Release Date: May 28, 2013
Record label: Relapse Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
ASG frontman Jason Shi's voice is the most distinctive part of his North Carolina band's sludgy psychedelia and poppy Southern heavy rock. Which isn't a knock: They're a good band, but it's that voice that adds the "poppy" to the previous description. It also makes me think more about rock radio than metal. Shi drives home the hooks with an upper register semi-falsetto that's melodic when it needs to be, with an occasional gruffness.
Review Summary: A commendable summer album that strikes a fine balance between rock fury and accessibility.What exactly constitutes an ideal summer album? ASG (once known as All Systems Go) is a North Carolina outfit that tries to answer this question with its fourth full length Blood Drive. A delightful cover art already evokes a laid-back summer atmosphere. The quartet follows suit, delivering an appropriately sun-drenched brand of stoner rock.
North Carolina-based stoner metalheads ASG have released what is probably their best album in Blood Drive, a 12-track, 47-minute opus of swampy riffs, thunderous rhythms and stoner vocals reminiscent of Alice in Chains at their best. The shambolic guitar work at times calls up echoes of Crazy Horse in all their anarchic glory, but ASG is much more than a collection of references and influences. This is sludged-out, drugged-out, spaced-out riffage at its mightiest—except, of course, when it’s none of those things.
On their fifth album, and Relapse debut, North Carolina's ASG (once known as All Systems Go) work a most excellent middle ground between heavy stoner rock (think Corrosion of Conformity at their boogiest) and more subdued, Cali-style surfer/stoner (hello, Kyuss). But the pounding drums (the snare takes a beating on great opener "Avalanche") and heavy power chords keep it pretty firmly rooted in metal, even when the soaring vocals threaten to subdue things a bit too much. Check out the chorus for the amazing "Blood Drive" to see how those melodic vocals can work wonders though.
North Carolina quartet ASG were trapped in the role of the opening act. In the shadow of top-billed headliners (CKY, Graveyard, Helmet, etc.), ASG would play succinct 30-minute sets, receive some scattered applause, and then move on to the next city. So goes the struggle of the up-and-coming rock band, scrapping its way into the scene. All that scrapping paid off when Relapse Records signed ASG last year.