Bristol’s AshestoAngels have been skirting around the fringes of mainstream success for over six years now. “How to Bleed” is the band’s fifth release, following the deluxe re-release of their Horror Cult album last Summer. On their fourth full length album, the self-styled ‘horror punks’ touch upon several styles but the highlights undeniably come when they let their punk inspired song writing take the forefront.
Several songs feature a surprisingly large dose of 90’s style punk riffing such as on opener “Horror Cult” which, looking past the trite lyrics and unnecessary screamed vocals, is one of the best songs on the album with a very strong chorus that immediately sticks itself in the listener’s head and will be being hummed for weeks after a listen.
Further singalongs such as “Not In My Name” and “I Remember When” continue to show off this bands knack for crafting a belter of a chorus. Both of these songs, among others on the album, nail their target of sounding like modern day reiterations of the sound My Chemical Romance perfected in their goth-y ‘Three Cheers..’ era peak. These choruses are backed up by sharp, cutting and memorable guitar riffs that come straight out of ‘The Used’ playbook.
The lyrics throughout are one of the weak points of the album, with “Light Me Up” being a particular standout in this way with a chorus of “You light me up like a cigarette” that inspires flashbacks to GCSE English lessons on similes. Despite the occasional dips in lyrical quality, however, AshestoAngels never fail to sing these words with a passion that inspires singalongs.
When the band stray from this chorus led, fast paced song writing they tend to falter. The least inspiring material on “How To Bleed” comes from the heavier end of the spectrum: metalcore inspired songs such as “Down We Go” come across as hackneyed and uninspired, drifting too far from the groups strongest points and leaning on a style of guitar playing that has become shorthand for Bullet For My Valentine-lite metalcore in the past few years, after being employed by bands ranging from Escape the Fate to blessthefall.
Comparisons with fellow emo punk revivalists Creeper are only to be expected, and whilst both bands may draw from the same inspirations, AshestoAngels most definitely put their own unique stamp on (most of) their work, twisting their inspirations in a way that is entirely their own. Between AshestoAngels and Creeper, the south of England could be leading the charge on a new wave of goth inspired punk music – and if there’s more music the quality of “How To Bleed” to come out of it, that can only be a good thing.