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When The Damned Things project was announced in 2009, few were left without their doubts. Who could blame them? Anthrax, Fall Out Boy and Every Time I Die are three bands you wouldn’t even expect to share stages at a festival together, let alone be the three sources of a hard rock supergroup. What makes Ironiclast interesting is that every member brings almost exactly what you would expect to the band. The riffs and solos are all unmistakedly Anthrax, the chemistry between Rob Caggiano and Scott Ian is just as potent as on any of their previous records. Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley blend in their Fall Out Boy pop-rock sensibility and chordal hooks and vocal powerhouse Keith Buckley has his trademark sound all over the record. That said, The Damned Things never at once feels like Every Time I Die with a lineup change. It’s essentially a throwback to 70’s classic rock with an ultra-modern twist. Caggiano tracked the bass for the record, but a permanent bassist was recently found – Josh Newton of Every Time I Die completes the six-piece.
Weighing in at about 42 minutes, there isn’t much on the the 10-track album to leave room for boredom. To say there was a bad track on the album would be dishonest, with each track bringing something a little different to the table and helping hold a broad area of interest. However, that leads me to the first of the album’s shortcomings – The band seem to consistently use each song to mix it up and create diversity, with little variation apparent within the traditional verse/chorus songs. With such a modern take on a classic rock record, more could have been done to deal with variation to create more interest. The only other gripe for me is that I often find myself disappointed with a tease of built-up aggression only to be let down by a non-climatic change Keith Buckley’s behalf . Neither of those concerns are ones of great matter, the album is what it is and there are some great positives that come out of them as well.
For example, While in Every Time I Die we do get to experience Buckley in his full capacity, there hasn’t yet been opportunity as good as this to hear him command his clean vocal ability; his all too familiar growl only making an appearance in a small handfull of songs. He gives the album plenty of balls and it’s great to see him exploring his clean abilities more thoroughly.
As a whole, Ironiclast is a fun, catchy and surprisingly awesome hard rock release that has very few shortcomings. Although it uses effectively copied and pasted elements from the three source bands, the end result is something that makes a lot more sense than it did on paper.
At a mixture of one third each of Anthrax, Fall Out Boy and Every Time I Die, this six-piece heavy metal supergroup may look interesting or even unfavourable on paper. Ironiclast should put all doubts to rest, because quite simply, it rocks. The influence of all three bands can be clearly felt and each member brings exactly what you would expect them to bring. The Anthrax-brand riffs and solos, the pop-rock sensibility of Fall Out Boy and the sheer vocal force of Keith Buckley (Every Time I Die) combine to make this band a force to be reckoned with. A classic rock throwback has never felt this new.
1. Handbook for the Recently Deceased
2. Bad Blood
3. Friday Night (Going Down In Flames)
4. We’ve Got a Situation Here
5. Black Heart
6. A Great Reckoning
7. Little Darling
9. Grave Robber
10. The Blues Havin’ Blues