Tomorrow, April 24, Damned will be released in North America by the increasingly can’t-miss Southern Lord label. It’s the latest riptide to be unleashed by a venerable Swedish band who haven’t lost the reflexes or the bloodlust that inspired their first music in the mid-90’s. Wolfbrigade remind us about the vital contribution of punk to death metal, but Damned is no history lesson. It’s an explosive, immediate, vibrant album that’s a hard boot to the ass.
I’ll come back to the rest of the band in a minute, but I have to start with what infected me from the beginning of this album: The vocals of Micke. His voice sounds like it’s been regularly bathed in a concoction of napalm, sandblaster grit, and pure grain alcohol from a backwoods still. It’s abrasive, pissed-off, and bleeding from a dozen raw wounds. It’s all smoke and shrapnel, and it lights up this music like a free-fire warzone at midnight.
The vocals suit the music, because Damned is one raw skin-scraper after another, and they leave no time to breathe — 12 songs in under 35 minutes. The majority of the tracks are a boiling stew of d-beat drums, swarming chainsaw guitars, slamming rhythms, and molten guitar solo’s that come for you like grasping alien face-huggers that are a shitload stronger than you are.
It’s high-energy, made-to-mosh music with a gritty low end and bursts of lead guitar melody that give the songs a near-anthemic quality. Listen to “On Your Knees….In Misery” and see if you’re not screaming along and confusing your friends by the end of it.
No lie: The punk swagger and the fuming heat of metal fresh from the blast furnace are just too much to resist. You need to submit, unless you want to be kicked to the curb and wake up with fewer teeth and the kind of bruises that go yellow in the light of day.
The album isn’t all crust-punk fused with hardcore and hot metal, though I wouldn’t give a fuck if it were, because it’s so well done. “The Curse of Cain” and “Catch 22” inject boluses of Motörhead-style NWOBH into the mix of sounds. “Ride the Steel” begins surprisingly slow and doomy, before it starts lashing your back while filling your head with dark melody to ease the pain. It’s the least punk-infused song on the album, and surprisingly one of the best; it showcases how much this band are capable of doing.
“From Beyond” includes a mid-paced instrumental section of Gothenburg-style melodic death metal followed by a vibrant guitar solo. The rumbling drums and searing guitar leads in “Damned To Madness” do a very credible job of making you feel . . . damned to madness.
And there’s a whole lot more on top of that; nothing about this album is boring, and there is no filler.
I guess you can tell I fuckin’ love Damned. It’s brilliant from start to finish, one of the best albums I’ve heard in 2012, and I can’t get un-stuck from it.
Three songs from Damned have premiered so far: “Ride The Steel” debuted at Terrorizer Magazine (here); “Peace Of Mind” began streaming at the Southern Lord website ; and “Feed The Flames” was featured at Blow The Scene. Here are all three of those tracks back-to-back:
“Peace of Mind”
“Ride the Steel”
“Feed the Flames”
You can order the album from Southern Lord; there’s a package deal with a T-shirt there as well:
Europeans can order the LP from www.punkdistro.de.
Now, here are Wolfbrigade band links: