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REVIEW: “Material Control” by Glassjaw

REVIEW:

By ELI JACE >

All hail the return of Glassjaw.

15 years is a long time to gnaw on the bone. The last few years I’ve settled with the idea that Glassjaw might never formally return. Worship And Tribute, their second full-length was released in 2002 and in the time since they’ve released small batches of music and played lived sporadically. But it never really felt like a full-blown return was imminent. 

 

Alas. At the end of this truly horrendous year, something worth being excited about. Material Control, Glassjaw’s third album comes for blood.

 

From Long Island, Glassjaw released their debut, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence, in 2000.

The only constant members throughout have been singer Daryl Palumbo and guitarist Justin Beck. They continue their discography without a glance at the time passed. Beck brings a screen of antsy staticky guitar that cuts across the speakers. Dillinger Escape Plan’s drummer Billy Rymer tracked most of the drums for the album. He adds the barreling brute force of a wrestler hopped up on steroids and asteroid dust. His rampant double-bass plays like he’s chasing down a would-be robber.

 

“New White Extremity” gut punches the opening seconds of Material Control. 

“Searching for a familiar face in my surroundings,” Palumbo sings over a harsh metal groove. It’s a welcoming start, fresh and familiar, a fuse sparkling toward a little black bomb. Next, “Shira” pelts the room with fist-shaped rocks and guitars like strikes of lightning. Halfway in, a magnetic guitar solo weaves through the wall of electric current. Fuck.

 

“Pompeii” is a relentless beating. Daryl multiplies and comes in hot from all angles. The guitar digs in low and the double-bass anchors the song’s many transitions. The cool-eyed and seductive “Strange Hours” travels by way of two fingers galloping on the bass string, keeping an even drone.  The best song (so far), “Golgotha,” is a baseball bat to the face. Rymer’s punishing drums land off-time, forever locked in the skull. Over it Palumbo mutters gutturally, “I’m not a betting man / if I was I’d have my money on the mule,” dragging out “mule” like he’s screaming from the mud.

 

Since Worship And Tribute Glassjaw haven’t necessarily been dormant.

El Mark, from 2005, is a three-song EP of B-sides. 2011 saw the quiet release of Our Color Green and Coloring Book–both shorties, but without any throwaways. In total you’ve got 14 songs that easily could’ve been cut into a proper album. Instead, the spontaneity of those releases, has served as the big slow tease, the light feathered tickle tease that would lead to Material Control. What a pay off.

 

 

 

 

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