The Damned Things – “High Crimes” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Battle Helm Rating
Inspired by the lyrics from Ram Jam’s 1977 version of ‘Black Betty’, The Damned Things are a hard rock supergroup consisting of Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy, Scott Ian of Anthrax, Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die, and Dan Andriano of Alkaline Trio. Initially formed when Ian and Anthrax lead guitarist Rob Caggiano joined forces with Buckley to create a side project, it resulted in the 2010 debut “Ironiclast” that was so successful it bagged the group the opening slot on Volbeat’s tour – ironic given that Caggiano (who was also co composer / producer) would join Volbeat only a few years later! Now, close to a decade on and we have the sophomore that despite Caggiano not being involved, is nothing short of a monster. Clearly sticking to the winning formula of 70s hard rock tinged with blues and punk but stuffed to the gills with catchy hooks and deep melodies and most of all, trying to avoid the identifiable sounds of their main bands, “High Crimes” is 10 tracks that really sound like a supergroup made ’em – and played ’em! Raging on ‘The Fire Is Cold’ through the punk furore of Buckley threatening to scream his throat out before a heavy as f–k slow power groove of bottom heavy bass from Andriano and Hurley’s huge drums just smashes into you and keeps you there as Ian and Trohman roll in their guitars to cut n slice into you further, you know you’re in for something special. Indeed, ‘Invincible’ proves it as Buckley brings in his soul and also funks it out a little Zepp style but complemented this time by an amazing slide guitar that burns straight to your heart, tenderly uplifting but also strangely rocking in its own way – instant addiction. Bringing the guitar power melodies to the fore Thin Lizzy style along with a T Rex vocal from Buckley on ‘Omen’, nothing can prepare you for the colossal chorus backed by massively hewn bass lines from Andriano and Trohman’s wailing, orgasmic guitar – awesome. In danger of melting me down, “High Crimes” is well deserved of its supergroup tag in creating nothing short of superb music but thankfully without any rock star pretence – damn, these boys are good!