Swollen Members: Dagger mouth

Swollen Members

Suburban Noize

No question it’s a hard road back for Mad Child, ‘cause that hillbilly heroin called oxycontin will put you in the cold, cold ground. Nuff credit to his brothers in the band that they hung with their man all through the valley of quitting that shit and the three-year hiatus involved. 

If y’all haven’t seen it yet, check out the DVD of retrospective album Ten Years of Turmoil to witness Mad Child’s struggle and the band’s dedication to holding steady.

On the one hand, Dagger Mouth is a powerful distillation of all the early elements which have taken the band to its heights. The vivid imagery, the sharp-edged rhymes, the edgy arrangements and Rob The Viking’s pinpoint production are here in full effect.

This time around, all that is subordinate to an atmosphere of foreboding and menace, which Mad Child’s bravura delivery must battle hard to overcome. Or at least fight to a draw.

Dudes are aware of it too. Just check these lines from ‘War Money’; “ I’m a Bluenose, green-eyed, thoroughbred, purebred, double threat, split personality."  Given what Mad Child’s come through, he’s entitled and full marks to him for owning up as a warning to others.

But this crew is too canny to go all downtempo for a full album, especially one of 16 tracks. So ‘Fire’ comes with a hooky upbeat and lots of room for both Prevail and Mad Child to work out classic SM style and ‘House Of Pain’ has a skitter beat with Prevail riding’n’rhyming over top and dropping some the album’s choicest lines 

For the most part, Dagger Mouth never quite fuses its split personalities. The later tracks in particular have a vibe of being the ones which stuck, of a lot of stuff that was thrown at a wall. While it’s nice to hear some of their more rootsy material like ‘Moonshine’, a little more of the mad science which made previous label outing Armed To The Teeth a popular joint would have helped make more tracks more memorable.

Lenny Stoute