ASG - Blood Drive
12 songs (46:22)
Release year: 2013
Reviewed by Charles
ASG have returned after several years away- but because I’d never heard of them before this news frankly left me indifferent. However, then I heard this neat album, and decided that I'm glad they are back.

They- full name Amplified Self-Gratification- are veterans of the US stoner scene, having collaborated in the past with bands like… (does some research)… Karma to Burn, one of whose albums I once bought but didn't really like. Blood Drive clearly displays those roots, but in general gets at something else entirely. It is a dreamy pop record- a dreamy pop record deeply infused with hard rock and metal riffs, for sure, but dreamy pop first and foremost. Not that this is really my area of expertise, but they execute this kind of music in a convincing, even a sophisticated way. This is clearly much more than just a collection of poppy rock anthems delivered with a slightly louder-than-average guitar tone. Polished melodic lines interweave skilfully with harder-edged guitar patterns, achieving a fluency that indicates some serious songwriting chops at work.

Avalanche begins the album, and for several weeks was all I heard of it because I wanted to listen to it on repeat. It’s lovely: the wailing, Jane’s Addiction-like vocals picking out a breezy melodic line, married to refreshing hard rock riffs with just the right amount of bite to them. Not that ASG sound at all like Soundgarden, but something in the way they integrate occasionally quite complex and punchy metal riffs into mellifluous rock tunes bears comparison. See how the doomy rhythm guitars of the title track sometimes surge over, and sometimes are subservient to, the meandering vocal line. Accordingly given this evident cleverness, Blood Drive can also be quite subtle when it wants, as on the dark and dynamic ballad Blues for Bama, or the drifting euphoria of Earthwalk.

Elsewhere, there is a grittier, bluesier swagger in evidence. Scrappy’s Trip melds together an enormous rock chorus with driving, aggressive stoner riffing, somewhat comparable to Corrosion of Conformity. The same goes for Castlestorm, with its Southern Rock vibes. These tracks also feature the kind of swashbuckling twin lead sections that might grace a classic Thin Lizzy album: yes, there is a wide range of influences here, and it is impressive how cohesive it all sounds. For this reason, it works very well as an upmarket (and less chirpy) version of the likes of Torche; a higher class of pop-rock record.

Killing Songs :
Avalanche, Earthwalk, Castlestorm
Charles quoted 85 / 100
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