By Night is the eighth album from French heavy metal band Dagoba. This long awaited follow up to Black Nova (2017) combines industrial metal sounds with elements of post- thrash and hints of nu-metal throughout the 11-track release.
The opener, Neons sets the scene for the rest of the album through a series of electronic samples which pulsate at an increasing speed which gradually grabs the attention of the listener. Then a guitar riff suddenly creeps in amongst the electronic sounds, to introduce the first full length track.
The Hunt is a fast paced song which opens with heavy guitars, which create a feeling that guitarist Richard De Mello was stomping around while recording . The overall atmosphere of the track is reflected in the title. Be prepared for a hunt. The almost tribal drum rhythms are mixed in quite prominently here and Shawter screams the lyrics ”The hunt is on and you run away. Somebody else’s prey”. The speed of the instrumentation and the brutal vocals on this one brilliantly create a fight or flight scenario. The song changes pace towards the end and incorporates some melodic components which gradually fizzle out through a gentle and extended fade which indicates the conclusion of the chase.
The next track, Sunfall opens gently initially but then the bass and guitars kick in. There is a sense of despair that laments mortality in the lyrics, ”Time is short and you’re done. This life it tricks and it deceives” but then reveals hope with the statement, ”The earth can take us into the ground. It will not forsake us, we will be found.” Vocally, there is a kind of Beauty and the Beast battle which is unfortunately not pulled off very successfully here. Shawter’s growls and the clean backing vocals do not harmonise that well and it becomes little more than a composite of noise which distracts from the pleasant keyboard melody which pokes through now and then. The best part of this song is the closing minute where all of the elements knit together nicely as Shawter sings about the sun going down.
The guitar and bass on Bellflower Drive has a more industrial vibe than on the previous tracks. The general ambience is reminiscent of bands such as PAIN and Deathstars. This is the most musically diverse song on the first half of the album. The instrumental breaks and sampling works really well here and in parts Shawter sounds a bit like Corey Taylor from Slipknot changing from clean to screams. The guitar solo is well executed and the song closes with an orchestral mood.
Track 5, On the Run was released as a single. It has a more commercial and melodic sound which will appeal to a wider majority of metal listeners, however it is one of the weaker tracks on the album. The song has a very slow opening and although the guest female vocalist has a very emotive voice, her style of singing would fit much better in the dance scene. Her vocal would work well with DJ’s such as Armin Van Burren and Dash Berlin but her talent is not showcased through this collaboration with Dagoba. The first minute and a half of this song is to put quite bluntly, boring. The song finally starts making the listener dance halfway through once the band start banging out some rhythm and it becomes evident that this song will have some appeal for fans of groups such as Amaranthe and Nemesea. Overall, the single is very repetitive and makes you want to run away from buying this album instead of dashing to the shops to purchase it.
Not all is lost as the second part of album is it’s saving grace. Break is literally what it says on the tin, a break. A pleasant electronic groove which prepares you for a 100mph car ride through the city. Track seven, City Lights is amazing. It’s a track that makes you want to dance. It’s a perfect song for making a drive through the suburbs more exciting. The keyboard intro gets the engine running into a groovefest which stops for soft vocal and drum break downs but then zooms into a very catchy chorus which sets your ears up for a nice ride. There are parts where you might be wishing you could tap your foot onto the acceleration pedal, but this is one of the standout tracks here. It would be great soundtrack for a Formula 1 racing game.
Next it’s time to press the breaks and step into the Night Club. The song titles on By Night, really do reflect their sounds. One moment the listener is on the dance floor and then immediately they are transported to the mosh pit. While not as good as city lights it’s still a very listenable experience. This song would be quite enjoyable after a few beers.
Summer’s Gone begins to feel quite chilly, as if there’s a ghost lurking around. The kick drums can be heard fairly loudly during the later part of the headbanger of an introduction. There is a thrash metal feel to this and the guitars are much faster here than on the rest of the album. Kawa’s bass playing compliments the vocal harmonies which work much better on this song than on Sunfall. Dagoba are more successful writing songs about winter than summer it seems. Melodically very strong, this makes the top three songs.
The standout track from Dagoba’s new release was saved until the end. The Last Crossing initally fades in with a haunting atmosphere and then your ears are blown away with the ripping guitar riffing. Shawter vocally hits the ball out of the park here. This is one of the heaviest songs and should have been the song chosen to promote the album. The lyrics are about living life spontaneously and dangerously before the end. ”No second chances, I’ve got nothing left to lose… At the last crossing before I die. There’s time for one last ride.” A second chance isn’t needed for this song to impress as it makes it’s impact the first time you listen.
This album feels like a concept and should be listened to as a whole rather than digested in single parts. The closing song doesn’t add anything particular special. It isn’t particularly needed and feels like filler. The Last Crossing has a sufficient ending. Stellar is an instrumental that brings a sublime sense of the universe somewhat, but it’s isn’t exactly.. stellar.
Dagoba have supported huge bands such as Metallica and In Flames. There are points in this release where the guitar riffs emanate inspiration from these well-established names. Most notably in the second half of By Night. The main issue with this album is Dagoba don’t seem to be sure what kind of band they want to be. There’s so many different sounds, which sometimes work and sometimes don’t. The Overall, By Night is a solid album for fans of other industrial and thrash bands. However, the band needs to decide which musical road that they want to drive down if they want to join the ranks of the large arena and stadium artists out there.
Album Title: By Night
Label: Napalm Records
Out on: 18/2
Best Songs: Summers Gone, City Lights, The Last Crossing
By: Bindi Eyre
Photo Credit: Morgane Khoni