Damn Vandals‘ sophomore release Rocket Out of London is full of dirty and heavy rock songs with blues overtones and a punk rock attitude. There’s something simultaneously modern and classic about their sound that reminds me of a mix between Queens of the Stone Age and The Stooges. Like those bands, Damn Vandals’ atonal guitar riffs, fuzzy bass lines, and coarse vocals drip with machismo. The whole album sounds like the soundtrack to a party so wild I’d feel out of place, and would probably try to leave early.
As much fun as the songs on Rocket Out of London are, there’s very little variation among them. Damn Vandals found a formula for this record, and they stuck with it come hell or high water. Thankfully the record isn’t long enough to wear out its welcome, but I’m not sure how well it would hold up over multiple listens. These tracks have so much energy I can’t help but feel bummed that, given the band’s UK home base, I’ll likely never get to see them live, a setting in which I’m sure the wild and raw charm of these songs would flourish.
Rocket Out of London‘s stand-out tracks are “I Hate School,” the closest thing it has to a ballad, and “Too Lazy to Die, Too Stoned to Live” with its funky tempo and punk-as-fuck lyrics. The music on Rocket Out of London owes more to heavy blues, rockabilly, and early metal than modern punk. Lead vocalist and guitarist Jack Kansas brings a punk sound that is like a mix of Iggy Pop’s loose rhythms with occasional anguished screams, and the melodic roughness of Chuck Ragan, mixing the classic with the modern once again.
Rocket Out of London is available on Bandcamp along with their debut Done For Desire. There’s nothing groundbreaking about Damn Vandals’ sound, but they competently draw from rock ‘n roll’s past and present in a way that sounds dangerous and wild, just as the rock gods intended.
Written by Brian Charles Clarke
*edited by Kate Erickson