Like many popular bands from the early aughts, Glassjaw is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The New York post-hard-core band cemented its legacy as one of the best acts of its genre with 2002's "Worship and Tribute." The disc was a chaotic blur, full of singer Daryl Palumbo's inimitable voice and razor sharp, war-ready guitar riffs. To this day, it's an aggressive and captivating album that has kept fans (including me) drooling.
Since that release 15 years ago, the band has been on and off hiatus. Palumbo started a basket of side projects. Members have come and gone. A few EPs have been released, but not a full-length, not something to keep fans satisfied.
Until last week.
The band finally released a proper full-length follow-up, "Material Control." It's easily the heaviest material Palumbo and guitarist Justin Beck have ever written. You no longer need to describe the band as post-hardcore. "Material Control" is a hardcore rock record, with track after track of half-time drum breaks, over-distorted guitars and guttural bass chomping at your ear drums.
In between these blasts are a few hints at what "Worship and Tribute" fans might have wanted to hear. "Bastille Day" is an instrumental track that builds on Indian rhythms. "Strange Hours" is a slow, dub-influenced ballad. The title track is built from a twisting loop taken from a live performance of "All Good Junkies Go to Heaven," from an earlier EP release.
The rest of the blaring tracks melt together. Lead single "Shira" pushes and pulls, while "Golgotha" noisily races. Palumbo's vocals and harmonies are buried underneath the rock's weight. "Material Control" isn't a pretty record, but "pretty" isn't an adjective necessarily associated with the hardcore genre.
By the time you get to the last few tracks, it all starts to blend. "Material Control" doesn't have the loud-quiet-loud dynamics or the masterful songs of "Worship and Tribute," and it will no doubt be compared to that last album.
If you're looking for nostalgia, look elsewhere. As for me, I'm excited that there is even a new Glassjaw album. Sure, it could have had this or that. But I'd rather live in a world with new Glassjaw music than without.