Release DetailsLABEL Howard Records
RELEASED ON 6/1/2007
posted on 7/2007 By:
In my limited time tracking the music industry, I’ve decided that the fine line between a band’s success and a band’s failure is pure luck. Seriously. Rarely is it a measure of skill, you either fall on some good luck (Example: An experiment with voodoo goes bad, but brings an undead John Hammond with a record contract to your band practice. John: “Braaaaaains…sign here…braaaaaains.”) or bad luck (Follow up example: He eats your drummer) and everything is decided from that point on. It seems so unfair that a simple twist of fate could be the deciding factor between headlining Live Earth and pissing off the enviros by trying to play a solo with an aerosol can and selling millions in the process or having your album be stuck in limbo for three years, breaking up, and never knowing if it’s ever going to be released. That bit of bad luck is where we find Black Spring, and it begs the question: which record label dropped the ball on this one?
Black Spring’s full-length follow-up to their long player debut (‘01’s The New Color Atlas of Pathology under their old Suburban Terror Project name) has been sitting in the vaults since recording completed in ’04. While it’s not exactly metalcore’s A Confederacy of Dunces, Dagger Poems not only shows the promise of a band who was almost there, but sits favorably among their peers at the time, bringing together noisecore and spastic tech and creating something that’s not nearly as irritating as that might read.
Mixing a big Botch and Converge influence with the tech fad sounds like something that should’ve taken off years ago, doesn’t it? Yeah, you bet, but, for some reason, it never did. These Austinites never found the niche audience that became enamored with all of the post-As the Sun Sets crews, even though they were similarly skilled and even more adept at creating songs with hints of structure instead of indiscernible and obnoxiously disjointed dreck. Okay, sure, their singer sounds like Ben Verellen of Harkonen in between hits of helium, which can be grating, but their musicianship should’ve made them a hit with the tech crowd, those who can’t say no to high-energy widdly-widdlies. Plus, with some light genre jumping and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it songwriting style, Black Spring certainly could’ve bridged the gap between mathy structures and car alarm-sounding guitar spazz-outs. So, why is this just now coming out?
Well, bad luck is the easy answer, but without digging into music politics, it can be said that Black Spring never really wows you. It’s the same problem that a lot of bands with that ADD mindset have; both the successful riffs and the stinkers never stick around long enough to mature or rot. It sounds bracing when it’s playing, but when those final chords ring out, it leaves you feeling unfulfilled, wishing that a few sections lasted just a little longer. But, unlike most, their blueprint breakers are sort of refreshing. After a very Jane Doe-era beginning, “Knife in the Head” manages to fit in a riff that’s pure Mastodon and then follows it up with a straight-up hardcore attack (think Champion), before transitioning seamlessly back into Converge territory. The rest of the album is similar, trading Botch (“Cul de Sac”) and Converge (“I'm a Prostitute and Proud of It”) riffs with an array of (insert subgenre)-violence and modern core favorites. Throw in a few noise segues to give you a breather (“Exterminating Angel” as the Merzbow-esque speaker slayer) and you have eighteen tracks of pleasing chaos fully showing that, while Dagger Poems isn’t a lost gem by any means, it hasn’t deserved the treatment it has endured. Fans of the genre worry not: poor luck, not poor quality, kept this under wraps for so long.
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