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

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. Generato
9. Red Hair
10. Set the Alarm
11. Last Call
12. Quit Life
13. Dia de los daggers

Rating: 4.0

Black Flag
Circle Jerks
Drive Like Jehu

Jade Tree’s Cloak/Dagger stands currently as one of those bands constantly filling the role of opener on tours of some of punk and hardcore’s best and brightest. Being on Jade Tree, the label that brought you Fucked Up, Hot Water Music, and Breather Resist (just to mention a few from their unbelievable history), certainly turns some heads and ears immediately. But for any band, a great label is only half the battle. Cloak/Dagger more than lives up to the expectations set by Jade Tree predecessors to become next in a long line of phenomenal punk bands on their roster. This Richmond, Virginia band calls to mind punk legends such as Black Flag while displaying a unique take on more current bands like American Nightmare (Give Up The Ghost). In our ever-expanding stagnant underground music scene, Cloak/Dagger shines as one of the last remaining hopes for intelligent, thoughtful, and interesting punk rock. Yes, We Are is that important.

If people ever believed that punk had to be simple, Cloak/Dagger never got the memo. The instrumentation on this album intertwines complicated and simple punk riffs with a raw, real production that allows the emotion of punk rock to be captured on tape. As one who has never seen Cloak/Dagger in the live setting, We Are certainly wets the appetite of any music fan with the image of one hundred mohawked, sweat-laden kids pumping their fists in unison constantly entering the imagination. Aside from raw energy, this album seems to find that experimental side current punk albums need in order to separate from the bands of old. Look no further than songs like "New Years Resolution" that boasts an almost Locust-esque guitar solo without losing any of the old-school punk aesthetic that pervades this consistently intriguing record.

One essential characteristic of Cloak/Dagger that also acts as an enormous boost to the truth in this punk sound is the urgent screams and lyrics from vocalist Jason Mazzola that boost this album from beginning to end. Mazzola delivers a scream that is from the heart, instead of that overproduced, guttural scream that permeates throughout the majority of the inane, recycled hardcore/punk scene. Lyrically, Mazolla gives the listener lyrics that discuss the mundane aspect of life in a relatively straightforward, yet insightful, manner. The album name We Are truly fits the bill as the lyrics engage the listener, challenging each person to see themselves for who we are, and what our collective society has become.

We Are is a punk album in each and every aspect from top to bottom. The tragedy of a band this talented falling under the radar in what we dub the “underground community” speaks volumes about what the majority of this community now looks for in a band. If they were looking for substance and true commitment to engaging music, Cloak/Dagger would be among the elite, as bands like Black Flag and The Circle Jerks rightly were in a better time for honest music. However, until the scene, and more likely our society as a whole, wakes up to the fact that style should never win out to substance, great bands like Cloak/Dagger will have to take comfort in the fact that they have a true impact on listeners even if those listeners do not outnumber those in love with some eyeliner and hair dye.

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