Even though it reached its peak around a decade and a half ago, today’s breakthrough nu metal acts seem to be following a similar pattern as the genre’s progenitors. Whereas Cane Hill have decorated their canvas with shades of Korn’s twisted psyche-probing, From Ashes To New have gone to emulate early Linkin Park’s more mainstream-baiting fare. It’s a welcome contrast, but unlike Cane Hill on their debut EP last year, From Ashes To New haven’t entirely stuck the landing on Day One.
Day One suffers from a case of Debut Album Syndrome. The band have got a faint idea of what they want to achieve, but it sees From Ashes To New smashing all of their influences together and attempting to bring their sound in multiple directions at once, resulting in an album that ends up strained from its own capacity. In terms of intention more than sound, it’s comparable to what We Came As Romans aimed for on Tracing Back Roots – the expanse of Sempiternal-era Bring Me The Horizon cross-bred into Linkin Park, albeit their earlier, nu metal-centric material. But whereas We Came As Romans managed to streamline that sound enough to make it enjoyable, far too many of From Ashes To New’s attempts feel lumpen and disjointed. It’s especially true in the album’s back half, with the likes of You Only Die Once lumbering under its own colossal weight.
From Ashes To New’s main problems are found on this compositional level. The slathering of glitchy electronics present over every track are far more overpowering than they should be, and on tracks like Lost And Alone, compressing the actual guitar lines to such an extent that they feel like an afterthought. The dual vocal approach operates a bit more smoothly (except on opener Land Of Make Believe, where Chris Musser’s chorus is clearly much further back in the mix than it should be), but a lot of the time it just feels so contrived. The typical metalcore paradigm of a different vocalist for clean and unclean vocals has been repurposed here, but (as seems to be a common theme with this album) it feels unavoidably clumsy. Matt Brandyberry takes up both screaming and rapping duties, the former sounding like every metalcore vocalist ever and the latter being lifted straight from any second-tier nu metal band (alright, perhaps a bit better), but Chris Musser’s contributions are undoubtedly this album’s strongest suit. They add at least a bit of artifice into such a wide-firing shot, especially in Breaking Now which, for the blatant Linkin Park rip-off it is, at least manages to hit the mark with some accuracy.
Because, for as painfully mediocre as Day One is, there are instances where From Ashes To New tap into something good. Through It All makes good use of its weight by channeling into something that’s at least somewhat interesting with possibly the best chorus on the album, while Same Old Story is really the only moment on the album where the electronics have some purpose and don’t feel completely gratuitous. But such moments are far too seldom to really sell Day One. At its best it shows a few interesting, if as yet unrecognised ideas, and displays them in a way which could yield a decent result in the future. At its worst though, this is an album that not only apes a formula for all its worth, but bloats it by an almost egregious level. For a throwback to the days when Linkin Park were actually a nu metal band, but given somewhat of an update, this works in patches, but there’s no reason whatsoever you’d choose to listen to this over Hybrid Theory.
For fans of: Linkin Park, Dangerkids, Papa Roach
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Day One’ by From Ashes To New is out now on Better Noise / Eleven Seven.