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Ink and Dagger
Meshing the social politics of hardcore punk with vampire themes may seem like an aesthetic stretch, but Philadelphia's Ink and Dagger makes a clever argument for its, er, bloodlust. Intent upon spawning a resurrection of the punk underground, the four-piece's aesthetic sees the stagnant hardcore community as the undead: It clearly hasn't passed away, but it isn't exactly living, either. So instead of echoing the gothic murk of Bauhaus or Alien Sex Fiend, Ink and Dagger's sound bears more similarities to Washington, D.C.'s defunct squirming-hardcore luminaries Circus Lupus and Swiz.

Guitarist Don Devore dominates the band's sound with his manic, twisted, and twining single-note lines, cutting a swath across bassist Josh Brown and drummer Terrance Yerves' constant time-signature shifts. Singer Sean McCabe's tuneless ranting delivers the band's boldest bite: "I'm well taught, I always win/ I'm well-practiced in the fine art of original sin."

Formed in 1996, Ink and Dagger made its mark in underground circles by donning ghastly face paint and performing in a flurry of flashing lights and fog. Relentlessly touring the U.S. and Europe since 1997, the group sought initiates by bringing its theatrical stage show to countless basements and clubs. Last year's debut CD, Drive This Seven Inch Wooden Stake Through My Philadelphia Heart, collected 10 songs from the quartet's previous singles. Now, however, the gothic game has started to wear thin for the band. After two years of theatrics, the makeup's been washed off, the lights have been dimmed, and on its latest album, The Fine Art of Original Sin, Ink and Dagger distances itself from its oft-mistaken association with black metal and industrial music. While the lyrics retain all the pontifical metaphors of yore, the band now infuses the technology sounds of jungle and drum 'n' bass into its jagged hardcore. It'll be interesting to see how well the vampires can cut up the dance floor.

-- Dave Clifford

Ink and Dagger plays Saturday, March 13, at 1 p.m. at the Cocodrie, 1024 Kearny (at Broadway), S.F. Call 986-6678 for admission price.

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