July 27, 2021 From Ashes To New – Quarantine Chronicles Vol I (EP Review)
While some of us were sitting on the sofa in our sweats maligning the loss of all things social (except distance), Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s From Ashes To New released an LP—2020’s Panic—and recently they also offered fans a digital EP, the Quarantine Chronicles Vol I, which arrived on June 25, 2021 thanks to Better Noise Music.
Let’s just be honest: it’s no easy feat to play any form of Rock in Lancaster. You’re contending with an abundance of Country music fans and, worse yet, located square in the middle of the Grammy Award nominated August Burns Red’s turf. Not to mention, Grammy Award winning Halestorm hail from 30 minutes south, while Breaking Benjamin and Motionless In White are just two hours north. So if you want to get noticed in Central Pennsylvania, you have to go big as you exit the start gate!
The current line-up of From Ashes To New—Vocalist Danny Case (clean and unclean vocals), Matt Brandyberry (rapping, keyboards, guitar), Lance Dowdle (guitar, bass), and Mat Madiro (drums, percussion)—seem to understand this fact well. From the band’s inception in 2013, they have progressively honed their skills while consistently delivering new music. With a pair of EPs preceding their 2016 full-length debut, Day One, as well as the addition of 2018’s The Future and the aforementioned Panic, they have established themselves as one of the brightest new faces in Rock-n-Roll today.
So what is a touring band to do when the world is forced to stand still? Exploring their options for 2021, the quartet opted to cull together a new EP, the Quarantine Chronicles Vol I, which is projected to be the first in a trilogy of releases arriving this year. Combining the old with the new, and injecting a special guest feature into the mix, they created the 5-song collection to represent “the darkness and hope [they] found in the solitude of the past year.”
First, they deliver a new song, “Enough.” Crunchy guitars lead the group into a track that draws a heavy Linkin Park influence, but they make the sound their own as Case channels his inner Chester Bennington and Brandyberry steps into the role of Mike Shinoda; it’s Hybrid Theory meets Meteora but done in the style of Panic. It is also the perfect lead into From Ashes To New’s cover of “Faint,” which they knock out of the park, doing their forebears proud.
To follow this, they enlist their friend and former tour buddy Johnny 3 Tears of Hollywood Undead to add a guest feature to “Bulletproof,” a song that originally appeared on, you guessed it, Panic. Its powerful choruses will beg you to sing along, even if you’re new to the world of From Ashes To New. And once your pipes are primed, might as well keep providing the backing melodies when the band embraces their inner Amy Lee for a cover of Evanescence’s 2003 mega-hit “Bring Me To Life.”
At this point, what the future will bring, none of us know. But The Future gives us the entrancing synths of “Forgotten,” a great track if you’re new to the band and need enticement. Then, unfortunately, it all comes to a close, leaving listeners to ponder if they should categorize From Ashes To New as the Nu Wave of Nu Metal, Rap/Rock, Alt Metal, or just a solid band. Considering Case vacillates between Bennington highs (“Enough”) and Spencer Charnas deviance (“Bring Me To Life”), we vote that you place them somewhere beside the diverse likes of Escape The Fate, Charnas’ Ice Nine Kills, or Papa Roach—and don’t worry about the specifics!
Clearly there is nothing subpar about the Quarantine Chronicles Vol I. However, it is a bit odd that the band would cull together two covers and one brand new track with two older songs that their fans are already well-acquainted with. No judgement, but other bands used their down time to create genius conceptual masterpieces (Lord of the Lost, ahem), so recycled, mostly old material feels a bit underwhelming. But the EP is intended to be only one in a triptych of releases spanning across this summer, so, presumably, we just have to be patient for what comes next.
In fewer words: as an entrée, the Quarantine Chronicles Vol I is decidedly lacking in protein, but as an amuse-bouche, the EP is perfect. For this, Cryptic Rock gives the Quarantine Chronicles Vol I 3.5 of 5 stars. (If you’ve never heard the band before, add .5 stars.)