I’ve always been a sucker for a tasty, “unusual” or “unexpected” cover version. Some fans hate them, some bands hate being remembered for them, some say they are cynical clickbait. But I very often like ’em. No strangers to covers (Phil Collins’ ‘I Don’t Care Anymore’, anyone?), this Toronto-formed outfit include here their already-released reworking of Canadian hot-stuff The Weeknd’s smash banger ‘Blinding Lights’. And I’ll be Goddamned if they haven’t turned it into a Saint Asonia song – glorious, even joyous, expertly conceived, adapted, and delivered. Superb guys! Inspired!
Sonically superior metal melodies and hooky, chugging riff-rock can always be expected from Saint Asonia, and this new EP doesn’t disappoint.
The accomplished four-piece “supergroup” built around singer/guitarist Adam Gontier (formerly of Three Days Grace) and lead guitarist Mike Mushok (Staind) have seen a few personnel changes over the years – drummer Cody Watkins is the newest addition, with Cale Gontier still on bass – while making some serious waves with their self-titled debut album and follow-up ‘Flawed Design’, touring with everyone from Disturbed to Breaking Benjamin, Seether and Alter Bridge.
Introvert (Spinefarm) offers arena-ready anthems and a lyrical approach that manages to be both defiantly declaratory and self-deprecating – heavy but quite humble, suffering and succotash. Some very personal opinions and ideas are being delivered, with subjects including challenging yourself and working your way through grief, as well as the perils of cancel culture and social media. There’s lots of colour and lots of real-life angst – emotion among the artillery. From the reflective, rewarding and cathartic ‘Better Late Than Never’: “I know I was meant for something more/ More than beaten, bloody, blacked out on the floor/ It took time to get it right/ But I’m here and it’s forever/ I will never be the man I was before …” We’ve all been there?
Another stand-out is ‘Chew Me Up’ (“then spit me out”, inevitably) which opens like a juggernaut careering recklessly up a winding clifftop road, an aural power play wrapping around something of a dramatic, atmospheric, multi-layered slow burner, probably the doomiest track of the collection. Also featuring Johnny Stevens, of Highly Suspect, ‘Chew Me Up’ boasts Serj Tankian type vocals before it successfully flirts even closer with rap metal.
There are seven tracks in all within twenty four minutes, with a fair degree of versatility and some fine guitar soloing on ‘Above It All’ and ‘Left Behind’, particularly. ‘Blinding Lights’ is the real blinder, tho.
8 / 10