The challenges faced by independent musicians are innumerable. Lineup changes, finding a good practice space, keeping members focused and enthusiastic, and releasing material are just some of the many that Cloak and Dagger Dating Service has faced over their near half-decade of existence. With their newest, and first-ever full length release Invidia, CDDS has proven that hard work and unbreakable passion for music can pay off in the long run.
CDDS’ vast lineup consists of husband and wife duo George and Sarah Marston (Guitar/vocals and lead vocals), Adam Hart (growls/screams), Dylan Adams (lead guitar/ backing vocals), Andy Carter (bass), and Brad Smith (drums). Together these wonderfully geeky metal heads bring together prog-rock, hardcore metal, and screamo elements into a presentation that “flirts with the epic . . . just before buying the epic shots and making out with the epic in the alley behind the club.” With Invidia they have channeled the controlled chaos of their immense live sound into a tightly mixed, enlightening representation of all that they are.
The record opens with one of several progressive build-ups “Is There Snow on Omnicron Persei 8?” that leads directly into their lead single, “Kicking and Screaming”. Obviously inspired by classic metal acts like Iron Maiden, this track gets the record off to a strong start with swift, hard hitting riffs. The next song, “Hourglass” is one of the few examples of CDDS’ ability to perform a masterful metal ballad. While still very hard hitting and technically impressive, this song has an inherent tenderness to it. The vocals on this track are perhaps my favorite, with Sarah’s thick, alluring voice co-piloting with Adam’s vast, guttural onslaught while George contributes a heartfelt effort.
“2:37” rips it up next, exhibiting some impressive guitar work and extremely compelling vocals. The highlight of this track (and my favorite of the album) comes after the second chorus with Dylan’s ridiculous soloing combined with Adam’s omnipotent voice. The band really brings it in tightly for the conclusion, leading directly into “Double Complete Rainbow”. This is another excellent tune that runs the full gamut of progressive intensity that this band is known for.
The beautiful interlude “Marigold” leads into the second half of the album. The balls really hit the wall with “Strays” which features perhaps the hardest riffs on the record. The rhythm section rules this one, with Andy’s hard hitting, well punctuated bass lines providing a healthy framework for Brad’s heroic drumming. Dylan’s solo on this song is equally as heroic, rising to untold heights for glory over the undead hordes. “Dead Language” is another CDDS take on a ballad. I love the poetic quality of the lyrics on this tune, and the vocals truly do them justice. Sarah takes most of the lead on this one, with Adam and George coming in for support towards the end to affect gorgeous brutality.
The record closes with another of my favorites, “Good Grief”. The intro to this song is wondrous and beautiful, setting you up for the ride of your life. Having seen this tune performed live many times, I can say that it is truly one of their best compositions as a group. Everything works well with a thick rhythm, chunky drumming, and epic vocals. The best part is the steady downturn that leads to a monstrous reprise. The end features only Brad drumming along with a subtle piano line that closes the album out wonderfully.
For an independent band this record is very well recorded and mixed, with Steven Bryant of the Augusta, GA band Panic Manor handling the board duties. While Cloak and Dagger Dating Service’s gargantuan approach to making music might be difficult for the average listener to get into, their bravado and energy are truly one of a kind. If you are a lover of metal, screamo, or just ridiculous guitar solos I highly recommend this album.
MP3: Cloak and Dagger Dating Service “Kicking and Screaming”