I love it when labels turn heads by signing a band that is completely unexpected and sounds nothing like what they have put out previously. Jade Tree is no stranger to the clichéd saying, “keeping people on their toes” as they have released records from Owls to Lifetime to Ester Drang, all who sound nothing alike. This signing made many scratch their heads wondering what Jade Tree was going to do with this politically charged beast from the Portland area.
Featuring members of the much heralded His Hero Is Gone, From Ashes Rise have been plugging away in basements across the U.S. for the past few years; releasing a hammering first full-length and a split with Victims (both released on various labels). I had always wondered what the likes of Tragedy and Drop Dead would sound like if they entered a high quality studio equipped with the kind of technology that many similar groups cannot afford due to lack of label support. Nightmares is absolutely crushing. Matt Bayles took the helm of this release at his infamous Studio Litho (having done great records from Botch and Benton Falls) and have produced a record demonstrating that bands can push the limits of what DIY is today while creating a great sounding, volatile record filled with passion and integrity.
This is the equivalent of getting punched in the face by a skinny punk rock kid and then having him lecture you about the evils of conforming and signing up for everyday life. They have not strayed too much from the musical path they forged with their previous band, but have added greater dynamics like supplementary melodies and the use of a piano. From Ashes Rise have pushed themselves to greater heights (and in the process espoused their ideas to a wider base), and in a time where music has become more “paint by numbers” it is a welcome change to hear something this straight forward and angry.