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Glassjaw Material Control

Glassjaw - Material Control
01. New White Extremity
02. Shira
03. 11 Days
04. Golgotha
05. Pretty Hell
06. Bastille Day
07. Pompeii
08. Bibleland
09. Closer
10. My Conscience Weighs A Ton
11. Material Control
12. Cut And Run
2017 self-released


Reviewed by: Colin   //   Published: 12/17/2017

When Glassjaw burst onto the scene in 2000 with their debut full-length, Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence, the band walked a fine line of hardcore and emo. Led by vocalist Daryl Palumbo's intense screams and oddly accentuated singing, the record fluctuated between razor sharp aggression and delicate melody; fits of rage turned into tender singing and back again. It was on their 2002 follow-up Worship And Tribute that the group's songwriting matured into a more fluid blend of the contradicting sounds, utilizing Palumbo's penchant for catchy melodies and guitar player Justin Beck's noisy, effect-laden riffs to achieve a fuller, more realized sound.

Although Glassjaw would regularly hint at work-in-progress on their third album, the group wouldn't be heard from again for the next nine years when in 2011 they released a pair of EPs, the first of which, Our Color Green, would contain some of their strongest material to date. Tracks like "All Good Junkies Go To Heaven" and "You Think You're (John Fucking Lennon)" further blurred the lines between the heavy and the mellow, the hooks and the noisy chaos complementing rather than contrasting each other. But with the short run time of the EPs, Glassjaw wasn't able to capture the same ebb and flow motion that had made their full-length albums so endearing.

Unfortunately, that isn't to be found on Material Control either. The band picks up sonically right where they left off six years ago. Punchy, overdriven bass lines fuel the groove to Beck and Palumbo's signature stylings, but most of the material presented sounds like fragments of songs and unfinished ideas mashed together. The record never achieves cohesiveness, neither in nor amongst its songs.

Opener "New White Extremity," one of the strongest of the batch, finds new band members Bill Rymer of Dillinger Escape Plan, and Travis Sykes anchoring chaotic, clamorous riffs on drums and bass, respectively. Sykes plays complex, bouncy lines that lend direction to the sometimes seemingly compass-less bouts of noise, carving out room for Palumbo's wails and moans.

But throughout most of Material Control, the vocalist struggles to find that space. With an often overbearing, claustrophobic production showcasing Beck's turbulent, in your face playing, Palumbo is rendered hook-less and buried beneath the wall of sound. He tries to overcome this in "Shira" and "My Conscious Weighs A Ton" with the addition of backing "ooh's" that sound out of place amongst the rawness of the album. The vocalist is again lost in "Citizen," a track that sounds like every member of the band is playing a different song, with Palumbo wrestling to tie it all together.

"Strange Hours," another highlight, with its dreamy spaciness, is taken right out of the post-2005 Deftones playbook. The pulsing bass line and twangy chords hang back enough to let Palumbo finally stretch out his vocals a bit. However, unlike a similar Glassjaw track like "Must've Run All Day" (off Worship And Tribute), it meanders through its four minutes searching for a next part that never comes.

It's when Glassjaw is at their loudest that they are also at their most forgettable on Material Control. "Pompeii" sounds like the perfect lead up to a missing ending piece, while "Golgotha" jumps between patched together riffs, uncomfortably shifting around half-baked ideas. The guitars trudge through a cacophonous mess, never quite settling into the strength exhibited by Glassjaw's heavier past.

At this point in their career, Glassjaw is essentially Beck and Palumbo's band with rotating members filling in as needed. With neither of the key songwriters working at their best, they are left sounding like a watered down version of their past selves.

Bottom Line: Material Control isn't a bad record; there are moments are reminiscent of what made Glassjaw great in the early 2000's and the individual performances by the musicians are top tier. However, for most of its duration, the band seems lost and unfocused. The songs on Material Control just don't stand up to the expectations Glassjaw has set.

anonymous   posted 3 days ago
saw them with the used, they sounded like fart
anonymous   posted 12 days ago
"jumps between patched together riffs, uncomfortably shifting around half-baked ideas. The guitars trudge through a cacophonous mess, never quite settling "

LOL this describes how I've always felt about Glassjaw.
anonymous   posted 15 days ago
I love when people write music reviews, yet they lack the ability to listen.
anonymous   posted 19 days ago
I'm not much of a fan of this record either. But come on dude did you actually listen. Your critique of "citizen" is laughable.
anonymous   posted 19 days ago
this is a joke of a review, this site cannot be taken seriously for any music reviews, shocked that was allowed to be posted

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