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Damnation A.D.

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Damnation A.D. was one of the first bands who arose from the U.S. hardcore scene to almost completely forgo their punk roots in favor of a full-on, heavy-handed, dark-metallic assault similar to the early-'90s work of Cleveland, OH's Integrity. Only Mike "DC" McTernan's sharp, biting, shouted vocal style, reminiscent of Rollins-era Black Flag, recalled any sort of punk rock or hardcore aesthetic. This despite the fact that most of the band's members were schooled in D.C.'s dynamic punk scene, and that one of them, primary songwriter/guitarist Ken Olden, doubled in more traditionally minded hardcore outfits Battery (for whom McTernan's brother, producer Brian McTernan, sang) and Better Than a Thousand. Damnation A.D. started primarily as a studio project, with Olden playing both drums and guitar, and McTernan singing. They cut a couple of singles this way, before recruiting Flying V-touting guitarist/Kirk Hammett-lookalike Hillel Halloway, bassist Alex Merchlinsky, and drummer Dave Ward. Damnation A.D. (who added the "A.D." to avoid confusion with the West Coast punk band) partnered up with Jade Tree Records, releasing a split single with Walleye and the dark, brooding No More Dreams of Happy Endings full-length album in 1995. Rigorous touring -- often mismatched with hardcore bands like Ignite and Earth Crisis -- saw them struggle to build a fan base that understood them. McTernan and Olden held fast to the straight-edge ideal, often "X'ing" up at shows, though other members were drinkers. This confused some narrow-minded listeners, who liked their bands to be clearly definable by lifestyle, sound, or politics. Despite this, they soldiered onward, releasing the well-received Misericordia CD EP in August 1996. Feeling confined by the decidedly indie rock/punk-oriented Jade Tree, the band signed on with California's Revelation Records, putting out one last full-length, Kingdom of Lost Souls, which featured new drummer Dave Bryson. After Damnation A.D. split up, Olden continued to work with Better Than a Thousand and opened a recording studio called Monster Island; McTernan studied tattooing, then moved to Richmond, VA; Halloway joined forces with a metal band called Black Manta; Merchlinsky studied design at the Maryland Institute in Baltimore; and Ward relocated to Los Angeles, CA. After an eight-year hiatus, McTernan, who had started singing with a project called When Tigers Fight, called Olden for some tips on recording his vocals. They went down to his studio, recorded some takes, and soon decided that they should reunite and record some Damnation A.D. tracks at Monster Island. Pleased with the results, the band went to work and recorded a full album of material called In This Life or the Next, which was released in 2007 by Victory Records. This record was a return to their initial sound of sludgy metalcore and featured appearances by members of Give Up the Ghost, Darkest Hour, Earth Crisis, and Fall Out Boy. ~ Ryan J. Downey

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1992 in Washington DC

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