Seeing Damnation A.D. for the first time in years at New Years reunion in Syracuse a couple of years back awoke something in me that I had not realized had been sleeping. Watching this five piece shake the building with their tortured, bottom heavy power was and is a great experience. If you doubt this, go see them and watch what happens when they play "No More Dreams." Hearing In This Life or the Next warms my heart and not just because of nostalgia (although that is there as well) but also because of the mass of sound that Damnation A.D. tosses at the listener.
When listening to "Knot," I can only open my mouth with a mouthed "Wow!" It is so damn heavy sounding with the pounding of the drums and the severely down tuned guitar tones. Mike McTernan's vocals fit the song perfectly. There is a definite sense of urgency that can be heard in his voice. The sample of the little kid's voice whispering the words, "Are we still alive?" at the beginning of "Don't Feel a Thing" is super creepy (and awesome at the same time). With a vocal assist by Wes Eisold of Some Girls and Give Up the Ghost (nee American Nightmare), this song has a great stop and start rhythm that goes with the vocal tradeoffs. I have to say that hearing all of the samples in the song really take me back a bit.
Damnation A.D. uses speaking samples well throughout the album. In songs like "Let Me In", they set a tangible mood for the music, which is full of nasty sounding guitar squeals. McTernan really expresses himself well in his vocal style. It adds a great deal to the proceedings; and "Let Me In" is a great example of how he affects the timbre of the music.
The band's new version of "The Hangedman," originally off of No More Dreams of Happy Endings, is super heavy. The drums are vicious and the guitars have just a great sound. The end of the song crushes everything in its auditory path. The new re-recording of "Rain as My Veil" off of Misericordia is equally devastating. This song has a guest appearance by John Henry of Darkest Hour. The vocal arrangements accent the riffs real well. The bridge on this version is great. Damnation A.D. also presents a new version of "Addiction" (also off of Misericordia) on this new album. It is one of the heaviest sounding songs on the whole album. The guitars are thick without being muddy, which is key for the song to sound good, and there is much use of wah pedal work as well. Karl Buechner's guest vocals on this song work well with McTernan's.
There are a couple of poor aspects of In This Life or the Next. One, not counting the instrumental or the reprise of one of the songs, Damnation A.D. only has seven new songs on the album. If they were going to rerecord so many older songs, I would have enjoyed hearing a new version of "No More Dreams" (which is on a recent benefit compilation that is worth the effort to find) and maybe "The Mortal" off of Kingdom of Lost Souls as well. Second, the artwork on this record is absolutely awful and typical for a Victory release. The lowest point of the record for me has to be the song, "If You Could Remember". There are a couple of nameless guest vocals that kills it for me. There is a weird keyboard section as well. The whole song is weird and more or less out of place on the record.
I honestly enjoy the hell out of this record on a ton of different levels. It is really good and will probably be the best album that Victory puts out all year (which is funny because I remember when they put out these kinds of records all the time). In This Life or the Next is a dense record that has a full sound that really shows off the music of Damnation A.D. well. It sounds like the band put a great deal of time and effort into the record.
7.6 / 10
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