A Skylit Drive

(CD - Tragic Hero Records #TGH 215301)

Review by James Christopher Monger

The fifth studio long player from the Lodi, California melodic metalcore unit, the eponymous ASD arrived just ten months after the release of Rise: Ascension, which was an acoustic reworking of their 2013 LP Rise. It's also the first collection of new music from the group to feature drummer Brandon Richter and guitarist/scream vocalist Michael Labelle, who were brought in to replace Brian White and Cory La Quay, both of whom left the band shortly after the release of Rise. More boldly melodic and hook-driven than any of the band's prior outings, ASD starts out strong with the propulsive "Bring Me a War," a morning gym routine-ready call to arms that's as narratively nonspecific ("Bring me a war/are you a soldier/stand up and raise your fist") as it is genuinely rousing. The follow-up single "Self/Less" impresses as well, with its earworm-heavy blend of punk-pop and flanger-blasted post-hardcore, as does the pulverizing "Falling Apart in A (Crow)ded Room," the latter of which provides the LP with its biggest blast of sonic gravitas. That those three songs are sequential and also front-loaded poses a problem for the remainder of the 11-track set, as what follows is essentially a rinse/repeat situation, with each breakdown-laden bridge yielding to a soaring, radio-ready chorus, resulting in an almost torpor-inducing state of angst/release fatigue, all of which is helped little by lyrics that have been drawn from a depthless well.

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