The EMO album you've been waiting for...
The British have always found the concept of ‘straight edge’ hard to grasp. It simply isn’t an option to abstain from drink, drugs and nasty casual sex when you’re trapped in a rain-sodden Brit-town with only your McJob and a handful of pub friends to inspire your daily existence. If, like the boys of Long Island’s SxE heroes Glassjaw, you’re a good-looking American with a tan, smart skate clothes and a network of friends who come to your ‘scene’ hardcore shows and buy your records, then the straight and narrow seems all the more appealing. As it is – with Lostprophets being the only high profile UK straight edge act – it’s far easier to be an alcoholic Strokes fan.
Since the start of this year, the nu-rock underground has been talking up Glassjaw’s major label debut like it’s going to convert the world’s fun-loving indie kids into square-jawed Minor Threat enthusiasts. Like it’s the greatest ‘underground breakththrough’ album since Deftones blew up into the mainstream with ‘Around The Fur’. (Yeah, as amazing as that).
And, as usual, the underground is correct. Boosted by the glass-shattering, total-aggro production of nu-metal inventor Ross Robinson (the man who makes Slipknot sound like they can play), Glassjaw’s second effort is by far the most intense rock record of the year. A mixture of all-out attack pop-metal hardcore (‘Tip Your Bartender’, ‘Mu Empire’), tempered with ‘sensitive’, reflective moments (‘Cosmopolitan Bloodloss’) and straight-up rock songs (‘Apes Dos Mil’ and ‘Radio Cambodia’), ‘Worship And Tribute’ grabs you by the throat right from the start and doesn’t let go.
There are times, notably on track nine (‘The Gillette Calvacade Of Sports’) and beyond, when the record becomes a little predictable, when dischordant guitars collide like dodgems and the drumsticks splinter as singer Daryl Palumbo grates his soul against the cold steel mesh of the microphone. We’ve experienced this contrived aggression before on many occasions. And ultimately, there are too few memorable moments to align this alongside the all-time great nu-rock albums (see Deftones‘ ‘White Pony’, Tool‘s ‘Lateralus’, Linkin Park‘s ‘Hybrid Theory’). But as a document of clear-headed fury, ‘Worship And Tribute’ has definitely got a (straight) edge.