This is the third full album from Belgian hardcore crust act Daggers, which sees them expand their palette and push at the boundaries of the genre. The title is revealing: “It’s Not Jazz, It’s Blues”.
Jazz is (simplistically, I know) associated with dexterity and complexity, whilst blues is considered to be more about feel, as much about what’s not played as what is, with meaning filling in the spaces created by what is unsaid. Combine this with the employment of the quiet/loud dynamic much used by post-rock bands, the occasional whiff of the diabolical in the vocals to add black metal to the canvass and suddenly a genre known for it’s constrictions can open up onto a much wider world to the educated listener.
Live recorded and mixed by Ben Philips at Lightship 95, London, this album feels like a single piece divided into 12 short movements, like classical music. Make no mistake this is still frequently crushingly heavy and filthy enough to satisfy the purists (see ‘Evermore’) but within a more interesting framework of shifting moods and sonic tricks. Sometimes sections of the band seem to drop out of the mix, leaving only vocals and/or percussion, nothing is used that is not needed for the creation of mood. And there is something quite European about this hardcore blues, an atmosphere of ancient sorrows most obviously conjured on ‘Wanderlust’ which has what sounds like klezmer mournfully sighing at it’s heart.
There is not much in the way of choruses or song-defining riffs here, but there is a sense of potential and constant invention, even though it can still be wonderfully brutal at the same time, like on my current favourite ‘Sovereign’.
Avant garde crust: Whatever next?! I’m all for it.