Skull Above the Cannon, Dagos, Milky Bomb Records, 2019
Palestra Lupo, GrindOnTheRoad Fest Sicily Edition, Catania 11-22-2019
“The title of the album refers to the derogatory term used by the Americans at the end of the nineteenth century for immigrants of Latin origin. This term today takes on a new symbolic and provocative meaning: the current historical situation sees the widespread migration of individuals and populations, in which the ‘essentials’ of local traditions and cultures clash with the ‘universal’ nature of the process of globalisation.”
To write a decent review of Skull Above the Cannon’s debut album, Dagos (2019), I would need fifteen pages in a peer-reviewed academic journal. It’s not easy listening or your straight-up lose-yourself headbanging windmill hardcore stuff. It’s intellectual metal, it’s intertextual, palimpsestic, haroldbloomy, gérardgenetty, it demands your attention, yes, with Korn Tool Melvins Uzeda funk punk metal rock indeed, but also with Giovanni Verga (“Devil’s Tail”), jew’s harp, didgeridoo, and Sicilian traditional folk singing, and I haven’t even looked at their lyrics yet. Plus, their drummer is a poet. So I’ll just limit myself to their live show at Palestra Lupo on November 22nd in the year of our Lord 2019. Tidy sound, strong raw muscular bass, full-lipped guitar, drums dominating with a surgical precision, the lead singer—didn’t catch his name—has a powerful growl, but his vocals got a bit lost in translation; good boys, they look like good catholic boys who know EXACTLY what they’re doing. Nothing sloppy about their performance, nothing accidental except that the bass died right at the end of the show; and their drummer is not a drummer: he’s a surgeon, a puppeteer pulling on a thousand silky strings carefully arranged so as to avoid the slightest possibility of entanglement. It’s string theory, folks, if anything, then it’s quantum entanglement; and his face says it all, the face of a Michelin star chef with two pancakes in the air at any given time; Daniele is one of those drummers who’s even late on time; his irregular beats from all over the world are the mainspring of this clockwork band which once again proves that a good drummer makes an excellent band, an excellent drummer, well, I’m running out of metaphors and analogies, boys and girls. Soul, it lacked a bit of soul, a bit of risk, dirt, a secret spit in the stew, that headless-chicken effect that makes alternative music so cathartic. All the ingredients are there but they gots to leave one scalpel inside the patient’s body, just dump it there, abandon it, just stick it in! hide it behind a liver or forgodssake dump a shameless staple, a cigarette butt, just sew it up inside and leave that patient with a little thorn in her side, leave her wondering what the hell just happened and why the hell there’s something itching pricking that cannot be explained away with the word “globalisation” in the british spelling anyhow, the SkullAboveTheCannon thorn that makes us all Dagos, our off-planet generation in a perpetual search for a home, is it in Catania? in London? in Chicago? in Berlin? (forget bologna) or is it right there behind the liver that, once again, I ruined a bit more last night while smiling a bit more at pogoing sicilian bodies and adidas flying up high and thinking that’s a darn good beard, santo, reminds me of an israeli cyborg friend who has that same beard, but ginger, and who told me once “it’s the King David beard” well what the hell do I know anyways, my birth country is a fruit salad, my homeland a demolition site, and (can I say it? can I say it?) in this world we’re all someone’s DAGO, and in Sicily, this Circe of all islands, among orange blossoms and prickly pears, rame di Napoli and ricotta, I’ve forgotten who I am. Now b. the fish.