Merseyside’s DAMASCUS one and only release (apart from a hard to find demo tape – please get in touch, if you happen to have a good sounding copy of it!) was this extremely scarce 12″, released in 1984 in two pressings of 500 each (depicted is the 2nd press. I’ve never seen a first press copy. If you have one, you must give it to me!). The great scarcity of the EP and the short time existence of DAMASCUS made them one of the NWOBHM’s best kept secrets. And definitely not a cult band (how I hate that term, btw). Isn’t the cover of this alone worth a trillion?
Whenever I play these four track monster, I can hardly believe this band should really fall into oblivion. The material presented here is just too great! Rocking out four melodic and incredibly catchy, tuneful tracks, DAMASCUS produced at least two archetypical songs of the genre as it was already about to crumble apart: “Open your Eyes” and “Something on my Mind”. The vocal lines are to be heard to be believed and the guitar and bass lines make me wanna hug the guys in eternal thankfulness for such unpretentious glory! So much atmosphere, such beauty in music was soon to be driven out of Heavy Metal upon the time this EP was released and the 70s ended once and for all; Thrash and Speed bands were taking over and sure, these were exciting times and in 1984, I could hardly listen to a band like DAMASCUS anymore, so dated they sounded within months. But as you grow older, your horizon broadens (hopefully) and at least in my case, I’m now hearing the qualities of bands such as DAMASCUS clearer than I did when the record was still fresh.
“Cold Horizon” is a tricky, quiet little song, a masterpiece again and the closing “Midnight Train” is exactly what you’ll listen to on your iPod, the next time you’re on a train trip, I guarantee. I’d guess younger folks in most cases won’t get the whatabouts of such music, but I simply can not imagine anybody from the old days Metal Militia of Losers from all over the Planet (MMOLFAOTP) wouldn’t get goosebumbs over the melancholy of a song like “Open your Eyes” or “Something on my Mind”.
Enjoy this pearl! I would like to dedicate this especially to all the hellhounds and earthdogs, rivetheads and mongobumsers of the old days who are still around in one form or another.