Dead Ends – Damned Nation
I wrote this review in my old site sometime ago. As I will be posting the album here, I guess it would be fitting to place this review here as well.
22 years ago, Dead Ends made Philippine history by releasing the very first independently-produced underground album entitled Complaints. The next year Al Dimalanta and company went at it again by becoming the very first local punk act to release their 2nd album (Second Coming) independently. Both are highly regarded as among the best pinoy punk albums of all time with cult classic tracks as No Stopping Us, This World, Dreamer, Won’t Fool Me Again, Nothing I Can Do, New Life/Dreamer, Propaganda, etc.
1987 saw the release of their third album Damned Nation, this time with a different drummer in Harley Alarcon. When it was still being plugged by Al, he stated that their third effort would be an honest to goodness pure hardcore music. And that it would definitely be different than their past two releases. And wickedly different at that.
While the first 2 albums boasted melodic tracks with sing-along choruses, Damned Nation is an album with tracks built on melody and hyper speed. With hints of a metal tendency much like Broken Bones or even Crucifix, it would really be a shame not to play this album from start to finish. I can’t see no reason why. Musically and lyrically wise, Damned Nation is a masterpiece. Brothers Al and Jay are superb musicians (Al on guitars and Jay on Bass), while Harley delivers the meanest drum tracks a hardcore album could ask for. Lyrics are plausible, dealing with the ills of our everyday lives. It confronts how every system in our country stinks (No System), violence (Flush the Attitude), the real colors of the media (Fags in Mags), politicians (President and Promises) and about a boy (Johnny) who loves hardcore. 20 years and Al (now with new band Throw) still plays this with utter charisma and power. If you had the chance to catch Al’s new band play you’d know what I mean. Breathtaking indeed.
To me Damned Nation stands out than their other albums. Could very well be one of my favorite pinoy punk albums, if not the most. To me playing only a track or two or three songs from this album won’t be a complete Dead Ends experience. It’s angry and it’s intense. Two of the important formulas needed to create a great hardcore album. Dead Ends have outdone themselves with this album and they still strive to be different and creative, still growing as one should put it. And they have also shown this with the release of their fourth album Mamatay sa Ingay. But that my friends, will be another review.