Change can be difficult, sometimes it feels like it is the most painful concept to deal with. That being said, the Central Pennsylvania rap-rock group, From Ashes to New, have dealt with the replacement of their clean vocalist Chris Masser, in favor of Danny Case, semi-seamlessly. In addition to Masser’s departure, the band has a new drummer in Matt Madiro. The band is able to retain the sound that they introduced through two EPs (Downfall and S/T) and a full length LP, Day One, with an effort that should be worthy of an occasional spin.
Rap-rock as a genre is on life support, especially considering that genre-giants, Linkin Park, have their future very much in doubt after the tragic death of singer Chester Bennington. From Ashes to New play off their influences well, and introduce some new elements to their sound on The Future. The band’s sound can be best described as heavy melodic rock, containing rap verses building to a catchy chorus, with electronic elements found throughout. The album opener, “Wake Up,” is a guitar-driven track filled with crunchy riffs, the trademark rapping of Matt Brandberry, and a melodic chorus from Case. On the first released single, “Crazy,” the formula the band takes throughout the track resonates well with its frenetic pace. From Ashes to New slows the tempo down slightly on “My Name,” which finds Madiro reminiscing over the past in the verses, and Case looking towards the future in the chorus.
The album’s highlight comes with the start-stop pace of “Broken,” that flows in a similar pattern to “Faint” from Linkin Park. Unfortunately, the band is not able to take advantage of this standout track, as the rest of the album becomes a tad too formulaic with their song structures and trudges along to the finish line. Having seen this band live multiple times and witnessing the energy they brought to each performance, I was disappointed by the sound of this album as I felt they were capable of reaching greater heights. The dreaded sophomore slump has claimed yet another victim, even if I do see some redeeming qualities that the band could capitalize on in their subsequent albums.
The Future means well, however the growing pains that the band are going through on this record have bled over into their trademark sound and watered down the quality of the album. By the time the listener comes to the final title track, its hard to figure out just how bright this band’s future is. One can only hope the band learns from their shortcomings on this LP and sees the desperation of remaining relevant in a rapidly dying genre on their next effort.