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Damaged & Co. - Life’s Grand Delusion

Damaged & Co.
Life’s Grand Delusion
by Andrew Harvey at 20 March 2023, 6:37 AM

DAMAGED & CO. are certainly a name I won’t forget, they began as a two piece or duo back in 2017 which then led to the full lineup being formed in 2018, the following year after. The members of the band all come from the country of Malta, I guess it just shows the music even the heavier side of it can influence musicians from all around the world. These guys are very much on the same path of bands like BREAKING BENJAMIN, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, DEMON HUNTER, ASKING ALEXANDRIA and OF MICE AND MEN. Of course these bands were all of the same sub genre, which was alternative metal or melodic metal, as DAMAGED & CO. are now in the same league as their predecessors.

They first performed when they were given an invite to play at a festival called Sbam Fest III Edizione which is a festival based in Torino, Italy so of course this was the debut performance for this band outside of their home country in 2019. After signing with Hades Management in 2020, the band didn’t become active again until 2021, well after the global pandemic of Covid-19 swept through the entire globe, they played at a few different events in their own country capital of Valletta, Malta and Milan, Italy. They released three singles “Here To Stay”(2018), “Kill O’Clock”(2019) and “Broken Fields”(2020) which then was successfully followed up by a self-titled EP in 2022. No doubt that this would be the final step towards the band’s debut album which is titled LIFE’S GRAND DELUSION as it is being released independently as of February this year.

Their debut album begins with “Truth” as we hear mellow electric guitar with vocal chants in the background, as drums plus other instruments enter the fore as bass guitar can be heard also setting the tone for the album starter. Drums do set the tempo as they should with rhythmic beats and syncopated rhythms also, electric guitar has a lovely and wicked solo part as other instruments accompany the guitar. A belting kick drum then allows drums to batter its way back into the track where alternative elements are present in the mix, vocals have two parts running as we hear another alternative breakdown with symphonic strikes of brighter notes from keyboards perhaps. “Destiny” has an instrumental intro before vocals are back in the spotlight.

A real kick ass guitar sounds clear and vocals are determined to cut across the other instruments but electric guitar still has room to shine as drums do set a presidense in the tempo of this track, even a double kick movement is highlighted. There is no doubt that this track does share so much with the previous track, as we head into the next track which is “Life’s Grand Delusion”. Third in line, is a slow melodic guitar line with bass guitar together with kick drums, once more the single percussive element before drums does have the crescendo. A hint of a choral chant maybe from the keyboard is heard, drums have an echo but the tone or texture is simply sensational as is guitar which goes hand in hand with drums even in more off beat patterns.

A gradual building crescendo on drums brings this track to the repeated phrasing of the start, as we head into the next track which is “Carpe Diem”. Keyboard sound effects do take the intro here with rolling drums setting the scene for this track as drums do give that hell hath no fury sound of confidence coming through evidently. Guitars mark the in-between cross over points then the more gritty combined tones with drums adding to the mix, as vocals are slowed down but still just as good as before. The execution of their notes and clarity is very important to their role in this album, but moving ahead with an instrumental section, with woodwind sound effects. “Corvus” has a silence before piano swiftly glides this track with nothing else really, it is a nice symphonic gesture as we head into the next track.

“Dragonfly In Amber” continues on with piano with drums creating a creative crescendo, with epic guitar pitch shifts and vibrato. There is more focus here on tempo and rhythm once more, as the drums and guitars prove this, alternative rock does creep in when the time is right and vocals remain just as bold and brave guiding through the whole way. Cymbal hits and guitar riffs unite for several notes, but back into the main narrative of the track, then the piano returns with drums giving a nice feel to a different section. A great track as we head into the next one, which is “Vengeance Is Mine” as we feel the continuity of it from the previous track, more of the glamorous guitar riffs with drums backing up the vocals all the time.

There is such a class of all instrumentation at work, we can hear each one in their own corner of the mix, the contrast is just tremendous and vocals dig deep into tone and sing almost an operatic opus of its own. There is so much bass and low end punches as the drums and vocals bring out the lower frequencies superbly, a short guitar solo with cymbals and drums build to the climax. Vocals do certainly give the track its own personality as the track title does suit the style as we head into the next track, which is  “Gravedigger”. Interesting sound effects at first then guitars on each side with drums in the middle slowly building again, this is such a good technique that the drummer does so well to add such drama to the track. Then an alternative rock guitar stops and starts with bouncing notes then a faster section, with quicker drum patterns, each instrument is certainly given its own space.

Onwards is just more of the same wonderful creativity we have heard, keyboard can still be heard luring in the background, as we hear the sounds of keyboard ending on a quieter note. “Clenching Fists” is straight off the mark with syncopated drum beats, exciting guitar riffs and cunning vocals that do well to add to such a mix of violent clashes, but not excessive at all. Guitars and vocals do indeed make a lot of ground and gain the upper hand, guitar certainly  astounding as ever. “Afflicted” has a quieter groove in motion before simple enough drums do the usual, but they change a small bit giving more focus on rhythm as guitar triumphs with solo playing. There is the sound of an organ sound effect being played and then we head into the final track which is “Reflections”.

The final frontier has slow mellow guitar and vocals for starters, vocals are so warm and has so much depth to it’s tone, drums slowly moving around with rolls then a simple groove. Even the song title seems like this one is close to the heart and more like a personal message, keyboards can be heard too, vocals does seem like the inner soul of this track, as the drums do become more active. Guitars move in also for the final time, as they produce some high quality riffs and passages of epic alternative metal stardom. I enjoyed this band so much, you can hear the heavy metal and alternative influences, as well as modern twists, just an excellent way to finish the album.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

1. Truth
2. Destiny
3. Life’s Grand Delusion
4. Carpe Diem
5. Corvus
6. Dragonfly In Amber
7. Vengeance Is Mine
8. Gravedigger
9. Clenching Fists
10. Afflicted
11. Reflections
Peter Paul Valetta - Vocals
Etienne Vella - Guitars
Theo Torrisi - Guitars
Clyde Farrugia - Bass Guitar
Keith Muscat - Keyboards
Daniel Aquilina - Drums
Record Label: Independent


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