What do you do when you get the second album from a band that you thought would never record a follow-up? For starters, you can begin by thanking your lucky stars, especially when the sophomore record surpasses your expectations on what the band was capable of putting into existence. High Crimes delivers all over on the raw, yet incredibly catchy follow-up to The Damned Things debut, Ironiclast.
High Crimes erupts in chaos and into a wall of sound from the opening notes of “Cells,” with some sped-up guitars courtesy of Joe Trohman (Fall Out Boy) and Scott Ian (Anthrax), and the trademark wail of vocalist Keith Buckley (Every Time I Die). The truck pulsates with the drumming of Andy Hurley (Fall Out Boy) and bassist, Dan Andriano (Alkaline Trio). As far as “supergroups” are concerned, The Damned Things have no shortage of talent in every facet of their attack.
The second track, “Something Good” brings out some apocalyptic cheerleaders of sort with their opening chant of, “Y-E-L-L/All of my friends are going to hell.” The lyrical content finds Buckley reminiscing on a failed relationship that went astray, and left wondering where to pick up the pieces. “Invincible” follows this song with a brilliant chorus of: “And if you’re trying to bring me down/Then you’re the last to know/Once the bullet leaves my brain/It can’t be stopped/You’re in over your head/I’m invincible.” The bluesy track wouldn’t have fit well with the aggressive nature of the debut, but as The Damned Things are starting to figure out their strengths as a band, the song ends up being one of the standout moments on the record.
“Omen” finds the band a bit more reserved and lets Buckley take center stage of highlighting his vocal prowess and story-telling, The song structures the verses around the same guitar riff with a few variations towards the end of the track. It’s pretty amazing seeing the evolution of the group that has taken their time to plan out a creative work of art carefully.
Other songs such as “Carry A Brick” with its sped-up verses and melodic chorus, reminded me of a Queens of the Stone Age-type of a rock song. However, The Damned Things never find themselves with being complacent with a formulaic approach to the songs found on this eclectic LP. Each track seems to take on a personality of its own, and this is further enhanced through deeper dives and repeat listens to the album. Whereas “Storm Charmer” is a more experimental and ambitious heavy metal track more in the wheelhouse of Anthrax and Every Time I Die, the song breathes a lot of life into a record that is filled with lush textures and electric moments.
The closing duo of “Let Me Be (Your Girl” and “The Fire Is Cold” do nothing but further solidify The Damned Things staying power in a crowded and changing rock scene. While many were quick to write off the debut record as a flash in the pan, High Crimes cements their status as major players in the genre. Time will tell if we need to wait another nine long years to hear more from this dynamic and ultra-talented band, but fingers crossed that they use the strong word of mouth from this release to continue making music together.