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THE DAMNED – ‘Evil Spirits’ Album Review

THE DAMNED – Evil Spirits

The DamnedThe Damned are back with their first new album in a decade and it will be released on April 13th. Having seen the band play a spirited set at the Hyde Park punk festival in London last summer, an eleventh studio album, has been highly anticipated. It is fair to say that The Damned were always a bit different from their cohorts in the early days and they have collaborated with another legend from pop’s golden age – Tony Visconti, whose production on innumerable classic albums by David Bowie, T-Rex and more, mark him not only as a master of his craft, but a perfect match for The Damned.

To stump up cash for this release, The Damned set up their first ever crowd-funding venture. Their freshly galvanized global fanbase quickly coughed up a sum unimaginable to these lifelong DIY-ers. It turned out Visconti, now 73, had first heard of them from T-Rex circa ’77, and was shocked they’d never approached him before. He duly signed up, without hearing a note of prospective music, as the band hadn’t actually finished writing any songs yet!

As lead vocalist and ever present member, Dave Vanian points out, “Anyone looking for out-and-out raucousness and nothing else might not be happy. This album is filled with a lot of influences from our earlier, pre-’70s tastes – the ’60s stuff…”

“At the end of the day,” Guitarist and the other ever-present band-member, Captain Sensible observes, “it’s all about the tune, and making something fabulous that grabs the listener. The message is a bonus. It’s a crazy world we find ourselves in. The songs are mostly about pretty serious stuff – a reaction to the lunacy of today’s nonsensical politics – i.e. whoever you vote for, nothing changes; the wars, political corruption and economic idiocy carry on regardless.”

The album was recorded over nine days and the energy has been well captured. From the early notes of the opener, Standing On The Edge Of Tomorrow that lead to a melodic vocal from Vanian, The Damned build on their history as the track has some hints of Smash It Up but adds a gothic/pop touch. The song is lengthy with a soaring solo from Sensible to see the song out. Next up is The Devil In Disguise with a growled vocal over a raunchy riff and a driving keyboard, the track has echoes of The Doors and other 1960s psychedelic rock. We’re So Nice reminded me of a pop song from the late 1960’s/early 1970’s with a nod to the Kinks whilst Look Left can only be described as a power ballad full of melody and hooks and a Righteous Brothers vocal!

The title track, Evil Spirits is a soaring rocker of track with some garage rock roots and it is followed by Shadow Evocation which opens with some ambient guitar and distant spoken word before catapulting into raucous and melodic song. The sound of The Damned on this album is difficult to label but it is a long way from three-chord punk veering towards epic rock with elements of the precursors to punk in the shape of The Doors, Slade, Mud and Wizard.

Every song on the 10-track album is around four minutes or more in length and Sonar Deceit uses the longer footprint to build on a bouncy bass-line and horror-punk keyboard to support an energetic pop/punk effort. The 1960’s keyboard sound on Procrastination helps deliver on a B-52s meets the Human League effort and sets up the penultimate track, The Daily Liar where the band deliver on six minutes of pulsating rock ‘n roll replete with trumpet and hooks a plenty!

The closer, I Don’t Care (Revised Outro) is the shortest song on the album and it melds a plaintive piano with a plaintive vocal for a ballad entry that builds to a powerful rocker with the trumpet in prime position. This is an album that showcases some great song writing ability, some energy and some early influences of the band – be warned, it is not 1977 punk rock but, that would be “dialing it in” for a band who are showing they were more than that.


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