Dear Chester, I only realised a few days ago that it’s nearly been a year …
It’s often said that young bands only get one chance at their debut album. And in today’s fickle, rapidly-evolving musical landscape, there’s possibly no truer sentiment.
First impressions really do count; a notion that Sydney quintet Justice For The Damned understand better than most. “Some bands will write a couple of songs; they’ll just keep developing them until they’re really happy with them, and that’ll be their first release,” says guitarist and songwriter Nick Adams, speaking to Hysteria from his home on a quiet Monday evening. It seems that patience is indeed a virtue for Adams and his bandmates, and one that directly influences their writing process. “We have a slightly different way; we sort of stock-pile a lot of pre-pros, a lot of different tracks. I cook-up a lot of the riffs at home on my computer and from there we do a lot of collaborating on ones that we’re happy with. So, some songs are in the works for a couple of years, and some come together in the months just before we record; the writing process never ends,” admits Adams. “We’re always in the middle of writing, and when it comes to doing a release, we see what we’re vibing at that moment out of the inventory that we already have.”
The release Adams mentions is the group’s debut full-length for new home Greyscale Records, the menacingly titled Dragged Through The Dirt. Recorded a year ago with Odd World Music mastermind Sam Bassal, the album is a relentless onslaught of frenzied metallic hardcore, propelled by grimy guitar riffs, bile-gurgling vocals and thunderous bottom-end rhythms. Reflecting on the recording sessions for the album, Adams describes Bassal as “really hospitable,” before going on to describe the overall impact the Ocean Grove drummer had on crafting Dragged Through The Dirt. “There were some parts where he would listen to a song when we were about to record it, and he might have thought a riff should just be totally taken out,” says Adams. “There was even one part, with this riff and then a bit of a transition, where he listens to it and goes, ‘Man, I think cut the next riff, and just make your transition the riff.” So, we did, and it ended up working so much better. A few little things like that really helped to shape some of the songs into something that was a lot punchier than they were before.” With Bassal’s profile as an engineer and producer rising quickly thanks to the runaway success of Ocean Grove’s self-recorded and produced album The Rhapsody Tapes, it’s clear that Bassal’s meticulous attention to detail and talent for unusual perspectives were a major drawcard for Justice For The Damned. “He definitely used his knowledge and expertise to help us form a really huge and awesome album. So, we definitely appreciate what he did to help us out; we’re really happy with it.”
All I can say for sure is that we’re definitely going to go over there and really prove that we deserve it. We’re going to give it everything we got.
Looking at the band’s pre-release singles, It Will Always Be My Fault and the bludgeoning No Flowers On Your Grave, it’s clear that the band’s musical vision has been full realised. “We definitely want to be a very abrasive, dark and volatile sounding band, but not so much that it’s completely inaccessible to a lot of people,” Adams explains. “We definitely don’t want to alienate people with our sound. When it comes to influences, we all listen to quite a varied number of different genres, but we all enjoy really heavy stuff like Nails and Harm’s Way; they’re definitely pretty influential bands for us, when it comes to really pumping some of that more angry and aggressive stuff.” Yet Adams is also quick to point out the band’s appreciation for melody and varying textures, aspects which were keenly focused into the layers of cacophony found on Dragged Through The Dirt. “There’s a lot of more emotional and melodic flavours too; definitely some melodic depth that sometimes gets lost to the untrained ear. I think some of that even stems from listening to bands like Veil Of Maya; the way they shape melodies and their melodic parts is definitely something that’s resonated for me as a songwriter,” says Adams. “Putting all that together, we just try and make something that has a bit of everything, but something that doesn’t sound confused. So it doesn’t sound like there’s one song that’s totally different; we just try and put stuff together that feels emotional, feels abrasive, all in one thing.”
Beefing up the group’s versatility on their debut full-length and adding extra dynamic flair, Justice For The Damned called on some close friends to lend their own signature brand of heaviness. “On No Flowers On Your Grave, we’ve got Jaz [Jazmine Luders] from Cursed Earth, and she actually does a fairly big section. She does one whole section by herself, and then there’s a call and response bit between her and Bobak [Raifee, JFTD vocalist]. She really helps turn that into something a lot more special than it was before,” says Adams. “There’s another track called Agony, which features Matt [Honeycutt] from Kublai Khan. He’s got a similar vibe to Bobak, but you can still pick it out. He’s definitely got a very angry sound, so it’s really cool when you hear it.”
With Justice For The Damned’s album debut soon to be unleashed on the world, Adams is buzzing with nervous energy when discussing the band’s future. And with the group embarking on a national tour with their friends in Ocean Grove prior to release week, before jumping across the pond to do a crazy 28-stop tour around the UK and Europe alongside Aussie deathcore juggernaut Thy Art Is Murder—there’s certainly cause for celebration. “The excitement everyone feels just completely evades description; it rocked us all so much,” says Adams of the band’s first ever international tour. “Everyone’s worked so hard for it, been so passionate about it, and wanted it to happen for so long. Even just the opportunity is incredible, and all I can say for sure is that we’re definitely going to go over there and really prove that we deserve it. We’re going to give it everything we got.”
Dragged Through The Dirt will be available from 11th August via Greyscale Records.
Justice For The Damned will hit the road in August, supporting Ocean Grove alongside Broken and The Beverly Chills.
Remaining JUSTICE FOR THE DAMNED TOUR DATES – AUSTRALIA
with Ocean Grove, Broken, and The Beverly Chills
FRIDAY AUGUST 11 – FOWLERS LIVE, ADELAIDE LIC/AA
SATURDAY AUGUST 12 – CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE 18+ (SOLD OUT)