The Damned Things


Written by: PP on 20/12/2010 06:13:22

In the series of supergroups, the latest one to blossom is The Damned Things, featuring Andy Hurley and Joe Trohman from Fall Out Boy, Anthrax members Rob Caggiano and Scott Ian, plus Josh Newton and Keith Buckley from Every Time I Die. It's a combination that looks like a train wreck on paper, a ridiculous mixture of musicians with backgrounds so different that there should be zero chance of their debut album "Ironiclast" to be anything else than a catastrophe. That was pretty much my line-of-thought when approaching the record, and what do you know? They have actually pulled off the heist to minute detail. Better yet, against all conceivable odds I can think of, "Ironiclast" is an extremely good album that classifies as one of the very best rock albums from 2010.

At first, it's difficult to define the album and where it maps to on the broad spectrum of rock in terms of style, because it sounds exactly like you'd imagine something to sound like that's spot-on in the middle of a triangle, where each pairing's respective band is one of the vertices. It's a curious mixture of groove, riff-driven hard rock, mainstream radio-rock, explosive hardcore and metal without straying too far into any of the particular genres. On one hand you can attribute the stupendously catchy choruses to Fall Out Boy influence, but at the same time the rifftastic guitars are the result of a couple of thrash metallers playing less metallic songs, and Keith Buckley's vocals occasionally explode to the southern fried, basement-hardcore of Every Time I Die. All three styles come together in a union of sound, where the best of each has been taken to form something unique that, for this scribe at least, sounds like nothing I've ever heard before. It's strange to sit here and find it perfectly plausible to expect fans of all three bands to take an equal liking to "Ironiclast", because it should be a virtual (or rather, real) impossibility.

Each pair of musicians seems to have their own set of songs where you can distinctly hear their influence, a showcase piece where they demonstrate what they do for a day job, if you will. Since Every Time I Die is known for a ferocious, uncompromising style of hardcore which relies on explosive vocals and southern groove, the title track from the record is here to show that when necessary, The Damned Things can sound heavy. Anthrax's part is a given in almost all songs given the riffing, but "Graverobber" in particular is there to show off some guitar skills by Caggiano and Ian. Then we've got the two monster catchy songs here, "Handbook For The Recently Deceased", and in particular, "We've Got A Situation Here", which are really examples of how to write a perfect vocal harmony for an irresistible chorus. The latter one is easily among the best three songs in 2010.

The most interesting aspect about "Ironiclast", however, are the vocals by Keith Buckley. He's trying out a new style that none of us knew existed in his repertoire: almost completely clean, pitch-perfect vocals that only rarely stretch into a scream, and when they do, they add character to his delivery. His versatility as a vocalist is stupendous: whether it's a throat-piercing yell in the vein of ETID, or a pop-laden radio chorus, he has no trouble pulling it off. Impressive.

Out of the ten tracks here, we've got two or three megahits almost certain to elevate The Damned Things straight to arena level before we even reach halfway to 2011, five or six otherwise very good tracks but ones that are overshadowed by the "We've Got A Situation Here" and "Handbook For The Recently Deceased", and a couple of ones that need more work in the chorus department. The final track, in particular, is a little too different for my liking. But this doesn't retract from the overall impression, which is that The Damned Things have written and released a mammoth surprise of an album, one that only the fewest of us expected to be anywhere near this good. Damn (it had to be there).


Download: We've Got A Situation Here, Handbook For The Recently Deceased
For the fans of: Fall Out Boy, Every Time I Die, Anthrax, Thin Lizzy,
Listen: Myspace

Release date 13.12.2010

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