Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Stone Dagger - The Siege of Jerusalem (2013) / 84%

Primitive metal puncture

I was really mystified by Magic Circle last year, their self titled debut managed to become one of my favourite albums of the year and by all accounts, it was in part due to the awesome vocals of Brendan Radigan. The doom metal crew all coming from well known hardcore bands (not by me, mind you! I need to discover them.) from the Boston area impressed me with their live vigour at Wings of Metal. While I already liked the band before that festival, it was there that I was convinced they were to become a very relevant part of the American traditional metal scene.

Radigan was definitely busy in 2013 as he released this two songs demo tape who sold faster than a Big Mac in a McDonalds near a bar at 2 am (been there, done that). It will be released on analog support in late spring (a 7 inch) and it was time based on the comments I read on several forums. The tape limited to 100 copies (if I'm not mistaking) managed to make quite an impression in the metal underground and with good reasons since it's awesome stuff.

The ten minutes release is quite well done, it's the work of Radigan who plays guitar, bass and sings on it. He's helped by two friends from his main band, Chris Corry who helps with the guitar leads and Justin DeTore who handles the drums (weird since he's MC's bassist) but really, the project seems to be his baby. The guys seem to trade their instruments within their numerous projects, like for Mind Eraser, Radigan plays the drums and DeTore sings. It's a pretty fun scene within the confines of the beautiful scenery of New England.

Contrary to the Pagan Altar inspired and emotional doom found on MC, Stone Dagger (awesome name, evocative of the power of the project) is rooted in pure old school, talented heavy metal played in authentic fashion. You can feel the love for American true heavyweights like the fabulous Omen with their love for battle hymns or the might of early Manowar, a time where they weren't busy writing eight minutes introductions and interludes about how big their balls are. This album makes me want to sing “Heart of Steel” with the boys in a seedy karaoke bar selling only Bowes dry and Pabst Blue Ribbon cans while a classic match-up between the Bruins and the Canadiens is playing in the background.

Quite riffy, the self titled song and “Black Clad Rider” are both around five minutes and are intricate compositions for a traditional heavy metal. It helps that these guys are not young guns as the personality that was aimed for was already and easily reached here. It's not an exploration or a test of the sound they wanted but a full fledged, albeit, short release that gives you an ache for more. It's rockin', possessing both the power of the early American scene mixed with the flair of both the NWOBHM scene and the other sensibilities of European countries (Sweden and Germany in particular.) It's fast and the track lengths gives them plenty of time to explore and do cool stuff. It's not grandiose and epic like 80s Manilla Road and it doesn't try to be. It's subtle but hard hitting heavy metal with hints of hard rock and just simple but effective groovy riffs and fun tasty leads.

The vocals are powerful as fuck, Radigan is a beast and knows how to drive a song with the breath of his vocal cords. He's very catchy and not as introspective here as he is in Magic Circle, he transpires energy and his high clean attack with a relatively deep voice is a nice plus. He delivers the historic based lyrics with conviction and that's what the whole demo is about, being convinced by its true artistic nature. Heavy metal these days is about nostalgia and doing what feels right and even though its creator comes from a background in hardcore music, he certainly is a real fan of the genre and it's apparent!

The production of the demo is not optimal for the singer as it's a bit burying him but it's nothing preventing my enjoyment. It's just another facet of the primitive but genuine approach of their sound. These guys, veterans of the DIY way, knows how to achieve an optimal sound for such a release and be honest to the sound and themselves.

I can't wait for a full length from Stone Dagger, I bet it will be awesome and sharp. I'll happily cut my thumb on its precious edge. Get this if you can find it, if not wait for the vinyl or listen to it on bandcamp! I'll assure you you'll press repeat after its ten minutes of blissful metal.

Stream the demo here: CLICK ME

No comments: