The Damned Things – High Crimes (2019)

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Review by Shayne McGowan

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to speak with Scott Ian about his latest release at the time.  That was 2015’s excellent Ride album by Motor Sister.  In that interview, I referenced S.O.D, Damnocracy, Motor Sister and The Damned Things and asked Scott about his work with so called supergroups.  As it turns out, he’s not a fan of the term at all, and strongly believes that bands like Led Zeppelin, Sabbath, The Stones and The Beatles are the true supergroups.  I came away with a totally different perspective, and fully agree with that sentiment these days.

He also stated in that same interview, that he didn’t see The Damned Things getting back together any time soon, yet here we are 4 years later…

So they’re back, but don’t call The Damned Things a supergroup, let’s just call them a band.  They are a band made up of members of Anthrax, Alkaline Trio, Every Time I Die and Fall Out Boy, but don’t expect any of the sounds of those bands to shine through, at least not blatantly.  The Damned Things are their own entity completely, and they forge a sound that is totally unpredictable, and one that is certain to shatter any preconceived notions.

The very second that Cells opens up proceedings with a visceral yell, you might think we’re about to be delivered a straight up metal record.  Mere seconds later, the song settles in to a groove that is raw, but chock full of melody.  It’s catchy as all hell, and makes great use of lead guitarist Joe Trohman.

Well known musicians often get together outside of their regular bands to challenge themselves and try things that might not work at their “day jobs”.  It’s something that is done to perfection here.  Keith Buckley is really exercising a vocal range that he  doesn’t have opportunity to use in Every Time I Die, as evidenced on Something Good.  And that cheerleader intro would have no place on an Anthrax album, but it works just fine here.

The soulful vocal intro to Invincible is full of emotion, as is the delivery throughout the song.  Couple that with Scott Ian riffs that are rooted in the blues, more than thrash metal, and throw in some more stellar lead work from Joe Trohman of Fall Out Boy, and you have a wonderful package.

Omen is a highlight of the album, and reminds me of Muse to be honest.  It’s anthemic, and could be a huge hit for The Damned Things.  Carry A Brick is a bit more unhinged with its punk rock feel, in one of the more high energy songs of this album, but when it opens up for the chorus, you’ll be singing along for sure.

We are treated to a very moody track in Storm Charmer.  It plods along, and puts some vocal effects to great use, and at 6 minutes long, proves to be the most epic track on offer.  Young Hearts ramps the energy back up again for another ballsy hard rock song, while Keep Crawling makes use of some tremendous rumbling bass underneath some more blistering guitar work.

Let Me Be (Your Girl) is another highlight for me, with its thumping beat that you could dance to, and some more stellar guitar work.  It’s a love song, but not as you might be used to.

To close an album, you need to go out on a high, and that’s exactly what the band do on The Fire Is Cold.  It’s fast and furious, and the epitome of dirty rock ‘n’ roll.

It’s been a few years between drinks for The Damned Things, and with a few membership changes in that time, it’s fair to assume that this might not live up to the quality of Ironiclast.   That is not the case at all, and I’m here to tell you that High Crimes is not only a fantastic album, but it’s one that blows its predecessor out of the water.   I will be listening to this again and again!

9/10

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