Damn Freaks – ‘Damn Freaks’ (Mighty Music) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Mark Ashby   
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 04:30

Damn Freaks artworkFair play to them: the guys in Damn Freaks are unashamed in their admission of the origins of this project.


“We all wanted to capture the vibe that we loved back in the ‘80s, when we were listening all day to White Lion, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Dokken and David Lee Roth: it seems like people have forgot that music can be the soundtrack of your happiest moments,” explains singer Iacapo Meille (perhaps better known to UR readers as the frontman of the current incarnation of Tygers Of Pan Tang). It’s a point echoed and reinforced by guitarist Marco Torri, who states that “we all wanted to write songs that could stand next to our favourites songs of the ‘80s”.


And, by and large, this bunch of Damn Freaks from northern Italy have succeeded in their objective, as this self-titled debut is very much steeped in the legacy of all the above-mentioned bands – and many others from the era they seek to evoke: in fact, if this album had been recorded 30 or so years ago, it would have been the subject of a bidding war by every major label on the planet, MTV-d to fuck and raced to the top of the charts – before plummeting its creators back into the depression of anonymity and subsequently the legacy circuit.


Now, that latter comment is not in any way to denigrate this damn fine album, not in any shape or form. Because, as I said, its creators have succeeded in exactly what they set out to do, and that is to produce an album which is a tribute to the great bands of the Eighties, standing shoulder to shoulder proudly alongside the likes of ‘Pride’, ‘Under Lock And Key’, ‘The Right To Rock’ or ‘Asylum’ as an epitome of that era. But - and this is the important bit – it’s also an album that stands proudly alone and speaks for itself, as it sounds fresh and modern and relevant.


From the opening crunch of ‘Poison Apple’ to the cheeky leeriness of closer ‘Take A Ride’ (complete with DLR-esque wolf whistles), ‘Damn Freaks’ is a beautifully crafted album, rammed with hooks that will make you feel like a 21-day matured steak and melodies that just grab you by the balls and make you involuntarily dance around the room like a raving lunatic.


Opener ‘Poison Apple’ is pure Tygers, if they had been from the west coast rather than the north east: Meille’s vocal is superb, blended just right into the mix, which also draws out the dirtiness of Torri’s main riff while also complimenting the hard-hitting rhythm produced by Claudio Rogai and band mastermind Matteo Panichi. In fact, the mix – by Harem Scarem’s Harry Hess – is spot on throughout: expansive and expressive, it draws out every nuance, from Torri’s sudden changes in mood to Panichi’s surprisingly subtle off-beat little fills.



The band also know how to change moods smoothly: the rampant ‘Break The Chains’ evolves naturally into the smoothing ‘The Way I Feel’, which in turn builds slowly into a true Eighties-style power ballad before ‘Dream Highway’ takes every classic Eighties mid-paced rock song you’ve ever heard, grabs it by its blonde ponytail, rubs its nose in the tarmac and says “fuck you chiquita, the big boys have just stolen your tiara”. Yep, it’s that gloriously cheesy. ‘Sea Of Love’ has a kinda Tyketto feel to it, but, to be honest, is one of the weaker tracks: yes, Meille delivers another rich and lush performance (and his spoken “oh baby, dry your eyes” at the end is a touch of genius), but there’s just something missing…


‘Burning Up’ certainly lives up to its title: it’s rampantly raucous, built on an infectious melody and featuring two more lecherous performances from Meille and Torri, who bounce off each other like children on a trampoline, while ‘Secret Path’ contains a dark undercurrent which belies the joyousness of Torri’s absolutely stunning guitar work. ‘Broken Wings’ eases things back again, and works better than ‘Sea Of Love’ in the power ballad stakes: maybe it’s down to its placement as the penultimate track, coming just as you need a bit of breather, or more likely due to its pure simplicity of just a voice and an acoustic guitar; the sort of song I want to hear late at night with a fine whiskey in one hand and the other holding my beautiful wife. As mentioned above, closer ‘Take A Ride’ is a cheeky nod back to DLR-era Van Halen – or, more accurately, his first two solo albums – but Meille is a much better singer and the cheeky hook ensures that this album signs off on a massively positive note.


Which leaves only two things to say… The first is that if any of the bookers from the likes of Hard Rock Hell or Rockingham are reading this – you need to get these guys on board for next year: they’ll kill it! Secondly, if you’re a fan of classic Eighties melodic hard rock: why the fuck are you still reading this? You should have bought it already! Go on, get (damn) freaked out!


'Damn Freaks' is out now. You can get your copy HERE.




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