Star & Dagger
Released: 2013, Cauldron 333/Megaforce Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
While Rob Zombie essentially took the White Zombie oeuvre and has all but beaten it to death since the band split up in 1998, bassist and longtime partner Sean Yseult followed a dramatically different path. Her musical ventures were more of the psychobilly/surf rock bent with Rock City Morgue and Famous Monsters - a far cry from Zombie's industrial metal histrionics - and decidedly underground.
Yseult's return to the spotlight, relatively speaking, in 2011 came as a result of the release of her autobiography/diary “I'm In The Band,” which focused on her time with White Zombie. Now she's getting back in the rock/metal game as a musician with the New Orleans-based group Star & Dagger, which teams her with former Cycle Sluts from Hell guitarist Dava She Wolf and singer Von Hesseling, along with drummer Dustin Crops.
Though described as “fe-metal,” this band, again, steers well clear of the White Zombie's electro-schlock bombast – indeed avoiding it altogether, save for some creepy, kitschy lyrics - taking a retro-fied, and often rather subdued, approach that echoes The Stooges, MC5 and early vintage Black Sabbath. Tomorrowland Blues, which was mastered by ex-White Zombie guitarist J. Yeunger, is raw, Spartan and gets far more mileage out of Von Hesseling's smoky, sultry vocals than either She Wolf's fuzzy guitar grooves or Yseult's bass rattle.
Star & Dagger's sound would certainly lend itself to a raucous presentation, but the band rarely kick things out of second gear and the album itself seems rather timid or tepid. “End of Days” delivers something of a kick in the ass, as does “Freak Train,” but for a band whose members have proved they are capable of packing so much more of a wallop I guess I was expecting/hoping for something, well, more.
Tomorrowland's best track, not ironically, is the decidedly bluesier “Your Mama Was A Grifter,” with its delightfully raunchy vibe. It’s got the spunk that a lot of the other material seems to lack, but it serves as the album's closer and is a long time in coming. Some more of that sort of fire in the belly could have made Tomorrowland something special. Instead, it’s merely decent, which is selling itself rather short.