1. Innocence
2. Stranded
3. Wall Of Illusion 
4. Consequences
5. Bringer Of Light
6. Sign Of Madness
7. Facing The Enemy
8. Human Sacrifice
9. Still Alive
10. Wake Up
11. Slave
12. Going Blind
Matti Alfonzetti - Lead Vocals
Robert Warnqvist - Guitars / Backing Vocals
Roger Jern - Drums / Backing Vocals
Magnus Jönsson - Bass

DAMNED NATION: "Sign of Madness"         damned nation             


review  by Marco "Norman Knight" Signore____   

Up there they don’t have only Stratovarius clones!

Damned Nation are well known in the heavy metal landscape since the second half of the ‘90s. They are returned, with a new formation and a new vocalist for their 4th studio release, titles “Sign of Madness”.

The album starts with a string intro under which we can hear voices of children. This is “Innocence”, but the age of tranquility lasts very little, as the album gives us the first true song: “Stranded”. Acid and aggressive guitars by Robert Wanqvist create the treadmill on which the voice of Matt Alfonzetti marches, while bass and drums tail behind the vocalist, shadowing the guitar. A nice bridge changes for some seconds the otherwise heavy and cadenced basic riff of the song. It seems that Damned Nations are meaning.

Wall of Illusion” is the third song in the CD. Again the guitar sounds acid and mean, with the sharp drumming of Roger Jern (who also lends a help with backing vocals). No double bass drum, just a relentless, powerful, cadenced march, well underlined by the bass of Magnus Jönsson. The guitar solo is nervous, skittish, almost violent, and followed by a moment of relative calm with guitar distorted arpeggios and some notes of synth (by Michael Rosengren), but quite soon the song returns to the riff, and ends almost abruptly.

Consequences” we find as the next step in this musical voyage. This song is cadenced as the others, with interesting inserts of electric organ in the background, and the guitar solo again performed with acid sounds, nervous hammering. As the song approaches the end, the drumming of Jern almost attacks the tempo, and bended synth notes fade out to move to the following piece, called “Bringer of Light”. Here the band moves on sounds a little more darker than before, while the vocal line is more driven – the result is one of the most interesting tracks in the album. Worth of mentioning in particular is the small bridge before the nice (but short) guitar solo, in which Jern plays on tympani a cadenced rhythm, faithfully followed by Jönsson on bass.

And we get to the title track. Here the guitar creates the mood on which Alfonzetti draws the lines of his vocal part. This song lies in the same pattern as the previous ones, with the powerful hand of Wanqvist that creates the track, and the now more enterprising drumming of Jern to follow in the guitar wake. Again a change of chord and pattern marks a good bridge which precedes the guitar solo. In its sonorities, this “Sign of Madness” is perhaps the most “American” styled song of the whole album.

Facing the Enemyis yet another hard driven song, with darker guitar sounds and riffs. The synth again peeks up from behind the heavy drumming and bass line, with the guitar solo (marked by a double bass drum episode) is short, nervous and dark. Not bad indeed.

We get to “Human Sacrifice”, different from the other songs of this album, more driving, more heavy metal, and faster somehow. I liked this song from the start indeed. A good change of pace, as the following “Still alive”, that starts with a slow and ponderous hammering of guitar and then opens up with good atmosphere for this genre. Here Alfonzetti pushes his voice to the best, very powerful, while the distortion of the guitar becomes angry and is felt even in the muted arpeggios under the vocal line.

Synthetic white noise disturbances and radio voices open “Wake up”, the following track. We return to a driving, cadenced drumming and guitar hammering, while the bass is finally evidenced more than in the other songs hitherto. The guitar, however, is again the star of the song, with this massive hammering (that becomes almost a machine gun in the central section of the song), saturated distortion, palm muting, a nice sampling of the true power behind the metal. The song is agan different from the standard that Damned Nation proposed in the first part of this album, and the result is that this “Wake up” is maybe the heaviest song in their work, bordering the sonorities of the industrial metal, and the fade out on the guitar solo (composed mainly of noises) is the final touch of genius.

As the Damned Nation was intended to leave the best at the end of their album, even the following “Slave” is powerful, incisive, massive song of heavy metal bordering the extreme sonorities of industrial, but with a complete different approach (of course). Good work indeed!

We end the listening with the last track, titled “Going Blind”. Here Wanqvist returns to “American” sonorities, upon a drum’n’bass that perform their honest work, but the chorus has a sort of classical hard rock flavour (enhanced by the generous hammond sprinkle) that never spoils, and the long closing section with the guitar doing many (maybe too many) things of solo is the best part of the song indeed… finally as a surprise, a female voice upon a powerful hammond organ end the song, quite a touch!


All in all this album is a good work if you like the genre; after all Damned Nation are famous for their massive impacting sound. If you are fanatics of speed, double bass drums and high pitched voices, then this album will probably be a bad choice for you. But for all of you who like hard rock and hard’n’heavy metal, well… Damned Nation are a good choice indeed. If I am allowed a little side note, I’d have enhanced the bass lines, but otherwise this album is a good production, quite different from the usual Northern Europe power ones. A clear sign that up there they don’t have only Stratovarius clones!


rating: 7.8/10


Marco Signore 
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