It is fair to say that psyche rockers Damn Vandals swiftly set themselves a place in British rock as one of the most exhilarating and promising propositions with their 2012 debut album, Done For Desire. It was an encounter drenched in originality and a feverishly diverse flavouring setting the band apart from most. To confirm and stretch all of its potency within a new mentally twisting maelstrom of psychotic goodness, the London band now unleash the senses infestation that is Rocket Out Of London. It is a glorious swagger of caustic abrasion and acidic ingenuity honed from a brawling incitement of garage punk, psyche and stoner rock, as well as a vein of raw punk, simply put demented rock ‘n’ roll at its most addictive.
As for a great many, our admittedly eager affair with Damn Vandals began with the release of their Beautiful Mind EP, a widely acclaimed encounter awakening attention and appetite for the potential and instantly impressive presence of the band. The release and subsequent songs though was only the taster for bigger and major things to come, Done For Desire thrusting the quartet to new levels and into a richer spotlight with its release. Uncompromising but with a contagion to its presence which works under the skin like a welcome niggling itch, the band’s sound has found a new depth and power to its virulence with the new release whilst still retaining the raw dark textures and unhinged threat which stirred up the passions so quickly upon their emergence. As evidenced by Rocket Out Of London, it has become a twisting intrusive beast which wraps with almost insidious intent around the ears, permeating every pore and synapse with an exhaustive toxicity which simply ignites the imagination and passions. Produced by Julian Simmons (Midlake, Ed Sheeran, Guillemots, Goldheart Assembly) as was its predecessor, the album takes the listener on a dirty and intimidatingly shadowed ride through explorations of themes such as celebrity stalking, hard liquor, death by dreams, madness and homeland security amongst many but ultimately just through the creative mad ingenuity of the band.
The album opens with the first single uncaged from its wonderful aural rapaciousness, Twist Up And Tangle. Released mid-March, the song laid down the strongest bait for the full-length and still holds its intensive grip with an epidemic bait of granite sculpted rhythmic punches and scything sonic swipes of guitar. From its first second the song is an inescapable cage for the senses and emotions, a scarring provocation soon given richer fuel by the ever distinct and voraciously delivered vocals of Jack Kansas. The track is swiftly into a predatory stride, prowling around the ears with a sonically slavering intensity from the guitar of Frank Pick and the dark throated voice of bass held in rein by Adam Kilemore Gardens but still adding commanding menace to the whole of the psychotic fare. It is a masterful and insatiable stalking driven by the magnetic beats of Chris Christianson, but one which with its spewing discord and melodic flames as well as corrosive hooks and breath, provides a raucous dance to shield the fact we are being preyed upon.
Like a mix of Fatima Mansions meets The Birthday Party, the opener alone wakes a hunger to which the following Cities Of A Plastic World adds its own imaginative virulence. The track opens with a rhythmic drama speared by a ridiculously contagious hook, its abrasing hot touch a niggling pleasure just hard to get enough of. Around its tempting Kansas again parades the song’s narrative with unbridled expression whilst the guitar of Pick continuously lights up new corners and adventures to court his primary enticement with skill and enterprise, the album easily his finest inventive and moment yet, as it is of the band itself. The track sculpts another immediate pinnacle in the impending lofty range of the album and is soon equalled by Too Lazy To Die Too Stoned To Live, a sultry stroll with a citrus edge to its grooves and melodic teasing. There is a definite lick of Queens Of The Stone Age initially and Eagles of Death Metal later to its constant erosive taste and hypnotic stance.
I Bring You Love which made up part of the earlier mentioned single keeps the album coursing potently through the body, its psychobilly/Cajun swamp-esque stomp with sliding toxic mesmerism and blues bred frisking irresistible. The track just gets better and more virulent with every crossing of its red-neck terrain with dirty violating rock ‘n’ roll scenery. With more than a feel of Screaming Blue Messiahs to it and always an essence of the previously mentioned Cathal Coughlan led band to the presence of Damn Vandals, the track is a delicious lingering antagonist to unreservedly submit to.
Both Number One Fan and Whisky Going Free provide a new mischief to fully devote attention and passions to, the first merging classic and incendiary garage rock for a rampaging stomp built upon the intensive frame work of Christianson, a cage again laced with riveting guitar revelry and craft. Its successor sidles boisterously up to the ears with tight sinews and deviously coaxing addictive grooves, the track a less expansive dark tango than say the last but with a no less leaner determination in its air and voice to seduce and inflame the passions, which it does with ease.
The following I Hate School hits the spot perfectly but lacks the spark of other tracks, a familiarity and somewhat predictable essence to its body slipping up against the surrounding triumphs. To put it into context though, with absorbing blues/psychedelically teased guitar invention from Pick and a certain unavoidable catchiness to its lure, the song still has feet and emotions fully engaged before next up Mad As Hell takes them on a similarly successful and potent ride, if again without quite matching earlier heady heights. The track rumbles and strolls with attitude and a thought immersing design all the same to keep the fire for the album burning eagerly.
The closing pair of tracks takes the release back to its highest plateaus, the first This Music Blows My Tiny Mind, another incitement with the stance of a predator and the drive of a volcanic eruption expelling sizzling melodic flames, searing hooks, and climactic rhythms building to a quite scintillating final drama. Its successor, the title track brings the album to a glorious closure, its addiction forging rhythmic slavery and scorching guitar endeavour an inescapable virulence guided as masterly as ever by the gripping tones of Kansas. Like a mix of QOTSA, Julian Cope, and Rocket From The Crypt, the track is a brilliant finale to a quite outstanding taking of the soul.
Rocket Over London with ease reveals that Damn Vandals is no longer the potential future of certainly raw British rock ‘n’ roll and garage punk but the template.
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