In music, it is often said that artists should always look to doing something different or branching out. However, sometimes when the music industry is in a bit of a transition period, for both good and bad going back to roots is not such a bad thing. With the technology available today, a lot of music adds that element into their music; again, for both good and bad. More specifically, in rock music today bands can be judged on their catchiness, use of electronics or perhaps their breakdowns, if they have them. But, sometimes it is about going back to the roots of the classic rock greats that used superb musicianship (solos and riffs) and musical tones to set themselves apart. Fortunately, there is a record that was released recently that is exactly what has been described. That record is Ironiclast by the Damned Things.
Released this past Tuesday, the album features 10 songs that take the listener back a few decades, while still sounding new at the same time. The album starts off with “Handbook for the Recently Deceased” and its undeniable riffing. “Bad Blood” is more of a pop song with its infectious hook that may have fit on the last FOB record. However, what stands out the most is the vocal range of Keith Buckley, who is mostly known for aggressive screaming in his other outfit, Every Time I Die. To Buckley’s credit he really pulls of the ability to be a predominantly clean vocalist very well.”Friday Night (Going Down in Flames) is good weekend rock song that like all of these songs, features awesome guitar work and good chorus to boot.
Following the first three songs is the first single, “We’ve Got a Situation Here.” This song features the best elements of all three former bands. The heaviness of Anthrax, the catchiness of FOB and both aggressive and clean vocals of ETID. Blend that up and the outcome is this song. “Black Heart” is another song with an apparent classic feel to it covered in a modern sound. Again, very solid song. “A Great Reckoning” is another example of a song that may have worked on the last FOB record minus the dual guitar solo going on. “Little Darling” is a song that sounds like a ’90s hard rock song that Stone Temple Pilots never wrote.
The biggest curve ball on the record is the album title track, “Ironiclast” because it is the shortest song and most aggressive. It is the only song that would fit on a ETID record. It’s another strong song; however, it has become apparent there is not a bad song on this record. Following the short furry or rock is another heavy song, but a bit slower in tempo. Called “Grave Robber” it features some double bass drum pedal from Andy Hurley and some ’80s thrash riffs from the triple guitar assault that is Scott Ian, Rob Caggiano, and Joe Trohman. The last song, “The Blues Havin’ Blues” sounds exactly like the title reads: a modernized blues rock song. Even the chorus is littered with a blues feel to it adding some female vocal parts. Very interesting song that closes the album off wonderfully.
The first take away after listening to this record once is that the guitar solo and riffing mentality is back. The second thing is wondering if that is really Keith Buckley singing with Joe Trohman playing guitar. Lyrically this is still Keith of ETID, but he is sometimes sacrificing the perfect words for the sake of fitting with the melody. Pretty much the opposite of what he is used to doing, but his lyrics are still some of the strongest out there in rock music. Once you settle into the record, you will realize that this is a ’70s classic rock record with a modern feel to it. I think Thin Lizzy is somewhere applauding this record giving thanks. “There are still people who get it.” It touches the metal realm, but by no means is that all this is. There is blues rock and alternative rock at play as well. Also, like many of the classic records of the past every song on Ironiclast is strong and can stand on its own as well as a collective entity. Simply put, this is one of the stronger albums to come out this year. It is definitely one of the most refreshing sounds out there in the mainstream (along with The Gaslight Anthem) and will only get bigger. Sometimes supergroups work: Travelling Wilburys and Crosby Stills Nash & Young, etc. But, sometimes they don’t work: Zwan and Powerstation. The Damned Things are a supergroup that can now officially be put in the “work” category.