Ash is a Robot’s self titled album is full of feel good classic pop rock songs that, just when you think you’ve got them pinned, throw surprisingly jumpy angular mathcore riffs at you. With tinges of post-hardcore in places and some of the most beautiful harmonising vocals Ash is A Robot are certainly showing off their varying musical skills here. This five-piece from Setubal, Portugal, may have only been together since 2012 but the band is comprised of members of established Portuguese underground bands, such as Beautiful Venom and prog metallers Monogono.
Beginning with a track that eases you in with traditional rock styling and gravelly vocals, it’s not long into opener ‘Something Something Darkside’ before it’s apparent this is not some kind of Foo Fighters-esque rock record. I can’t say it’s a comfortable journey in and out of quite opposing genres to start and the introduction of brass towards the end is, well, different, that’s for sure. If we were looking at a full record similar to the first song I wouldn’t be sold at all but every track here is vastly different to the last. ‘Karma Never Sleeps’ is a melodic, tuneful mix of post-hardcore, with almost too pretty vocal work and a sneaky bit of guitar mastery but, overall, feeling a much more together track in itself.
Going straight into a song where mathcore guitars are prevalent may otherwise feel strange but ‘Bowling the Doublecheese’ quickly evolves into an accomplished uplifting piece leaving quite a thirst for more like this, though it appears the theme of this album is a ‘no two tracks follow the same’ line. And so it goes throughout, memorable mainstream rock pop choruses with stunning harmonies neighbouring expertly screamed post-hardcore, catchy bounce along riffs alongside abrasive, grating, jarring ones. The wealth of technical experience and differing arrays of influences each member brings with them is more than clear in this wide span of morphing styles, does it work? I’d say hell yeah!
This 14-track album is very well thought out, Ash is a Robot know what they are doing, there are no uncomfortable fillers here and whilst it may not collectively (or sometimes even in the span of one track) fit tidily into any given pigeonhole, I’m not sure that matters because whatever it is Ash is a Robot do, they do it spectacularly well.