The Damned Things – High Crimes
Released: April 26th, 2019
Keith Buckley // Vocals
Scott Ian // Rhythm Guitar
Dan Andriano // Bass
Joe Trohman // Lead Guitar
Andy Hurley // Drums
Never in a million years did I think The Damned Things would get back together again to release a full-length record, which follows up on 2010’s incredible gift upon the world, Ironiclast, an album which I came across during my early infatuation with frontman Keith Buckley and his main band Every Time I Die. It had everything you could want in a side project: sexy clean vocals, groove-inducing riffs, screams, Southern-styled metal… oh and fuckin’ Scott Ian from Anthrax + Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley from Fall Out Boy. The supergroup also featured Volbeat‘s Rob Caggiano and ex-ETID bassist Josh Newton, both of whom have since departed, however in their place comes Alkaline Trio‘s Dan Andriano, so my initial thoughts going into this album are “can they back it up?” and “will the new lineup change the dynamic of the original?” Well, the only way to find out is to jump straight into it…
It all kicks off with debut single ‘Cells‘ which, upon release, blew me away with how similar it was to the first album. So much so, it could have been a B Side left over from the debut release. Everything you could want from the band is here: groovy riffs, a sing-a-long inducing chorus, heavy undertones, solos and Keith Buckley‘s oozing charisma throughout (especially during a stop down where he’s panting for a break before realising the song is still going). I guarantee you, upon listening to this one for the second or third time you’ll be screaming along to the lyrics “we are stars colliding/we are cells divided/we’ve got all the time in the world/ but never the timing”. The track ends with a brilliant Joe Trohman guitar solo which will make you wonder what the fuck he’s doing with his time in Fall Out Boy when he could be riffing up around the world with these guys.
Following on from this us the quirky sounding ‘Something Good‘ which kicks off with clapping and the (cheerleader-esque) chanting lyrics of “Y-E-LL/all of my friends are going to hell” but don’t let that throw you off, once it gets going, the faster-paced rock vibes kick back in and you’ve got yourself a great track, complete with MORE COWBELL than ever imaginable. This’ll be the band’s clap and sing-a-long song at future live shows. It sounds huge like if you blended stadium rock with southern metal, it’d fucking go off in a large outdoor music festival setting (looking at you Good Things Festival). ‘Invincible‘ begins with an almost acapella intro from Buckley’s raspy vocals singing “cut me up I’m on display like a broken mirror you can’t look away”, which quickly turns into an all-in assault from the rest of the band. Its a bit slower compared to the last two songs, but the emphasis is on the guitars with this one, highlighting the sheer talent behind Scott Ian and Joe Trohman. It’s fun, riffy and melodic AF. With an epic sounding opener, ‘Omen’ teases you into thinking you’re about to cop a straight up metal song, before changing direction into a bluesy, southern rock belter you’ll probably wanna listen to in your pick up truck with your trusty pooch beside you. The tempo, screams and ferocity are picked right the fuck up for ‘Carry A Brick‘, as usual Keith shines now only with his beautiful melodic vocals but also his pleasing screams that fit the song perfectly. Andy Hurley on the drums deserves a standing ovation for his stop and start beats throughout. There’s also yet another guitar solo with makes me feel like the guys were just jamming away in the studio, ripped that out of nowhere and said, yeah that fits, leave it in. The change in direction and stop and change did sound a little messy in parts, but not enough to derail the listening experience too much.
‘Storm Charmer‘ is just a big, fucking, sexy chugga-filled slow jam. The type of song that’s playing when a protagonist in a western movie enters a bar to look around for the villain or a potential side-kick. There’s a touch of synth and (once again) a big focus on guitars, especially Dan Andriano‘s bass lines. This track also chops and changes tempo and momentum, but is much easier to listen to than the last. ‘Young Hearts‘ reminds me of a less heavy ETID song in parts (akin to that of ‘Decayin’ With The Boys‘) so that’s an added bonus before this one even gets a minute into it. In place of a breakdown, there’s a ho-down complete with a piano in the background which I just fucking love and the entire piece is what I’d kinda/sorta class as a fast-paced ballad. You can sing along to it, you can nod or bang your head and throw your devil horns in the air, but it’s not fast enough for a circle pit if you get me. It’s a good one, give it a couple of spins and my words will make more sense. ‘Keep Crawling‘ is a heavy, (almost) grunge-infused belter that’ll make you want to sway your hips from side to side in your tight jeans and RM Williams boots combo. There are a few air guitar worthy sections you can get involved with too and a build up to a slow breakdown I can see getting fans rowdy in the pit over towards the song’s finale. At first, I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it, but found myself going back again for more and more streams.
‘Let Me Be (Your Girl)‘ speeds things the fuck up again and (much like first single ‘Cells‘) could have been a leftover from the previous album’s recording session. Do you love slick guitar riffs, thumping drum beats and the background sounds of a tambourine? Well, you’ll be in your goddamn prime with this one. A seductively addictive love song for the mature metal fan who prefers the taste of whiskey, as opposed to beer. Arguably one of the best songs on the album (so far) too. However, all good things must come to an end and luckily for us, The Damned Things have saved a banger of a song for the climax which is fast, furious and full of dirty, stinkin’ rock and roll. The slower sections compliment Keith Buckley‘s melodic vocals, whereas the faster parts really highlight just how distinctively good his screams/yells are. Once again, there are elements of Every Time I Die in this one (definitely ‘We’rewolf‘ according to my ears) but with that unique twang TDT have now grown to produce. There are plenty of guitar solos for even the harshest critic to froth over and a tantalising final few seconds which will get you hot and bothered like a cowboy at a rodeo. A FANTASTIC way to wrap up this latest offering from one of the most illusive fucking bands in the world.
High Crimes is an exceptional follow up album that just oozes Sexy Southern Rock/Metal throughout. Each member showcases their musical abilities perfectly with a touch of class that makes you wish you were in the band too. The Damned Things are back and they better not be fucking off again anytime soon because once you cop a taste of this, you’ll be begging for more.
The Damned Things – High Crimes tracklisting
2. Something Good
5. Carry A Brick
6. Storm Catcher
7. Young Hearts
8. Keep Crawling
9. Let Me Be (Your Girl)
10. The Fire Is Cold