The Damned - Evil Spirits

by James Weiskittel Rating:8 Release Date:2018-04-13
The Damned - Evil Spirits
The Damned - Evil Spirits

The Damned are one of the few punk bands that can legitimately lay claim to ‘having been there from the beginning’.  And while they never achieved the same level of cultural impact stateside as many of their contemporaries, the potency of The Damned’s early years (Machine Gun Etiquette is a ‘lost classic’ if there ever was one) simply cannot be overstated.

And despite a host of changes in regards to the band’s line-up, style and direction over the years, The Damned (for better or worse) never really stopped writing, recording or touring.  The band’s latest release Evil Spirits, comes after a ten year break in recording following 2008’s So, Who’s Paranoid.

After launching a successful Pledge Music campaign back in 2016, the band took to the studio with famed producer Tony Visconti, and spent nine frenetic days working on what would become Evil Spirits.  And despite the band’s retro, ‘live on the floor’ approach to the album’s recording, the ten tracks that comprise Evil Spirits sound incredibly realized and polished,

It becomes clear within seconds of the album opening “Standing On the Edge Of Tomorrow” that the key ingredients of The Damned are in fine form.  Captain Sensible’s rockabilly-tinged guitar attack permeates each and every track, effortlessly evoking shades of punk, goth and nu-wave at a moment’s notice.  And for his part, singer Dave Vanian sounds great, delivering one fantastic lyric after another with his signature howling croon, replacing the youthful bite of his voice with a confident, melodic sensibility that serves to elevate much of the album.

There’s a little bit everything on Evil Spirits: upbeat anthems (“The Devil in Disguise”, “We’re So Nice”, and “The Daily Liar”), moody rockers (“Shadow Evocation”, “Look Left”), and even a couple of curveballs, like the funk-laced title track, and the dramatic, piano driven “I Don’t Care”.

Far more than merely an exercise in nostalgia (after all, there’s nothing worse than a band doing their best imitation of themselves), Evil Spirits is an eclectic effort that touches upon the Damned’s first-wave roots and goth-rock heyday while also managing to reveal a fresh set of sounds for the band; one that should please fans both young and old.

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