Justice For The Damned

Dragged Through The Dirt

Written by: MAK on 30/08/2017 13:06:30

Modern metal is in an interesting proposition at the moment, and you can break down the players of the game into two categories: those that stick to what they think will do well, regardless of if it’s an old hat or not, and those that experiment with styles that ordinarily don’t go hand-in-hand but shockingly end up working. Aussie act Justice for the Damned was initially sold to me as a “sort of metalcore and deathcore band”, but in fact, upon listening to their new album “Dragged Through the Dirt”, they come across more as a unique blend of black metal, hardcore, heavy metal and even nu-metal in places.

On paper, that sounds a little too odd to comprehend at first, and it took me several listens to really grasp what direction this album was going into and who it was truly aimed at. For example, the album opens up with the title track, producing strong, black metal-like atmospheric riffs — those incredibly drone-y ones — backed up with entrancingly steady double-pedal beats and savage shrieks. Then, out of nowhere, we have a true headbanger on our hands following the insertion of some neck-breaking hooks. “Please Don’t Leave Me” then comes in with the hardcore element, with the fretwork initially taking on a more groove-based style before the eerie mood of black metal kicks in. The first couple of tracks really set the tone for what is meant to be an epic listen, but which, at the same time, will produce some great mosh segments, too.

There’s already talk of how big these guys will be in the hardcore scene, but I honestly don’t think so. There are elements of the core vibes, especially in a track such as “Lilac”, which is definitely a personal favourite. It has the riffs that make you want to throw down, along with the grooves and beats to inspire two-step dancing. Album-closer “Bearing the Crown of Lies” is rather similar, but the rest of the release is very much a metallic blend — perhaps even more so than Code Orange was with the weird shoegaze-core of “Forever” earlier this year. “Demon”, for one, is a standout monster, really homing in on the atmospheric riffs, never-ending double-pedals and impeccably ominous tones. The subtle melodies toward the end and the brief segment of clean vocals just oozes nu-metal/modern metal-era vibes from the early ‘00s. “No Flowers on Your Grave” unleashes the outright ferocity of Justice for the Damned, emulating the brutality of fellow Aussies Thy Art Is Murder and combining it all with the musical heaviness and technical precision of a band like Chimaira.

The diverse structure of the album goes from the all-bruiser style of a song like “Beyond the Pale” to the masterful and thought-provoking musicianship heard in a song such as “It Will Always Be My Fault” which, while it has those crushing riffs, presents a mixture of shredding leads and rather beautiful solo melodies. Where I do struggle with this album is that the black metal side is quite overpowering and gets a bit tedious after a while. I love the all-out ferocity; the metallic hardcore elements truly win me over and there are moments that make me want to lose my shit. But the droning parts just go on a bit too long and essentially just don’t do it for me. I respect the fresh idea of trying something that I’m pretty sure hasn’t been done before, and I can imagine that this “twist” on hardcore and metal is actually going to be very popular. Personally, I’m just not ready to fully embrace it yet.

Download: Lilac, Bearing The Crown Of Lies, Please Don't Leave Me
For the fans of: Code Orange, Thy Art Is Murder
Listen: Facebook

Release date 11.08.2017
Greyscale Records

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