Stepping out from his role as one of two six-stringers in OJM, Italian guitarist Andrew Pozzy also takes on vocal duties with The Sade. The Padova trio’s debut, Damned Love (Go Down Records), is lucky 13 tracks of mostly straightforward, classically-minded – thinking more Led Zeppelin than Bach – heavy rock. Given OJM’s deeply individualized progressive bent and The Sade’s clear love of heavy ‘70s riffing, catchy songcraft and upbeat, energetic approach, I’m tempted to liken the differences between The Sade and OJM to those between Greenleaf and Dozer, but though there are some sonic similarities, particularly on the organ infused centerpiece “Borderline,” that’s mostly a conceptual analogy, rather than one of actual sonics. Damned Love mostly resides in the three-to-four-minute range in terms of its tracks, but in that time, the band – obviously led by Pozzy, but with the rhythm section of Mark Kimberly (bass and backing vocals) and Mat Zoombie (drums) also making formidable contributions – maintain the energy they put forth in their first couple songs, while also showing influences from punk and stoner rock.
The strive here isn’t so much to expand a sound or show sonic diversity as it is to work within a given structure to create something both familiar and unique. With the help of crisp production and a few guests along the way – Fab Shaman joins Kimberly on backing vocals on many of the tracks and OJM bassist Stefano Pasky handles organ and piano throughout, Lou Silver of Small Jackets contributes harmonica to “Dead Man’s Bones (The Dead Man Blues)” and engineer/mixer Maurizio Baggio adds percussion and guitar – The Sade does just that, sounding full but casual on gas pedal cuts like “Nice Trash” or the earlier “Run for Me Darling,” which features one of Damned Love’s most effective choruses. “Run for Me Darling” follows instrumental opener “Sadism,” which sounds to my Jerseyan ears like some of the guitar runs one might hear kicking off a record by a less fuzzed-out The Atomic Bitchwax, but is likely just getting down with the same Ritchie Blackmore jams. It’s a strong beginning for Damned Love, either way, and with “Live You Again” bringing a Social Distortion-type punkabilly feel – aided by Pasky’s piano – and all of the first three tracks being under three minutes, it’s clear The Sade wanted to start their debut with as much energy as possible. In this too, they meet with success.