REVIEW: THE DAMNED THINGS – “High Crimes”
American rock supergroup The Damned Things comprising members of Alkaline Trio, Fall Out Boy, and Anthrax appeared out of nowhere around the 2010s giving us some sort of one-hit wonder with Ironiclast an album which was received pretty well and then went on to bewilder fans when they announced an indefinite hiatus. Now this supergroup, unlike many others, is a fun experiment with a bunch of friends taking time off from what they normally do to make music, so it was no surprise when lead guitarist Joe Trohman stated why this band “Doesn’t have a career”. Well, surprise lads! As 9 years later this career-less band has grouped up once again to give us their second studio album – ‘High Crimes’.
The artwork is more sort of abstract art with some simple brush strokes and the band’s name in bold. The first half of the album has a distinctively punk tone with some metal elements. From the get-go, it is evident that this is going to be more punk than metal. ‘Cells’ has an easy-going feel-good factor about it but with underlying anarchy about it, more like a rowdy party which is not yet gone out of control, but it’s not in control either. Some may accuse songs like ‘Invincible’ & the already released ‘Something Good’ of being guilty of attempting some commercial pop-rock but listen to it long enough and it may develop into a guilty pleasure song. Dan Andriano gives you plenty of great bass lines in these tracks too. The record dials into a slightly southern rock sound ‘Omen’ onwards but still has a very upbeat tempo to it. ‘Carry a brick’ has a catchy chorus and a nice outro, and ‘Storm Charmer’ rings bada*s in every note. It’s a slow burner and personally my favorite track. The sound dials back into a punk/hardcore mode with ‘Young hearts’ before mixing it up once again in ‘Keep Crawling’. ‘Let me be (your girl)’ is another typically commercial experiment full of catchy bits and chorus’. The final track on this album is the heaviest of the lot. ‘The fire is cold’ is the more metal sounding in the verses, has more of Scott Ian’s signature on it along with some frantic drumming and time signature changes by Andy Hurley. Buckley’s vocals are mostly consistent and go hand in hand with the music throughout the album.
Like its predecessor, this album is clearly a fun experiment. It’s a bunch of very talented musicians taking time off their schedules and coming together to just make music with a more let’s see where this goes approach. Trohman stated in an interview “Normally when career bands say they made a record for fun, they didn’t – but we actually did” and this is evident in the way it sounds. It’s a punk record, with plenty of character and attitude and isn’t made with a motive to either sell records or try and get noticed, or critically or commercially successful. It’s rebellious and stands on its own terms without a care in the world what people think of it and that’s what I like about it the most. It’s a very charismatic creation with decent production available for pre-order at the time of this review, and if you don’t mind the odd splash of color in your music, you’re going to like it.
‘High Crimes’ has character, color, attitude and isn’t trying to either sell records or get noticed. Instead, it’s a rebel like a genre it represents standing on its own terms without a care in the world what you think of it.