Following a huge blow to the band back in April 2019, off the back of two support shows for BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE and leaving the band with only three remaining members, the recently resurrected Liverpudlian rock band ASHEN REACH are ready to kick the door down with their highly anticipated debut album, Homecoming.
This is an album that very much revolves around making a statement and tackling a variety of different and sometimes difficult subjects. Certain tracks focus more on sending an uplifting message, whereas some tracks explore dark themes such as mental health, domestic abuse and stalking.
The record kicks off with the track Fighting For My Life, a very strong opener in my opinion. There is something satisfying about being welcomed into an album with a headbanging drum beat and meaty guitar riff, I was instantly impressed. The opening lyrics, “I’m a slave to my own mind, looking out for something I won’t find” will instantly resonate with a huge number of people and it gives a great indication of what story this album is going to tell.
The band’s latest single Epiphany follows, featuring some interesting guitar work and a solid catchy drumbeat. This track shows a gentler side to ASHEN REACH in comparison to the opening track. It ends with some amazing fret work and melodic vocals.
The third track Tear It Down begins with a heavily distorted intro followed by more pure headbanging meaty guitar riffs and drumbeats. The track swiftly changes pace drastically displaying fantastic vocal work. The heavy chorus perfectly separates the verses here. An early contender for my favourite track on the album.
The record continues with Heir To The Throne. A massively groovy intro to this track had me grinning instantly. The guitar riff stands out prominently and is present throughout the entirety of the song.
At this point, the musical style is switched to more of a folk-metal sound for the opening minute of Alive Again and the slower paced Prey follows. Both good additions but neither tracks overly standout to me at this point of the album.
Time to rest your eyes as the short but sweet instrumental Ether plays. A welcomed break to refresh and gather my thoughts for the final segment of the album. This instrumental is a treat to the ears that smoothly flows into the melodic opening to the records emotional anthem of a track, Here I Go, before the continual switching between heavier and gentler sounds which is something to be admired on the song Hole In The Sky.
I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but there was something extremely familiar about the intro to the penultimate track Broken Column. I snapped out of it as soon as the vocals kicked in. The screaming on this track is arguably my favourite piece of vocal work on the entire album.
The record finished with the title track; which is a good track with versus reminiscent of THIRTY SECONDS TO MARS’ The Kill but left me feeling a little underwhelmed. Being the longest track on the whole album by a considerable amount, coming in at just under nine minutes, I was hoping for it to pack more of a punch. A great song nonetheless but I felt it could’ve been a bit shorter and snappier to hit harder.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this album. A small percentage of the eleven tracks left me feeling a bit uninspired but the majority had me headbanging along!
Never having had the pleasure of experiencing ASHEN REACH previously, I can’t say I was anticipating this album, but I will now definitely be anticipating a follow up album!
Words: Jack Andrews
Homecoming is out now.
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