Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Album Review :: Asylums - Alien Human Emotion



Alien Human Emotion

July 6 2018 (Cool Thing Records)


Words: Steve Willcox

Asylums' debut album ‘Killer Brain Waves’ was an assault of the senses; the mainly banging your head on a wall type, as every track had an urgency and frantic pace that said “don’t stop listening!” It was an epic first salvo for the Essex band.

Two years on they have produced its 12-track follow-up, ‘Alien Human Emotion’ release their second album. Whereas their first was a thrashing onslaught, this feels a more moody affair, if no less heaving with energy and killer hooks as it works through themes of tangled sex and soured relationships, and the social and political landscape.

Opener ‘Day Release To The Moon’ is a flow of Luke Branch's slow, steady vocals, reminiscent of days gone by, until it carefully ramps into an amazing melody riff from Jazz Miell on guitar with bass lines dropping in and out whilst methodical beats fill the eardrums. ‘When We Wake Up’ is a rip-roaring DIY power tune that needs to be turned up in a soft top car on a bright sunny day, while ‘Bottle Bank’ brings the feel of the last album into the new, connecting again with its high octane-loving audience from before.

The album title track is arguably their most complete song so far; clever lyrics, with a tune that isn’t in your face but which still manages to worm its way through with its multi textures. Both ‘Millennials’ with its laid back guitars and vocals, and the edgy bassline of ‘Graveyard Tourism’, get under the skin, but while the rock out ‘Napalm Bubblegum’ is a total full on earlobe assault, it is perhaps just a tad too much ‘in your face’ in its ramming itself home.

‘Pause’ has a great drumbeat throughout, and it’s this that drives the song, along with its message of taking time to breathe in and take stock of our lives, as we all rush sometimes and miss the most obvious in front of us. ‘Critical Mass’ starts with a 1930s radio signal and then stamps its guitar riff into your feet that you can already see yourself moshing at the next gig, and with the vocals going full pelt bringing this song alive to its abrasive end.

‘Sexual Automation’ with this quite beautifully crafted song with its rapid heartbeat notes and acoustic guitar, along with Branch’s peeled back vocals, sees a change of pace before closer ‘The Company You Keep’ shows his prowess for writing haunting lyrics that leave a visual image of the writer' breaking down, with clever use of guitar in the background that adds to the tension. Such is the testament of songwriting skill

‘Alien Human Emotion’ delves deep into the band's psyche, making them open up with their songwriting abilities and forces them to slow it all down, so the message can come across. It’s a brave thing for them to do but they’ve done it very well and have still managed to keep the Asylums spirit alive that we loved in the first place.

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