DAMNED NATION – Sign Of Madness


Scarlet Records
Release Date: November 15, 2004

User Review
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Taking 4 1/2 years and 1 frustration and reshuffling after another to get all of their ducks in a row, it’s no wonder Swedish rockers Damned Nation titled this, their 4th release, Sign Of Madness … but there’s something to be said about perseverance, and who can argue that often one’s best efforts are rendered amid tumultuous times. With a new vocalist in Matti Alfonzetti, and at the hands of the “King of Trash” producer Tomas Skogsberg, Damned Nation has delivered a 44-minute, 12-track album that will certainly impress even the most critical Power/Modern Metal enthusiasts.

The closest Damned Nation musical style comparison that can probably be made is to the band Evergrey, although Damned Nation has a vastly different vocal approach. All in all, Alfonzetti is definitely the most consistent highlight of this CD. He doesn’t necessarily sing with wicked cool range, or in an immediately identifiable style that may cause him to be recognizable by even the most casual of music fans (a la Aerosmith’s Tyler), instead, he sings in an easy to listen to range and doesn’t push the limits of his capabilities. In sum, he just knows how to sing, and blends in quite well with the rest of the band. Musically, Damned Nation has a very deep-toned, thick sound … again very similar to Evergrey. None of the songs are particularly complex musically, and you’re likely not going to be blown away by any of the guitar solos, but the sound is indeed heavy, consistently crafted, and, most importantly, enjoyable.

On to the songs … after a 1-minute plus intro, Damned Nation belt out 5 nearly perfect tracks in “Stranded,” “Wall of Illusion,” “Consequences,” “Bringer of Light,” and the title track, “Sign Of Madness.” Each of these songs will impress you with their strong, heavy, deliberate rhythms, powerful drumbeats, catchy and relevant lyrics, and absolutely great vocal delivery by Alfonzetti. The 7th track, “Facing The Enemy,” is a good song too (though not as great as the prior 5), however, the CD begins to get a bit stale, if not repetitive, at this point. Although the generally simplistic song structure works to a “T” in the prior 5 tracks, this same successful formula begins to wear on the listener a bit during “Facing The Enemy,” and more so with the final 5 tracks. None of these latter tracks are “bad” songs, for sure, especially when standing alone on their own merits, but when put together in succession, they tend to cause the listener to lose interest, and make you wonder to where that initial “magic” disappeared.

Fans of Evergrey owe it to themselves to give this band a listen … you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the similar musical style, yet Damned Nation differentiates themselves enough, especially vocally, to avoid any semblance of being copycats. The CD loses a bit of its momentum towards the latter half, but part of that momentum loss is undoubtedly due to the first 5 full-length tracks simply being so good! Damned Nation kept it together as a band amid much uncertainty and turmoil over the better part of the last 5 years … but you’ll be glad they did if you give their Sign Of Madness a chance.

Guitars: C+
Bass: B+
Percussion: B-
Vocals: A
Lyrics: B+
Recording Quality: B+
Originality: B
Overall Rating: B


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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