Music

From Ashes Rise: Nightmares

Kevin Jagernauth

From Ashes Rise

Nightmares

Label: Jade Tree
US Release Date: 2003-10-14
UK Release Date: 2003-11-10
Amazon
iTunes

There is something to be said about keeping things simple. Nashville, Tennessee hardcore outfit From Ashes Rise play a ferocious brand of punk rock that finds much of its power in its stripped down presentation. Ripping through 12 songs in just over 30 minutes, Nightmares is a vicious beast of an album. From Ashes Rise keep the songs short and simple, but these pared down tunes don't skimp on power.

The crushing sound of Nightmares can be credited to producer Matt Bayles. The mastermind behind metal and hardcore acts such as the Blood Brothers, Isis, Mastodon, and Botch, Bayles's clean, yet thick production greatly enhances the compositions of From Ashes Rise. The drums thunder, but it's the guitar work of Brad Boatright and John Wilkerson that shine here. Like galloping horses, they enter the speakers screaming, tightly reigning in these ferocious songs.

From the opening notes of "Reaction", From Ashes Rise lay out the course for the next half hour. Blistering guitars and raw vocals will be par for the course. Though this territory has been covered excellently by legendary bands His Hero Is Gone and Tragedy, From Ashes Rise still manage to sound vital and relevant. Where these bands rarely deviated from their two-minute framework, From Ashes Rise admirably try and change things up from time to time.

"The Final Goodbye" has an excellent minute-and-a-half introduction that quickly segues into the speed punk From Ashes Rise do so well, before moving into an excellent closing third act. At just over four minutes, it is From Ashes Rise's longest song, but almost one of their most well thought out. "The Inner Beast" nicely plays with some intelligent quiet-to-loud dynamics; "The Mandate" finds guitarists Boatright and Wilkerson offering up some of their best guitar interplay and the band even offers up a brief instrumental with "The Interlude".

Lyrically, the band addresses the state of the world, and lay their frustrations bare. "The Final Goodbye" scathingly critiques blind loyalty to one's religious beliefs: "The claim of the priests and the holiest clerics is that god is a master to serve without / Question or real consequence / So they forge their weapons / And they hammer their plowshares into swords / Waiting for the final goodbye". "They spin in the sky their web of wires / They launch their toys to be the new towers / They send their children to scorch their brothers / And all is done by the fortunate sons as they unleash the dogs of war", the band screams on the self-explanatory "They".

When From Ashes Rise signed to Jade Tree, they received a fair bit of criticism from the punk underground. If anything, a larger budget has allowed the band to record an album that is crisp, yet relentless. Their politics remain intact, as the entire record is an unblinking, unforgiving look at political structures. My early music listening days were bred on likeminded hardcore and punk bands, and Nightmares is classic in sound, yet contemporary in feel. Fans of abrasive and thoughtful punk rock need to go out and make Nightmares a part of their record collection.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Culture

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
9
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image