers, maybe not quite the classic you feel is alive inside them but certainly an inspirational new instigation for the genre and noise. It also suggest that if the band pursues the realms ventured within the final three or four songs on the album, that imitable pinnacle is nigh.
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