Somewhere amongst the cornfield and highways in central Illinois lies Ashland. It’s not a city or a county but a female-fronted band comprised of Asia Woodward (vocals), Aaron Wood (guitar), Zebulan Griffith (bass) and Tanner Leggett (drums). The band is a concise, compact unit as they display on their recent release Interim. Ashland is making a style of music that is ubiquitous amongst the current landscape and has been for quite some time. The band fuses hyper metal with a female lead that brings to mind bands like Evanescence and Flyleaf. It’s not because those bands have a similar formation but the delivery is similar in a number of ways.
Woodward is undeniably a talented vocalist but her style is certainly similar to the aforementioned bands’ vocalists. The overarching, grandiose, pristine mainstream type production that certain styles of metal have fallen in love with also falls in line with those bands. This is the type of production we have come to expect from metal bands we hear on FM radio. Suffice it to say you should know relatively quickly if this is a band you will be listening to again if you are even relatively familiar with the musical landscape.
The album opens with “Eyes to the Sky” which reaches for the heavens with intensity. It starts off with a rumble but quickly breaks through the seal. The verse combines a synth that would work with this style of hyper metal or EDM. When the chorus hits, the band is all about distorted guitars, crashing drums and a steady bass line.
The next song “False Shepard” is a jagged, fast paced rocker. If you are feeling a little bit tired and need a surge of energy this song should do just fine. “Freakshow” was the most original sounding song out of the five. The almost circus like organ or electric piano they fuse into the music was a nice touch. I especially enjoyed the hard-hitting compressed drum and bass sound against it. “Dead Weight” has a single worthy mainstream appeal while the closer “There Will Come Soft Rains” starts off as a sparse piano ballad and transforms into a full-fledged rock song.
Ashland has done their homework and fit nice and snug into a market that is popular and increasingly difficult to penetrate. Interim seems to be just the beginning for the band. Hopefully they can further distance themselves from the flock with their upcoming releases.
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