Since the release of their last LP ”A Fleeting Melody out of a Fading Dream” Sacramanto 3 piece Ashes Fallen have been going from strength to strength with their take on the Gothic Rock sound. Unlike the UK our Gothic cousins across the pond have a broader view. Many of our UK & European counterparts often stick to the Trad Goth or Post-Punk sounds of OG bands like the Sisters, The Nephilim or Bauhaus. Nowt wrong with that mind. Perhaps it’s just the sunshine vs the rain but Ashes Fallen’s flavour of Gothic Rock has an unmistakably lighter American vibrancy to it. Faster paced, a bit more fun & tongue in cheek at times with a Cramps cum vintage horror vibe to it. As a sound? In one word Ashes Fallen are what I would describe as “Shitkickin’. A lot of Trad Goth Rock makes you want to stay in, turn the lights off, close the curtains, light a patchouli joss stick & withdraw while you listen & relate. Again, all good but Ashes Fallen makes you (well me anyway) want to Rock out, dance, be at a party or live show or in this case maybe start a riot. A more vibrant sound evokes a more vibrant response. Ashes Fallen have taken the best of the old & mixed it with their own unique new. They’ve reanimated it & given it new life. It’s Alive! Alive! I tell ya!
Musically, latest single “New Normal” is a perfect example of this, released last Friday. It’s a fast paced “shitkicking” bass & guitar heavy monster with their usual spooky vibe. Kicking off with a sweet toned chuggy bass groove that hooks you straight away, James then reels you in further like some magical prestidigitator carrying out spectacular feats of legerdemain on the guitar. Perfectly mixed & gorgeously subtle vocal harmonies, tease & tingle the spine making the hairs on your arm rise in waves of goosebumps to the beat. it’s 3 minutes 27 of sheer Gothic gorgeousness orchestrated to perfection.
Recorded & mixed by James & mastered by the dark scene King Midas of sound himself…Gordon Young, it’s a masterclass in sound. But what really stands out here is the lyrical content. Several previous tracks have also had a social commentary message to them but “New Normal” is a scathing & sardonic reflection of our supposed “New Normal” & it resonates all the more deeply for it or at least it does for me.
“Positive Punk” as our sound was dubbed in its earliest incarnations was named so in an attempt to move away from the anger & political nature of Punk, to have a broader canvas to paint on, to be more artistic, more romantic, more literate. To be able to express more than just one emotion. But I’ve said it before & I’m going to say it again. Singing about graveyards, ghouls & gothic literature is one thing; yes it’s an integral part of our scene & yes I still want to hear songs about vampires, the esoteric dark & the romance of it all… which Ashes Fallen also do extremely well… but I’m also (still) really fucking angry at the state of the world & so should you be. I want to hear more music that reflects that, music that is socially & politically aware.
“New Normal” is exactly that. From the name of the song itself to opening lines “Work more, earn less, Pay more, get less” to the line that really resonates with me – when James sardonically asks – “It is what it is? Right? It is what it is. Right? – a simple enough refrain yet it mirrors the exact language of the apathetic masses to the corporate steamroller, even as it rolls over their sand covered heads. “Oh well never mind, it is what it is. Right? No, it is not what it is! When faced with no sugar for your tea in the morning or the rain coming on just as you light the bbq then yeah, that kind of thinking is healthy. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Right? When you’re talking about what should be a fictional dystopian future becoming reality before our very eyes. When you’re talking about the corruption & greed in corporate & governmental systems that operate with a seeming free hand, it is very much not what it fucking is? Right? And it most definitely shouldn’t be “Normal” new or otherwise.
Great art should always hold a no holds barred mirror up to reality, reflecting all of it’s shit along with our anger & exasperation at said shit. Ashes Fallen & “New Normal” takes exactly that angle of thought, marrying the unique sound you’d expect of both Goth & Ashes Fallen as a band & reflecting it in an astutely aware & intelligently lyricised anger. “It is what it is? Right It is what it is right?
I cant tell you what “it” is but I can tell you where it’s at….it’s right here. New Normal | Ashes Fallen (bandcamp.com)