April 20, 2018 From Ashes To New – The Future (Album Review)
After taking time to tackle all the obstacles life decided to throw at them after their debut album, Lancaster, Pennsylvania Rock Rap fusion outfit From Ashes To New are back with their sophomore release, the aptly named The Future on Friday, April 20, 2018 through Better Noise Records. Following up their 2016 debut LP Day One, the guys are coming back around with their eyes on the prize and ready to bring a fresh perspective and passion to 2018 and The Future.
For those who do not know, From Ashes To New consists of Matt Brandyberry (vocals/guitar/keys), Danny Case (vocals), Lance Dowdle (guitar), along with Mat Madiro (drums). A very personal album, The Future was written in Brandyberry’s home studio and recorded at Atrium Audio. How does The Future show their progression from Day One? Well, with new experiences, new beats, brazen tenacity, and production support from an all-star team that has worked with bands like Korn, Papa Roach, and August Burns Red, The Future looks (and sounds) pretty bright.
The opening track, “Wake Up” actually feels like waking up with its dusky beginnings before it jumps into the more intense chords that alert the senses and jump with a syncopated beat. The chorus has a dreamy esthetic to it with its smooth chord transitions and affected vocals. This song is like an alarm clock, stirring you from your complacency and yet coaxing you into the rest of album.
Up next is the album’s lead single, “Crazy,” has a very vintage feeling to it that hearkens back to the early 2000s nu-metal scene mixed with a bit of the emo movement at the time. While it may not be for everyone, there is a nostalgia here that is sweet and welcoming like an old friend. The Brandyberry and Case play off each other with ease here and deliver a performance similar to other popular fusion bands of the time that could act as a foot in the door to a new realm of fans. Then “My Name” has a beautiful orchestration that is reminiscent of Papa Roach via 2004 album Getting Away With Murder where the layers of sound and the vocal affectation are coordinated so well that the song both punches and engages. It is determined and stubborn, but also optimistic and heartening.
Thereafter “Broken” has an infectious energy that is bouncy and accentuates elements of EDM. Despite its more serious lyrical content, it sweeps like a rave- all sugar and neon smiles. “Forgotten” follows with its somber and hollow dirge of being left behind in memory. The keys on this song give it levity while the base beats keep it from getting too deep or dark. There is evidence of the trials the band endured on this record both in the lyrical content as well as the composition. Many of the songs ring of suffering or struggle with the intensity of the lyrics and the syncopation of the beats.
“Let Go” is another somber tune that carries its heft with ease and the implications of learning to move on from difficult relationship ring clear. Lyrically, it hits directly on the desperation and fear in learning to give up the familiar and comfortable, no matter how complicated and uncomfortable it gets. There is a sad truth in that message that will strike a chord with anyone who has faced a similar situation or does currently. It is followed immediately by the uplifting and empowering “On My Own” which springs to life with a guitar-and- percussion heavy rollick of self-empowerment and bravery. This song completes the journey began on “Let Go” where the subject has transitioned from depression and denial and moved on to determination and confidence.
Wrapping things up is the title track “The Future,” and it begins with intense rhymes from Brandyberry with minimal instrumentation that helps emphasize the intensity of his words. The beats on this track are mild in their presence, but impactful and add a lot of depth to the track. The song rings true with the message of the future being unstoppable and coming for all everyone, ready or not. Every day is another step and the future is now.
A listener can tell a lot about a band both by what they include in an album and what they exclude and From Ashes To New is no exception. While there is plenty to hear on The Future, it is the moments and the options they choose not to explore that are very telling. It would be easy for them to fall into the trap of overproducing, becoming Rap heavy, or getting careless and lazy in their synth usage, but they tow the line. Although wildly different bands, there is a sense of the soul of Linkin Park’s 2003 album Meteora here in the direction, choices, and fusion elements.
With The Future, From Ashes To New are attempting to live up their name of building from adversity into something new and improved. While there were a few weaker points on The Future that do not hold up as well for the overall flow of the record, the passion, and the fire is there. So, for tenacity, passion, and perseverance, CrypticRock gives The Future 4 out of 5 stars.