Being a music journalist is much like a musician – both must decide whether or not to trust their passion, despite the numbers. Except musicians can measure their success much more easily, as Damnations Day (DDay) could surely elaborate. Brothers Mark Kennedy (vocals and guitar) and Dean Kennedy (drums) begun the ambitious project with guitarist Jon King back in 2012. Releasing “Invisible, The Dead” to great applause back in 2013, they would soon take to the stages with the likes of Nightwish, Psycroptic, Sybreed, Black Majesty, and more, while landing an impressive stint touring with ACCEPT on their Scandinavian/EU leg of the BLIND RAGE TOUR (2014) – 28 sold out shows with an average 2000 punters each. A stupendous achievement even for Australians.
Back with a new record, it’s hard to believe this same band was responsible for sophomore effort A World Awakens. Aside from Into Black and Diagnose, which are more like bridges for the work to move across (albeit fantastic tracks; one being a harrowing acoustic piece brimming with emotion, the other transforms that air and finishes the album with a strong high), you can pick damn near any song and have plenty to remember. These songs have taken the direction of Invisible, The Dead, fine-tuned the dynamics, sharpened and polished the riffs, and centred their focus on heavier lyricism and themes to elevate their playing to greater heights.
Kicking off with The Witness, DDAY wastes no time; the bombing of riffs and pummelling drum grooves are tight and high octane – fantastic movement between power metal and progressive elements, yet utilised for a singular effort; dramatic. Bold, epic, heavy, and uplifting, from the soaring poetic vocals to King’s solos and dual lead sections, DDAY are off on the right foot. Dissecting the Soul contains even greater vocal melodies – unfathomable heights and stronger hooks, deeper progressive feels thanks to Dean’s concise drumming, more technical display of power from King’s solos, and producer Dean Wells contributes stunning strings and bass work to top it off.
Their third track in, Colours of Darkness introduces the band’s common, softer works for the verses and crushing progressive metal chorus in slick transitions. An unexpectedly jarring prog interlude with adventurous dual guitar leads, DDAY are able to weave between riffs and dynamics like gods of weather – moving enormous ideas with ease. I Pray comes in with a wash of chorus-effect and Dean’s most hypnotic drumming pattern. In the verse, over the Incubus-like chords, Mark displays even more enticing vocal melodies. He wields his lows as well as his highs, dipping into passage sung like a lament before launching into some screams, singing some of his darkest lyrics yet. I Pray‘s interlude is slightly in the atmosphere of Opeth but still clearly their own.
Damnations Day’s A World Awaken is a captivating album which songs could not all be written off, unfortunately. It is richly dynamic, personal, technical, dreamlike and dangerously heavy at times. DDAY are on the right track.