Damnation A.D.

In This Life or the Next

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With a trashy doomsday sound evident in most metalcore bands, Damnation A.D. returned after an eight-year hiatus with a belligerent stampede of doom metal. Nothing's changed much: drop tunings and screaming roars dominate the release, with Henry Rollins-type screeching vocals recalling the band's early D.C. punk roots. It's heavy and relentless, never speeding too fast and never trudging too slow, just a perfect pace for headbanging. Compared to Kingdom of Lost Souls, this release is a little less musically self-indulgent and a little catchier, that is, if metalcore really can be termed catchy. The low notes grind, the drums bash, and singer Mike DC McTernan still has an amazing ability to howl as if he were in excruciating pain. The majority of the songs feel timeless, like they could have been from any time after the mid-'80s, but the album loses momentum when they try to become relevant to the mainstream audience with the inclusion of Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz from Fall Out Boy in "If You Could Remember." Unfortunately, the culmination of the two groups feels forced and the mismatched voices simply don't sound right together. Possibly the best song is the epic and spastic "In This Life or the Next," with its absolutely skull-hammering chorus. Producer and guitarist for the band Ken Olden utilizes a few tricks that he learned from Pro Tools, using some digital editing to insert news bulletins and helicopter sound effects, and even adding a few orchestral swells, but all in good taste. Withstanding a few unnecessary instrumentals, and the formerly mentioned matchup, this is a fantastic return to the classic days of Damnation A.D. The pioneers do a good job of proving they haven't mellowed out a bit.

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