Asylum On The Hill
Passage to the Puzzle Factory


4.0
excellent

Review

by Greg Fisher STAFF
May 1st, 2011 | 125 replies | 8,719 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A totally astounding, full-fledged attempt at high-octane stoner rock.

It comes as strikingly unfair that certain high-quality records get totally unnoticed. The debut of Kentucky-based Asylum On The Hill is one of these unfortunate instances. Quietly released by Dutch independent label Suburban Records, the album just flew under the radar once it came out back in the late 2010. It's a shame since "Passage To The Puzzle Factory" is evidently one of the most frenzied, engrossing and fun heavy rock albums that have been released lately. The band is led by charismatic guitarist/singer Dave Angstrom whose resume includes such stoner rock juggernauts as Supafuzz and Hermano where he was the leading songwriter responsible for plenty of riff-fueled bonanzas.

"Passage To The Puzzle Factory" effortlessly combines the influences from the previous Angstrom's acts into one astounding hell-of-a-disc that abounds with massive, yet infectious riffs as well as truly dexterous songcraft. The musicians keep the tracks appropriately complex and multi-dimensional in order to avoid the boredom that often plagues stoner rock releases. "La Pistola" demonstrates it perfectly with its imaginative tempo and mood changes. As multi-layered and fast-paced as they may be, the songs have nearly always an anthemic vibe to them containing huge choruses sung by Angstrom with genuine passion. That's why, the album succeeds in being both highly addictive and sincere.

Aside from being an ingenious guitarist, Angstrom really excels in singing. While his lyrics may not always be particularly ambitious, he more than makes up for it delivering an impressively varied performance that consists of demented yelling, vivid chanting and baritone crooning. His vocals sound familiar, but never preposterous when he channels such vocalists as Ian Astbury, Layne Staley and even Elvis Presley. Moody "Forevermore?" with its wide-angle emotional delivery serves as an excellent exemple. The singing coexists with constantly pulsating, groovy rhythm section as well as imaginative guitar shredding which blends smooth, fuzzed-out harmonies with precise, frequently abrasive attacks. This is superbly showcased in epic "Go Tell It On The Mountain" that interestingly begins with heavily distorted guitar and punctuated drum beats only to transform into a hypnotic spoken-word verse section followed by a trademark sing-along chorus.

While most tracks follow the same effective heavy rock formula ingrained in fuzz-laden desert rock, psychedelic blues and playful rock'n'roll, there are several surprises along the way. "Some Kind Of Wonderful" is a surreal tune that seems to provide a commentary to the album's bizarre cover. Whereas, "Last Ride" featuring Danko Jones can be described as a rapid Motorhead-inspired monster of a track. Similarly to Supafuzz, the quartet has a tendency to mellow out every now and again in the second half of the disc. This results in an admittedly charming acoustic love ballad in "Stones Will Wash Away." However, there are some heavy songs in this part of the album that don't work so well. Both "Honey Bee" and "Seasons Of Hurt" are lacking in hooks of way better compositions occuring repeatedly in the superior first half. Therefore, the record comes as overlong and somewhat unfocused. These drawbacks could have been easily eradicated by a more restricted selection of songs on this extensive, over-an-hour-long album.

Even though "Passage To The Puzzle Factory" doesn't really reinvent the subgenre, it certainly keeps it alive and well. Despite a few minor missteps, Asylum On The Hill show how a killer stoner rock album should sound like displaying the precision and aplomb worthy of the most coveted artists.



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user ratings (5)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2011



7346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

La Pistola:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbK_fHgh9gc

Forevermore?:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YkI_85Le_sE

Highly recommended!

Digging: Kimbra - The Golden Echo

Piglet
May 1st 2011



4653 Comments


Goddamn I hate it when those sheep take my training wheel bicycles

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2011



7346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah. Except it's a ram.

Jethro42
May 1st 2011



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It drives too fast to be 100% sure. =P
Anyhow, great review dude. Band rawks.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2011



7346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The cover: A ram (supposedly) riding a bike.
The commentary: Some kind of wonderful (the title of the song)

Thanks a bunch mate. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on this album.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2011



7346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've just ordered a physical copy of this album. Awesome stuff!

Jethro42
May 1st 2011



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Upon reflection I find there's nothing like buying an album. Fuck the downloads for a while and let's give a break to my anti-virus.


Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2011



8321 Comments


I will try to look into this, Greg, but I've really been lacking time recently so I won't make any promises as to when exactly : )

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2011



7346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Jethro: Yeah. I know what you mean. Haha. It's worth buying albums especially to support underground
artists like this one.

@Magnus: Cool. Finally somebody willing to check it out.

Jethro42
May 1st 2011



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You're so right. It took me that bad experience to remind me all that pleasure felt in frequenting a cd store. I truly am like a child in a toy store.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2011



7346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't go to cd stores here at all because they're bloody expensive. I just prefer to order cds via the Internet. I'm gonna order the new Ironweed album among others too. So, be prepared for the next review as soon as it arrives.

Jethro42
May 1st 2011



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No purchase via internet for me. It must be that I'm an old school consumer haha. I prefer to visit all those used-cd stores and above all I use to regularly visit a place specialized in import progressive rock/metal. They also have a huge used material section. Paradise. btw Ironweed are a bit to wild to my ears. Perhaps I need some more time to sink in.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2011



7346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah. I like such places. Have one or two I sometimes visit. Still, it's virtually impossible to find a lot of interesting stuff in stores here, so purchasing via the Internet is the only way to get a record legally.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2011



7346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As for Ironweed, their new album seems to be quite different from what I've heard. It may be mellower than their previous record which is indeed really heavy. You'll definitely love this Asylum On The Hill album.

Jethro42
May 1st 2011



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah! No doubt based on what I've heard so far.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2011



7346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Perhaps this vicious ram has stolen your bicycle too. You have to find out.

Jethro42
May 1st 2011



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No worries, I don't believe in Santa Claus haha =P
This makes me think of a Jethro Tull's passage taken from the song 'We used to know';
''...Nights of winter, turn me cold
Fears of dying, getting old
We ran the race and the race was won
By running slowly...''

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2011



7346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cool quote. I agree. I have absolutely no memory to recall any of the lyrics. Coming back to the ram.
He certainly has bad reputation (look at track 2) so I wouldn't be so calm. Devil's Disco doesn't
signal anything nice either.

Jethro42
May 1st 2011



12390 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cool story bro. I can't wait for what is gonna happen to that ram and myself when I'll take it by the horns, but for now I'm into some good rock progressivo italiano. But don't worry, that ram's fairytale comes next.
As for Tull's song, it's one of my fav, a memorable one. If you want to know how 'Hotel California' was born, you got it here;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sJA_VF5c7U

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 1st 2011



7346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fairy tale may become reality. I've also checked out two albums of Supafuzz today. They're fucking
killa too!



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