Murfreesboro, Tennessee's Ashes Of Folly take us on a time trip to an alternate history where alternative music never got crappy and cliché with largely positive results.
In the early '90s, every major label were wetting their trousers to sign any and everybody that sounded anything remotely like Nirvana. Sure, this resulted in some pretty entertaining major label crossovers with bands like Sonic Youth and Butthole Surfers regularly playing on alternative radio, in a gloriously confusing cultural moment.
It didn't take long, however, for the vultures to descend and pick apart the corpse of grunge's validity. Before you knew it, big haired arena rockers had tied a flannel around their waist and were trading their pyrotechnic guitar solos for thick, sludgy apathetic guitar chords. Apart from the sludge & slack, these were basically just boy bands with different haircuts. It was kind of confusing. Where was the slack? Where was the angst?
At its heart, grunge/alt-rock was all about marrying metal's ferocity, punk's democratic immediacy with pop's solid songwriting, melodicism, and memorability. All good things, right? On their album The Chemical Plan, Ashes Of Folly imagine a world where grunge was never de-railed and co-opted by corporate rock. This is what Weezer might've sounded like had they kept swallowing Melvins' records, along with the requisite Big Star/Matthew Sweet powerpop records.
Ashes of Folly create a brand of catchy, melodic rock n’ roll that is still thick, forceful, and powerful. Guitar riffs flow like a rapidly cooling pyroclastic flow, washing you away in a delicious fuzzy flood, like on the album opener "Make Up, Make Out."
The guitars do occasionally rage, like first 10 seconds of the adrenalized metallic edge of "A Little One," as well as getting occasionally moody and twang-y like album closer "The Chemical Plan."
All in all, The Chemical Plan will be treasured by fans of heavy music that like to sing along as well. In it for the earworms, as well as the furious noise. Some of the lyrics aren't the greatest, and the vocals take a little getting used to, but you'll be glad you put the time in, while banging your head and shouting along, at the same time.
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