ALBUM REVIEW: The Damned Things – High Crimes

Release Date: April 26th 2019
Label: Nuclear Blast Records


As sophomore albums go, ‘High Crimes’ might just be one of the most waited for records that the alternative scene has had in recent times. That’s mainly thanks to the fact that The Damned Things‘ last musical outing came almost a decade ago, in the form of their debut, ‘Ironicast’.

It’s not that the band members haven’t been up to too much, though. Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley found mainstream success with Fall Out Boy, Scott Ian slayed mighty, dragon-like riffs for Anthrax, while Dan Andriano (the newest member of the group) and frontman are equally tied to their primary groups Alkaline Trio and Every Time I Die respectively.

With such a big cast of names, it’s understandable why these five can’t just get together whenever they please, but what we learn from ‘High Crimes’ is that when they do, the results are pretty damn good.

You’d think with the contrastingly stylistically different sounds each members’ own band has that this record would be awash with muddy, fused together sub-styles, but that’s not the case at all. Instead, what you get is a meaty album full of unexpected textures, and a balanced, explorative sound that’s greatly executed.

Straight from the off, ‘Cells’ introduces a punchiness and drive that persists throughout the majority of the record. Tracks like ‘Something Good’ with its cheerleader gang vocals, a nice dollop of cowbell, and twisted lines of “H.E.L.L. / All of my friends are going to hell” is a great example of the varying levels of exploration The Damned Things show here.

Faster tracks like ‘Carry A Brick’ and ‘Young Hearts’ have a bit of a Foo Fighters vibe to them too, with Buckley‘s raw vocals over relentless drums and thunderous guitar work lined equally with catchy choruses, while ‘Let Me Be (Your Girl)’ show their more melodic, catchy side. Tinged with an ever-so-slight classic-rock noise transported to a modern day, alternative punk setting, the record is pretty ambitious in producing a cacophony of ‘heavy’-alternative noise, but bound together with a fine melodic silk that ensures it doesn’t stray too far from accessibility and catchiness.

As anticipated as this album may have been, The Damned Things have laid down some solid ground-work on ‘High Crimes’. It’s uncommon in its diversity, pushing an accessible alternative rock sound to its limits, all while being infectiously fun. On this showing, you’d better keep your fingers crossed that the next record won’t take so long.