If you are looking for some unfussy straight forward strong rock sounds then you should go checking out the new EP from German band .damaged. Consisting of five tracks that rumble through the ear to party with your senses, the Road Trip EP is a satisfying and more than decent slab of rock music as it should always be, pure, highly charged, and honest.
.damaged had its beginnings in 2008 formed by guitarist Alex Staschko, bassist Florian Schmitz, and drummer Sven Dirkschneider, the son of metal legend Udo Dirkschneider (Accept, U.D.O.). With the line-up soon completed by second guitarist Christian Meinke and vocalist Phil Werbelow, the band set to work on writing original songs with a punk flavouring. Finished, self recorded and produced these became the first offering from the band though by the dying embers of 2009 the band decided they were not up to their evolving standard and re-recorded them. Success and good progress in the Emergenza Contest 2010, plus a continual series of gigs including supporting David Reece followed before the band sat down to work on new material. What emerged were songs that had naturally removed themselves from the punk genre into a defined rock fuelled area. Redefining their whole set and direction the band then approached U.D.O. guitarist and producer Stefan Kaufmann, with whom they recorded the Road Trip EP in the Summer of 2011.
Road Trip is an accomplished and fulfilling release that gives strong pleasure but also lays down great promise for the band ahead. It comes without frills or indulgences to simply rock out with each and every new friend who comes across it. The EP plays like a mate, a buddy that you know well and without trying have a strong affection for. It does not make one work through startlingly new ideas and sounds to get to know it but instead feeds from familiar rock elements to make a companion that one can enjoy life with and sink beers alongside easily.
The first two songs on the release are the strongest and has one recruited instantly to the band and their sound. Liquor & Poker is a smoky whiskey soaked slice of rock n roll. With rhythms that poke and incite alongside a bass that growls wonderfully the song unveils dirty riffs and suggestive melodies. Vocalist Werbelow has a great gritty delivery that compliments the sounds around him. The song does not explode preferring to saunter through the ear with a calm presence whilst holding a sense of menace suggesting get it riled up and watch out.
The title song is the best thing on the release, a track that bristles and cruises with high octane energy and muscular power. By the first chorus it has all joining in as if we have known it for years, fists clenched and emotions flying in its wake. As mentioned the release does not venture down new detours but what is given as proven here is accomplished and very digestible rock music. As the song plays the guitars whip up feelings and the pulse rate whilst the rhythms lead one in energetic enthusiasm, the combination irresistible.
The remaining tracks Long Gone Creed, Given Up To Praise, and Never Leaves My Mind, continue the pleasing and very agreeable sounds. The first retains some punk elements though still firmly a rock n roll track with anthemic qualities whilst the second of the three is an instantaneous stomp that engages and gets one again fully involved. By this point on the release it is impossible to ignore the excellent individual contributions, especially bassist Schmitz, his grumbling prowling riffs a constant dark pleasure that gets the juices flowing.
Road Trip is not the most original release to come along but it is one of the most satisfying and easy to become at one with. In future output from the band maybe we will be looking for more distinct and original ideas but right now the EP firmly shows .damaged as a band to follow and keep a close eye on.