Ash Williams, along with metal music in general, are new to my radar as of this year. I had the thrill of seeing Ash Williams perform back in February and it was just love not only at first listen but by first sight too because their shows are KICKASS. The energy is wild and electric. I interviewed frontman Pat Erhard of the band that night and learned all I possibly wanted to about him and the band. I was so eager when AW announced their newest album will be coming out soon and LUCKILY, with how totally famous I am, I was able to listen to Pulsar before its release! I'm gonna give you a spoiler alert now.....BUY IT ON MARCH 23. Read on for many more reasons then you probably need as to why you're going to purchase this.
Pulsar is this magical blend of punk rock meeting metal in space in the late eighties with dashes of true eeriness and simple life lessons we all have experienced. I did mention I have only recently dipped my toes in the metal water - but I have yet to hear anything just quite like this album! I've listened to it three times now, all the way through. I do think you should always give an album 2-3 listens before making a final judgement - so I just wanted to throw that out there.
Pulsar opens up with Simplicity: a spoken word tune that is just bold in and of itself. It has a long, drawn out sound in the beginning that ends up transforming into an uplifting/contrasting beat that captures your attention right off the bat. What better statement can you have for a first track? Some of the lyrics in this just make you have to rewind a bit and listen again with how strong they are such as the last verse:
"Simplicity removes everything's beauty.
Sure it's nice to have things dumbed down,
But you lose the complexity,
And although complexity is sometimes trying,
It's what makes everything beautiful and ugly and inspiring,
You're beautiful not because you're like everyone else,
But because of the complexities located in yourself."
Following Simplicity is Paralysis. You'd think by the title that this would be a slower tune or maybe soft sounding - but you're in for a charming surprise. Paralysis opens with a dramatic, screamed phrase from Pat, "I CAN'T MOVE". This flows into a fast beat where you can really hear a raw, passionate, angry Pat singing the words. This combination between singing and screaming really fucks with me in the best way -- if that makes sense. There's an awfully rad breakdown too where it sounds like maybe a nurse or mother asking, "Can you get up? Goooood." It's creepy and made my skin crawl for a split second. I kind of pictures that lady from Get Out asking it:
Here comes the title track, Pulsar. This is much more punk than metal and the bass line in the first verse had me swooning. I can definitely see the chorus of this being chanted at live shows - which is good because I think that's what title tracks are supposed to invoke in the listener:
Pulling with might,
Dead Planets is fourth up and features Michael singing the verses which is a pleasant change. Around three minutes in it almost sounds like a totally different song is starting and gets you hyped up all over again. It ends up tying back in nicely with the original tune and was giving me solid eighties vibes.
Regression you will recognize from the promotional video that Ash Williams has floating around the net. Although short and instrumental - it's one of my favorite tracks! The piano is just everything to me: eerie, beautiful and quiet - kind of like myself if I had to choose three words.
Lycan comes up next and is an interesting take from the viewpoint of being a werewolf. Maybe I'm just an uncultured swine but I have not heard a good song written from the viewpoint of a werewolf and what would be their struggles. It fascinates me how hardcore and well done this song is! You end up discovering this werewolf is very guilt ridden of what he becomes at night, and it turns into something full of sorrow:
"Chain me to this floor,
I don't wanna kill anymore,
Leave me in this room,
And pray I don't get out,
Lock the door,
And throw away the key,
Make Silver my friend,
And I'll never change again. "
We are halfway through the album! Residuality is the seventh track on Pulsar and is another instrumental. HERE'S AN ALLITERATION FOR YOU: it's soft, subtle and sad. (Also kind of like me)
Death Echoes is a song that blends screaming and singing frequently. It's really dramatic and is telling the story of what I think is someone either in Hell or Purgatory. I enjoyed the breakdowns at the end - where all music comes to a dead stop and then it picks up again with spoken word:
"This is no longer home "
That was symbolic to me because if this IS the story of someone in Hell or Purgatory - their situation seems to be that they are reliving something over and over again - which obviously would be torture in the afterlife. It's very tastefully pieced together.
Moths is probably the creepiest song on the album - which you know makes it one of my faves. It's a raw story that is pretty blunt: a child in a fatherless home innocently asking where the moths go in the daytime and if that is the same place that their dad has gone. I would drunk scream the fuck out of this song at a show! Particularly:
"Where do the moths go after the night?
When the sun's in the sky,
Where we go when we die?"
Michael's at it again with his angelic voice in Hollow! To start off, the guitar scales/solo in the beginning are just mesmerizing -- how can someone be that talented? Pat echoes certain lyrics after Michael sings and the contrast of their two voices I feel like shouldn't go together...but they do! Pat's echoing added SO much more emotion to this track. Ash Williams makes me want to help them burn down whatever they're talking about with no questions asked on my end.
"Let's burn it down
To the ground"
EVERYTHING COMIN' UP ROADHOUSE. Okay so can we talk about just the title of this song? Combining two fantastic topics: Roadhouse AND THE SIMPSONS. Already off to a good start before the track even begins. Coincidentally this has become my absolute favorite track on the album. It starts off with a dead tone-like sound which is linking, what I think, how the song talks about insanity. If you're insane, the lights are out in your brain much compared to that dial tone on a phone. The vibes I got instantly off of this were Talking Heads - which is badass. This song is SUPER relatable to any kind of listener too -- it describes a majority of the struggles of being a functioning human:
Throw on you shoes
You gotta go to work
You've got shit to do
Punch some numbers
Into a screen
Answer the phone
When it rings
Repetition is the definition of insanity
Repetition is the definition of insanity
Repetition is the definition of insanity
Repetition is why I'm crazy "
To wrap this up we have the last two titles of Pulsar: Regrets and Discerning a Death in Space. Regrets has an upbeat tempo and features Michael on vocals again. Nothing stood out to me too much in this song. Blending straight from Regrets is the final track: Discerning Death in Space. It begins with a strong thump sound and really coincides with the title track, Pulsar, which I think is on purpose since this is the final song. It leaves you feeling like you want to live in this dimension that is in a galaxy with creepy aliens.
AND THAT IS WHY I LOVE THIS ALBUM! It's just odd in all of the best ways and so well executed. I can always fall in love with an album that I can't really compare 100% to anything else - that's some pure talent right there if you can accomplish that. If you haven't listened to Ash Williams, do your soul a favor and start to. If they are performing in an area near you - PLEASE do yourself a better favor and see them live. It'll change your life!
ASH WILLIAMS IN YOUR WIFI:
kenNERDdy NEWS OF THE WEEK
Recently I was asked to join the For the Love of Punk fam. I eagerly said HELL YA and it's official as of yesterday! I have my own column on there called, "Stay Nerdy". You can see my interview with Pat of Ash Williams in the featured section as of today too. All of my posts from kenNERDdy will be taking residence there as well! I'M EXPANDING, NERDS, I'M GROWING!
INTERVIEW ON DECK
I sat down just yesterday with Dylan Wolters of Ugly Wars at The Rabbit Hole in San Diego. We ordered some basil vodka drink that was super yum! Clearly just with that combo, you can safely assume it was a ton of fun - stay tuned for that next week! (Also please ignore this horrible angle and glare on my glasses...I'm a writer not a photographer!)