The Van Dammes describe themselves as “fast and noisy garage punk from Finland”, and this seems pretty accurate, especially as they’re inspired by the Ramones and other punk bands. All of this makes sense when you listen to their second EP, Better Than Sex. Made up of bassist Ilkka Hildén, vocalist and synth-mixer Markus Kujawa, drummer Jussi Roine, and Juho Talja working vocals and guitar, they seamlessly mix sounds together to make a stark raving-mad punk riff that sounds as genuine as they come.
They draw inspiration for their songs from unlikely places. Take their first track, ‘Vesna (Flash In The Night),’ for instance: the song was actually inspired by Serbian flight attendant Vesna Vulović who holds the world record for surviving the highest fall without a parachute when her plane crashed in 1972.
Other songs draw from more general themes like angst (‘I Don’t Know’), but I like this change of what’s expected of bands as the Van Dammes go for something very specific. There aren’t exactly many other bands writing songs about world records or, at least, I’ve yet to hear a tune about the longest tongue.
Kidding aside, this band deserves attention from anyone who laments the loss of the ’70s punk scene. From the gritty voice filter to grating sounds mixing with relentless drum pounding – and everything in between – the Van Dammes are a walloping force of punk.
This EP starts with a jolt and doesn’t stop, in true Ramones style, although this short collection doesn’t give much of a chance for you to catch your breath. I’m glad the Van Dammes didn’t feel some sort of obligatory need to include slow songs to somehow balance the scales, but I hope to see a broader form of variety coming from these guys. Their core style, as it is, inspires a “kick the door in and get things started” attitude.
They seem to put a lot of stock in the song ‘Vesna (Flash In The Night)’ – which is a good song, especially how it starts – but as far as I’m concerned, it’s all about ‘At the Drive-In’. It just seems like a perfect reflection of what the times were during the punkish ’70s.
I like these guys and I hope to see more come from them: a full album would be great.