Florida’s Torche may be the band most often slapped with the tag `doom pop,’ though they’re certainly not alone in their shared love for heavy-as-fuck riffs and catchy melodies better fit for summer fun than a night in the abyss. Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina band ASG, whose name stands for (ahem) `Amplification of Self-Gratification,’ similarly get their kicks in jackhammer guitars and maximally accessible, soaring choruses. As a fan of both sides of this ass-kicking equation, I can say this heavy metal peanut butter & chocolate mixture can almost never go wrong.
If you want to split hairs, ASG probably wouldn’t be dubbed `metal’ by most hardcore metalheads out there, and `stoner rock’ just seems like an outdated critic’s holdover from the ’90s (though, I’m pretty sure Fu Manchu’s putting out records, so no need to dispose of it just yet). Metal is definitely part of what they do, however. “Right Death Before” kicks off the album with an explosion of chugging C-sharp tuning and harmonics, while vocalist Jason Shi belts out a surprisingly melodic lead, emphasizing the pop aspect of the group’s sound with his mighty pipes. He descends to a growl in “Dream Song,” but it’s only a passing shout, soon giving way to an epic vocal harmonization. “Low End Insight” sounds like a theorem on Sabbath riffs, but really turns out to be another swaggering, kickass track full of fancy fretwork and Shi’s agile vocals.
It’s not as if this marriage of hooks and volume is really all that new of a concept. After all, were ASG to emerge in the ’90s, they undoubtedly would have been called `grunge.’ And, given that revisionist history has shown one can still look back upon Soundgarden and Pavement with nostalgic wonder, that’s not such a bad thing. ASG’s all about a good time—a really loud good time—and on Win Us Over, you can expect to get exactly that.
Torche – Torche
The Sword – Age of Winters
Queens of the Stone Age – Songs For the Deaf
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.