This record has been waiting in the wings for a stateside release for quite some time. Released in the early summer of last year in England, Meltdown is the latest from Irish rock band Ash. Since so much time has elapsed between the UK and US release dates, much has already been written about the album already. The story is that Ash’s original US label went belly-up and they had to shop around for a secondary distributor which they found in Record Collection. Now Tim Wheeler and his band have a label in America through which to release their `American’ album. Ironic.
Wheeler and Ash really wanted, with Meltdown, to create an American sounding album, crisp and polished, rocking and alive. So where do you go to get that kind of sound? Well, to the clear skies and honesty of Los Angeles, of course! What the band ended up with is one of the best blends of pop and metal ever put on CD. This isn’t the grunge metal or rap metal that your local skate punk is listening to, this is Coldplay meets the Foo Fighters, Keane meets Def Leppard. Sound antithetical? Don’t let that fool you, Ash has corrected its doubters before and is sure to again. There is a huge divide between Top 40 and Independent radio fare in America today, and Ash could be the George Mitchell to unite them. (Go ahead, google it).
Each song, except for the slower ballads, seem to start with crunching guitars that make you think the band has truly lost it and joined a biker gang, but then poppy choruses come in and save the day. For instance the über-happy chorus from “Orpheus”: “I need the sunshine in the morning / I’m heading for the open road / Sunshine in the morning / Lord you gotta let it go.” Not exactly “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”, but then again, it couldn’t or shouldn’t be.
One of the more rocking tracks, “Clones,” is due to be the theme song of the next LucasArts video game, Star Wars: Republic Commando. For a band that named one of their albums after the year that the first (fourth) movie was released, it must be a dream come true. Ash has had much success in the UK with hit singles and platinum albums while in America the band still remains a cult status entity. With Meltdown in Record Collection’s hands, that might all change. Tim Wheeler’s adept songwriting, along with Rick McMurray’s kickass drumming, Mark Hamilton’s bass, and that dreamy Charlotte Hatherley’s wailing guitars will someday be appreciated much more in this country. Besides, how `tongue-in-cheek’ funny is that album cover? I hope they all got tattoos of that.
Foo Fighters- The Colour and the Shape
Def Leppard- Pyromania