Ash - Meltdown
At the very least, you can still credit Ash for trying. Whereas the music industry continues to splinter in many genre-confined sub-factions, here we have Ash refusing to die; instead recording their album in LA with Foo Fighters producer Nick Raskulinecaz and trying to claim that they can rock after all. Who are they trying to kid? Is this the same pop-band that wanted to blitz the charts with their Free All Angels album? Aren’t most of these mid-nineties kings over now? Do they honestly think that be calling their new album Meltdown, giving the album a fiery cover artwork and giving each song titles that are thematically within a whisker of chaotic destruction that they will somehow channel all of those transatlantic nu-metal starved teens? Well, as said before, nice effort but sadly what strikes most about Meltdown is that it’s so damned inoffensive.
This is polished distortion rock at its most pointless. Yes, Free All Angels was a sell-out to the devil, but for all its sins it manages to contain some catchy pop-hooks that like-it-or-not became stuck in your head for days (Burn Baby Burn, Shining Light or Sometimes). Sadly, Meltdown is too preoccupied on packing a powerhouse punch than it is concerned with ensuring replayability on the radio. Yes, bands shouldn’t care about the radio and chart making, but tell that to Ash who have left it too late to change their spots. This is rock music with an equalised sound; there isn’t a trace of arresting edginess on the record that could help define Ash as something bigger. Forget any Foo Fighters comparisons, as that is formed around Dave Grohl, full-time rocker with slight distracted pandering to Beach Boys harmonies. Ash on the other hand are a nine-to-five chart act trying to break the US market, and there is simply no demand. You cannot rock out if you sing with the feeble energy of Tim Wheeler’s tiresome rhyme.
“Stop moaning about the band, you dismissive loon, and talk about the songs!” Well, Orpheus is the song that makes you want to scratch your ears out less than the rest of the album, with a merely adequate chorus that can, on occasions, walk the fine line between pop and rock. The titled-track opener is simply nu-metal by numbers, complete with bland riff and power-chord progression. In fact, apply that to the remainder of your songs and that’s the remainder of Meltdown’s review.
“How can you say that? Have you actually listened to the rest of the album?” Sadly yes, and it doesn’t get any better. The slight promise of a good intro on Vampire Love is quickly discarded, whilst Out Of the Blue sounds so much like Orpheus that you wonder if the compact disc player has accidentally been switched to ‘random’ and reverted back to track two again. Then you quickly realise that the whole album sounds like one song on repeat. Let’s cut to the chase, this album is critic-proof. Loyal Ash fans will defend it whilst casual listeners will find many better ways to spend their musical money. Again, credit to Ash for trying, but rock albums need the volume at eleven, and this wavers between five or six. It’s an all-or-nothing market.