The Damage Manual:



Running Time: 31:58 mins

review by Scott M, June 2000 (First published F&F 13)
© 2002 / F&F Publishing

DM 1This is the first record in years that I've genuinely been excited to hear. As soon as I heard Wobble, Martin Atkins & Geordie Walker would be working together I knew it would be good. Wobble & Atkins were in arguably PiL's finest ever line up, Geordie's guitar was always a huge part of the sporadically brilliant Killing Joke, and I'm sure even he'd admit Keith Levene was an influence on his sound. This band for all intentioned purposes would be a modern 'Metal Box' era PiL – minus John. I knew they wouldn't try copy 'Metal Box' but I knew it's influence would be there, and it is. Though that said, I think its unfair to liken The Damage Manual to PiL, it is an influence, as is Killing Joke, but all the members have moved on since then. Wobble does his own thing, he hasn't done anything even close to 'rock' since 'Chant'. Martin and Chris Connelly (and also Geordie to a certain extent) have been involved with the industrial scene for years. The DM were always going to be contemporary. I said in the last issue that they were a bit like PiL and Killing Joke mixed with industrial pioneers Big Black, and I'll stand by that. It's kind of difficult to explain, the five main tracks are very different to each other. It's a very eclectic mix of rock, industrial, dub, and what I would even loosely call 'dance'.

I love the whole EP but 'Damage Addict' & 'Blame and Demand' are the stand out tracks for me. Massive plodding bass with Geordie's guitar wailing over the top, and Martin's thunderous drum sound throughout – excellent stuff! It was only when Martin joined PiL that the famous PiL drum sound really came into being, and it's great to hear it on the Damage Manual, I've always loved big drums in rock music. Tracks like 'Sunset Gun' and especially 'Scissor Quickstep' are far more 'rocky'. 'Scissor Quickstep' is almost thrash! PiL are well known for using blocks of sound on 'Metal Box', and the DM use a similar technique, but have more emphasis on sheer power and energy. Tracks like 'Scissor Quickstep' & 'Leave The Ground' have a genuine wall of sound. This is what rock is all about, it's fresh and exciting again.

For the most, Martin's production is excellent, really clear despite it being such a 'noisy' record. However, on a couple of the tracks (namely the more 'rocky' tracks) the bass is way down in the mix, which is a real mystery to me, Wob is such a vital part of the DM sound that I can't understand him being turned down, if only a little. However, with the likes of Bill Laswell and Youth lined up to mix the forthcoming Damage Manual album that shouldn't be much of problem in the future...

I have to say I was very impressed by Chris Connely's voice. I'd most recently heard him with Murder Inc (one of Martin, Chris & Geordie's earlier incarnations) and wasn't exactly over keen on his style, to me his vox sounded just too Scotish (he's from Edinburgh), but on DM his voice sounds great, he's got a really good range, and changes as the tracks change. His lyrics are good to, "More human contact will just make you ill". I really couldn't imagine John Lydon doing the vocals for these tracks, I honestly don't think his voice would have suited them. However, JL can pull some surprising vocals out of the bag every so often, so who knows...

Damage Manual 2000 © unknownThe two bonus mixes are really strong too, a real mixture of dub, dance and rock, with far more emphasis on the bass (yes!). Lee Fraser (aka Bagman) of Sheep on Drugs, who plays keyboards with the Damage Manual, mixes 'Damage Addict, while Wob collaborator Chris Cookson mixes 'Blame and Demand'.

The packaging of the EP is top notch. Starting with the graphic design, it's all been done in a really smart green/turquoise with graphics of hammers, telephones, jump leads on various parts of the sleeve. However it's the enhanced CD-ROM that really make the packaging. It includes the promo video for 'Sunset Gun', video clips of the band playing the studio, various pictures of the band from rehearsals, song lyrics, and last but not least, lengthy biographies of all four members. Five excellent songs, two bonus mixes, and an enhanced CD-ROM – now that's packaging... Are you listening Sex Pistols Residuals?

The EP has only been distributed in very small numbers in Europe, and it can be a bit difficult to find, I have saw it in a couple of chain stores for under £9, but if you're having difficulty try Atkins Invisible Records web site (, for $10 you get the CD and a limited edition poster...

This is a definite MUST HAVE for all genuine PiL fans. Even if you're not a big PiL fan but you like your rock music, and chances are you do, I seriously recommend you at least makes a point of hearing this EP. Of course I use the term 'rock' very loosely because the DM are far more than a rock n roll band. The year 2000 see's us with very few good rock bands. Rock is safe, dull and predictable, it's dying a death, the Damage Manual are here to give the stagnant rock scene the kick up the arse it truly needs. And the good news is this only an EP there's still an album to come...


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Damage Manual 2000 © unknown
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