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Ash - Meltdown


Review: Jack Foley

ASH opt to crank things up a notch, with their fifth studio album, Meltdown, which, quite literally, sets out to blow the speakers in old-school, rock 'n' roll style.

As lead single, Orpheus, suggests, Tim Wheeler and co appear to have dispensed with the more refined style of songwriting that made Free All Angels such a success, in favour of going back to their roots and blasting things out.

Orpheus, with its gritty guitar solos, and unashamedly feel-good 'sunshine in the morning' chorus, is perfect just to thrash about to, air-guitar in hand, while screaming along in giddy delight - and the rest of the album is pretty similar.

The title track, which opens the album and precedes Orpheus, is another out-and-out rock anthem, featuring lyrics such as 'I think my head is going to explode, I think my brain is going to overload' and which, if played loud enough, may just do that.

While Evil Eye, with its hard drums and metal-edged guitars, prove that Ash have captured the power-pop routine almost perfectly.

There are times when the album becomes a little too heavy for its own good, as in the Metallica-laced Clones, and which leave it open to suggestions that they have sold out, but, for most of the rest of the time, this is an eyebrow raising affair, that screams quality (literally).

Some of Charlotte Hatherley's excellent guitar-work owes a lot, in style, to the Smashing Pumpkins, in their heyday, while Rick McMurray's drums are as powerful as they have ever been - even during earlier efforts, such as Burn Baby Burn.

Wheeler, too, seems to have found a slightly grittier edge to his vocals, even if they fail to do justice to some of the harder guitar-anthems, keeping them firmly rooted in power-pop territory, rather than proper metal.

And for anyone who may lament the absence of slower stuff, such as There's a Star and Shining Light, from Free All Angels, then tracks such as Starcrosse'd prove that the band still knows how to deliver a power-ballad when it wants to.

That track, in particular, is a highlight of the album, and one which looks tailor-made to become a huge future single.

As is the slow-building Renegade Cavalcade and the sublimely feel-good, Won't Be Saved.

Final track, Vampire Love, brings the album to a suitable rousing conclusion, making this a breathless rock extravanganza, that should ensure Ash enjoy a deservedly successful return to the limelight.

It's an album that's well worth sinking your teeth into.

Track listing:
1. Meltdown
2. Orpheus
3. Evil Eye
4. Clones
5. Starcross'd
6. Out of the Blue
7. Renegade Cavalcade
8. Detonator
9. On A Wave
10. Won't Be Saved
11. Vampire Love

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