It’s part psychedelic trip and part soundtrack to a dark, dramatic gothic horror film – Carrion Screaming, perhaps.
They open with The Invisible Man, a menacing rocker swirling away on the edge of a nightmare, complete with a mood-changing atmospheric bridge and a nifty gallop into murky confessions.
Bad Weather Girl – about the climate, not Ulrika – starts with rolling thunder and feels creepier than Elm Street before morphing into the instantly catchy verse and earworm chorus.
Captain Sensible’s guitar, terrific throughout, brings chills to the unsettling middle eight.
Moods and tempos vary. Dave Vanian’s rich baritone comes into its own on chugging rocker Beware Of The Clown, portraying today’s politicians as “a tent full of misfits”.
The wistful Western Promise sweeps you along on a dreamy rising tide.
Bassist Paul Gray’s Motorcycle Man hits full throttle, throwing in Middle Eastern flavours.
The closer, Roderick, is slower and more Goth with the welcome addition of what sounds like a posse of possessed monks.
The band’s 12th album is an all-round joy. Monty Oxymoron’s keyboards add depth and atmosphere, anchored by Gray and drummer William Granville Taylor’s solid rhythms.
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In the 70s, The Damned were the first punk band to release a single, New Rose, and an album – the dazzling Damned Damned Damned.
If you’d told them then that 46 years on they’d be making some of their finest music – as The Stranglers are – they’d have roared. Especially as they were also the first punk pioneers to split.
Yet here they are, in their late sixties, dancing on the grave of yesterday’s music biz assumptions.
To misquote The Who, the old are all right.
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