ASG – Blood Drive (Relapse)

Friday, 21st June 2013
Rating: 7/10

Blood Drive, the fifth album from North Carolina’s ASG is the band’s first release for Relapse Records. It’s a sludgy/psychedelic heavy rock affair, finding singer Jason Shi and co. going for big, groovy sounds this time around. With the help of producer Matt Hyde, the band is able to forge an array of bold numbers that can easily rival the likes of Torche and Queens of the Stone Age.

There are plenty of memorable hooks and riffs here, and songs like “Hawkeye” and “Earthwalk” benefit greatly from this dynamic style. Other tracks like “Children’s Music” find some darker textures poking through and “Day’s Work” just slows down completely, often shifting into moody territories. Another unexpected shift happens on “Scrappy’s Trip” which dips into a straight forward jam, and “Blues for Bama” defies all logic, striving for a surreal tone reminiscent of early Pink Floyd and a dash of Tom Waits thrown in for good measure.

The music remains sludgy and occasionally splinters off into adventurous territories, but the main ingredient keeping things together is Shi. His vocal style exhibits this amorphous tonality of high falsetto and at times vomiting up manic sounding screams so unexpectedly. His best performance can be heard on “Castlestorm” and once he sounds off, his scream becomes almost punk rock-like.

Blood Drive is an interesting mix of doom, punk and blues, plus those big, groovy psychedelic sounds help to solidify the style so perfectly. The heaviness and melody also go hand-in-hand and this will no doubt allow the music to sound eclectic to most who give this a try. This is a fine release for Relapse, and ASG may quickly discover their new label to be the ultimate venue to get their unique sound out to a wider audience.

ASG on Bandcamp