Many things change in 15 years. A decade goes by, an infant grows into a teen. A U.S.
president can be elected three times, and a band can put out numerous albums. In that time, Glassjaw fans have been waiting for a third studio album. On December 1st, the band released Material Control, their first full-length LP since 2002’s Worship and Tribute.
In the period between albums, the band dropped several EP releases and lead vocalist Daryl Palumbo worked on side projects Head Automatica and Color Film. He also had setbacks due to Crohn’s disease and dealt with lineup changes. At present, he and guitarist Justin Beck are the only remaining original members of Glassjaw.
In an interview with Alternative Press, Palumbo and Beck revealed that they had not
been working on Material Control for 15 years; rather it only took two months to finish, resulting in 12 tracks.
The opener, “New White Extremity” features familiar elements of the group’s post-hardcore sound and its shrieking guitar parts. And though the listener can find melody in the vocals, the predominant shouting over top the instrumentals make for a harsh sound. The harshness continues on “Shira” but mellows out a bit more with a cleaner chorus. The first two songs were both released as singles, although the former was released two years ago.
Things don’t get any easier on the ears until “Strange Hours.” There’s a slower, Bluesy feel on this one but the distorted feedback combined with Palumbo’s phrasing give it an eerie feel that overrides any feeling of calm. “Bastille Day” is the oddest track serving as a collage of percussion that introduces “Pompeii.”
The quick snare hits on “Closer” are telling of the band’s punk rock influence. As well, Palumbo demonstrates his ability to hit high notes that can’t be ignored. Beck’s skill shines with a shredding lick in the title track.
Collectively, this album may be heavier and more dissonant than the previous albums, but no major or outstanding changes in sound are apparent. Devotees that have waited almost two decades for Material Control shouldn’t be disappointed since the album follows the same formula fans fell in love with in the early ‘00s, but it’s much less accommodating when compared to songs like “Ape Dos Mil” from 2002’s Worship and Tribute.
The band members, their fans, and the world we live in may have changed during the 15-year span, but Glassjaw’s music, for the most part, has remained timeless.