I've been a pretty big fan of No Idea records for the past few years. Stellar releases from Against Me!, Planes Mistaken For Stars, and Twelve Hour Turn still often find themselves in my CD player. So when a copy of Glass And Ashes's debut album found its way to my desk, along with the description "Glass And Ashes are already garnering comparisons to Planes Mistaken For Stars, Torches To Rome, and Yaphet Kotto, with a touch of D.C.'s past," I'd be lying if I say it didn't have me immediately interested. So did the album live up to its billing, and its comparisons?
Yes, and then some. This album really is a breath of fresh air. After the momentary sound of a siren, you get some solid guitar and drum rhythms thrown at you right away on the album's first track, "Black Beneath The Eyes." That more than anything else is noticeable about this album. These guys are great musicians. The guitar work is absolutely incredible throughout the duration, never wavering in intensity, even during the albums more melodic moments. The members of the band all seem so in tune to what the others are doing, that they all draw from each other, and just make everything meld together that much better. They can play to various styles as well, sometimes lashing into all out chaos, other times more subdued, but it's always interesting, and each member of the band gets their own chances to shine. The distortion on the guitars is just right, and I really love the drums on this album. Listen to "Controlled Burn" for evidence in just how good these drums are, and what good rhythms are kept by the bassist and guitarists.
To accompany music this good, outstanding vocals are necessary, and luckily, this album presents some of the best I've heard in a while. Frenzied, passionate, but always with just the right level of intensity. They're nothing over the top, and the singer has a relatively unique voice, a raspy voice, almost a scowl, like he's screaming without even trying. That's one of the things that makes this such a genuinely good album, is that these guys sound extremely talented without trying to be so. Confusing? Probably, but when you listen, you'll know what I mean.
I'm not going to compare the singer to anybody else; I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions, because I don't feel that any connection I draw will do him justice. The vocals really reach their pinnacle on "Eighty Six," and the instrumentation shines there as well. This song perfectly shows what a complete package that this album can be. When the song finally ends amidst waves of reverb, you just wish it would keep on going.
With all the great things this album has laid down, I'd say they wouldn't affect me as much if the lyrics were really lacking, but that couldn't be more opposite the truth. The lyrics these guys have put down are deeply rooted in political and social conscience. From the politically-driven "The Art Of Selling," to the album's most poignant moment "Dividing Line," these guys are quite intelligent about the way they use their words. "Dividing Line" is a song about rape, which is not a subject many bands choose to tackle in their songs, but Glass And Ashes do a great job of painting the entire picture of the subject;
She locked herself in her room again, not from one night but from the years that follow it / Running from screaming eyes that ostracize the dividing line between victim and surviving / What would you do if you walked into your sister's room with her crying alone? / Tired of the guilt and shame put on her by spectator and predator / A strong woman might arise despite the victimization from friends now passersby.I don't know about the rest of you, but to me, that's some really strong songwriting, and as with the rest of the album, the passion in the vocals only serve to better put across the message behind them.
No Idea has done a great thing to sign this band and put out their debut album. Every aspect of this, from start to finish, feels like a band that's been around for years and years. I can't wait to see what the future holds for this extremely talented foursome, because if Aesthetic Arrest is any indication, then we're in for a real treat.