April 9, 2018 The Damned – Evil Spirits (Album Review)
If you pride yourself as a connoisseur of Punk and Post-Punk music, then be damned if you do not know who The Damned are!
Formed in 1976, in London, England, The Damned are regarded as one of the pioneers of the so-called English Post-Punk scene in the 1970s, whose music evolved from plain and straightforward, three-chord Punk ditties (“New Rose”) to arty and a bit progressive Post-Punk songs (“Grimly Fiendish”). In its on-and-off activity – barring the respective solo projects and other musical endeavors of its individual members – the seminal band has released 10 studio albums, from 1977’s Damned Damned Damned to 2008’s So, Who’s Paranoid?
And now, a full decade after their last album, The Damned—comprised currently by the founding members Dave Vanian (vocals) and Captain Sensible (guitar), along with Monty Oxymoron (keyboards), Pinch (drums), and Paul Gray (bass)—the follow-up is finally forthcoming.
Scheduled for release on Friday, April 13, 2018, through Spinefarm Records, Evil Spirits – The Damned’s 11th offering is a mix of the band’s Punk beginnings and eventual Post-Punk Gothic transformation. It opens with the upbeat and catchy Gothic Rock track “Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow,” echoing traces of The Damned’s phantasmagoric past. It is followed by the Ramones-que “The Devil in Disguise,” whose rhythm and tempo are even more frenetic and cacophonic. The mood turns another gear higher with “We’re So Nice” and “Look Left,” exuding a sense of grandeur, reminiscent of Pete Wylie & the Mighty Wah!’s “Story of the Blues” and “Sinful!” And then “Evil Spirits” and “Shadow Evocation” follow next, kindling a familiarly fractured Post-Punk angularity that may remind the initiated of Wild Flowers (“A Kind of Kingdom”) and Echo & the Bunnymen (“Devilment”).
“Sonar Deceit” is a different kind of feast – a taste of Post-Punkabilly; it will fit well on a playlist that includes The Passmore Sisters’ “Every Child in Heaven,” Polecats’ “Make a Circuit with Me,” and The Cure’s “Why Can’t I Be You?” The organ-led “Procrastination,” this time, vibes off faint echoes of The Teardrop Explodes’ “Ha Ha! I’m Drowning,” Blue Zoo’s “Cry Boy Cry,” The Charlatans’ “The Only One I Know,” and Inspiral “Carpets’ Dragging Me Down.”
Near the end of their new, spirited, ten-track album, The Damned concocts something progressive, metallic, Gospel-tinged, and alternative with the ornate highlight of the album – “The Daily Liar.” Finally, Vanian, Sensible, Oxymoron, Pinch, and Gray deliver Evil Spirits’ final blow aptly with yet another Progressive affair, “I Don’t Care,” which starts as a slow, bluesy, Pub Rock piano-led ballad, then shifts into hyperdrive and ultimately concludes in a horn-fanfare-embellished epilogue. Who said that Post-Punk is anti-Progressive? This is actually The Damned revitalized, in full symphonic regalia, wearing on their sleeves all their musical influences, both the well-expressed and the once-concealed.
Damned if you don’t! Infectious melodies and evil spirits will haunt you! So, you might as well be sensible and get hold of this latest release by The Damned. It will be worth the spiritual, err, fresh yet familiar musical experience. CrypticRock gives Evil Spirits 5 out of 5 stars.