The Dagons – Upon the Dull Earth

The Dagons (their name rhymes with “pagans”) are a goth-punk duo who get their goth from H.P. Lovecraft and pluck their punk from The Flat Duo Jets. Upon the Dull Earth is their fifth album of cleverly crafted creepshow soundscapes and, like its predecessors, comes laden with enough distortion to rattle all the bats from your belfry in frighteningly short order.

Above all else, Dull Earth is an impressively paced cycle of songs. Most musicians who conjure up such darkly disturbing scenes tend to linger on them far too long, but vocalist/guitarist Karie Jacobson and drummer Drew Kowalski always exercise admirable economy, rarely reaching (much less exceeding) the three-minute mark before they conclude each composition and shift the mood into some other, equally unsettling direction for the next number.

For example, on the album-opening “Hidden Friends,” Jacobson fires off ferocious fuzz guitar from a lost dimension orbiting between a Davie Allan biker soundtrack and the early Jesus and Mary Chain, while Kowalski pounds out a thumping drumbeat for a tribal dance around a torch-lit altar. It’s over quite quickly, at which point the gruesome twosome slithers into the slow, quiet “Rose-Patterned Walls,” which they allow to unspool with the studied restraint of a Victorian ghost story. Jacobson’s voice is equally at home in the child-like nursery rhyme rant of “I Am Not Nice” or the doomy and menacing “The Party,” on which she sounds like a high priestess of the Esoteric Order presiding over a massive human sacrifice. It’s a simple formula of contrasts which Dull Earth mixes up like fine absinthe and serves in a 15-piece matched set of crystal skulls.

Something relatively new for The Dagons is the addition of an eerie Eastern sitar, plucked with pernicious pride by drummer Kowalski on several of these songs, such as the dizzying “Blank Alphabet” and the swirling “Zero Years,” a collective tribal chant for residents of the 21st Century. His sitar’s final nod comes in the madhouse instrumental “Albatross,” which serves as closing credits for this groovy ghoul show and proves pointedly that Upon the Dull Earth, wickedly giving lie to its title, in fact makes this planet a most fiery and exciting place to inhabit.

The Dagons
Upon the Dull Earth
[Dead Sea Captain]