Unless something akin to a Papal-recognised miracle occurs, Justice For The Damned is releasing the Australian metal album of 2017.
It’s hard for me to overstate how much I fucking love this CD. It’s been embargoed for quite a while, so I’ve mulled over this album for literally months longer than I’d usually get when reviewing. In that time I’ve found new bands, heard some upcoming releases, and gone back to old favourites, and none of them have been able to dampen my excitement and love for Dragged Through The Dirt.
It might be the case that they’re perfect for me, and others won’t have a clue what I’m talking about. But if you can imagine half of Nails deciding that they want to experiment with black metal, while the other half want to dabble in nu-metal and metalcore inspired mosh, you’d be close to where JFTD are at. But even then, simply listing the disparate influences doesn’t do justice (not deliberate, fuck off) to how well these plucky young upstarts manage to meld them all together, slather on a thick layer of fuzz and distortion, and leave the mix both intense and listenable.
Kudos has to be given to the production, which helps this album come across as a cohesive whole. It’s grimy and “loud”, the vocals are up front and fuzzed to high hell, and the guitars are the best type of mess. But when the band injects the tiniest amount of melodic singing, or an unbelievably massive breakdown mosh riff (see: “It Will Always Be My Fault”), the mix gives everything the right amount of space and depth, so nothing important is lost. Making sure a band sounds consistent across an album is hard enough. Making JFTD sound tied together across even one minute of music seems like it must’ve been a Herculean feat, given how happily they’ll blend genres that the dickhead in a Slayer shirt will emphatically tell you won’t ever work well together.
There’s something enjoyable by how quickly these youthful gents who have their whole fucking lives ahead of them pull off very apparent genre changes or mashes. Tracks like “Please Don’t Leave Me” swagger between the most national of NBM parts, replete with grinding blast and cheese grater guitar, into sections that seem custom built for teens with silver jeans and frosted blonde tips to “jump da fuck up”.
And speaking of my misspent youth, my favourite parts of this album are the not-metalcore breakdowns scattered through tracks like “Demon” and “No Flowers On Your Grave.” They aren’t the horrendously cliched “slow down and syncopate around gaps” breakdowns that way too many bands still do. Instead, they’re just fucking good riffs, played with a groove, a purpose, and a prayer in their heart. It’s nice to hear a band not write the type of breakdown they feel they should, and instead write a part that simply fits in with the rest of the song.
JFTD are hitting a bunch of major cities in Oz before heading to Europe later in the year, after being handpicked by Thy Art Is Murder to open their entire tour. It’s an incredible opportunity, and combined with this shockingly good debut album, if they play all their cards right I honestly think it will be impossible for them to not be one of our biggest bands in the next five years.