A decade and a half after their last studio album ‘Worship And Tribute’, Glassjaw release an unhinged ferocious effort, but it’s not without its drawbacks. ‘Material Control’ abandons the hooks and choruses that were dominant throughout ‘Worship and Tribute’ and instead the band build a giant wall of sound in its place, but it’s not one you particularly always want to climb, as the payoff takes a little longer than one would like.
This record is similar in structure to 2011’s criminally under-celebrated ‘Coloring Book’ EP but even that had noticeable hooks on display on tracks like ‘Gold’ and ‘Miracles in Inches’. Instead, it’s multi-instrumentalist Justin Beck (he and vocalist Daryl Palumbo are the driving forces behind Glassjaw) who dominates much of ‘Material Control’. ‘Strange Hours’ is led by a brooding bassline which throbs like a vein about to burst, with a bassline that’s so identical to the one found on ‘Coloring Book’s ‘Vanilla Poltergeist Snake’ that it could almost be a reprise to a six-year-old track.
Elsewhere, ‘bibleland 6’ is the New York band at their earth-shattering best but in such an initial onslaught and sensory overload, there’s little room for Palumbo in places. Bizarrely, it’s in the back leg of the album where both vocals and instruments meeting harmony – if you can ever label Glassjaw with that noun.
Albums are very rarely rear end loaded but it’s exactly what this is – ‘Closer’ is an adrenaline shot of unadulterated rage which brings Daryl to the forefront finally, who lays down a wicked chorus with that trademark feral snarl. ’My Conscience Weighs A Ton’ follows this before the instrumental title track and finally ‘Cut and Run’ delivers the final killer blow, almost literally, with a whiplash ending.
‘Material Control’ feels in many ways like David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return – a painfully long wait and almost impossible odds to live up to and most importantly a creation that feels tailor-made to confuse and frustrate. Just as viewers had to wait three quarters of the 18-hour show for the return of Dale Cooper, here we have to wait three quarters of the record for the return of Daryl Palumbo.
Was it worth that wait? That’s open to debate, but it’s definitely not an album you listen to and wish they hadn’t bothered.
Words: Matthew Cooper
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