MAR00383 (1).JPG Live Review from Heavy #19

1. What Have We Become
2. All Hope is Gone
3. Hollow
4. Repent
5. Song 9 (New song)
6. Protect and Serve

Having stormed the scene with the release of their eponymous debut EP last year, metal supergroup Dagger were ready to make their Underground debut at the long-awaited return of Chris B’s hallowed Heavy nights. After amp levels were cranked up to ominous levels during the soundcheck, lead singer James Waters stepped forward wearing a hooded raincoat – perhaps to protect himself from flying moshpit secretions – before proceeding to pogo to the battering storm of overdriven guitar and machinelike bass and drums.

Right on cue, the pit opened as guitarist Riz Farooqi rushed the crowd and began inciting mayhem. “How did this come to be?” the bellicose singer growled over stomping blast beat breakdowns. His suffocated, raspy, Scott Vogel-esque guttural barks attacked themes like injustice and corruption, while the vicious decoction of downtuned distortion swirling around him evoked the crushing artillery of Hatebreed as well as Terror’s blend of metalcore guitar and thrash rhythms. Repent’s rumbling bass and serrated melodic hook sounded particularly effective, but at times the level of distortion and amp-busting volume was so great that individual sections – particularly the vocals – disappeared into an indiscriminate, cluttered, deafening chaos.

Ahead of final song Protect and Serve, the guitarist took to the mic with a plea to support local bands and nurture local talent, citing other Asian cities that comparatively put Hong Kong to shame by showing up in force for their homegrown groups. A strobe light began flashing in time with crushing thrash riffs for disorientating effect (Why was this the first time it had been used all night?), before the band began to slow down the tempo to make way for a chiming, picked guitar section. Despite a couple of mic problems that prevented the set running smoothly, Dagger slashed through their set, delivering six trenchant tracks that left the crowd primed for more.
– El Jay

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Performances by Dagger: