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Album Reviews : The Damned Things – Ironiclast

By on March 27, 2011


Whenever the two words “Super Group” (a term which originated in the late 1960’s) get spread about, the music community parts like the Sea of Galilee under Moses’ spell. On one side, you have the cynical crowd that spout accusations of “money-grabbing business decisions” and question things like – “Where is the heart!? Where is the get in the van, grind it out in the local dives covered in piss and beer to pay their dues mentality!?”

On the other side, you have the crowd who are avid fans of the band members’ “main” bands. This group is on verge of a mass aneurysm; salivating and trying to concoct aural images of what the new band will sound like – “Will they re-invent the musical landscape with one swift motion of their collective musical weaponry?”

More often than not, the cynical crowd win out with the “Super Group” sounding like a circle-jerk of bloated ego’s, an incoherent mish-mash of the styles that make the individual members bands’ popular (Audioslave/Velvet Revolver/Chickenfoot and the biggest disaster of all Zwan). Sure it brings in revenue; Audioslave sold in the millions and weren’t without their merits, but on an artistic level – these groups have been exposed as nothing more than a bunch of glorified cash-cows.

Nevertheless, when egos are deflated and the music is rightly placed on a pedestal at the expense of the individuals involved, the phenomenon of the “Super Group” can produce astounding results (Cream/Shrinebuilder/Broken Social Scene/Down). The only question left to ask is – on which side do The Damned Things fall?

In theory, The Damned Things are an intriguing proposition; made up of Keith Buckley (Every Time I Die’s larynx shredding polymath), Anthrax road warriors of the riff – Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano and um…Fall Out Boy’s Andy Hurley and Joe Trohman.

Musically speaking, the band creates a mash up of classic blues-based rock, Anthrax chug and Every Time I Die sans the breakneck hardcore. The structures are quite fluid as on “Handbook for the Recently Deceased” (which was expected with Scott Ian in the ranks) yet on the whole it’s a culmination of influences that produce rather mediocre results. This album would have been effective in a shorter EP format; the songs that form the middle ground of the album are lacking any real invention, and as a result cause the album to sag and drag mid-stride (“Black Heart”, “A Great Reckoning”, “Little Darling”). These three songs are borderline cringe-worthy with cheesy riffs and vocal refrains worthy of z-list 80’s cock rock.

Buckley’s lyrics (a unique selling point in ETID) are without his usual satirical bite, intelligence and pun-tastic delivery. It is unclear whether this simplification of lyrical ideas was a conscious choice by Buckley, in order to coincide with the pedestrian music that it accompanies. His melodies however, are the album’s saving grace as they drag some of the songs out of the quagmire they would otherwise be festering in (“We’ve Got a Situation Here”, “Ironiclast”). Check out his vocal lines on “Bad Blood” making this song possibly the catchiest you’ll hear all year. When the chorus strikes it’s like a caffeine pill for the ears!

Disappointingly, this as good as the album gets (some might say the album is worth it for this pulsating track alone), the drum beats throughout are banal and repetitious, the riffs are entirely unoriginal and lack the spark of the bands that the Damned Things were apparently influenced by (Thin Lizzy/Kyuss/Led Zeppelin). The album in its entirety results in meat and potatoes rock n’ roll; not always a bad thing but when it comes to the calibre of musicians involved, more was expected and hoped for. As a whole, “Ironiclast” is competent at best.

So again, where do the Damned Things fall compared to Super Groups past? – They fall somewhere in the grey middle ground, neither eliciting mass hysteria nor attracting decrees of derision.

Nonetheless, apathy should be the 8th deadly sin! 5/10

Band: The Damned Things
Album: Ironiclast
Year: 2010
Genre: Hard rock
Origin: USA
Label: Mercury
http://www.thedamnedthings.com/

Track listing:
1. Handbook for the Recently Deceased
2. Bad Blood
3. Friday Night (Going Down in Flames)
4. We’ve Got a Situation Here
5. Black Heart
6. A Great Reckoning
7. Little Darling
8. Ironiclast
9. Graverobber
10. The Blues Havin’ Blues

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.