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The Damned Things - High Crimes

The Damned Things
High Crimes
by Chris Hawkins at 03 June 2019, 9:23 PM

Super groups.  Opinion is generally divided over whether they live up to the hype, see DOWN, or fall well below expectations such as BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION.  Yes, THE DAMNED THINGS are classified as a super group; however, only one member, one Scott Ian, is actually from a Metal band.  The others are from bands as diverse as EVERYTIME I DIE, ALKALINE TRIO, and head-scratchingly, FALL OUT BOY.  The band aimed at building a traditional Hard Rock sound a la LED ZEPPELIN and THIN LIZZY, a common denominator between the musicians’ diverse backgrounds.  So, were they able to tap into that classic magic?  As Count Grishnackh himself so often says, “let’s find out”.

Cells,” one of the “heaviest” songs, opens things up.  It has a very Punk-infused sound that hits upon some Stoner Rock vibes at times.  The chorus is extremely catchy with an excellent bass line that deftly runs up and down the neck.  As my British friends would say, it has a cheeky vibe with periodic finger snapping over Pentatonic blues licks.  That vibe is maintained right into the second track, “Something Good,” which starts out with a group of kids chanting, “Y-E-L-L, all of my friends are going to hell”.  I liked that part.  When the song kicks in, there is a very QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE vibe throughout the verse section.  The chorus of “I’m a goddamn coward and you knew it all along” simply bleeds radio play.  This ensemble of experienced musicians certainly knows how to write hooks.

I’m an ANTHRAX and S.O.D. fan from way back.  I cut my teeth growing up on Scott Ian’s classic ultra-chunky guitar tone as evidenced by songs such as “Among the Living” and “Bigger than the Devil”.  Well, that tone is nowhere to be found.  I thought it prudent to mention that for all the old school heads that are more than curious.

The guitar sound is not “bad” - it is very homogenized, though.  It could best be classified as “modern” for what this worth.  “Omen,” the fourth track, is the first time on the album where my ears were truly piqued by the guitar riff.  It has a very classic BLACK SABBATH meets ZZ TOP kind of vibe with its palm-muted groove.  Once again, though, the bass playing truly impressed with the simple, locked-in swagger and distinct melodious fills.  Someone must have spent some time listening to John Paul Jones and Geezer Butler.  “Stone Charmer,” the sixth track, has a bluesy swagger and once again, the guitar tone points to pure QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE.  The “oohs” and “aahs” will potentially turn off some Metal fans, though.  It seems that the influence of each member is soaked into these songs – except for Scott Ian.  That’s not to say that he didn’t have anything to do with this, but all signs of his classic, influential sound and technique are quite absent.  Obviously, that is due to the band wanting a streamlined sound.  “Young Hearts,” the seventh track, continues the established sound as does the rest of the record.

The ultimate conclusion is that this is a pretty good Rock record – Modern Rock.  As an old school Metal head, though, my bias cannot be buried into objectivity, and I am sure it is aligned with most reading this.  This isn’t “bad,” but just lacks the required Heavy Metal context expected from a project featuring Scott Ian.  At the end of the day, if this came on the radio, I wouldn’t change the station…most likely…but no, I cannot see myself revisiting this nor can I understand why there is a song called “Let Me Be (Your Girl)”.  I suppose I’m too set in my ways to open my mind enough and celebrate commercial music.  I cannot help but wonder what Billy Milano and Danny Lilker think about this record.

Songwriting:  6
Originality:  6
Memorability:  4
Production:  5

2 Star Rating

1. Cells
2. Something Good
3. Invincible
4. Omen
5. Carry a Brick
6. Storm Charmer
7. Young Hearts
8. Keep Me Crawling
9. Let Me Be (Your Girl)
10. The Fire is Cold

Scott Ian – Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Keith Buckley – Lead Vocals
Joe Trohman –Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Andy Hurley – Drums
Dan Andriano - Bass

Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records


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