April 22, 2019 The Damned Things – High Crimes (Album Review)
What do Anthrax and Fall Out Boy have in common? If you said nothing, you, my friend, are so very wrong. Heavy Metal supergroup The Damned Things return with their second opus, and first in nearly nine years, High Crimes, which arrives Friday, April 26, 2019, thanks to Nuclear Blast Records.
Sure, supergroups have a curious history of not always being quite so super, but The Damned Things merely scoff at this notion. The inception of the band began in 2008 when Fall Out Boy’s Joe Trohman and Anthrax’ Scott Ian sat down and began writing music together. With the seeds planted, the project grew to involve Trohman’s bandmate Andy Hurley, Every Time I Die frontman Keith Buckley and his former bandmate Josh Newton, and Ian’s former bandmate Rob Caggiano (of Volbeat). Together, the band released their debut, Ironiclast, in 2010, rocked the festival circuit, and then, most unfortunately, being forced to be super elsewhere got in the way of their collective fun.
After a lengthy hiatus thanks to their pesky day jobs, the boys are back with a slight line-up twist: both Caggiano and Newton have departed, while Alkaline Trio’s Dan Andriano has stepped in on bass — making The Damned Things even more super. For those keeping score, the Heavy Metal supergroup is now comprised of Vocalist Buckley, Guitarists Ian and Trohman, Bassist Andriano, and Drummer Hurley.
Their latest, the 10-song High Crimes, is the band’s sophomore disc, produced by Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Stone Sour), and sees the group continuing their Blues and riff-oriented approach to a classic, heavy rocking sound. In the most Punk Rock sense, many of the songs are short suckerpunches that deliver maximum oomph, always with a nod to yesteryear’s bluesier, grittier form of Rock-n-Roll.
High Crimes opens to the heavy Nirvana influence of “Cells,” a grungy Alt Rocker with some schnazzy guitar work, moments of melody, and a light-hearted look at the oxymoronic nature of life. Next, they amp up the wit on “Something Good,” which opens to the gang chant “Y-E-L-L / All of my friends are going to hell.” A funktastic beat anchors this catchy rocker about a relationship that has fallen apart.
The swagger of “Invincible” parades through some seriously bluesy, hard rockin’ 1970s influences. In fact, the band’s backstory involves a whole lot of Thin Lizzy love, which is apparent on tracks such as this. True to their influences, this classic approach continues into the bass-heavy licks of “Omen,” before Buckley and the boys explode into the raucous licks of “Carry a Brick.” Here, they meander through a multitude of sounds to build into melodic, rocking choruses.
At nearly six minutes, “Storm Chaser” provides High Crimes’ most epic offering. A sludgy, bluesy stomp, the track sees the band firing on all cylinders to craft an offering that is a delicious nod to a more masterful time in Metal. While it might not be the album’s most catchy or radio-ready offering, it’s certainly a killer representation of what The Damned Things are all about.
They amp it back up for the raucous pace of the groovin’ “Young Hearts,” a truly catchy rocker that prepares them to dip back into the sludge for the vicious cycle of “Keep Crawling.” Next, the boys present “Let Me Be (Your Girl).” (Yes, you read that correctly.) An explosion of gritty guitars, The Damned Things go all out for the oft psychedelic licks of the deeply grooving rocker. Ultimately, they end with the suckerpunch of “The Fire Is Cold.”
If you step into High Crimes expecting a band that sounds like a schizophrenic cross between the members’ other projects, then you’re going to be seriously disappointed. The Damned Things have a definite classic Metal/Hard Rock vibe that blends with some smoky Psychedelia to author a dirty Punk Rock good time. Certainly, you can’t question their musicianship, particularly the killer guitar antics of Ian and Trohman, and Buckley’s signature vocal swagger. So, now that The Damned Things have put the ‘super’ back into the supergroup, Cryptic Rock give High Crimes 4.5 of 5 stars.