‘Out of the deepest dephts of the sea’, Dagon rises up (according to the promotion lines). This band from Michigan, USA, is known for their oceanic themes and their musical combination of thrash, death and 80’s rock ‘n roll. After an EP, Secrets of the Deep, and a full-length album, Paranormal Ichthyology (2006), Dagon now launches their second full-length Terraphobic.
When you see the album cover, songnames and lyrics, you’d say Terraphobic is a typical power metal album: the front shows a ship on the ocean, threathened by stormy weather and sea dragons (or something alike..), and the lyrics are exclusively about life on the ocean. Less is true: Dagon’s sound is mainly melodic death metal, with influences of thrash, power, brutal death and occasionally even some 80’s rock ‘n roll. The sticker on the cover says: ‘for fans of Dark Tranquillity, Iron Maiden, Suffocation and Slayer’ but don’t be misled by this; this album is about 55% Dark Tranquillity, 37% Iron Maiden, 7% Suffocation and 1% Slayer (due to one riff that may indeed be a litte Slayer-ish).
Now, about the album. First I’d like to give some credit to drummer Jordan Batterbee, who manages to take half of the vocals on his part (together with bass player Randall Ladiski), which is an extraordinary job for a drummer. I wonder how this will work out during a live performance. Anyway, these duelling vocals (a combination of a deep and low grunt with a higher-pitched scream) sound pretty interesting and add a dynamical aspect to the songs.
As for the rest of the music, it’s funny because when I listened to this record I at first thought it sounded rather melodic death metal-ish. But when the album continues, about from 'Into the North', the songs become more thrashy and especially begin to contain a lot of Iron Maiden-like riffs. Especially the last song, 'Ocean Metal', keeps the album fresh ‘till the end, delivering an unexpected 80’s rock ‘n roll-thrash sing-along-chorus.
All in all not such a bad record, but I have to say it gives me the impression that the band members copied different metal styles from different bands and merged them into one sound, it just doesn’t sound very self-contained. The only thing that makes this sound characteristic are the vocals, which are, as I already said, damn good. So if you don’t mind constantly hearing familiar sounds throughout this album you should listen to it, because the songs are of good quality, but if you do, then skip it.
2. Demons in the Dark (5:06)
3. Terraphobic (5:37)
4. Wave of Predation (4:31)
5. To the Drums we Rise (4:59)
6. Full Speed Ahead (4:21)
7. Into the North (4:57)
8. The Last (4:22)
9. The Sea Encompassing (4:46)
10. Feeding Frenzy (4:20)
11. Ocean Metal (4:41)
Briant Daniel – Lead and Rhythm Guitars
Randall Ladiski – Bass and Vocals
Jordan Batterbee – Drums and Vocals