Review: World of Damage – Invoke Determination
WOD Records ( June 11th 2021)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
World of Damage is a solo project from Norwegian guitarist Mr. Damage (Kjell Age Karlsen). On his own away from his band Chrome Division, Mr. Damage has crafted an assortment of various styles of rock and metal, utilizing singers who best fit the material he has crafted.
No other song best exemplifies what the listener can expect from this album than the opening track ‘I Will Not Conform‘. A track that is a mix of traditional, speed, and even black metal. If Mr. Damage wanted to start the album showing the diversity he set out to prove, then this is an unequivocal success. Although the track jumps around to these different genres, I found it to be quite a sonic ride. I’m not even a fan of black metal, but when Shagrath from Dimmu Borgir shows up to sing a verse, it adds some spice to the mix. Most of the lead vocals are handled by Maurice Adams. I’m not familiar with him, but he has a Russell Allen quality to him and all that combined makes this a standout track.
Other great tracks include my personal favorite song on the album ‘Insanity‘. Sung with perfection by Pal ‘Athena’ Mathiesen, the fretwork is top notch and impressive. When I listen to metal, it’s this type of metal that I dig the most: Heavy and groove laden melodies that do not need a lot of speed to be impactful. ‘The Petrol And The Blood‘ is another standout track featuring singer Bernt Fjellestad, a mid-tempo dirty sounding riff of a song. And then there’s ‘Black Moon‘, an instrumental track where Mr. Damage really gets to flex his chops. Not simply him wailing on a guitar, but a beautiful acoustic endeavor backed with keyboards and various orchestral instruments. I’m not much for instrumental songs, but this is incredibly engaging and never gets dull. I was captivated for all of the nearly six minutes of its runtime.
Other tracks of note include ‘Breathe‘, a ballad from ex-Kamelot vocalist Roy Khan. His voice and the instrumentation brings the feel of a majestic medieval vibe, not dissimilar to something found on a Magnum album. ‘Spoke In The Wheel‘ features Chrome Division vocalist Eddie Guz and takes a sharp left turn into southern country rock with the singer taking on a southern drawl accompanied by just an acoustic guitar.
So am I a fan of every song on the album? No. ‘Unleash The Rage‘ features Thebon and is a full on black metal song and that is just not my thing. Two songs on the album (‘Fire Burns My Name‘ and the Title Track) both feature Bjorn ‘Speed’ Strid, a singer I enjoy in bands like Night Flight Orchestra, At The Movies, and Gathering of Kings. Unfortunately, his vocal contributions are similar to what he does in his band Soilwork, which has more of a Phil Anselmo guttural quality to them. I would have preferred his more melodic vocals on these tracks. That being said about the album, I do appreciate the range of material on display.
Solo albums are a way for artists to stretch out of their comfort zone and showcase music that may deviate from what an audience expects from said artist. In that regard, Mr. Damage shows his versatility in weaving through various styles of rock and metal and does so in impressive fashion. There is sure to be something for everyone in the rock/metal genre and that makes this album worth checking out.