Draag – Dark Fire Heresy

A riveting update on the shoegaze formula...

It’s no secret that shoegaze is in rude health across North America right now. The scene that celebrates itself has always had a trans-Atlantic impact, from Kevin Shields citing J Mascis as an influence through to the superb Mid-West deep cut compilations that Third Man are running. Right now, a spate of new groups are reinterpreting shoegaze tropes in a fresh way, but few do it with as much intensity or focus as Draag. The LA outsiders infuse noise rock and dream pop with deft songwriting aspects, constructing multi-faceted jewels that contain hidden complexity. 

With two EPs to their credit already, Draag have already cited proof of their abilities. ‘Dark Fire Heresy’ feels a step further, though, bigger in scope and more ambitious. Led by Adrian Acosta, the four-piece plunge head-first into this record’s challenges, with ‘Learning To Live With It’ boasting a crushing sense of weight. Layer upon layer of guitar permeates the track, with its woozy, hypnotic appeal recalling prime mbv or even Nothing.

‘Mitsuwa’ acts as a contrast, its angelic notes and playful electronic effects showcasing a different side to the group. ‘Demonbird’ feels like a deft ‘Loveless’ homage allowed to grow wild, with its swooping Kevin Shields style guitar aligned to a punchy D-Beat – alternately soothing and terrifying, it’s a real highlight.

‘Good Era Doom’ is more outward, lush, with its speckled digitalism. ‘Animal Speciality’ specialises in dream pop aspects, the cute vocal about-turns revelling in coy surprise. ‘Agastopia’ stumbles across blissed out ambience, before ‘In The Space Of Time’ serves warning with its zero gravity opening suddenly giving way to guitar annihilation.

A fantastic group record, each part feels in balance. Unified and coherent, ‘Dark Fire Heresy’ closes with the pop aspects of ‘Sin Eating’ – which puts Clash in mind of Peel Dream Magazine’s glorious early work – and the trippy, beatific shoegaze textures that permeate climactic statement ‘Endless Buffet Of Love’.

A riveting genre piece, ‘Dark Fire Heresy’ is much more than a simple shoegaze homage. Bursting with original elements, Draag take this template and turn it into their own, fusing their DNA within those Reverb pedals. A surprising and supremely enjoyable debut record.


Words: Robin Murray

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