The Damned Things

Ironiclast

01. Handbook for the Recently Deceased
02. Bad Blood
03. Friday Night (Going Down In Flames)
04. We’ve Got a Situation Here
05. Black Heart
06. A Great Reckoning
07. Little Darling
08. Ironiclast
09. Graverobber
10. The Blues Havin’ Blues

[Island | 12/13/10 ]

The Damned Things? Who would have thought the culmination of members from two metal bands and an alternative rock band would form a supergroup with southern rock-n-roll intentions? Certainly not me. When you have the god that Keith Buckley is on vocals, you would certainly think they’d take a heavier approach. Then again, we wouldn’t want an Every Time I Die 2.0, but I digress. Nevertheless, with such overall quality musicians (yes – even the Fall Out Boy members) you would expect something great. And unfortunately, Ironiclast falls short from the admittedly high standards.

Ironiclast definitely delivers on its intentions: to be a southern rock-n-roll album. You have Keith Buckley’s harmonious singing (something we hadn’t seen a lot of until newer ETID) that have a very hypnotizing effect driving each song along until their conclusion. And god damn does he do it well. Keith is easily the highlight of Ironiclast because everything he seems to touch turns to gold. The insanely catchy chorus of “Handbook for the Recently Deceased” and the ETID-y title track showcase his dynamic vocalism and why he was the perfect match for this. And while the lyrics here aren’t as abstract and metaphorical as his main band, they’re still pretty good. Hell, the title of the album is pretty fucking witty to me. And I’ll even go out on a limb here and say that this is his best work to date (obviously up for debate depending on your harsh/clean preference). But yet with such execution in the vocal department, I can’t get the thought out of my head that the album is almost too centric on the singing.

While nothing here is ever bad or horrendous, it seems to me like the musicianship suffers as a result of the “let’s have some really catchy choruses” mindset. When you spin the album multiple times you begin to really notice that Ironiclast doesn’t provide much to digest. Yeah, the riffs and solos are very southern and twang-y, but they’re really not that great. It’s kind of like that kid at school who tries to fit in with the “metal” crowd (ugh it pains me to even say that). Sure, he bought some band shirts, but he is wearing Slipknot instead of Necrophagist.

You know what? Fuck that analogy. It sucks and I should be hung. My point is clear though: the musicianship is here, but it’s not amazing. It’s just… okay. It’s all very forgettable, uninteresting and ultimately, superficial. If anything, its existence is only to enhance Keith (which is fine by me – and yes, I have a hard on for him). It’s further hindered by the poppy production. An absence of bass and drowned guitars really make things harder to hear than they should be, especially when things get wanky and crazy. It hides under everything and makes for some really weak solos and leads.

Some may argue that I should have expected this. And to you I say no. After the 5/5 release that New Junk Aesthetic was (and the other excellent releases Every Time I Die is known for), the constantly solid outputs of Anthrax and the it’s-not-for-me-but-it’s-good-for-what-it-is releases of Fall Out Boy, my standards were high. But the Jenga piece was pulled from the metaphorical tower of expectations and it all came crumbling down. Ironiclast does have good tracks, don’t get me wrong. “Little Darling” and the Texas-y, groove-ridden genre fusion of “Blues Havin’ The Blues” are both very enjoyable, as is the first song and the title track. But as a whole, Ironiclast feels derivative. It’s something I can enjoy, but as I have said ad infinitum in regards to sing-a-long bands, the first bite is always the biggest and soon thereafter you take smaller and smaller pieces of the pie until you’re full and don’t want anymore. There simply isn’t enough to digest here and listening slowly becomes less of an interest.

On its own merits (being centralized on catchy vocals), The Damned Things’ debut does deliver. Keith is incredibly strong here and is an absolute joy to listen to all throughout. But on a long-term replayability scale and as a whole, Ironiclast falls short. Average musicianship brings the album down by a big margin and thus:

The Damned Things – Ironiclast gets…

3/5

-MK