Review: “Pain Is Power” by Justice For The Damned

It’s been an intriguing, long and winding road for Sydney Australian Deathcore act Justice For The Damned. The quintet, who now comprise guitarists Kieran Molloy and Nick Adams, vocalist Bobak Rafiee and a rhythm section of drummer Chas Levi and bassist Ben Mirfin started out on the stages of Blacktown in 2011. Three years on from their 2017 debut full length record “Dragged Through The Dirt” they have been lucky enough to be able to create an album with a high caliber team, whose reputation precedes them.  Engineered By Steve Seid, Produced by Sam Bassal of Ocean Grove fame and Mixed and Mastered by Will Putney (Knocked Loose, Body Count) at Graphic Nature Audio, “Pain Is Power” is that release. It has come about through hard work, determination and a love for what they do, having been on Australia-wide runs with Polaris and Alpha Wolf while picking up larger venue support slots for the likes of Killswitch Engage and Parkway Drive. Leaving their homelands behind, we were lucking enough to witness their live show as they supported Fit For An Autopsy across Europe and it was plain to see there that this is a band to keep an eye on, making this a highly anticipated release.

Its partially true to say that everything that Will Putney touches turns to Gold, he is a master at his trade – but what’s crucial is that he picks the bands he wants to work with and makes them sound great, so having Will Putney’s name on you’re record has become something of a seal of approval, a rating of quality. Add to that the quality of previous work of Justice For The Damned, including the punishingly brilliant single “No Brother, No Friend” that came between the bands debut record and this sophomore one in 2018 and the stage is set for something that for some will need no introduction. Having a guest of the statue of Matt Honeycutt of Texas heavy hitters Kublai Khan on the opening track of your record is something that a lot of bands would kill for and had fans salivating at the prospect. “Guidance From The Pain” doesn’t disappoint, a dark and sinister track that sits between Deathcore and Death Metal with eerie lead moments and almost tribal drum fills in places. Lyrically it roams around the notion of Karma being a bitch and you having to pay the price for your acts in pure unadulterated pain. “Pain Is Power” takes a leaf straight from the Fit For An Autopsy book is those big meaty riff hooks that have influence from “The Great Collapse” era of the band but with Black Metal atmospherics during the verses between the breakdown sections that builds that dark and oppressive nature, twisting the knife when those breakdowns hit. Bobak Rafiee’s vocal bark is a powerful God like Demonic one and the band use it to contrast with some shrill screams on “Final Cataclysm” once again throwing in some Black Metal influences with some blast beats and after a frenetic opening of buzz-saw guitars they slow things down in epic fashion with Joe Badolato from Fit For An Autopsy lending his throat to the apocalyptic tale in stunning style.

Equally hard hitting “No Peace At The Feet Of Your Master” has the Metallic Hardcore edge of Knocked Loose and the lyrical themes have a depth of social awareness that is very much applicable at this very point in time. Lines like Smash the masters, become a martyr, tear down the structure” are very apt when it comes to the current Global climate of breaking chains to obtain freedom from oppression at the hands of racism. “The House You Built Is Burning” has that instant circle pit gallop courtesy of ferocious pattern from drummer Chas Levi and slowing things down to pile breakdowns up on each other like pancakes gives it that instantly gratifying feel. “Machine Of War” returns to the territory between Death Metal and Black Metal, shifting gears into a higher tempo and introducing come more technical riffs before slowing things down to allow for a brutal breakdown section to close, while “A Crimson Painting” repeats the trick without sound repetitive. Screams of “You make me feel so alone, sever the breaks” will no doubt be crowd chant moments when the song goes live and when the breakdown hits, it hits with venomous intent.

The album as a whole has a colossal drum sound thanks to Will Putney as he amplifies the quality musicianship of Chas Levi and as he mixes up the styles on “Sinking Into The Floor” it becomes apparent that this is a standout among standouts. It’s akin to the drumming performance on “Devouring Radiant Light” by Skeletonwitch. It’s that striking and having the ability to play Death Metal, Deathcore, Hardcore and Black Metal styles to perfection should not be under estimated. “Blistering Of The Plagues” sounds like the the removal of someone toxic from the lives of the band with the kind of bone shuddering bleakness you’d get from Whitechapel vocalist Phil Bozeman. Anvil heavy guitars add weight and the longest track on the album is finished neatly with a haunting melodic break that leaves you gazing into the distance and wondering what you’ve just heard. The Melodic Death Metal chorus of the punishing closer “Die By Fire” repeats “die by the fire, die by desire, die by the hand of shame” makes it probably the only track to have a sing-a-long chorus albeit a brutally heavy one, it’s slow, crushing closure is something that The Acacia Strain have made a trademark out of. A brutal powerhouse powerhouse performance throughout from a band at the top of their game, this one will satisfy even the most blood thirsty of Metal Heads [9/10]

Track listing

  1. Guidance From The Pain (ft. Matt Honeycutt of Kublai Khan)
  2. Pain Is Power
  3. Final Cataclysm (ft. Joe Badolato of Fit For An Autopsy)
  4. No Peace At The Feet Of Your Master
  5. The House You Built Is Burning
  6. Machine Of War
  7. A Crimson Painting
  8. Sinking Into The Floor
  9. Blistering Of The Plague
  10. Die By The Fire

Pain Is Power” by Justice For The Damned is out now via Greyscale Records and you can snap it up via bandcamp

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