Posted by: Necci – Jul 05, 2012
Man, did I not want to review this one. Not because I dislike From Ashes Rise – between 2000 and their initial break-up in 2004, I saw them probably two dozen times (never saw 'em play a bad set either), and own almost everything they've done. Along with Tragedy, they helped lay the groundwork for a lot of crusty hardcore coming out of the US in the past decade or so, the type more reliant on moderate tempos, clean recording, and triumphant, metallic melodic tendencies. And there's the problem. All that sort of stuff started out pretty cool, but quickly turned into corny arena crust, a bunch of metal dudes that realize that it's easier to sound like Wolfbrigade than Morbid Angel. More guitar solos and corporate sponsorships, less energy and social engagement. Even Tragedy's last album was pretty sluggish. I also fell for the internet disinformation the band circulated – a fake album cover and press release stating that their newest EP would feature a tribute to Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch on one side, with the band's commentary on one of his touchdowns taking up the B-side. Not sure why I fell for that one, but I'm adult enough to admit that sometimes I do believe what I read online. Not one of my better character traits. But what From Ashes Rise offer on their newest EP is by no means some weird throwaway, nor is it a cheap grasp at what they had previously achieved.
“Rejoice The End” doesn't exactly come out with both guns blazing, instead opting for a more mid-tempo approach that's reminiscent of some of the slower, more metallic moments of their last album. The mark of a great punk band is that they can drop the tempo without losing the intensity. This particular song goes a little long – at 5:16, it's easily the longest song the band has done, and would have been improved by a bit more concision – but it doesn't drag, which is notable. May not leave many jaws on the floor, but certainly not bad at all. The flipside, however, is why people listen to From Ashes Rise. “Rage Of Sanity” is everything the band did right. Fast without being a blur, catchy without being schmaltzy, dark without seeming defeatist. There's a little more rock and roll in their sound now, but it's not so over the top that they seem like they're aping any of the legions of bands that popped up in their wake. It's the sound of a band that still gets it, that still has it in them to do something good.
And while it's not necessarily as intense as any of their full-lengths, it's a good return to form. There are no disappointments, no serious left turns, none of the pitfalls that can trip up any band that attempts to pick up a few years worth of slack. The slower moments might've benefited from some more energetic material to buffer them, but it's definitely a ballsy choice to kick off the first release in almost a decade with something that's a little more ponderous, a decision that doesn't come back to kick them in the ass. From Ashes Rise has never been a band to find a comfortable niche and reside there for a long time, so now the only thing to do is hope that they can come up with more material that builds from where they've picked up.
Words by Graham Scala
Live photo by Christine Boarts Larson