Dagoba – Black Nova

Rating: 3/5
France: Jive/Epic/Sony
Japan: Ward Records
Rest of World: Century Media
Distributor/label URLs:
Released: 2017
Buy Album [URL]: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Nova-Dagoba/dp/B071WV6NY1
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/dagoba13/

Band Line-up:

Shawter – Vocals, machines
Werther Ytier – Bass
Nicolas Bastos – Drums
JL Ducroiset – Guitar


1. Tenebra
2. Inner Sun
3. The Legacy of Ares
4. Stone Ocean
5. The Infinite Chase
6. The Grand Emptiness
7. Lost Gravity
8. Fire Dies
9. Phoenix & Corvus
10. Vantablack


Dagoba are a French death metal band, who formed in 1997. Throughout their career, they have constantly been developing until they reached their zenith with their latest effort, ‘Black Nova’. It was released through both Jive and Epic in France, Ward Records in Japan and Century Media in the rest of the world. Singer, guitarist, composer and leader of the group, Shawter, managed the recordings of ‘BN’, which took place in his own studio. Jacob Hansen of Epica and Heaven Shall Burn was behind the mixing and mastering. Dagoba are just as prolific with their writing as their performing. They have gigged with Metallica and Machine Head, and toured with Epica, In Flames and Sepultura.

So what does their ‘Black Nova’ sound like? Well, the musicians behind it claim to have been inspired by the likes of Fear Factory, and these influences are obvious. Here, you can experience Factory’s trademark, blitzing double pedal beats combined with equally fast riffs locked in, tight. However, because of the drummer’s wonderfully tasteful groove, these parts don’t sound overly mechanical. Instead, one can listen to the ostinatos over and over again, as each repeat will be different. Ok, different in a very subtle way, but subconsciously it is enough; especially as there is a continuously wide variety of rhythms to be heard. There isn’t as much syncopation here as there is with FF at their best, but lead heavy, mid-paced power chords add further contrasts to the sound, distancing the band further from less creative groups, overwhelmed by constant 16th notes.

Further similarities Dagoba have with FF include their use of keyboards. They are often very much in the background in ‘BN’ but they successfully add to the overall creepiness of the vibes in general. These ideas often get taken further with touches of simple though effective orchestral parts, like Epica-lite. Vocally FF’s sound creeps in, as well. Shouts are mixed with clean though gravelly singing, but unfortunately the sung melodies have a tendency to be dull and forgettable. So that’s a lot of the same group in their sound, right? Yes, but Dag’ are significantly more death than Fear’ are, so that’s not as big an issue as you might expect. Even so, the former’s other heroes, Pantera and Machine Head could and arguably should have been honoured a lot more. Pretty much any other highly contrasting band would be a welcome source of inspiration for these people, as these people simply don’t stand out.

Lack of originality runs rampant in almost all areas, in fact. Scale choices, chord progressions and instrumentations have taken their genre hardly any further since the mid 90s. Whilst more than welcome, the slower parts of the music often have perhaps too much in common with the fast parts, melodically speaking; when things do get more speedy the number of notes used often stays the same, they just get tremolo picked. How about some more tone-varied riffs, like in technical death metal, for example? In conclusion, this is well written DM but two or three songs into the album, the listener will likely get frustrated with the band and strongly desire new sounds. Unfortunately, many will have the opinion that they never really arrive.

Review by Simon Wiedemann