In This Life Or The Next
posted on 7/2007 By:
It always seemed kinda weird to me that Damnation A.D., a band whose back catalogue is so prototypical of the chug-heavy metallic hardcore that has exploded over the past five years, was signed to Jade Tree of all labels. Where they were once lumbering bruisers out of place amongst a decidedly less burly stable of bands, they’re ironically a little too at home now that they’re surrounded by their spiritual descendants on Victory Records. After an 8-year break, the band sounds depressingly commonplace on In This Life or the Next; though it’s reasonably well-played, this album does little to distinguish itself from the moshy, downtuned bro-core pack.
For those who aren’t familiar with Damnation A.D., this shit is definitely more rooted in metal than it is in hardcore punk, but it’s not the metal-songs-with-breakdowns variety of metalcore. Much of In This Life or the Next swaggers like super-downtuned, heavyhanded rock with a lot of guitar chug, like the missing link between Pantera and modern hardcore-borne imitators like recently-dissolved labelmates A Perfect Circle. Relying on a plodding, double-bass-free rhythmic backbone and a super saturated guitar tone that’s equal parts Earth Crisis and the most recent Exodus album, Damnation A.D. alternately bludgeon with huge, telegraphed one-chord breakdowns and attempt to sink hooks into the listener’s ears with some surprisingly commercial chord progressions on songs like “Let Me In” and the title track. Sometimes the formula works, as on “Consider This a Warning,” “Rain As My Veil” (re-recorded from Misericordia) and album ‘single’ “Jigsaw.” But as many enjoyable thunderous moments as this album contains, there are almost as many awkward missteps, like the bouncy nu metal pacing and stop start guitars of “Don’t Feel a Thing” and the cringe inducing guest spot from the Fall Out Boy dude on “If You Could Remember.” A constant smattering of annoying vocal samples, frontman Mike McTernan’s lackluster voice and an overabundance of tired open-E chugga parts keep this album firmly rooted in the ordinary to this reviewer’s ears.
In This Life or the Next definitely has features by which to recommend it—Damnation A.D. are a genuinely punishing band to listen to, regardless of their mixed songwriting—but that doesn’t ameliorate the somewhat bland texture of this disc. I enjoy my share of breakdown-oriented chugga hardcore, but this one just doesn’t do it for me. That said, the pit enthusiasts amongst you should seek this out, as Damnation A.D. are still more than capable of inciting some serious flailing amongst the faithful.
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