I have to admit a degree of disappointment with Hermano's first full-length "Dare I Say". After the excellent "Only A Suggestion" EP, I was expecting a full-length release would give the band more freedom and license. Unfortunately there's about the same number of good songs on "Dare I Say", a bunch of mediocre ones and some rather pointless fillers. So really, this should have been an EP too.
First for the good stuff, John Garcia is an amazing vocalist as any fan of Kyuss, Slo Burn, Unida and Hermano's debut EP would testify. Put his voice over an excellent song and you have a winning and rocking combination. And at times "Dare I Say" really hits the spot. The opening of the album is stunning, but not the very opening of "Cowboys Suck" which is rather boring and overly simplistic angst, I'm talking about the 2-3-4 punch which is the peak of the album. This starts with "Life" a bouncy tune that slowly builds momentum and showcases an excellent chorus accentuated by a lovely lead riff. "Roll Over" is for me the best song on the album, and Hermano's best for that matter. This song hits the spot perfectly, it really makes me question what the f*%k the band was thinking with some of their other material, as simply this song is inspired. Evolving around a dazzling lead riff which harkens back to retro garage rock thanks to its catchy and simplistic quality (simplistic in a good way this time, NOT boring), the song patiently builds groove complementing Garcia's delivery, which opens with a muffled vocal effect, but verse by verse evolves in volume and effect until he is battering out the lyrics as boldly and gallantly as his best work with Kyuss. Then the last of this trio of excellent songs is the unsettling "Brother Bjork", which is again a menacing slow-burner, and again he band hit the mark with the perfect combination of solid song writing and Garcia's domineering vocals. Other album highlights include the bluesy "Murder One" which has a very desert, somewhat dirty and Wild Western bar vibe to it. "My Boy" is another strong point, although pretty much carried by Garcia's massive chorus delivery, belting out the lines with energy and power.
So I would say there's five excellent songs here, compared to "Only A Suggestion" which had four. The problem then is the rest of "Dare I Say", the other six songs that do nothing for me. Too often the band pummel out simple and loud riffs, with uninspiring musicianship and writing, and rely on Garcia to rescue the song from being rather crappy. This is the case with the opener, which never changes from its repetitively dull riffing, then there's "Is This Ok?" - this song is EXACTLY what my point is with these weaker tracks...the mediocre lead riff repeated unnecessary amounts, combined with uninspired chorus' and a real lack of song writing, all resulting in a distinctly average stoner dirge. "Quite F*%ked" and "Angry American" are just run-of-the-mill fast paced onslaughts with the band blasting out the same tired sounding theme, and Garcia delivering angry and abusive lyrics. It really isn't up to the same quality as "Life", "Roll Over" and the likes, which showcase the bands writing ability and also use Garcia to good effect, instead of just getting him to shout and bellow his way around.
If the band cut out the mediocre material from this LP, and created another long EP, I would listen to it more often, as I just don't like skipping tracks.