“Wait a second guys you didn’t even scratch it……..man, you guys just won five hundred bucks!!!” A quote from a now ancient episode of Beavis and Butt-head wherein an extremely patient gas station clerk convinces the two that a lottery ticket is a more prudent purchase than the gallon of gas that they requested, but have no container for. The duo’s well-known stupidity kicks in and thinking they lost, they prepare to leave before their attendant reveals that they purchased a winning lottery ticket.
How does this apply to Damage S.F.P.’s self-titled debut? Much like the aforementioned winning lottery ticket, the initial reaction is uninformed dismissal. This album is very hardline in its Bay Area sounds, and I can already hear you all the way in the back row saying in your best Beavis voice “oh, boy here we go, another Testament clone.” But just when you think it’s time to try out another album is about the same time you realize it’s been a damn good listen.
Backing up a bit, Damage S.F.P. has been an entity in some form since 1989 when three childhood friends in Finland decided to start thrashing. Cranking out a few demos before disbanding in 1996 and ultimately reuniting in 2018. Per the band’s own admittance,
“The album is like a time-leap straight to ’90s, since all of the tracks were composed between 1991-1994″. It’s not often that you see a debut album that’s twenty plus years in the making, and the trio has used that time wisely.
As far as the Bay Area reference, it is contextual due to the fact that these songs were crafted in a period when the Bay Area sound was exhausted but nonetheless considered the standard thrash sound. And this gives Damage S.F.P. an ambiguous placement outside of the modern day Bay Area influenced bands, making their debut all the more potent. Any notion of Damage S.F.P’s sound being a clone is disproven because it has a combination of energy and ferocity that just makes it too damn good to cast aside. Also, it’s important to note that guitarist/vocalist Jarkko Nikkilä doesn’t so much sound like Chuck Billy as much as he sounds like he unhinged his jaw and swallowed Chuck Billy whole.
Out of all the songs on the album, “Ride,” “Death of Innocent,” and “Crying For Relief” had a previous life on their 1993 demo. And along with newer tracks, whether it be the grindcore-tinged “Grain Brain,” the straightforward chug of “Ruthless Fate,” or the post-thrash intro to “Ode of Sorrow,” Damage S.F.P. bounce between playing by the rules and creating them with ease.