ASG are one of those happy little discoveries that just so often land before an eager stoner metal fan. Although I have only now come into knowledge of their existence, ASG have been around since the early 2000s, and Survive Sunrise is their sixth full length release.
The North Carolina-based quartet has a really special blend of stoner metal that may represent the threshold between 90s classics and what the genre has become today. Their style is an organic mixture of stoner metal fundamentals thrown together with some lethargic post-metal vibes. At moments the music flows with the elegance of Queens of The Stone Age, and then it erupts into pulverizing riffs that hit you with the weight of Mastodon or Baroness. Jason Shi enjoys guiding you down the melodies with rich and easily agreeable vocals before bursting forth with passionate shrieks that sound like they’re bellowing from the gutter.
You’ll get a lot of good desert rock vibes too, such as on “Hawks on the Run,” which introduces slowly before lifting off with energetic riffs and a simple but powerful solo. “The Heaven Moon” may remind you of High On Fire with a lot more dynamics. One thing that surely caught my attention was Shi’s ability to hit multiple vocal crevices, and seemingly without much effort he merges two contrasting singing styles together one note after the other. There are a share of songs on the album that sound like they’re going to be easy listening, and then you’ll get that feeling you are in fact about to go over the edge; “Kubrick Colors” lures you in with a dreamy intro before flinging you off with Scott Key’s impactful drumming and some sludgy guitar work from Jonah Citty and Shi. Those sludge riffs carry over into “God Knows We,” with dirty rhythms powering the music behind Shi’s crystal clear vocals. If you are a fan of bands that seamlessly exchange slow heavy to faster heavy, then you’re really going to enjoy how this band does it.
If there are any drawbacks to Survive Sunrise, then I’d say there aren’t any songs that were totally infectious. Nothing caught me as definitely memorable, although everything on the album was enjoyable. I can listen to this album and like it, but I had no moments that made me jump out of my chair. Maybe this is all just a part of the band’s artistic motif to defy the conventions of their scene while at the same time channeling on all of them. ASG play like artists without the pretension of larger bands, and in my head I visualize them as a group that have been content to be a beacon for experimental growth in the scene’s underbelly without breaking out as some big rock act.
Survive Sunrise is available now through Relapse Records.