Written by Guest Writer Jacob Testa
The Damned Things, a supergroup consisting of Keith Buckley (Every Time I Die), Scott Ian (Anthrax), Rob Caggiano (Anthrax), Joe Trohman (Fall Out Boy), and Andy Hurley (Fall Out Boy), caught my eye when they formed last year. Though very different, Fall Out Boy and Every Time I Die are two of my favorite bands and, while some wondered exactly how Fall Out Boy’s sound would blend with the more metal-based Every Time I Die and Anthrax, I had no doubt that the heavier musical backgrounds of Trohman and Hurley would shine through when working with the other members of The Damned Things. And I was right, at least in terms of the band’s cohesion. Where I was wrong is in how the band sounds. I was thinking that having Keith behind the microphone would lead the band to have a sound more similar to Every Time I Die, but that is hardly the case, as they draw to a greater extent from Ian and Caggiano’s work in Anthrax than from Buckley’s other band. As expected, there is nothing present that sounds anything like Fall Out Boy. The result of this blending is songs that sound a touch dated and cliche. So far, the band has released three tracks (two studio, one demo) and the artwork for their debut album Ironiclast, which is to be available on December 14th. My impression of these four things is such:
The first single, “We’ve Got A Situation”, has some parts that make me really excited, and others that are nearly cringe-worthy. The verses sound like they would have been at home on an Every Time I Die album, though the more pop-based chorus erases any thought of such ties (at least for its duration). Rich in tasty guitar parts by Trohman, Ian, and Caggiano and featuring a satisfying breakdown, it might have been surprising that this would be chosen as a first single, were it not for the chorus, which does a great job of getting stuck in your head. Unfortunately, the chorus is my least favorite part of the song. Though catchy, or maybe because of the certain type of catchiness displayed, there is a feel to it that just doesn’t sit well with me. Perhaps it is a bit forced. In any case, the rest of the song easily outshines and makes up for it in the grand scheme of things.
Recently released for streaming and free download on the band’s Facebook page, “Friday Night (Going Down In Flames)”, opens with a riff that sounds like it could have been stolen from a variety of ’80s metal bands before going into a verse that is sadly predictable. While the chorus might be a little redeeming in terms of the instrumentation and sound, the lyrics are hollow and vapid. The first half of the second verse is the best part of the song, with the only decent lyrics found in this offering. Following another chorus, the intro to the bridge brings some interest, though that falls away as soon as Buckley enters, due to an awful effect on his vocals. The section leads to a decent solo, which plays into the forgettable nature of the bridge. Overall, this song sounds as if the band was going for a classic metal feel, which unfortunately resulted in the lack of anything that sounded original or authentic.
Of the three songs released by the band thus far, the rough mix of “Ironiclast” featured on the band’s Myspace page is easily my favorite as it features great vocal and lyrical work by Buckley and displays the best creative talent of all of the instrumentalists. The drum part played by Hurley to open the song does a great job of getting me pumped up, and the guitar parts throughout the song, though subtle, are very effective in setting the tone and keeping the track interesting. Even if it is a bit short, the song doesn’t feel lacking in any manner, and I look forward to hearing the studio version of it when the album comes out in December.
Finally, the artwork for Ironiclast, released at the same time as “Friday Night (Going Down In Flames)”, only serves to raise my doubts concerning the album. While the art is well-done from an artistic sense, the style just doesn’t seem to match anything that I would want to listen to. A skeleton George Washington with X’s over his eyes might be provocative to some, but to me it just seems like the band is trying too hard to fit into a classic metal or punk mold, and the art falls flat.
As an outspoken member of the current musical scene, Keith Buckley seems to always be pressing for authenticity, originality, and honest musical expression, even going as far as to call out certain bands that he performed with on Warped Tour. Unfortunately, it seems that he abandoned those intentions when working on the songs for his new project. For the most part, the lyrics and music are generic, and come across as the band trying too hard to be something that they aren’t. That being said, there are parts of these three songs that are great (the rough mix of the title track as a whole doesn’t really have anything wrong with it), and the band’s members seem to be really excited about their work. However, from what I have seen and heard so far, Ironiclast will be an album that might be fun to listen to a few times, but not one that will stand the test of time.