08 Jun Justice for the Damned ‘Pain Is Power’ (Album Review)
On a lonely night many moons ago while exploring the vast world of Borderlands 3, I stumbled across something rather innocuous. A beautifully lit assault rifle titled Pain Is Power, I shat on many skags with that beautiful bastard. Fast forward a mere 3 weeks and it was announced that the new album from Justice for the Damned would be titled exactly that. Coincidence? Absolutely. I never played Borderlands. I do wonder however if there is any connection between the two. If not this opening paragraph will seem rather pointless.
Every band on the rise will have moments that feel like pit stops in a band’s progression. Slowly climbing the metaphorical ladder all while strengthening your abilities through writing and performing. For a band like Justice for the Damned, the hard work truly has paid off. Justice have gone from strength to strength and have fast become one of THE must see live bands in heavy music. Pain Is Power is simply reward for effort.
Pain Is Power is both crushingly heavy and devastatingly claustrophobic. From the opening battle cries on Guidance From The Pain you get an idea of what this band are capable of. It takes a mere 30 seconds for the chaos too ensue and from their it’s full speed ahead. The thought of seeing a gig deprived crowd when this bomb hits is both terrifying and terrifying (and terrifying).
With a touch of Thy Art Is Murder flavour, the albums title track might be the best song Justice have ever written. Riff after riff with the drums dictating my heartbeat at all times (114 BPM) this is evolution for the band. If this song was a person it’d be Brock Lesnar on a mass amount of steroids….oh wait.
On a whole the first half of Pain Is Power is untouchable. Final Cataclysm will blast beat its way into your heart being arguably my favourite cut on the entire record. Vocally the song feels reminiscent of something that Randy Blythe would produce, that’s high praise. No Peace At The Feet Of Your Master is a guaranteed live banger. While The House You Built Is Burning is illegal in 7 countries it’s that fucking heavy.
What separates the good albums from the great is the depth that is shown on the back half. Luckily things do not waver as Pain Is Power presses on. Machine Of War is littered with machine gun double kicks that pulsate through your body. Combining elements that would feel right at home on the bands debut this song is the definition of devastation.
Sinking To The Floor is yet another standout. Constantly changing and pushing itself forward this is an excellent example of how to change up your formula without diminishing your results. I almost wish the band opted against the closing breakdown but I digress.
Closing out with the lethal combination of Blister Of The Plague & Die By The Fire, what stands out is Bobak’s vocals. His performance on the entire release is much improved from 2017s Dragged Through The Dirt. Annunciation is clearer, the range is broader and he sounds more confident than ever. An exceptional ending to an exceptional album.
Looking into the negatives and I don’t have much to complain about. I guess when you’re dealing with such an extreme sound, some of it will mesh together and this album doesn’t fully escape that. Maybe a touch more variation wouldn’t go astray but I’m just nit-picking at this stage. I am surprised that the band didn’t get a feature from Bryan Garris, I assume it was a safety hazard of some sort.
Pain Is Power excels in nearly every key area but it’s the little things that I appreciate the most. The lack of any bullshit interlude, the varying song lengths, the crisp production all come together to fully realise Pain Is Power. Structurally this album feels more broad in scope with each member having their moment to shine throughout.
Every year the Australian heavy music scene has a benchmark album to which all will be judged. Pain Is Power is that benchmark. Justice for the Damned have elevated themselves with this release. This is more than just a pit stop for the band. Justice for the Damned are damn near ready for world domination.
Pain Is Power is available June 12 via Greyscale Records.