The Lazarus Pit: Damnation A.D.’s No More Dreams of Happy EndingsPosted 09/14/2012 by Decibel Magazine
Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love; stuff that’s essential listening that you’ve probably never heard of; stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for. Take note of this week’s entry, because it’s one of the few times you’re ever going to see a Jade Tree release covered by this magazine: Damnation A.D.’s No More Dreams of Happy Endings (Jade Tree).
We here at Decibel obviously love our metallic hardcore: our Hall of Fame contains classics from Quicksand, DRI, Sick of It All, Tragedy, Rorschach, Refused, Judge, and other acts that would’ve sent longhairs into a rage in the 80s. You’ve probably heard of all those bands already, though (well, maybe not Judge). Damnation A.D. were just as awesome – and arguably more metal – but you never really hear about them. Maybe it’s because their first record hit in 1995 (just slightly after the Golden Age), or they kept getting stuck on tours with straight up hardcore bands with unappreciative audiences, but for some reason they were never quite as successful as even some of the spectacularly unsuccessful bands listed above.
Formed initially as a studio-only project by DC-area straight edgers Mike “DC” McTernan and Ken Olden (who would go on to produce bands like Darkest Hour), DAD drew inspiration not only from Black Flag and Earth Crisis, but also from noise rock titans like Helmet and even industrialist pioneers Godflesh – and, to some extent, the really early post-rock acts like Slint. A weird combination, to be sure, and one that did not lend itself to particularly upbeat compositions, but they made it work for them. Their 1995 debut, No More Dreams of Happy Endings (which should be a hint right there), hits like a Molotov cocktail on the hood of a police car.
After starting with a minute-long squeal of noise and feedback called “Two Steps Down,” they kick into “No More Dreams,” and it isn’t much more pleasant, a churning, grinding noise rock anthem of discontentment driven by blunt guitar scrapes. “No Way Out” feels more in line with what you’d associate with traditional hardcore, but they coat it with a thick layer of filth just to make it more interesting. “A Better Tomorrow” finds a nice groove, which “The Hangedman” immediately grinds to a halt in its toxic sludge before slamming out an amputated thrash riff. Then there’s a reprieve – although when the “reprieve” is a grim, 10 minute long post-rock performance of the traditional “Funeral March,” you know you’re listening to a downer of a record. Second half doesn’t exactly lift the mood either, with “In Memoriam”’s radioactive goo, “Eleven Thirty-Four”’s agonized pit-starter, and an untitled bonus track that’s basically just a noise collage.