There are some great ideas and passages on Static Tension’s Ashes To Animation (Buried By Sky). A marriage of Grunge, Alternative Rock, elements of Prog and a smattering of Stoner and Trouble’d Doom, the bands’ first full-length is an interesting proposition; a hotchpotch of ideas pulled in from The Doors to Metallica, but mainly operating a Progressive Grunge arena.
A delicate, lilting Layne Staley harmony ushers in a dark acoustic opener: ‘Kindling’ is a gorgeous, melancholic first song that sets such a dusky, understated tone that it’s a shame that the initial metallic riff of second track ‘Bury My Body’ stumbles in next, although by the time we reach the chorus the mood is on its way to being re-established, with a well-crafted latter-day Alice In Chains vibe. The galloping Heavy Metal mid-section seems at odds with the rest of the track – this is not the only time the more Metal sections don’t deliver to the same level as the rest of the material – but does work to bridge to the song’s denouement.
As the album unfurls, it is clear that there is definitely a quirky and worthwhile outfit here, at their best when in they are in their more whimsical and cleaner moments, like the Zeppelin-tinged ‘Blank Silhouette’. Rob Rom has a versatile voice, capable of standing out when delivering in the more powerful areas, though perhaps uncertain in the quieter moments, and Greg Blachman has a nice switch of a bluesy solo alongside his occasionally eccentric alternative and Desert flecked turns of guitar phrase.
On ‘Serpentine’, it all combines to escort us into a meandering Tool-styled standout.
There are production issues, and while it often feels unfair to penalise a band for something that could be at the mercy of budget and opportunity, the vocal mixing, and at times delivery, is erratic, and softer and more discrete blending would have given an overall more professional feel. In addition, a less stock Metal guitar tone would have been of great benefit to the overall feel of the album.
If it feels I’m highlighting the negatives as much as the positives, this is because these seem obvious and “quick fixes”, as well as Ashes To Animation being a somewhat inconsistent, if endearing album. Static Tension has more to give, but as a foundation stone, this will do them well as a rock from which to build their house.
6 / 10