(Search And Destroy/Spinefarm Records, out Fri 13 Apr 2018)
There’s something wonderfully fitting about an album from punk icons The Damned being released on Friday 13th, and frankly, however unlucky the day may get, have this album on full blast and everything will be alright. Even from the first few notes of opening track, Standing on the Edge of Tomorrow, you’ll feel that you are standing on the edge of a magical, musical moment.
Returning with their eleventh studio album, and first since 2008, the English rock quintet deliver their classic sound: energetic, emotional, and evoking core themes of demons and ghosts. These themes are most prominent in tracks like The Devil in Disguise, with Alice Cooper levels of seductive menace, warning “Don’t use your charm to buy you time”. The album’s title track will also make a fine addition to any Hallowe’en playlist, as Dave Vanian’s distinctive vocals pair perfectly with creeping bass notes from Paul Gray to send a delightful chill down the spine.
While the overall sound of the album will surely be a nostalgia trip for lovers of albums such as 1985’s Phantasmagoria, and listeners will find themselves spellbound by Captain Sensible’s polished, guitar solos, a closer listen to the lyrics in many tracks reveals that Evil Spirits has its rightful place in the 21st century. The standout track reflecting this is Look Left, with its melancholy pace, and Vanian desperately begging “somebody tell me the truth” and telling of lies becoming facts. Paired with penultimate track The Daily Liar, underscoring its critical view of today’s media practices by ending on a news reporter voiceover, and with defiant choruses of “no, no, no”, the rich zeitgeist element of the album shines through in all its gloomy glory.
The final track, resignedly titled I Don’t Care, immediately establishes itself as perhaps the most haunting of the lot. Starting with a slow, sombre melody, it then rises to a final, defiant crescendo. In doing so, it gives welcome catharsis to those feeling unsettled by the troubled times we live in. With this, and with a few jazzier, funkier notes in Sonar Deceit and Procrastination, there’s a sound for every mood in Evil Spirits, whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer to The Damned.