Sydney heavy band Justice For The Damned have their first full length album on the way this week! Dragged Through The Dirt is releasing on 11th August via Greyscale Records. The band have already hinted at what’s to come with a string of singles from the album, including “It Will Always Be My Fault” and “Please Don’t Leave Me”.
For Dragged Through The Dirt, the band (Bobak, Nick, Nathan, Ben and Chas) joined forces with Sam Bassal (of Ocean Grove), who produced, engineered, mixed and mastered the album.
We dove in and went track-by-track in checking out Dragged Through The Dirt.
The album has an ominous start with its title track. It’s skin-crawlingly uncomfortable and slithery at the introduction, while drums pummel the f*ck out of the track. It’s heavy with effort; peaking at the statement of ‘I set myself free by cutting you out‘, where there’s a release.
“I set myself free by cutting you out.
You’re one with the leeches now.
You’re one with the muck.”
But the momentary gasp of freedom is lost, when the clutches of challenge are back around their neck, and melodic riffs capture the existence of challenge again. This just-over-two-minutes track culminates with head-crushing breakdowns which do the duty of portraying the hopelessness here, of this situation that can’t seem to be broken free of.
Nice start for the album to say the least (and I blissfully continue my worship at the altar of all that Greyscale Records put out into the world of heavy music).
Second track on the album is “Please Don’t Leave Me”. It carries a vibe of unease swirling underneath the blanket of strong riffs and rapid drumfire. Domestic violence is the topic here, and the unease and defensive stress is fitting for one observing their home life falling to pieces. Despite the discomfort in seeing this, there’s a fire to not let the violent actions of one crush the entire family.
“You will not hold me down
This will not douse my flame.”
The sound is massive, adding to that backing of support in getting through this. I’m a huge fan of the gritty guitars of the track, and the midway point of the track is a standout. The searching sound is trying hard to lift hopes, despite the layer of hateful blame which exists here like a smearing of tar.
Third on the album, “Those Eyes” is so heavy, in all senses. It painfully captures a stream of thoughts; depressed and hopeless. There’s a lot going on on the track and also mentally for the person who is bombarded with this state they’re in, this one night, on their own.
“But who will take my life?
Will you? Will I?
Will the slow degradation of my psyche pull me under?”
The track has the feel of ‘no one is listening, so why bother?’. The hecticness of sound morphs into an intensity of anxiousness, before pushing into a desire to feel nothing at all. This is the only time where the track feels solid and grounded, echoing the craving of that nothingness as comfort.
Gritty “Demon” seems to be a lyrical continuation of “Those Eyes”, as well as an intense bombardment; the drumming is insaaaaane.
“It’s hell to both fear and need seclusion.”
There’s question marks of where this person fits in to this world that they feel uncomfortable existing in, held here only by someone that loves them. The interesting shift with an anthemic edge seems like a shove to take action, but the connection to that person binds them here. The sound effects at the end of the track feel like they are reversed, which adds an eeriness to the track relating to a ‘child of the night’.
Damn, “No Flowers On Your Grave” hits hard and heavy. It has a solid introduction and the power continues into the track as the vocals join in. I could already see this track going off in a live setting.
“I came to know you, I grew to love you.
I felt safety in your arms.
You always told me that you cared but you walked away so easily. “
It’s heart-wrenching despite the hardness, seeming like an anthem of cutting someone out of your life for good. Deciding that they are dead to you. But that decision/action not being without discomfort and pain in the process.
After the heaviness of “No Flowers On Your Grave”, it’s curious to soak up the gentle and melodic guitar introduction of “Beyond The Pale”, which is next on the album. Though along with the arrival of the vocals is the sweet ‘n’ face-slamming heaviness. I was kind of waiting for it..
“The colours of life fade
As I slip deeper into the void”
I’m digging the melodicness that shows up here, and I wanted to hear more of it. The structure of the track though meant that it simply faded out. I guess that’s fitting for describing the wishing for death, and a person’s metaphorical ‘melody’ fading out.
Themes of desperation, hopelessness and suicide are strong across the album. The following track “It Will Always Be My Fault” expresses this theme also. It captures this toes-on-the-edge-of-the-building severity of done-ness, and there’s a whole lot of vulnerability in expressing this sonically.
“There’s nothing left for me here.
I feel I’ve failed everyone.
This is what you get for counting on me.”
What’s even more vulnerable is the pain of wishing you were dead and feeling like you’re also ‘failing’ at dying. This is a heart-breaker, absolutely, and I could understand this as being written on a particularly bad night.
The track is heavy and in this riff-bending world there’s no hope here. Even when more melodicness comes in, it’s with an edge of horror and defeatedness, more than anything optimistic. The guitars are honestly brilliant though.
And I don’t know what inspired 3:23 onward of the track, but .. I definitely wasn’t expecting that (I’m not going to spoil it). But I would be thrashing the heck out of that melody too.
I’m still a bit stunned when going into “Agony”, but not for long, with those guttural vocals pulling me back to earth. The looping riffs and hecticness take on an edge of panic.
“Demonic presence in my ear tell me the lies that I want to hear. “
It’s again seeking a state of nothingness and seeking that as relief in death. It’s regretful but believing that there’s no other way. The guitars are epically awesome (again), and do an impressive job bombarding the track with a wall of sound.
Well hello, “For Your Eyes Only”. Where did you and your pretty piano self come from? My heart aches for you and your orchestral self. You speak of pain too, just as much as your heavy and loud ‘siblings’. This instrumental interlude is a curious addition to the album.
Second last on the album is “Lilac”, which opens with an impressive and gritty riff. The track feels a little all over the place by way of structure, mirroring a scatteredness that the ‘character’ seems to have in the wake of losing someone they loved so much.
“Buried are the feelings you had. I long to lie beside them.”
“Lilac” is painful processing of what happened with the person they loved cutting ties with them, leaving them with raw and unresolved hurt. The ending is satisfyingly heavy.
Last on the album is “Bearing The Crown Of Lies”. Its introduction feels like a pulling of pieces together, despite heavy hecticness. This track takes more of a stance of empowerment over an experience of loss/betrayal, than being buried by the hurt. It tells a story of a long-standing relationship broken.
“You bit the hand that fed you, eviscerated the lips that kissed you.”
This is a huge track and a strong close of the album.
With this final piece, and looking at the album as a whole, it truly has captured experiences where the person has been ‘dragged through the dirt’ emotionally. While there are tracks that have painfully captured the emotional and mental weight of coping (heck, even just the weight of existing), ghosts of hope do still exist.
Justice For The Damned have walked toward the shadows of their existence and taken notes in the process, humbly presenting them in raw heavinness. The tracks are audible messages in bottles, floating out to any other souls facing their own shadows and feeling buried alive by life. And if holding on to these songs when the call of nothingness comes; when it would be easier to sink down into the muck instead of claw your way out (again), has a connecting and stabilising effect, and inspires another to sink into the dirtiness of the riffs instead, then those dark, late night experiences of isolation that Justice For The Damned had a powerful purpose.
Dragged Through The Dirt is now available, including sweet merch bundles and vinyl: https://greyscale.lnk.to/JFTDAU
Stream Dragged Through The Dirt now:
You can also catch the guys on a massive tour schedule:
JUSTICE FOR THE DAMNED TOUR DATES
w/ Ocean Grove, Broken, and The Beverly Chills
FIRDAY AUGUST 11 – FOWLERS LIFE, ADELAIDE LIC/AA
SATURDAY AUGUST 12 – CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE 18+ SOLD OUT
w/ Hindsight, Staunch, and Honest Crooks
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 1 – YMCA HQ, Perth AA*
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 2 – Amplifier Bar, Perth 18+*
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 15 – Crowbar, Brisbane 18+
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 16 – Hamilton Station Hotel, Newcastle 18+
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 17 Red Rattler, Sydney Lic AA
MONDAY SEPTEMBER 18 – RAD Bar, Wollongong Lic AA
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 22 – Enigma Bar, Adelaide Lic AA
SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 24 – Phoenix Youth Centre, Melbourne AA
* Justice For The Damned only
w/ Thy Art Is Murder, After The Burial, and Oceano
FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 29 – Backstage, Munich, Germany
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 30 – Ancient Astronaut, Lausanne, Switzerland
SUNDAY OCTOBER 1 – Substage Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe, Germany
TUESDAY OCTOBER 3 – Uni, Cardiff, United Kingdom
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 4 – Key Club, Sandgate, United Kingdom
THURSDAY OCTOBER 5 – Garage, Glasgow, United Kingdom
FRIDAY OCTOBER 6 – Club Academy, Manchester, United Kingdom
SATURDAY OCTOBER 7 – O2 Academy2, Birmingham, United Kingdom
SUNDAY OCTOBER 8 – The Electric Ballroom, London, United Kingdom
MONDAY OCTOBER 9 – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, United Kingdom
TUESDAY OCTOBER 10 – Backstage By The Mill, Paris, France
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 11 – Connexion Live, Toulouse, France
THURSDAY OCTOBER 12 – Caracol, Madrid, Spain
FRIDAY OCTOBER 13 – Razzmatazz, Barcelona, Spain
SATURDAY OCTOBER 14 – CCO, Lyon, France
SUNDAY OCTOBER 15 – Circolo Colony, Brescia, Italy
TUESDAY OCTOBER 17 – Flex, Wien, Austria
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 18 – Nova Chmelnice, Prague, Czech Republic
THURSDAY OCTOBER 19 – SO 36, Berlin, Germany
FRIDAY OCTOBER 20 – Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark
SATURDAY OCTOBER 21 – Kraken, Stockholm, Sweden
SUNDAY OCTOBER 22 – John Dee, Oslo, Norway
MONDAY OCTOBER 23 – Sticky Fingers, Göteborg, Sweden
TUESDAY OCTOBER 24 – Logo, Hamburg, Germany
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 25 – Patronaat, Haarlem, Netherlands
THURSDAY OCTOBER 26 – Felsenkeller, Leipzig, Germany
FRIDAY OCTOBER 27 – Zappa, Antwerpen, Belgium
SATURDAY OCTOBER 28 – Essigfabrik Cologne, Germany
A gritty and intense dive into shadows with massive sound. Each track is an audible message in a bottle, sent to other souls trying to claw their way up out of the dirt.
It's a chronicle of dark times, and is exceptionally heavy in all senses, naturally making it hard going for deep-feeling listeners.