Album Review: The Ashers - "Kill Your Master"
I don't get to hear albums like this very often. Furthermore, I don't know that I would ever go out of my eye to hear one. Still, whenever something like this crosses my desk, I always take a minute to enjoy it for its pure destructive potential and crack a smile at how simple it all can be.
The Ashers' "Kill Your Master" is an old-school, distorted, gritty album of three-minute-and-under punk revival songs. I don't mean punk revival like Blink 182, Avril Lavigne, and all the other would-be punk pretenders. The Ashers are much more in the vein of the Cro-Mags, Minor Threat, Black Flag, the Misfits, Agnostic Front, and a dozen other banner carriers from the late 80's.
One of the things I always enjoy about albums like "Kill Your Master" is the sheer intentional noisiness of the production. It's severely treble-heavy, every note sounds like it's the precipice of shattering glass and that's just the notes you can make out. The cacophonous din that is pervasive on the entire effort only serves to accentuate the rare moments of musical clarity. The bass lead in on "Watch it Burn" is pronounced and throaty, and it serves as a fantastic count-in that separates that track however momentarily from the others. The guitar riffs and solos, on the whole, whether it's the title track, "Destitution" or "Blood and Grain," are equally akin to the screeching of the raptors in "Jurassic Park." The entire stacked effect lends a sense of anguish and truly angry disquiet to the entire experience, which makes it an effective testament of and addition to punk's legacy.
Most of the songs are overtly similar, but at two minutes a pop, who would notice? One of the appealing aspects of "Kill Your Master" is the return to the unique ability that punk possesses to keep the power flowing from song to song by featuring annotated burst of chaos one on top of the other. Couple that with that classic gang choruses, count-ins, mosh pit mayhem, and a Dead Kennedy's inspired cover collage of vague mob mentality and totalitarian images, and The Ashers have found an effective niche for their music.
"Kill Your Master" is fun for what it is; an ugly little half hour that doesn't care about songcraft and possesses raw baseline appeal for punk fans. The idea has been done before, and for a short period was oversaturated, but it's been long enough now that a small injection into the current musical scene is a nice counter to the trends in overproduction and focus groups.
Like all over-the-top extreme punk, "Kill Your Master" might not have a lot of broad-based appeal, but that's not the point. The screaming is genuine, the emotion on its sleeve, and the sonic assault remarkably electric. Enjoy it for both its triumphs and its shortcomings, and it adds up to a fine if not eloquent effort in punk.