Ash – Meltdown

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Album Review by Mark Bayross

Early reports of MELTDOWN, Ash’s fourth album, were that this is the snarling rock monster side of the band laid bare, a down and dirty contrast to the shiny power pop of the chart-busting FREE ALL ANGELS.

Well, I am pleased to say those reports aren’t far off but, even better, they have managed to pull off their devil-horns-aloft rock without losing the irresistible pop sensibility that seems to come so naturally to Tim Wheeler and co.

Recorded in California, with a more collaborative song-writing effort this time around, the band have all raised their game considerably, not least drummer Rick McMurray, who seems to have stayed on after hours at the Dave Grohl School of Skin-pounding. Even Tim and Charlotte’s singing has improved. Not only that, but the production from Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, System Of A Down) lends extra crunch and urgency to their guitar-driven sound.

The single ORPHEUS – which you may have already heard – is pretty representative of the other ten songs here: each song is three or four minutes long and built around Pumpkins-style fuzzed-up riffs with only the pretty STARCROSSED and the breezy WON’T BE SAVED counterbalancing the mosh-friendly metal. Think BURN BABY BURN times 11.

Thematically, we are also in darker territory than usual. From disillusionment with the current government’s attitude in the face of last year’s anti-war protests (the title track) to the disappointment of discovering someone is not the individual you thought they were (CLONES), the signs are that the declared “rollercoaster of love” that led to Tim writing FREE ALL ANGELS has, if not derailed, then certainly changed track.

The result is Ash’s most immediate, focused and consistently entertaining album so far. Excellent stuff.

5 stars