It was the mid to late 90’s when commercial rock radio stations started to really drop the ball. As stoner rock started to explode out of the metal underground led by bands like Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Nebula, commercial radio, save for the very few brave enough, largely ignored some seriously awesome rock n’ roll. They’ve been largely ignoring great stoner rock bands ever since. Instead they have been settling for peddling the kind of lobotomy-inducing generi-rock that now infests the airwaves like an auditory STD. But if commercial radio, in the States especially, had any balls at all, even the tiniest of baby nads they’d start paying attention to bands like North Carolina’s ASG.
Now signed to the mighty Relapse and armed with their fourth full-length record, Blood Drive, ASG is a band that has the potential to steal away fans from the likes of Mastodon and Baroness. ASG play the kind of dirty, Southern metal that’s seen them right at home on recent tours with the likes of C.O.C. and Royal Thunder. It’s a similar riffs-first approach that all the greats of the stoner rock genre have undertaken. However, for as good and nasty as those riffs are the rest of the outfit explodes like a supernova – brilliantly bright and white hot. Frontman Jason Shi is just that. A goddamned rock n’ roll frontman of the highest order with the pipes to match.
Now, if that opening paragraph may have you thinking that this band is accessible to every ding-dong who’s favorite “record store” is Wal-Mart, guess again. ASG are a metal band first and foremost (as all good stoner rock bands are and should be) and raging tracks like “Scrappy’s Trip” and “Castlestorm” will annihilate any doubts otherwise. They may rock and groove enough to win over fans of heavier mainstream tastes but don’t expect to see them on The Voice anytime soon. Although if they did, they could probably teach those Poseurs and Falses a thing or two about how rocking out is done properly. Simply put if you can appreciate good, heavy, Sabbath-inspired rock then this may be one of your favorite albums of the year.
Blood Drive is due out on Relapse on May 28.
I’m convinced timing is everything. For example if the band Realm had but out their classic Endless War album three years earlier when speed metal was still fresh and young I honestly believe we’d be talking about them as one of the genre’s greats. Instead they are all but forgotten. That’s a shame because this album, released on Roadrunner in 1988 is pretty fantastic. Unfortunately the metal world was shifting and it was not an upward trend for a band like Realm. I highly recommend you visit this band ad their killer take on speed metal, including a speed metal rendition of The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby”. (Sounds ridiculous but it’s killer!)