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"Material Control"

by Lou Venditti - News Editor
Sat, Dec 9th 2017 05:00 pm

Hardcore has been weird for a while. Genre pioneers, from Minor Threat to Converge, never experimented nearly as much as Glassjaw have over the years. Material Control is the most interesting album the band has created in their two decade career. The album opens with “New White Extremity,” the lead single from the record. The band go from zero to a hundred in seconds, splitting hairs with tight, fast riffs and Palumbo’s tortured wail howling over the chaos. Palumbo’s lyrics even take dark turns, throwing back to the darker, earlier Glassjaw fans know and love.

Between Material Control and 2011’s Coloring Book, Palumbo and the gang have brought a new bag of tricks. On “Shira,” the band abuse guitar feedback and a thick, crunchy bass groove to add an extra edge. On the chorus, Palumbo’s clean vocals soar to lofty heights.

“Citizen” is the oldest song on the record, according to an interview Palumbo did with NPR. The song was written in the late 90s and stayed there until the band sat down to record Material Control. Palumbo’s free-wheeling clean vocals take listeners on a wave through the song, losing themselves in more feedback and chaotic riffs.

Material Control was recently released unannounced on December 1, a move that surprised many fans. However, the band has been quietly under wraps since touring for Coloring Book into 2014. Material Control almost lives up to the hype of being a new Glassjaw album, but the album wouldn’t be complete without a ballad.

On “Strange Hours,” Glassjaw explore a slow, downtrodden beat that Palumbo wails over. The barebones beat of just the drum kit with Palumbo creates an entrancing melody, one to hook listeners in to keep them around at the halfway mark.

“Freezing over, I will answer you in kind,” Palumbo sings.

The album ends with one final interlude, titled “Material Control,” before the album explodes one last time. The album ends with a statement track, one of the more vicious and hungrier songs on the record. “Cut and Run” opens with a two-step breakdown fit for New York’s posthardcore kings.

“A too mortal war and simple mind,” Palumbo crows. “I am standing beside myself.”

And so, the album ends, begging to be listened to again. Glassjaw crafted a surprise record, released it quietly and still exceeded expectations. Material Control will stand long as one of the best Glassjaw records to date, exemplifying why the band has been able to exist for so long.

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