From Ashes To New – Panic (Album Review)

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In a world that may often seem as vast as it is dark, stumbling across a genuine expression of guiding light is a rare reprieve from shadows. Embracing brightness while still skirting reality’s unavoidable darkness is Pennsylvania rock act From Ashes To New, crafting their art with a spectacular clash between genres including metal, rock, hip hop, and electronica. Presented with a pop-sharp edge and hinging on memorable choruses, the band’s third full length album “Panic” is an energetic expansion on their 2018 opus “The Future.” While “The Future” included chart-topping single “Crazy,” From Ashes To New shows no signs of slowing down to bask in their success by putting forward a new album that weaves together both fury and tenderness with expert precision. 

One of the most striking features of “Panic” is the layers which give the album its consistent depth, effortlessly transitioning from segments with fiery electric guitars and harsh vocals to a sea of programming and rapped verses without losing any momentum. With just four members in their lineup, this stylistic feat is a delight to listen to as the musicians fulfill multiple roles for the sake of filling out their sound. The crossroads between the vocal styles utilized by From Ashes To New is reminiscent of 2000’s alternative metal, which saw clean and harsh vocals meld with rap for a cultural phenomenon defined by bands such as Linkin Park. From Ashes To New is no exception in its affinity for dazzling choruses offset by overcast verses, settling into a comfortable and well-established rhythm which persists through the duration of “Panic” for some degree of structural predictability as the album makes its course. 

Frontman Matt Brandyberry is the jack-of-all-trades of From Ashes to New, having taken many roles in the band over the years since its founding as his passion project. For “Panic” he has maintained a strong role at the front, splitting vocal duties with Danny Case. Together they give this vocal-led project undeniable character, sculpting the vibrant heavens of “Wait For Me” to the darker undertones of closing track “Change My Past” without ever falling out of sync. Emotional delivery on the choruses of “Scars That I’m Hiding” set listeners up for the deep-reaching subjects that build the backbone of “Panic” from its opening track, further developed by the incessant power of the band’s rhythm section. “Panic” includes the same full lineup from “The Future,” with the cohesion of the band’s members clear in the intricate songwriting and furious inflection of “SideFX” and title track “Panic.” 

“Panic” is not without its sharper moments and underlying grit, evidenced by one of the album’s strongest tracks, “Bulletproof.” Digging deep into bass tones and opening with the sound of a shotgun slide racking, “Bulletproof” demands attention from the very opening note through the last repetition of an expertly layered chorus. Opening with rapped verses rather than clean vocals sets the tone for the track, with nearly buried screams resounding in the background maintaining the tone. Set towards the latter half of the album, “Bulletproof” and subsequent track “Nothing” are both energetic continuations of the album’s earlier momentum, with “Nothing” sure to be a live favorite. Between its infectious melody and steady drumbeat that echoes like a thundering heart, there’s no doubt that “Nothing” will be met with hands raised in the air and a cacophony of screams. 

“Panic” Album Artwork

Devotion to their vision is what gives From Ashes To New their stylistic identity and gives “Panic” its teeth. But given the slower moments in “Blind,” and the relatively repetitive track “Death of Me” included in an otherwise strong tracklist, “Panic” leaves a wanting for something softer. There is no doubt that From Ashes To New can grasp sensitivity and emotional nuance, as evidenced in “Brick,” but there was never a moment in “Panic” where the artists fully surrendered themselves to this full spectrum of vulnerability. “Blind” comes close in its opening passage, but as the album’s shortest track it quickly ramps up to the energy found elsewhere in “Panic.” The dexterous might of guitarist Lance Dowdle was used more as a hammer than a paintbrush, where it could have otherwise opened From Ashes To New up to something even more touching than simply soaring choral heights. 

Packaged with airtight production and a stunning attention to detail, “Panic” traverses a wide listening appeal without sacrificing the band’s established identity. Dynamic throughout with the use of multiple vocal styles, From Ashes To New still pays great care to their instrumental balance for a continual momentum and organic growth through tracks and across “Panic” as a whole. Though they may brush close to the identities established by alternative and nu-metal bands which have found their stride in decades past, there is a clear modern lens which Brandyberry has applied to his art. “Panic” is a product of a sometimes painful present, but From Ashes To New promises to continue illuminating a path to something brighter in an album which has a little something for everyone.

Released By: Better Noise Music
Release Date: August 28th, 2020
Genre: Alternative Metal

Musicians:

  • Matt Brandyberry / Vocals
  • Danny Case / Vocals
  • Lance Dowdle / Guitar
  • Mat Madiro / Drums

“Panic” Track-listing:

  1. Scars That I’m Hiding
  2. Brick
  3. What I Get
  4. Blind
  5. SideFX
  6. Panic
  7. Wait For Me
  8. Bulletproof
  9. Nothing
  10. Death of Me
  11. Change My Past 

8.9 Excellent

From Ashes To New presses on with a promising development in a career which only seems to be gaining momentum, offering an album overflowing with energy and passion. A coalescence of light and dark, “Panic” bursts forward with an indescribable dynamism which calls on nostalgic styles while imbuing its delivery with electrifying modern flavor.

  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 9
  • Production 9
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