Bands like At the Gates, In Flames, and Dark Tranquillity popularized melodic death metal in the Gothenburg (SWE) scene in the early-mid ’90s, and since pioneering the genre as we know it today via their renowned discographies, bands all over the globe have been reinventing this classic sound again and again. Those unfamiliar with melodic death metal should consider melodious, harmonized guitars reminiscent of some of the most iconic pieces of classical music, but topped with raspy, harsh vocals, typically in a mid to higher range of “scream”.
Over the past thirty years, it’s become increasingly more difficult for bands in pursuit of performing this genre to truly stand out and leave their mark. This is such a niche style, that certain rules shall almost indefinitely apply, leaving aspiring bands following a blueprint for both success, as well as oversaturation. But when considering what makes diehard fans of melodic death metal the fans that they are, it would behoove me to inform them of Buffalo, New York’s own, DAMAGES.
DAMAGES are in fact writing the songs you desire if you are indeed a fan of the aforementioned. The vocals are wonderfully aggressive, masterfully layered, beautifully arranged, and with a diverse range that is refreshing to my ears after decades of overplaying the more monotone vocalists of the genre. The guitar riffs and solos are almost textbook to the original “Gothenburg sound”, but with a modern edge most aptly comparable to the earliest releases of two of melodic death metal’s most well-known Western representatives, The Absence and The Black Dahlia Murder. I also can’t help but liken the latest DAMAGES album, Simulacrum, to the Captivity and Devourment album by Chris Amott’s (Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquillity) ARMAGEDDON.
Simulacrum offers six songs destined to be earworms. The music and vocals are so catchy, without losing even the slightest hint of aggression. It’s also important to point out that the new album’s final mix and master are absolutely perfect for this style of metal. In my opinion, melodic death metal mixes should be both crisp and dirty simultaneously (not an easy thing to achieve as a sound engineer). With the dirt comes the driving nature of the music, and with the crispness comes the clarity necessary to highlight the melodies of the guitars. Simulacrum achieved this formula perfectly in the recording studio. I also really enjoyed hearing the backbone of the band really shine, as the bass and drums intertwine seamlessly, incorporating multilayered rhythmic melodies and progressions on bass, as well as a few fun blast beat and fill passages from the drums. I always enjoy a rhythm section in an extreme metal band capable of staying in the pocket, while thinking outside the box at all the right moments. Everyone in DAMAGES truly plays to their strengths and knows what is best for the song.
DAMAGES have informed me that the first single from Simulacrum will be dropping around the middle of January 2022, while the rest of the album won’t follow until mid-March. So, all this being said, I can only assure you that the release will be well worth the wait for you lovely MDM fans. And in the meantime, you can head over to damages716.bandcamp.com and listen to the band’s previous effort, Altar (Sept 2020).
Lauren Wishnie – vocals
Dan Bouvier – guitar
Eric Cope – guitar
Krys Chase – drums
Makenzi Dickerman – bass
Simularcrum was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Nate White (drums @ In Dying Arms). The bass on the album was performed by original bassist, Geoff Panfil.