ASG – Survive Sunrise (Relapse)

Sunday, 1st July 2018
Rating: 8/10

Several sides to the “riff rock” scenario, some concerning how to mash up a particular guitar tone to mask deficiencies, others, head toward whatever doom hill is closest, while a small segment, like North Carolina’s ASG, prefer a melodic rock bent, which shines on their sixth full-length foray, Survive Sunrise. Now, don’t get the melodic rock signal confused with melodic rock; ASG, to the core, is a through-and-through rock band, not necessarily metal, but hanging on those fringes and certainly in league as such considering regular metal dude Matt Hyde (Slayer, High on Fire) is on the production boards and Relapse is releasing the darn thing. Just rock. Perhaps some roll, too.

The brightness of ASG’s sound comes primarily from vocalist Jason Shi, who, not only has a crystalline voice, is also capable of harmonizing himself like nobody’s business. When he’s laying on vocal lines (see: “Execution Thirst” and “Weekend Money”), it’s almost like ASG are transformed into FM rock heavyweights. So, in reality, it’s tag-teaming of Shi and the bound’s seemingly bottomless pit of gut-punch, but nice-guy riffs, the ones that get revved up on the opening title track, cling tight to melody (“Up From My Dreams”) or crackle and thunder (“God Knows We”).

Survive Sunrise is imminently likeable — no two ways about. It practically shoves away genre filters in favor of actual, concrete things like “songs,” “compositions” and “hooks.” These elements will never go away. Sometimes it takes an earnest band like ASG to remind us all of what they truly represent.

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