From the opening track — "Never Know We're Coming" — forward, it's obvious that Il Cattivo has gotten to where it needed to go. Cohesive songwriting has emerged from the original inspired chaos and forcefulness of the band, as though it had harnessed and directed Matt Bellinger's free-flowing and eruptive guitar work and Brian Hagman's raw, unhinged vocal prowess. The contrasting guitar styles of Bellinger and Arj Narayan are well represented here, with interlocking leads: Narayan's playing is more direct, while Bellinger carves out territory outside the lines. Drummer Jedd Kopp and bassist Matthew Cavanaugh, meanwhile, carry the weight of the rest of the music with a subtle but strong fluidity and tasteful accents. Ending with one of the band's finest numbers, the soaring and psychedelic "Jesuit," Damages is refreshingly unburdened by subgenre conventions.
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