sun 14/07/2024

Album: Ash - Race the Night | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Ash - Race the Night

Album: Ash - Race the Night

Northern Irish power pop perennials dig down into the heavy rock side

Looks yacht rock. Isn't.

Northern Irish rockers Ash appeared in the mid-Nineties, channelling The Ramones when the UK was in thrall to either bangin’ club music or Britpop. They had a good commercial run, longer than almost all their contemporaries, mustering 18 Top 40 UK hits, their last in 2007 (although their albums still usually make the grade).

Their eighth studio album is their most heavy rock since 2004’s Meltdown, unashamedly embracing epic riffery. The best of it is an enjoyable romp.

Which is not to say that it’s all loveable. Their trademark power pop harmonies are in place, but sometimes there’s a polish to the production that recalls a poppier Bring Me The Horizon and is not appealing. Songs such as “Reward the Mind” and “Race the Night” have a US FM radio slickness that doesn’t appeal, and the slowie “Oslo”, featuring Dutch singer Démira will also be an acquired taste.

Singer Tim Wheeler lets out his self-affirmation side on “Double Dare” which opens, “Something happened the day that I was born/The midwife said there’s gonna be a storm/This one here will stand above the rest/This one will be the very best”, but he gets away with it as its a whopping power chord anthem. The same can be said of “Like a God”, possibly about sex, but again, outrageously megalomaniacal yet vivaciously largescale.

The latter song comes in for a pure guitar freak-out rehash as the album’s closer, but the biggest metal guitar indulgence, enjoyably so, are the solos at the end of “Crashed Out Wasted”. The best song, though, is the raging punk of “Braindead”, a high velocity snarl at stupid people, one that will be a cathartic release to come back to when large sections of the population make the wrong decision, affecting the future of us all. It’s the fiery highlight of an album that’s cheerfully, loudly business-as-usual.

Below: Watch the video for "Usual Places" by Ash

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