Review Summary: With the re-emergence of Glassjaw, Coloring Book provides a reincarnation of their sound.
December 29th, 2006. Glassjaw were full-fledged into a 2006 mini-tour that had rumblings of a new album, consistent touring, and essentially every outlandish rumor that could be conceived. On the way out from Webster Hall in New York City, the only thought that stayed was ‘did that really just happen?’ What occurred was that Glassjaw played two of the heaviest tracks from their collection, both of which had yet to be released in “You Think You’re (John Fuck
ing Lennon)” and “Jesus Glue.” The tracks were monumental in stature and welcomed a new, focused direction that was a natural transition for the band. Sure, there have been plenty of heavy moments, like that in “Two Tabs of Mescaline” off Worship & Tribute
, but it barely compares to the methodical romp that the new tracks provided. Fast-forwarding to January 1st, 2011 and the same exact feeling of confusion and amazement ran awry at the Best Buy Theater. However, this time, no one knew how to react. With “Jesus Glue” and “You Think You’re (John Fuck
ing Lennon)” at least someone could comprehend how to groove to the tones and riffs that erupted within the quaint venue at the time. This time was different; no one knew what to do as blank stares encompassed the theater while some fans even left the Best Buy Theater during the premier of the new tracks. Aside from “Black Nurse,” a track that has been played live recently, every Coloring Book
track was nothing short of a complete shock. This was not Glassjaw, but something metaphorically bigger than Glassjaw.
Through the re-emergence of drummer Durijah Lang and bassist Manuel Carrero, Glassjaw have undoubtedly matured in all aspects of their songwriting. Every track on Coloring Book
is patient, enunciating what should be heard at any particular moment, such as the drum fill beginning “Miracle and Inches” or the ungodly bass tones ripping through “Vanilla Poltergeist Snake.” In fact, for Coloring Book
, guitarist Justin Beck decided to temporarily drop his recently added baritone guitar in favor of a keyboard to showcase an eerie backsplash to “Vanilla Poltergeist Snake” as Daryl Palumbo nonchalantly sings ‘no one gets out alive/no one.’ Beck is particularly instrumental in providing a ‘deceiving’ heaviness to the entire album, as Coloring Book
lacks conventional breakdowns and replaces that feeling with dense, abstract passages that have a certain groove to each. During “Black Nurse,” the already noted single, Beck has his perhaps strongest performance with a sludge metal-like tone ripping through the intro and chorus, while Palumbo sings ‘Beyond poor/ beyond ostracized/ destined to be obscured,’ a lyric that sets the tone for Coloring Book
Immediately following, “Gold,” a track that has been embedded into the Glassjaw website for the past month, provides a trudging beat with a hanging snare as Lang and Carrero enable a precedent for how to do more with less. Carrero, who is absent for the first portion of “Gold,” sets the mood for each musical transition, whether it is a fast-paced verse or ambiguity of the spacey chorus. Closing out Coloring Book
, “Stations of the New Cross” and “Daytona White” provide a beautifully bounded twist, as they stand emotionally brittle and wholesome in character. What makes “Stations of the New Cross” and “Daytona White” different than previous emotionally gripping tracks, is balance and the eccentric new flavor of how the songs are played. In fact, “Daytona White” is reminiscent of “Convectuouso” with how it carries itself so carefully only to then introduce a sonic break, as Palumbo completes “Daytona White” on a somber note, thus ending Coloring Book
Prior to Coloring Book
, there were a few recurring tags for Glassjaw, none of which are currently applicable. What Glassjaw did with six tracks is what most bands secretly hope to accomplish, and that is to abolish a genre tag. The wait for Glassjaw to release new material was arduous and not exactly the most routine procedure, but Glassjaw are not exactly a ‘play it by the books’ band. They planted seeds along with way, luring fans to various venues while others waited online at odd hours of the day checking whether they were going to release a new single. Their methods of DIY have set a new standard of captivating fans and allow the same fans to feel like they are a part of something unique. The bottom line is everything leading up to this point was a new bend in their 18-year lifespan, and the temporary result is the most challenging and demanding modification to date. What Glassjaw will do next is anyone’s guess, but the shellshock of Coloring Book
should be enough to keep fans satisfied.