Star & Dagger- Tomorrowland Blues

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Star & Dagger is a new blues rock/heavy metal band that has only been around for a few years, but it features Sean Yseult (White Zombie) and Dava She Wolf (Cycle Sluts From Hell) in its ranks. The group’s debut full length Tomorrowland Blues hops between mellow blues/hard rock and some crunchier heavy metal that recalls some of its members roots without sounding like a mere repeat. It ends up being a little hit or miss as far as content goes, but when this band finds the sweet spot they’re capable of some really catchy arrangements.

Before we get into the instrumentals, it’s worth discussing the vocal work of Von Hesseling, as she plays a significant role in giving Star & Dagger their signature sound. Hesseling has a gruffer, soulful voice that is well suited for this type of blues rock and heavy metal material. Early on she has a mid-range pitch that reminded me of a number of different female rock singers without sounding like any particular one. But by the time “Selling My Things” kicks in her style changes a bit and the pitch drops a bit more, leaving me with what I swear sounds like the female counterpart of Danzig. Seriously, the way that Hesseling hangs onto notes when this occurs is a dead ringer for Danzig circa his early solo work and it instantly grabbed my attention. The performance is consistently strong, but admittedly the lyrical content can be a bit too repetitive. Even with the normal verse/chorus structure there were a couple of songs where it seemed like the same line was repeating for almost the entire track and that was a bit much.

Tomorrowland Blues starts off strong instrumentally, as the first track “In By Blood” has a crunchy riff that’s equal parts heavy metal and hard rock. While Star & Dagger isn’t a full on heavy metal act like some of the others out there, they do touch upon some surprisingly heavy sections and don’t just stick with blues rock style grooves the entire time. When the instrumentalists hit their stride and really focus on energy and catchy riffs, they absolutely nail it and this release offers songs that will make you want to hit the repeat button right after the first listen. But at the same time, there are also some numbers where the arrangements come and go without really sinking in or start to hit their stride towards the end. There’s nothing absolutely unlistenable by any means, but it did seem like this group had some amazing songs mixed in with some okay ones. It’s not something that can be tied down to any particular style either, as there are great heavy and mellow arrangements.

I like what this group is going for, but it feels like they’re just starting to hit their stride. The vocal work of Von Hesseling is incredible and there are some blues rock/heavy metal grooves that are sure to hook any fan of the style, but some of the tracks lack real impact and the lyrical work could use a bit less repetition. Thankfully the stronger moments are powerful enough to showcase that Star & Dagger does have potential and make their debut worth a listen, but they’re not at the point they could be just yet. With a bit more growth we could be looking at a powerhouse for sure, so I’ll be waiting to see where this group chooses to go in another year or so.

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