Those who have followed From Ashes Rise since their humble beginnings as His Hero Is Gone-alikes may be slightly thrown for a loop upon initial plug-in to Nightmares . The Matt Bayles (Isis, The Blood Brothers) production job requires a bit of an adjustment as, quite frankly, this band has always employed those shitty wind tunnel recordings and it’s a downright shock to hear them in full clarity. But it doesn’t take more than three or four listens to get over the surprise and then it’s all adrenalin rush from there. Ferocious punk/hardcore that lays to shuddering waste all those phony metalcore bands; this is the deserved by-product of metal and punk, so fuck anyone who muddles up such a lethal concoction. Now based in Portland (by way of Tennessee), From Ashes Rise currently sit in the awkward position of touring with decidedly poppier bands like Strike Anywhere and Dillinger Four. Somehow I can’t see the skate-happy punk fans of those bands jiving too hard on post-apocalyptic soundscapes like "The Final Goodbye" and "On the Fray" but, by the same token, this album never completely forgoes atmosphere for pure speed rush. The alternating vocals and dual guitar bombardment, along with a lock-tight rhythm section, puts Nightmares right near the top of my favorite albums of 2003 list. Can I hear a "fuck yeah"?