ASG
Blood Drive


3.7
great

Review

by Greg Fisher STAFF
May 20th, 2013 | 32 replies | 9,671 views


Release Date: 05/28/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A commendable summer album that strikes a fine balance between rock fury and accessibility.

What exactly constitutes an ideal summer album? ASG (once known as All Systems Go) is a North Carolina outfit that tries to answer this question with its fourth full length Blood Drive. A delightful cover art already evokes a laid-back summer atmosphere. The quartet follows suit, delivering an appropriately sun-drenched brand of stoner rock. They've done a grand job of integrating soothing melodies with heavy rock arrangements that place groove-laden guitar riffs at the forefront. In consequence, ASG's style closely resembles Torche's stoner pop aesthetic as it ditches the gloom in favor of a more radiant approach, yet it tends to be more meditative in tone with a notable psychedelic rock vibe that stems from spaced-out guitar leads. Producer Matt Hyde aptly enhances the hyper-melodic style of the foursome with the mix that's dense without being overbearingly heavy.

Unlike many of their peers, ASG don't opt for lengthy jams and complex song structures. Instead, Blood Drive is a streamlined collection of tunes that are ingrained in tight songcraft rather than improvisation, an approach that was especially prevalent in the 1990s. ASG actually reference such coveted acts as Stone Temple Pilots and Hum not only in the manner they structure their songs, but also Jason Shi has a strikingly similar voice timbre to some of the greatest singers of that period. The album's immediate appeal lies in the frontman's powerfully emotive cleans which elevate many of these tunes from passable to truly enticing. Shi also proves fairly versatile delivering subdued croons as well as demented screams whenever a song calls for them.

The quartet constantly oscillates between robust hard rockers and eerie psychedelic ballads, which results in a reasonably varied presentation. Most numbers don't sound overly familiar, meshing up a wide array of influences in an inspired fashion. While there are absolutely no obvious blunders on Blood Drive, the highlights are also few and far between. The track that truly stands out is “Earthwalk” which, despite its title, comes as a blissful foray into Hawkwind-esque space rock perfectly blending atmospheric guitar leads with Shi's ethereal performance. Moreover, the record reaches its peaks when it settles on such stripped-down tunes as “The Ladder” and “Blues For Bama,” both boasting memorable hooks on top of terrific, if conventional arrangements.

The foursome's uncanny knack for merging melody, groove and energy is clearly in full swing. Thus, Blood Drive makes for a perfectly enjoyable summer album that achieves a fine balance between rock fury and accessibility. While the record can get overly homogenous and safe at times, it never ceases to be a legitimately fun listen. ASG are on the cusp of striking gold in the growing realm of hook-laden heavy rock. Even though this LP may not be a complete game-changer, they are certainly on the right path to come out with one sooner rather than later.




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user ratings (44)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2013



7386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Avalanche:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oafRJH1F4Cs

Day's Work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwwde8ayt7E

The entire album is streaming here:

http://pitchfork.com/advance/117-blood-drive/


Digging: Hilltop Hoods - Walking Under Stars

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2013



7039 Comments


gimme it

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2013



6076 Comments


The two songs posted by the band before the official release were very good.

Digging: The Sabbathian - Ritual Rites

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2013



7386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Every song on here is at least good. My main gripe is that the record gets a bit samey from time to time.

henryChinaski
May 20th 2013



2747 Comments


Great band. Gonna check this out. Love their artworks.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
May 20th 2013



7039 Comments


Get this man a feature!

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2013



3394 Comments


Those two songs sound cool. Will check the whole record when it's out.

Digging: Amplifier - Mystoria

Willie
Moderator
May 20th 2013



15964 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

I'm not even really into this kind of music, but this was pretty good. The singer kind of makes this band.

Digging: Necropoli - I

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2013



7386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

I agree. This could've been much better though.

afoolonahill
May 20th 2013



106 Comments


definitely checking these guys out

Jethro42
May 20th 2013



12438 Comments


Your two links sound great. Excellent review, Greg.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2013



7386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Thank you Jethro. There are some great psychedelic jams on this one.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 20th 2013



10170 Comments


Sweet artwork on this one.

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013



7386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

You should check it out. A little bird told me it's going to stream on pitchfork soon.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
May 21st 2013



20634 Comments


This sounds like something I'd dig.

Good review, Greg.

Digging: Townes Van Zandt - Townes Van Zandt

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013



7386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Thanks.

I think the fans of Torche should dig it.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 21st 2013



7386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Here's the stream:

http://pitchfork.com/advance/117-blood-drive/

Perplexion
May 23rd 2013



127 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

mmm, this is delicious

LilLioness
May 23rd 2013



2496 Comments


So much psychedelic and sludge this year...

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
May 23rd 2013



20634 Comments


Yeah there's been loads of good psych so far this year.



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