Static Tension – Ashes To Animation
Buried By Sky Records
Release Date: 11/01/2019
Running Time: 56:19
Review by Stephen Moss
Static Tension’s debut, full-length, album “Ashes To Animation has been a frustrating album to review. I have listened to it so many times, at different times of the day and night, over the last week in the hope that repeated plays would make it grow on me and so that I could be honest and fair but no matter how many times I have listened I’ve still found myself feeling just as frustrated as the first time I pressed play!
Here are the good points!
Firstly, the music itself is amazing, Greg Blachman’s guitars are great and some of the solos will blow you away.
I play drums, so I find myself paying a lot of attention to them in music. Tom Sager is highly talented; he is not overly repetitive and does a fantastic job in building suspense and emotion!
The bass doesn’t seem like just a background instrument. For example in the track ‘Bury My Body’ the music has an intense climax and the bass is front and centre, loudly kicking you in the teeth.
If “Ashes To Animation” was an instrumental album then I would absolutely love it, however, it isn’t and that’s where my issues come into play!
Here are the not so good points!
There were two glaring issues and I’ll start with the lesser of them.
Opening track ‘Kindling’ is an awfully poor way to start an album. The first track should set the mood for an album, but this song should be hidden away in the middle or end of the album. As a stand-alone track it’s okay. It’s a melodic, repetitive kind of song but I just zone out to it. It doesn’t make me want to keep listening; it makes want to take melatonin and sleep.
Alice In Chains seem to be one of Static Tension’s biggest influences and they know how to start an album. Compare ‘Kindling’ to the AIC track ‘Them Bones’ which kicks off the “Dirt” album and you’ll see that Static Tension have completely missed the mark! In my opinion the aforementioned ‘Bury My Body’ should kick things off but that track also highlights my other issue with the band – they lack PASSION in the vocals!
There isn’t any raw emotion in the lyrics. The entire time I’m listening to “Ashes To Animation” I get the overwhelming feeling that I’m listening to an Alice In Chains cover band. They put so much effort in trying to sound like other bands rather than create their own identity that they come across as fake, forced, shallow and ultimately fluff rock!
With a couple of exceptions on the tracks ‘No Return’ and ‘Got To Give, which sound real, believable and heart-felt. vocalist Rob Rom sounds monotone and unfeeling. His delivery rarely matches the intensity of the music and he just doesn’t sound real or believable!
‘Serpentine’ sees Static Tension trying to sound like Tool, specifically their song ‘Schism’. Musically they have done a phenomenal job but, yet again, the vocals are the weak link, failing to match the suspense of the music and, ultimately, you just end up feeling let down and ‘Blank Silhouette’ sounds like the band Days Of The New have hired AIC’s Layne Staley to sing with them!
When I say that the vocals lack passion or emotion, I don’t mean from power or indeed yelling. Even the quietist of acoustic tracks can have huge passion and feeling but most of the vocal delivery on this album feels entirely disconnected.
The best way I can describe it is to reflect on what happened to the band Flyleaf. Their original vocalist Lacey Strum had been through some dark times and wrote deeply personal songs that she delivered with huge emotion, desperation and anger. When she left the band she was replaced by Kristen May and Flyleaf were never the same again because, although she was a good singer, she could never deliver the songs with the same passion!
Static Tension certainly have all the tools musically but it’s a real shame that the vocal delivery feels so forced and that they desperately seem to be trying to sound like their heroes rather than forge their own path. I really wanted to connect with this but I have come away feeling rather disappointed!
02. Bury My Body
03. No Return
04. In Spite
06. Got To Give
08. Blank Silhouette
09. Where’s The Air
10. Bloody Shadow
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