Glassjaw‘s first proper full-length since 2002’s critically-heralded Worship and Tribute proves to be some of the band’s most aggressive and most adventurous material to date.
Although they’ve been sporadically active since the release of Worship and Tribute, New York’s Glassjaw have nonetheless made a lasting impact on the post-hardcore scene, continually inspiring legions of young bands to this day. As such, any output from the band, no matter how small, is generally met with great enthusiasm. This is of course the case with the band’s long-awaited third full-length album, Material Control. Since the release of the Our Color Green and Coloring Book EPs in 2011, and especially since the release of the “New White Extremity” single in 2015 and subsequent performances of new songs at recent tours, anticipation for this record has been growing for quite some time. Now that it is finally here, it is safe to say that it delivers what longtime fans want and more.
As previously-stated, Material Control is perhaps the band’s most aggressive work to date. The instrumentation is dense, bass-heavy and noisy in the best ways it can be, with metallic bass riffs colliding head-on with jagged guitar riffs in venomous, post-hardcore matrimony. The songs themselves are an interesting amalgam of various eras in the band’s career. The freneticism present on Our Color Green makes an appearance yet again and melds with the moody tones of Coloring Book and even channels the early rage of Everything You Wanted to Know About Silence at times, creating songs that are both anthemic and visceral. Daryl Palumbo’s vocals are at the forefront of this chaos, crooning, wailing and screaming with as much anguish and passion as he always has, perhaps even more so.
“New White Extremity” kicks the album off to a furious, cacophonous start with all its angular guitar work and abrasive rhythms. The instrumentation is awash with a menagerie of wailing, distorted effects that give each riff and screeching lick an added earsplitting edge. Palumbo’s staggering range is probably best represented in this monstrous track, as he yells with insurmountable ire and unleashes triumphant, earworm refrains on the drop of a dime.
The high octane devastation continues in tracks like “Citizen”, which was previously known as “Neo-Tokyon” way back when. The track is rife with off-kilter, dissonance riffs that are propelled by punishing rhythms and hardcore beatdowns. The more straightforward hardcore side of Glassjaw‘s music is even further fleshed on in songs like “Cut and Run”, which closes out the record with a barrage of hammering, metallic riffs that will have even the most languid of persons flailing wildly in the pit.
Material Control begins to get more interesting during cuts like “Shira” and “Pompeii”, to name a few. “Shira” opens with lurching, muscular bass lines that rumble menacingly beneath Justin Beck’s piercing, atonal guitar madness. The song switches to palm-muted, chugging riffs during the versus and transforms yet again into shimmering, atmospheric choruses characterized by layered, kaleidoscopic guitar work and Palumbo’s cathartic melodies. “Pompeii” shows the band opting for a bit more volatility and peculiarity. The track is full of dynamic, unpredictable shifts that take the song from walls of dissonant noise, to bass-driven crawls to bouts of bouncing, disjointed riffs in a matter of moments.
Other standout moments on the record include the minimal “Strange Hours”, which features the calmest moments on the entire record as well as the most soothing. “My Conscience Weighs a Ton” is also worth noting for its speedy, pop-laden delivery that harks back to the Worship and Tribute glory days.
Although Material Control is indeed a beast of a record through and through, there are two instrumental interludes on the record, “Bastille Day” and “Material Control”, that don’t really add much to the record and seem like an afterthought. “Bastille Day” is comprised of various percussion that hammer out an almost tribal-like beat for over two-minutes, while “Material Control” plods along with a simple drum pattern as glitches of the main riff from “All Good Junkies Go to Heaven” from Our Color Green cut in-and-out. There’s not much that stands out about these two compositions, they are just kind of there.
Overall, Material Control is Glassjaw‘s most unique sound, most uniquely constructed record in their nearly 25-year existence. This album just reaffirms the band’s place as one of post-hardcore’s most forward-thinking acts and gives longtime fans something to rave about.
Release Date: December 1, 2017
Label: Century Media
Favorite Tracks: “New White Extremity”, “Shira”, “Citizen”, “Strange Hours” and “My Conscience Weighs a Ton”