Glassjaw Material Control

2017 Globochem Music

Chaos theory.

Glassjaw - Material Control


It’s been a long, winding road to Glassjaw‘s third album, “Material Control“. The band’s last proper full-length, “Worship And Tribute“, arrived all the way back in 2002, and needless to say, the scene has radically changed since.

Still, it’s not as if Glassjaw ever really went away—not fully at least. There have been a handful of EP releases and singles slowly trickling out in the years in-between, and the band have remained respectably active on the road despite the sporadic nature of their recorded output.

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In fact, thanks to the latter, some of these songs may even already be old hat to diehard fans. Live performances of a number of these tracks have remained coveted amongst the most devout of Glassjaw‘s legions in recent years.

But live performances aren’t the only reason some of this outing may sound familiar. The third song on the album, “Citizen“, has origins going back at least sixteen years, when the band would perform it live as ‘Neo Tokyon‘.

That said, in a lot of ways Glassjaw seem happy to draw inspiration from their previous work in a way that “Material Control” can feel like a patchwork of the high points of their past.

While frontman Daryl Palumbo‘s lyrics have clearly matured past scathing shock value, his feverish emotion and unhinged temperament remains fully intact. Likewise, guitarist Justin Beck continues to carve out an aural canvas that serves as the abrasive coloring along the outer edges rather than the centerpiece.

Featuring studio drumming by The Dillinger Escape Plan‘s Billy Rymer, the band mow through the included tracks with a sense of relative brevity. The longest song clocks in at 4:25 and the majority ring in at under 3 minutes.

Rymer‘s authoritative and lively playing style greatly lends power and grace and the band wholly remain driven by the rhythm section. As we’ve seen on previous output from Glassjaw, the glaring, gnarled tones and tenacious approach of the bass remains crucial and routinely takes on a primary role.

But while the band remain faithful to their established aesthetic, the material itself is a fairly adventurous experience. “Pompeii” and “New White Extremity” effortlessly capture the trailblazing post hardcore grit that put Glassjaw on the map with churning distortion and ample amounts of Palumbo‘s pained screams and yelps.

Then there are tracks such as “Strange Hours” that take the same deep dive into dub territory that made 2011’s “Coloring Book” such a unique experience. Further broadening the palette, the instrumental interlude “Bastille Day” finds the group indulging in little more than some tribal drumming. Then there’s the title track “Material Control“—another brief instrumental interlude that sounds like a Battles b-side.

It’s interesting that “Material Control” as a whole feels like a creative renewal for the band, even if it remains comfortably tethered to their past. Some elements do feel cannibalized from their own catalog, but rarely do they come off like a retread. Instead it sounds more like a few select riffs and ideas that were laying around were dusted off and pulled out of storage.

Yes, some aspects may ignite a spark of nostalgia here and there, but the complicated songwriting employed remains very much the Glassjaw of now. Above all “Material Control” remains tightly guarded and shifts focus rapidly, barreling through unexpected twists and turns of melodic warmth and aggressive reprisal. It’s almost guaranteed to be a blur your first time through.

Multiple listens are wholly necessary to begin to mentally untangle it all. Still, for every puzzling part change and blatantly sharp edge, the persistent glow of an authentic emotional catharsis shines bright. Not every song feels integral, but there are moments intriguing enough to keep fans coming back for more.

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