Modern rock music traffics in volume and racks of amps, but there’s also an underlying melodicism that holds it all together. No matter how loud or ferocious it gets, without this specific foundation, rock music just falls flat and doesn’t hold up past the three minutes it takes to wear out its welcome. But for those bands who understand how to maneuver within this shifting rhythmic landscape, the resulting rock roar towers above anything else in view. With deep ties to both Chattanooga and Atlanta, rockers Ashes Fall carve out a dense and muscular rock noise that shakes the ground and leaves a trail of splintered instruments in its wake.
For them, rock is more than just the sum total of its amplitude and ability to shake the floor of any given stage. By piecing together bits and pieces of various influences, they’re able to create rock music that doesn’t bow to its antecedents but uses that broad musical history in service to its own needs. The guitars still thrash around like an uncoiled snake, and the drums seem capable of breaking one or more ribs. But the band bases all this musical weight on the idea that music needs a melody-driven framework to act as a proper conduit for emotion and experience. Without those things, the ideas just don’t stick in the mind.
On their new EP, “Into the Fall,” the band dives headfirst into a delirious atmosphere of lightning guitar riffs, classic rock rhythms and alt rock devastation. Opening track “Vampire” wallops you over the head with a barrage of distortion and singer Jay White’s impassioned howl. Drawing inspiration from the mid-’90s radio rock scene, the band borrows a handful of sticky-sweet choruses while adding their own unique density, the kind of charged atmosphere that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand at attention.
Other tracks such as “Fall to Pieces” and “You Deserve Better” highlight the Southern rock roots of their work. With just a touch of early Black Sabbath-esque production, they reveal just how well the band has incorporated their influences into this raucous noise. But just because they’re working within familiar waters doesn’t mean they aren’t building something that stands on its own. They carefully align their collective lineages to provide a suitable platform for these riotous sounds. There’s no half measures; the band rips through these songs in a blur, leaving little time to catch your breath or blink. There’s a visceral reaction produced inside these loud musical blurs, and Ashes Fall inhabits these smeared rhythms with a grand and unequaled intensity.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.