Cloak/Dagger [I] We Are [/I] Review

The concept of youth has all too often gotten the shaft when it’s come to modern punk. Tragic as it may be, the true epiphany of sadness is how current artistic interpretative trends create melodrama-tinged reality. There are those out there, however, that are actually diseased with the jaundice of youth—that which uses its fermenting of ego, blissful ignorance and optimism, however misplaced, to do something productive. This of course opposes the more profitable two chapter narrative of youngness that extends no further than empty bleacher make outs and broken heart-shaped sharpie tattoos. That said, Cloak/Dagger goes a long way to make the former a valuable contender by treading on some already sacred ground.

Cloak/Dagger are indeed what one clever dick might call, young Fucks—which, after not looking at that for a week and a half, doesn’t sound nearly as clever as it did once before. While it’s one thing to label their structuring and aesthetic as Swiz by way of Hot Snakes and leaving little else up for argument, one might remind the masses that, aside from riding a tide of oddball nihilism, hardcore has grounded itself in irrational youth. Cloak/Dagger is certainly riding the same back to basics wave alongside the cerebral Fucked Up and the muscled Cursed. And yet while the latter bands are more menacing and surreal in their ways, Fucked Up’s newest labelmates are more rambunctious and delinquent. Riffs are emphatically blunt and skeletal as are the lyrics. The vocals are more reminiscent of the ’90s-era San Diego school of panicky runt as opposed to the hulking ’80s-era Hermosa Beach bark.

On the one hand one could say that, for the time, punk is running out of ideas. But, then again, there are always new ideas, they’re just not that listenable at the moment. On the other hand, Cloak/Dagger at least have that listenability in them. Songs are quick, seemingly spontaneous and leave little room to sit back and ponder—which are the prime functions of most bare bones rock songs. There is a terribly inspiring element of fun in the band, the kind of fun that my curmudgeonly mentality—and the fact that most of my closer punk friends who don’t hate me have gone hippie (or hipster) on me—has denied me from having for quite some time. And though I’ve not seen them live, the band could very well boil an audience’s blood and create a wildly kinetic display of sweat, clenched fists and various other things that sparks a nostalgic streak on a typical hardcore kid at the diner right after the show.

Similar Albums:
Hot Snakes – Suicide Invoice
Fucked Up – Hidden World
The Bronx – The Bronx

Cloak/Dagger [I]We Are[/I] Review

Here are the top ten reasons why you should drop everything you are currenty doing and go buy the new Cloak/Dagger record We Are, out now on Jade Tree.

10. Album opener “Bended Knee” sounds like a b-side off any Hot Snakes record. This is definitely not a bad thing. In fact, more people should be trying to write songs like Hot Snakes or any John Reis associated band.

9. With their debut full-length, Cloak/Dagger have officially moved to the front of the class along with their peers Government Warning, Career Suicide, Dustheads, and Fucked Up. Anyone who says that “punk is dead” should be punched in the ear.

8. Pardon the cliche ”Black Flag meets Drive Like Jehu” malarkey but lead singer Jason Mazzola’s vocal approach does have a very Keith Morris-era Black Flag feel to it. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

7. The kids love it and really know how to sum it up perfectly. Actual Punknews quote: “cloak/dagger’s lead singer has a habit of wearing shirts that are a lil’ too tight. good tunes, though.” Sold!

6. Seriously?°¦fuck pro tools. Lo-fi or die!

5. The first time I listened to We Are, I thought what it must be like to be in some non-offensive-trend-loving-borefest band. I imagine them listening to this album and recognizing how assimilating themselves into a creativity-devoid scene may have been the wrong move. Hang in there dudes, it can get better. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to the real deal. Girls jeans are labeled that for a reason.

4. Name one bad band from Richmond, Virgina. Yeah, didn’t think so.

3. Bass player Aaron Barth is a fellow ginger. They also have a song called “Red Hair.” Instant points granted.

2. This is the type of album that makes you want to stumble into your apartment at 4 am, put the record on at full blast, wake up all your neighbors, cut the sleeves off all your shirts, give yourself a homemade tattoo, and jump around your apartment, dancing and screaming at the top of your lungs until you collapse. Or in my case, strumming my bass, drunk, waking up my roommate and pretending I actually have the chops to play “J.C Pays The Bills.”

1. Finally, because We Are has joined the ranks of instant punk rock classics of recent memory, such as Paint It Black’s Paradise and Modern Life Is War’s Witness. It’s an album that channels the spirit of the past, with an inspired new twist, and puts all those jaded assholes to shame for doubting the new school’s potential. It’s ok, put the SSD records on the side for now and sign up. You’ll thank me later.

Cloak/Dagger [I]We Are[/I] Review

here’s something about Richmond, VA that just won’t allow for suck. For example, the likes of Avail, Gwar and Municipal Waste are all Richmond bands respected for their acutely honed craft, regardless of genre. While Cloak/Dagger are obviously closer to Avail sonically, their intellectually stimulating yet sincere and impassioned punk rock is clearly destined to put them on par with all those names, in terms of relevance and influence. This tenacious post-hardcore bridges the gap between early pioneers such as Bad Brains and Black Flag and newer, slightly more mathematical acts like Dillinger Four and New Mexican Disaster Squad. We Are is clearly more solid, inspired and interesting than any of Cloak/Dagger’s feeder acts: Trial By Fire, Striking Distance and Count Me Out. Wasting no time, the album rips through 14 tracks in 25 minutes yet feels properly paced; its minimalist attitude offers no more or less than is necessary. Raw without feeling lacking and brash without being overly confrontational, We Are is commanding of respect and attention. (Jade Tree)


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On their debut full length release for Jade Tree, CLOAK/DAGGER keep it fast and simple. Produced and recorded at Headbanging Kill Your Mama Music Studios by Chris Owens of LORDS, We Are is a bombastic, rough around the edges approach to minimalist hardcore. Combining the jagged aggression of bands like Swiz and Black Flag with the spastic urgency of Drive Like Jehu, We Are CLOAK/DAGGER embraces a lyrically raw directness that transcends the false conceptions and misgivings of modern punk, offering up honest commentary on the balance between life both with and without excess. In the end, We Are CLOAK/DAGGER embraces the long lost art of disposability, steering away from the culture of celebratory fake aggression, into a new era of raw, incendiary punk music.

CLOAK/DAGGER is what punk rock needs right now.Pastepunk

We Are is dirty. It’s sloppy and raucous. It’s fast and raw. But with Cloak/Dagger, I wouldn’t want it any other way.Absolutepunk

Punk kids might have turned punk rock into just another facet of crappy American culture, but the style isn’t going to be assimilated without a fight. Consider Cloak/Dagger and We Are frontline soldiers in that

We Are is available now from and fine record shops everywhere.

In Europe We Are is available from our friends at .


Track listing:

1. Bended Knee
2. Sunburnt Mess
3. Runways
4. Kamikazes
5. New Years Resolution
6. Walk the Block
7. J.C. Pays the Bills
8. Hollywood Hills
9. Generato
10. Red Hair
11. Set the Alarm
12. Last Call
13. Quit Life

Available in the eStore only is the Eye T-Shirt:

Information about the release availability on vinyl will be announced at a future date.

For those who may need to catch up on the story so far, the digital only release Pinata Breaks, Demo Takes, a collection of CLOAK/DAGGER material leading up to We Are, is .

CLOAK/DAGGER starts touring in support of We Are at the end of the month and continues on the road until the end of the year. The touring includes dates with Strike Anywhere, a US run with Lion of Judah, and a European tour. Not too shabby! Check out the dates below.

9/28 – 10/1 with Strike Anywhere
10/2 – 10/6 with Lion of Judah
11/23 – 12/23 European Tour

09/28/2007 Washington, DC United States @ TROOPS OUT NOW
09/29/2007 Harrisonburg, VA United States @ Guzman’s
09/30/2007 Colombus, OH United States @ The Basement (Colombus)
10/01/2007 Bloomington, IN United States @ Rhino’s
10/02/2007 Baltimore, MD United States @ Charm City Art Space
10/04/2007 Haverhill, MA United States @ Welfare Records
10/06/2007 Romeo, MI United States @ Static Age
10/09/2007 Denver, CO United States @ Sox Place
10/11/2007 Seattle, WA United States @ West Seattle Legion Hall
10/12/2007 Santa Cruz, CA United States @ 418 Project
10/13/2007 Isla Vista, CA United States @ Biko House
10/14/2007 Tijuana, MX Mexico @ TJ Arte & Rock Cafe
10/18/2007 Tuscon, AZ United States @ The Living Room (Tuscon)
10/19/2007 San Antonio, TX United States @ Cafe Revolution
10/20/2007 Corpus Christi, TX United States @ The Compound
10/21/2007 Dallas, TX United States @ Red Blood Club
10/22/2007 Wichita, KS United States @ Eagles Lodge
10/23/2007 St. Louis, MO United States @ Fort Gondo
10/24/2007 Nashville, TN United States @ The Muse
10/25/2007 Birmingham, AL United States @ Cave 9
11/23/2007 Hasselt Belgium @ Muziek-o-droom
11/24/2007 Trier Germany @ Exhaus
11/25/2007 Bielefeld Germany @ AJZ
11/29/2007 Zdunska Wola Poland @ Hades
12/01/2007 Lichenstein Germany @ JZ Riot
12/02/2007 Prague Czech Republic @ 007
12/04/2007 Budapest Hungary @ Kultiplex
12/10/2007 Munchen Germany @ Feierwerk Sunny Red
12/11/2007 Stuttgart Germany @ Juha West
12/12/2007 Dornbirn Austria @ Schlachthaus
12/14/2007 Niederwaldkirchen Austria @ Jugendtreff
12/15/2007 Leisnig Germany @ AJZ Leisnig
12/18/2007 Brighton England @ The Engine Room
12/19/2007 Manchester England @ Star and Garter
12/23/2007 Hengelo Netherlands @ Innocent

Dates are still be added, so remember to check the for the most current listings.

Cloak/Dagger [I]We Are[/I] Review

Chalk it up to Cloak/Dagger being supported by a palette of incredibly similar influences (early `80s American hardcore, Hot Snakes, garage recordings), but Christ if their Pinata 7" of last year didn’t sound awfully like the Bronx. We Are re-introduces the band proudly, as the supergroup traces a smoother line to those details of their sound, eschewing that aforementioned comparison and establishing a clear picture that’s all their own.

That pedigree, by the way, includes Count Me Out, American Nightmare, Barfight, Time Flies, Striking Distance, Trial by Fire and Renee Heartfelt. Several of these made prominent strides for modern hardcore while others tactfully if not obviously helped update slightly elder sounds. That experience goes a long way with We Are — where Pinata merely seemed like competent revivalism, Cloak/Dagger’s first full-length is one of those albums that sounds as if sent forward in a time warp from 25 years ago: a retro-fitted hardcore album with enough flourishes from punk rock’s timeline since to make it sound fresh.

With opener "Bended Knee" it’s vividly clear that Cloak/Dagger have been stoked somewhere in the time since recording Pinata. It’s faster and more frenetic than the band have ever sounded, not exactly moving at lightning-fast speeds but unusually hyper and way less tempered than we’re used to hearing from them. The work of Lords’ Chris Owens, who’s responsible for the glorious-sounding recording, also comes into play quite quickly, as he helps Cloak/Dagger bristle with a deliciously 1982 flair.

That tempo seems to replace the catchiness of earlier material like "Daggers," as many of We Are’s tracks don’t quite firmly etch itself in one’s memory. However, they tend to move at such new found, exhilarating speeds that they’re pure fun in the present moment of listening. And if they aren’t, in their place are lesser paced bursts of guitar noise ("J.C. Pays the Bills"). Cuts (pun not intended) like "Runways," "Walk the Block" and "Hollywood Hills" bounce with a confident swagger (the latter two hooks aplenty, actually) that prove the band know precisely what they’re doing, and how much they excel at it.

We Are is as solid a debut as they come, as Cloak/Dagger have already begun to shed the derivative nature of earlier tendencies and deliver a more original version of roots hardcore that’s far too sporadic these days.

Cloak/Dagger [I]We Are[/I] Review

Let’s face it: Most of today’s punk rockers are a bunch of assholes. And not in the "I spit on the sidewalk" or the "I’m publically drunk at noon" or the "I swear in front of your kids" or even the "I think petty vandalism is fun" ways. We’d be cool with all of those shortcomings — they’re all in the spirit of punk’s nasty-nasty edge. No, today’s punk kids are assholes in entirely new ways: The "I listened to Black Flag while filling out my law-school applications" way. The "I frequent Ambercrombie yet have no problems calling Against Me sellouts" way. The "Brah, you can be punk and be in a frat" way.

To wit, punk’s assholes have become the very same assholes the spirit of ’77 hoped to destroy. Maybe we need a little reminder that the scene isn’t about Internet-based comparisons of pop-punk bands or making mom and dad proud, but a place where the misfits, the ugly, the disenfranchised gather to find a voice. It’s not meant to be the sort of thing that plugs into the American Dream really easily — it’s actually the antithesis of it.

Cloak/Dagger fire up the crashing guitars and nearly toppling-over rhythms on We Are in a reminder of what punk rock, and those who still believe in its ideals are.

We are confrontational. We Are is mixed so raw, it’s like a bottle to the head. Cutting, treble-heavy guitars thrash about like crazed stallions as vocals are barked, rather than sang or shouted above the din. It’s no coincidence there’s no middle ground with a band like Cloak/Dagger: It challenges listeners to either love it or hate it.

We are marginalized. With a sound that’s stuck somewhere between Hot Snakes’ galloping noise and East Coast punk/hardcore, Cloak/Dagger takes all the glamour out of the underground. This album is music for the angry and disenfranchised made by the angry and disenfranchised.

We are suspicious of trends. Songs like "New Year’s Resolution" and "Generato" don’t waste their time pandering to fads or even searching for the perfect guitar tone. They set out on a seek and destroy mission, rolling over a million scenesters who aren’t ready to join its wake.

We are proud. As a generation of scene kids ineffectually tries to find the backbone to escape the tendrils of the local fad-enforcement police, Cloak/Dagger stomps on any allusions to punk’s plugged-in scenes, grinds them to dust and defiantly proclaims itself master of its domain.

Punk kids might have turned punk rock into just another facet of crappy American culture, but the style isn’t going to be assimilated without a fight. Consider Cloak/Dagger and We Are frontline soldiers in that battle. Those assholes won’t know what hit them.

Cloak/Dagger [I]We Are[/I] Review

CLOAK/DAGGER is what punk rock needs right now. With crunchy, distorted guitars reminiscent of HOT SNAKES and DRIVE LIKE JEHU, mixed with the unrestrained shouting of frontman Jason Mazzola, the group plows through their 14 track debut, We Are, with reckless abandon. I can just imagine Mazzola spazzing around the studio, yelling his lines, as the rest of the band smashes their instruments around him in order to get the sound just right. The band wears their influences well, like the track “J.C. Pays the Bills,” which recalls 80’s hardcore like BLACK FLAG and MINOR THREAT with its quick drum beat backed by noodling guitars, paired with 20 seconds of vocals that attempt to keep up with the beat. The catchy as hell “Walk The Block” proves that they are fully capable of writing competent punk rock that satiates your desire for intelligent lyrics about everything from religion to government, combined with music that makes you want to punch a wall. Even a track like “Kamikazes,” which kicks off with a quasi-surf rock inspired guitar riff, demonstrates the bands ability to stray away from typical hi-hat driven, 3 chord punk rock and give a song a competent structure, past the usual verse/chorus/verse skeleton. It’s a no brainer that a group featuring members of COUNT ME OUT and TRIAL BY FIRE would sound this awesome, but it’s nice to see that the members of those bands have shown a true musical evolution that fills the void left behind by the guitar-driven HOT SNAKES after breaking up.

Cloak/Dagger [I]We Are[/I] Review

In a way, hardcore is a lot like folk music. Granted, hardcore is louder and the fan base is usually younger and meaner looking, less prone to playing in coffee shops and far more likely to hold a gig in a smelly, beer soaked basement or in a school gym with a lousy sound system. Also, you’re far more likely to find a Minor Threat record in the average kid’s music collection than something by Woody Guthrie (especially since "This Land Is Your Land" had long ago become a 3rd grade music class standard in certain circles and thus deathly lame). However, the spirit is the same. The musicianship needed to play each genre is relatively negligible. Learn three or four open chords and you can play "Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door." Want to play the entirety of the Nervous Breakdown EP? Learn roughly the same amount of power chords and get an amp loud enough to cheese off your neighbors. Most of us don’t have the time and ability to become world class musicians. However, the hardcore edict is that as long as you have something to say and just enough money to afford a guitar or amp, you can do it too.

Since hardcore is a genre that often thrives on its simplicity, artists usually live or die on the quality of their lyrics. Like the folk groups of the early 60s, hardcore has been a vehicle for individuals to express themselves in two distinct ways; either through a sincere venting of their frustrations, whether these be personal, political, social, or what have you, or through empty, ridiculous displays of scene-centric posturing. To be able to find the good hardcore is to be able to discern between what’s sincere and the usual poses struck by the typical non-conformists.

Cloak/Dagger is a brand spankin’ new hardcore punk outfit from Richmond, VA and I dare say they are members of the former. Singer Jason Mazzola has the same foaming-at-the-mouth intensity of Ian MacKaye, tempered by a hint of Black Flag’s Chavo Pederast. The band plays loud and messy, sounding a bit like Land Speed Record era Husker Du, though not matching that record’s intensity nor its acid burn qualities. The violence of the lyrics and the overall bleak tone recall Black Flag’s Damaged, considered by many to be the classic of the hardcore genre. The biggest strikes against Cloak/Dagger are that their sound isn’t anything new and that they aren’t the best ever at what they do. However, condemn the band on that basis and you’re missing out.

Matching the band’s breakneck speed, clocking in at impressive 14 songs in 26 minutes, are lyrics that convey the uncertainties and frustrations of men steering directly at a great abyss. That abyss, of course, is living as an adult in the America of today. Thankfully, this isn’t another "I hate the president" album, a subject that got tired before Georgie Boy’s first term was up. On the opening "Bended Knee", Mazzola screams that he’s "out of touch with the future/ out of touch with waiting for someone to save us/ I’m out of touch with my career/ I’m out of touch with the shirt and tie suicide," setting the tone for the rest of the record’s nihilism, portraying a decidedly anti-Springsteen world with no savior, no satisfaction, and no escape.

The futility carries over into "Walk the Block," which tells the story of people who are "fighting on the same streets that we said we’d leave/ But we didn’t and we’re going nowhere/ We spend our days just wasting away/ Walking down the same street every day", capturing life’s monotonous boredoms in the bluntest possible terms. In "Generato," perhaps the album’s most potent track, Mazzola has the future all laid out: "Now we’re overweight and we’re full of shit/ So let’s settle down and have some kids that hate us,"fearing the inevitable of turning into his parents. Elsewhere, "Runaways" sneers at "woe is me" social climbers, while "J.C. Pays the Bills" jabs at organized religion with a mere three sentences. Though it’s followed by an untitled instrumental, "Quit Life" is the album’s grand climax where Mazzola ponders the ultimate point of it all. "Am I a failure?/ Am I a success?" he wonders aloud. No answer is given.

Granted, some of the others songs aren’t quite up to par. "Kamikazes," "New Years Resolution" and "Red Hair" all throw around words like annihilate, apocalypse, and die, more out of a sense of sounding cool as opposed to being tied into a general meaning, while "Set the Alarm" emulates the "I hate my life, therefore I hurt myself" stance of Henry Rollins era Black Flag to the point of being a little contrived. Overall though, Cloak/Dagger achieves with We Are what many of their influences also achieved: life’s miseries boiled down to dense and speedy jams with lots of cathartic hollering, songs that seem written about you that you could’ve written yourself.

Cloak/Dagger [I]We Are[/I] Review

yea that’s right, i’m back and to start this revival i’m gonna give you some tunes from richmond, va’s cloak/dagger. their debut album "we are" is coming out september 11th on jade tree and it’s fucking awesome. they play raw and ferocious punk rock kinda like drive like jehu meets black flag. if you’re looking for a more modern reference point then i guess hot snakes or the bronx. anyways, enjoy these tracks and add me back to your blogrolls.


The riff anchoring this 99-second shitstorm has the fury of pre-Rollins Black Flag (it’s a close cousin to “Nervous Breakdown”), but the discipline of X’s Billy Zoom. Cloak/Dagger call themselves a hardcore band, and that’s sort of accurate, but they’re clearly cognizant of punk’s limitations even as they get off on the rush of mounting this kind of headlong sonic assault. The awareness that other possibilities are open to them only takes them so far, though; the guitar and drum sounds owe a lot to the Flat Duo Jets, and they’ve got a psychobilly swing to their kicking and screaming (check out the drum roll that starts off album opener “Bended Knee”). Plus, they never go noisy for noise’s own sake, unlike, say, the massively overrated Pissed Jeans. This is punk with just enough self-awareness to realize that mere pummel and phony “attitude” won’t cut it in a world of jaded adults with long memories. With luck, their smarts will rub off on punk rock kids with no memory of anything older than the last Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards album.

An email Q&A with Cloak/Dagger

Why are your songs so long?
Right label, wrong band.

You claim to be “hardcore,” but I don’t hear anything that’s gonna make shirtless dudes turn their caps backward and hump each other in the pit.
The good kind of hardcore, not that kind. Although I have seen some spin kicks at some of our shows—why, I have no idea. In five years they might like us, when they stop fighting the invisible man.

Would the world be a better place today if Lee Ving had been as influential a musician/thinker as Bono is now?
Have you seen The Decline Of Western Civilization?

Cloak/Dagger [I]We Are[/I] (in rhyme)

What’s all the hype with these guys? The kids are getting curious like shit to flies. But I don’t want to make such a crappy (pun intended) comparison because I think this is good. I mean, it establishes a chubby, yet doesn’t incite full-on wood. I’d say they’ve come quite a ways since that first seven inch, executing some raw punk hardcore like it’s a cinch. having Chris Owens (Lords, Ed Gein, Engineer, Young Widows) work the dials on the production board certainly adds a lot of dirty fuzz to these songs when he presses ?°»record’. Right off the bat things kick in with a serious Hot Snakes vibe and from there on out it’s a pretty good ride. As things progress it moves into territory more akin to former labelmates (and who knows where the hell they are now) The Explosion. Add those elements together into short punk blasts and you get a good debut that pretty much kicks ass.

Cloak/Dagger – [I]We Are[/I]

ometimes simplicity is best. With a recent flux of overall complexity in modern music, the listener is all but required to carry a thesaurus and notepad to keep up with the ever-changing song structures and themes. Coming in at 14 songs in 26 minutes, Cloak/Dagger’s first full length for Jade Tree is a snide middle finger to this formula replacing the complexity with an energy that can’t be ignored. Combining aspects of Black Flag and Drive Like Jehu, We Are is a stylish modern punk album retrofitted with the best aspects of the influential 80’s hardcore scene it pays homage to.

From the opening track to the finals seconds, Cloak/Dagger never let up the pace or the intensity, skipping the intention to envelop the listener and instead opting to smack them over the head and smother them in double time beats and power chords. “Bended Knee” starts the album and sets the pace. The track is a fast two-minute blast full of rollicking snare rolls and vocalist Jason Mazzola at the helm raising the intensity through his lazy swagger that suits the music perfectly. Jason’s rapid-fire vocal delivery is noticeably similar to classic 80’s hardcore bands but with a modern take that at times can (strangely enough) resemble early Every Time I Die in delivery. Jason and the band rarely stray from the same balls to the wall formula, but when that formula is this catchy, why would they? “Kamikazes” sounds if it takes some inspiration from early surf rock with Colin Barth’s fuzzy reverb laced tone crashing over bassist Aaron Barth’s bouncy bass lines. The brothers Barth lock into a groove rarely heard in this genre of music and continue to do so for the remainder of the album.

With tons of bands doing the throwback hardcore thing, it’s good to see one that is actually believable. We Are carries a sincerity that is hard to deny. When listening to the low-fi production, you can tell that the album hasn’t been written as a shtick but one that was written by a band that actually is making their way through basement shows playing to droves of eager listeners. It’s difficult to listen to “Red Hair” and not picture fans singing along and dancing like in those old black and white photos of early hardcore shows. No track breaks the three-minute mark, nor does it need to to get the message across. We Are cuts the fat leaving only the strongest aspects of the band’s sound. This could be a problem for those used to 7-minute mini epics, but the bite-sized songs are a perfect way to satisfy your punk rock craving.

If you are looking to get into early hardcore but feel a little out of touch due to its prime being 20 years ago, then this album might be a good updated transition to whet your appetite. It’s a modern take on a retro style that is new enough to please the new generation yet retains enough style from its predecessors to please fans of the old. If you are a fan of buttery smooth production and Pro-Tools laced vocals, you might want to look elsewhere. We Are is dirty. It’s sloppy and raucous. It’s fast and raw. But with Cloak/Dagger, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Cloak/Dagger [I] We Are [/I] Review

Cloak/Dagger’s debut full-length, We Are (reading on the album’s jacket as We Are Cloak/Dagger) is quite an achievement for a band that, at first, was only supposed to be a temporary project. After recording a demo and doing a bit of touring it seems that Cloak/Dagger have decided to stick it out for a more extended stay.

Raw, urgent and aggressive, Cloak/Dagger are channeling some of the founding hardcore acts such as Black Flag, The Minutemen and others of the era. Not a “tribute” band by any stretch of the imagination, Cloak/Dagger are simply resurrecting a time when slick production and fancy packaging were not the main selling points of music.

We Are begins with a fast and gritty “Bended Knee.” The music is straightforward and uncomplicated, but its simplicity is balanced with a rough-hewn power that immediately makes you sit up and take notice. “New Year’s Resolution” features a rhythm line that is catchy enough to stick with you long after the track is over. And again on this track as with the rest of the album, you will find that roots hardcore sound and style. “Dia De Los Daggers” unsurprisingly features a sound that you might find in a spaghetti western, if it were directed and written by Ian MacKaye.

This record is not meant to be original, innovative, or cleanly produced. But what it is meant to do is be a great example of what hardcore once was. And in that We Are delivers in spades. All the aggressive energy you could ever want can be found on this record. Again as stated above this is by no means a tribute band or just a Black Flag clone, Cloak/Dagger definitely have a style that is theirs. But in that style they dig very deeply into the tomb of the hardcore of yore, and do a fantastic job doing it.

Cloak/Dagger [I]"Bended Knee"[/I] Review

It might be wise to check your speaker volume before listening to any of Cloak/Dagger’s songs off their LP We Are, because if the pounding, urgent drum beats don’t destroy your hi-fi, lead singer Jason Mozzola’s aggressive vocals will. The unfiltered anger of the Cloak/Dagger sound is a like a back story to every track. No weepy emo, or feigned angst, just simple punk done for it’s own sake.

Cloak/Dagger [I]We Are[/I] Review

It’s about time bands reclaimed the punk/hardcore genres from all of the guyliner wearing, Fall Out Boy-aping bastards out thar. Hailing from Richmond, VA, recently minted Jade Tree act Cloak/Dagger has opted to bring back the art of the fast beat with “We Are.” A well executed introduction to the band in terms of both songwriting and title, “We Are” harkens back to the grainy, thrashy goodness of ’80s hardcore acts like Black Flag circa “Damaged” while throwing in some garage rock-esque vibes a la Rocket from the Crypt. The playing is fast and loose, the vocals are always shouted, and the recording quality is?°¦ well, ok, the record sounds like ass, but in a totally punk rock way.

That’s what sets Cloak/Dagger apart from would-be punk revivalists. “We Are” is a throwback album in aesthetic as well as in rhythm. It sounds kind of bass ackwards to say that horribly lo fi recording quality makes for a better LP, but it’s true. This stuff would never work on a major label budget (Anybody remember Geffen-signees S.T.U.N.?). Rather, the muddy mixing keeps things old school.

Lyrically, the band is very much in keeping with the frustration expressed by hardcore bands, using the “us vs. them” approach to lyrics. Album opener “Bended Knee” may start with “I’m out of touch with the future/I’m out of touch with waiting for someone to save us,” but it’s very much in touch with the ideologies expressed before by Minor Threat and The Germs.

Also like Minor Threat and The Germs, though, “We Are” suffers from an over saturation of sameness in its songwriting. Granted, it’s only 26 minutes long, and it’s a got-damn searing album. But, the repetitive nature of the band’s shouting and chord smashing makes “We Are” a less interesting choice for permanent rotation in one’s music collection.

With the exception of “Untitled Instrumental,” the aptly titled but uncomfortably tacked on album closer, “We Are” offers blistering punk/hardcore all the way through. While it doesn’t bring anything new to listeners’ ears, it does resuscitate a much loved style with great ability. [By: Joe Pelone]


The debut full-length release by Cloak/Dagger on Jadetree Records is a raucous and loud abrasive entry into the Richmond, Virginia scene. Heavy drumming with tons of snares, cymbals, and punked up tempos is just one reason that folks are starting to watch their backs when Cloak/Dagger are nearby. You can hear hordes of Black Flag and Lifetime influence. Spastic rock ala Fugazi gives them indie rock creed while their infectious use of aggressive guitars and yelped vocals remind us why they’re labeled ?°»punk’.


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On their debut full length release for Jade Tree, CLOAK/DAGGER keep it fast and simple. Produced and recorded at Headbanging Kill Your Mama Music Studios by Chris Owens (Lords), We Are is a bombastic, rough around the edges approach to minimalist hardcore. Combining the jagged aggression of bands like Swiz and Black Flag with the spastic urgency of Drive Like Jehu, We Are Cloak/Dagger embraces a lyrically raw directness that transcends the false conceptions and misgivings of modern punk, offering up honest commentary on the balance between life both with and without excess. In the end, We Are CLOAK/DAGGER embraces the long lost art of disposability, steering away from the culture of celebratory fake aggression, into a new era of raw, incendiary punk music.

Track listing:

1. Bended Knee
2. Sunburnt Mess
3. Runways
4. Kamikazes
5. New Years Resolution
6. Walk the Block
7. J.C. Pays the Bills
8. Hollywood Hills
9. Generato
10. Red Hair
11. Set the Alarm
12. Last Call
13. Quit Life

We Are will be released on September 11th and is now available for . Pre-order customers will receive a free CLOAK/DAGGER T-shirt.

Information about the release availbility on vinyl will be announced at a future date.

For those who may need to catch up on the story so far, the digital only release Pinata Breaks, Demo Takes, a collection of CLOAK/DAGGER material leading up to We Are, is .

There are several CLOAK/DAGGER shows coming in the next few weeks. Check out the dates below:

06/23/2007 Richmond, VA United States @ Alley Katz No Way Records Fest w/ Direct Control, Career Suicide, and more
07/18/2007 Washington, DC United States @ 1017 7th St w/FUCKED UP
07/21/2007 Washington, DC United States @ Cafe Alfishway w/Criminal Damage

Always check the for the most current listing.


Hello! How are you doing?

Good right now, thanks.

Actually I just found out about Cloak/Dagger the other day, but then again you guys haven’t been around as a band for that long, right?

We haven’t been around too long. It’s coming up on almost two years now but we’ve been more active in the last year.

How come the four of you started playing music as Cloak/Dagger?

It started as a side project really from a more indie rockish band some of the members were in just as a fun thing to do before or after they practiced. Things just kind of took off when they broke up.

Tell me about the name of the band?

It’s just a name our drummer came up with. He said we’re doing a punk band called cloak/dagger and you’re going to sing.

It’s obvious that you guys get a lot of influences from the 80′s hardcore scene. How would you describe your music and what bands do you like the most from back then?

We are definitely influenced by 80′s punk and hardcore but I don’t know how I would describe our band. I’ve heard everything from Minor Threat, Black Flag, Avail, Swiz Hot Snakes and Murder City Devils. I don’t think we sound the same as any of those bands, maybe Black Flag crossed with insert your favorite band here.
Some of our favorites from that time period as a band are Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Bad Brains, Wipers.

So, is this kind of music something you’ve been doing for a long time? Any earlier bands you guys have been in that are worth mentioning?

Me and Colin were in a straight edge band Count Me Out that toured a lot and we had a good time doing, that started in 1998 and ended in 2003. The other Collin was in Trial By Fire who was on Jade Tree and Aaron was in Striking Distance. All bands very different from this.

Are you still straight edge? Would you call Cloak/Dagger a straight edge band?

This is definitely not a straight edge band. With this band we are trying to avoid all labels and just have the music speak for itself. Me, drummer Colin and Aaron don’t drink but as we get older it’s not something we look down on anyone for or look up too anyone for or that I even think about.

How’s the music scene in Richmond , VA? I know Strike Anywhere is from your city, any other good stuff going on over there? Is it a good city for playing punk rock?

Richmond is one of the best cities on the East Coast for punk and hardcore bands to come through in my opinion. There are awesome bands here and it’s small enough of a city that everyone knows each other so it’s easy to find out about shows. There’s a lot of house shows here. Check out Government Warning, Wasted Time, Municipal Waste, Direct Control all from here if you haven’t yet.

I went to a Direct Control show over here in Sweden last year and it was great. Have you guys been playing any shows with them?

We have played with them in the last year but they don’t play as much as they used to. Brandon who sings for them plays drums in Government Warning and we’ve played with them a lot. Both of those are great bands.

Grave Mistake Records put out a 7" for you last year called "Pinata". How has that record been going, any good response?

We got a lot of good reviews for that record and it went over way better then we expected. We didn’t have high expectations when we started playing so the good reviews and reactions from people at shows when that 7" came out was cool to see.

Grave Mistake seems like a really cool but pretty small label. How did you get in touch with Jade Tree?

We played some shows with Paint It Black and at the time their drummer the legendary Dave Wagenschutz was working at Jade Tree and liked us. He and Dan Yemin are a big reason we got things going with Jade Tree so thanks to them for that.

Are you guys taking a step up, putting more time and energy into the band with this label-change?I know they’re putting out a new record with some of your old demos, when is that due? Can you tell me a little bit more about the songs?

Definitely. After the lp comes out this is going to be a full time thing as far as touring goes. We’ve played a lot of shows off of the 7" but I think we’re going to be able to do the full US and Europe with the lp release. The digital release of our demo and the Grave Mistake 7" was to get people familiar with our band who have not heard us yet before the lp comes out. The demo was very fun to record and was a very spur of the moment thing and you can tell. We’ve had a lot more time to write music as a band at this point.

So, how do you write your songs? Who does what?

Guitarist Collin writes most of the music and I write the lyrics. We don’t really spend too much time on the songs we try to keep things raw and not over think the songs. I make tapes of the songs and write lyrics to them in the car. That’s my secret.

What do you guys write your lyrics about?

They are mainly about getting older. Dealing with work, money, living life and how I see the world from a small city perspective.

Are there more releases in works that is being released by Jade Tree? Maybe an album?

They are going to release our 13 song lp "we are" in September. We’ll be ready to quit life by then and tour as much as we can.

So, you would like to do this thing full-time?

Definitely, with any luck we will be over your way soon after the lp release.

Have you guys been out touring anything yet?

We did a 10 day tour with New Mexican Disaster Squad down to the fest in Florida which was a good time and done a lot of weekends and played some shows with some great bands. Fucked up, Lifetime, Career Suicide, Government Warning have been some of my favorites.

What are you guys doing when you’re not playing music as Cloak/Dagger?

We are all working jobs to do this band. I am a substitute teacher so I can get time off, Collin is a bike messenger and Colin is a valet and Aaron licks stamps. All jobs where you can take time off with no problems but it is worth it. Just not financially.

Do you have a dream line-up for a tour? Some bands you really would like to share the stage with?

We’ve played with every band that I like except for Regulations. We’ve played with Fucked Up, The Vicious, Government Warning and Pissed Jeans. Those are my current favorites. I guess if we could do a Regulations, Fucked Up, Hot Snakes, Government Warning, Hatebreed tour it would be awesome everywhere and every night.

Any fun stories from the road that you’d like to share?

Every show is a good story. We played a festival without bathrooms, saw a 12 year old try to fight a crowd of people, broken down, lost keys, slept on disgusting floors, gone to skate parks and much much more. I love this band.

Well I think that’s it! Thanks Jason, keep in touch!

Thanks again for the interview. Hope to make it over there soon. Check out for good bands. They have a lot coming out this summer that is good.


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After signing to the label last Summer, CLOAK/DAGGER began preparing songs for a Jade Tree debut EP. Months later and a few technical difficulties overcome, the band has now turned the release into a full length album which they are currently in the studio recording. Details of that album are forthcoming, but in the meantime, we’ve got a little something to tide you over.

Piñata Breaks, Demo Takes is a digital only release that features the band’s most recent , originally released and still available on , and a collection of demo tracks, including one previously unreleased song. These nine songs will trigger memories of favorites such as Black Flag, Circle Jerks and even Hot Snakes, but they offer an entirely new experience with raw energy that can only be rivaled by the band’s live show.

This digital release is available now from , , and a host of other .

1. Daggers Daggers
2. Paranoid
3. Electrocution
4. Sewing Circles (Demo)
5. Set the Alarm (Demo)
6. Last Call (Demo)
7. Violent Times (Demo)
8. New Years Resolution (Demo)
9. White Fence (Previously Unreleased Demo)

CLOAK/DAGGER was recently featured on the weekly radio show on Radio CPR 97.5 FM in Washington, DC which is available as a or a . Check it out and check out the entire Dissonance archive. It’s a great show. also has an good in the audio archives.

Cloak/Dagger will also be playing several shows in the coming month. Watch the for future dates and current info.

05/17/2007 Richmond, VA @ Alley Katz w/ Strike Anywhere and The Loved Ones
05/20/2007 Richmond, VA @ Camel Club w/ Coliseum and Young Widows
06/23/2007 Richmond, VA @ Alley Katz, No Way Records Fest w/ Career Suicide, Government Warning and more


CLOAK/DAGGER have a busy weekend ahead of them. The band will be playing three East Coast dates, including a show with Lifetime on Sunday in Boston. Each show should be amazing. So, be there, unless you really prefer searching for the pixelated mess on Youtube the day after.

02/09/2007 New Brunswick, NJ @ 75 St. Louis w/Splitting Headache, Dustheads, Hellhole

02/10/2007 New York, NY @ ABC No Rio w/Splitting Headache, Dustheads, Lost Cause

02/11/2007 Boston, MA @ Axis w/LIFETIME, World Inferno Friendship Society


Cloak/Dagger [I]Pinata[/I] Review

Say what you will, but Cloak/Dagger remind me a lot of the Bronx.After all, they capitalize on two of the same influences — Black Flag and serious, balls out garage rock’n'roll, two things that used to never go together, and now may as well be ketchup and fries. The band’s 4-song, 7-minute Pinata 7" is frantic, manic, and, while
this is the laziest descriptive adjective ever, rocking. With former members of Count Me Out, American Nightmare, Barfight, Time Flies,Striking Distance, Trial by Fire and Renee Heartfelt, Cloak/Dagger actually manages to create something at least arguably different from
each one of those acts. As familiar as this whole thing sounds, the songs tumble, roll and bounce all at once. It’s probably not as aggressive as some would like, but it’s certainly raw and forward moving. Similarities will probably also be drawn to Bars, and I for one am not going to disagree.

While there isn’t much room for Pinata to outlive its stay, credit goes to the first two bluntly catchy tracks, "Daggers Daggers" and "Paranoid." Even as both hover around the 2-minute mark, they feel much more complete and thought out than the abrupt second half. Still, Pinata is promising all sorts of goodness for the band’s Jade Tree debut, especially if the band plans on stretching out their creative muscle a bit.

Cloak/Dagger [I]Pinata[/I] Reveiw

When you look at the pedigree of Cloak/Dagger, you really can’t argue with it: American Nightmare, Striking Distance, Count Me Out, and Trial by Fire, among others. But what is refreshing is that Piñata really doesn’t sound exactly like any of those bands. Cloak/Dagger
deliver four songs of aggressive hardcore-punk, not hardcore, not punk, on this 7". "Daggers Daggers" sets things in motion with a flurry of speedy riffs and drumming and coarse screams in a sound similar to Black Flag. "Paranoid" follows in a more traditional verse-chorus-verse song-structure, providing opportunity for
sing-alongs to the chorus. "Electrocution" chimes in first on the B-side and quickly has become one of my favorite songs of 2006. The lyrics are catchy and great to sing-along with; the music fuses the world of hardcore-punk with a dash of rock-n-roll, allowing it to
stick out from the other songs. Cloak/Dagger wrap this 7" up with "Shady Grove," another hardcore-punk ditty moving at Mach 2.

8.5 / 10

Cloak/Dagger [I]Pinata[/I] Review

Edgy, energetic punk. One can clearly hear the those influences, particularly for the thrashy "Paranoid," but there’s a bit of nervy snakiness (?!) in the guitar and bass-lines. Makes me think of the bands from the 90s who would be considered "indy rock" but had punk aggression. In any case, it’s the remedy to chase away my increasing
jadedness. (PO Box 12482, Richmond, VA 23241,

Cloak/Dagger [I]Pinata[/I] Review

These guys recently signed to Jade Tree so you know that this is on the more palatable end of things for me, but I just can’t get over how fresh this band sounds. Sure, there are influences that you can pick out?°¦ the Black Flag element was very up front on their demo tracks, the Wipers/Hot Snakes thing is obvious and there seems to be more than a hint of the Regulations’ guitar sound, but nothing here feels like revivalism. In his review Al Quint mentioned that these guys sound like an indie rock band with a punk edge, and I think if there weren’t former members of Count Me Out and various other hardcore bands on the stage they could’ve come up through the Pitchfork scene just as easily as the hardcore scene. Regardless, this is a band that is breaking down barriers and I absolutely cannot stop listening to this EP.


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Jade Tree is pleased to announce the latest addition to the roster, Richmond, VA’s CLOAK/DAGGER. CLOAK/DAGGER are currently fine tuning songs for an upcoming debut EP to be recorded in the Fall, with more details to be announced in the coming weeks.

CLOAK/DAGGER is a relatively new project, with roots that began in October of 2005. The band, comprised of Colin Kimble, Jason Mazzola and brothers Aaron and Colin Barth, recorded a demo following a handful of practices, which was released on Halloween of last year. Taking hints from a variety of influences, the demo combined the jagged aggression of bands like Black Flag and the Circle Jerks with the more urgent execution of the Drive Like Jehu/Rocket from the Crypt/Hot Snakes camp. The demo was well received around the Richmond area, and eventually landed in the reviews at Maximum Rock and Roll, referencing CLOAK/DAGGER as "Not retro, but real punk rock."

The band continued to practice throughout the Winter, playing shows up and down the East Coast with the likes of PAINT IT BLACK, FUCKED UP, Big Business, Career Suicide and Government Warning, before eventually recording a 4-song 7" for Grave Mistake Records. The Pinata EP, released earlier this Summer, finds the band navigating their way through a tighter, rawer sound, and has been described as "Black Flag fighting Hot Snakes scraped raw and turned up to 10."

Cloak/Dagger will be playing a handful of shows through the rest of the Summer, including tonight with the likes of fellow Jade Tree artists PAINT IT BLACK, and The Loved Ones. If you’re in or around the Philadelphia area, the show is at the First Unitarian Church, and starts at 7:30 PM. CLOAK/DAGGER will be playing songs from the Pinata 7" along with selections from their upcoming EP.