Baltimore trio Double Dagger uses only the most basic elements -- vocals, drums, bass -- to create its throttling sound, a brand of post-apocalyptic mayhem full of jagged edges, played in fits and starts. It's a brutal, righteous racket as singer Nolen Strals frantically shouts like some doomsayer prophet and the rhythm section of bassist Bruce Willen and drummer Denny Bowen creates a throbbing low-end that fills the void where a guitar would usually be. And then some. It's fair to ask just how far a band can go with such a limited sonic palette, but with its third album, "More," Double Dagger stops you before you can finish the question.
Efficiency remains the band's calling card and that's evident with opener "No Allies," as a simple four-note bass riff serves as the fuse that lights the cannonball of a song. Strals reels off slogan after slogan -- "Don't need you on our side!/Nepotism is our party line!" -- and it's the kind of breakneck, agitated punk screed the band has perfected to a science. An album of carbon copies would be easy and thrilling but it's more rewarding to have "Vivre Sans Temps Mort," with its tense, incremental buildup that eventually gives way to pandemonium, and "Neon Gray," an instrumental in which restraint wins out over chaos. Best of all is "The Lie/The Truth," built around the classic soft verse/loud chorus template. It's the band's most conventional song, but Double Dagger manages to make it sound unconventional yet also anthemic. And, as always, viciously loud.
--David Malitz, Dec. 29, 2009