Alec Reviews Music: Glassjaw returns with classic sound on ‘Material Control’

Alec Erickson

For a while, it almost seemed like it would never happen. After all, it has been 15 years since their previous release.

Album cover for Glassjaw's Material Control
Photo Courtesy: iTunes

Life, disease and several other factors have put the band Glassjaw on hold for a while. Even though the band was born out of a hardcore scene, the post-hardcore era has begun to evolve past the band. Nevertheless, the genre owes thanks to many of the band’s earlier works. When rumors began to swirl about an upcoming third-studio album, hardly anyone could believe it. Before long, the secret was out and “Material Control” was delivered for those who patiently waited for so long.

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Glassjaw can be traced all the way back to 1993 in Long Island, New York. The band has had a massive influence on the scene that they grew out of both here in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. The band’s first release, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence,” played a huge role in paving the way for the underground music scene on the east coast. The band began to grow and change after their debut, with many lineup changes, and found a sound that worked for them. Daryl Palumbo and Justin Beck remain the only two founding members left in the band. The band’s sophomore release, “Worship and Tribute,” came out in 2002 and ever since then there has been a handful of extended plays, singles and side projects for Glassjaw. Finally, after 15 years, “Material Control” is a record fans will have no trouble picking right back up.

“Material Control” is a 12-track record that clocks in at around 37 minutes in length. This record seemingly picks up right where the band left off years ago. The classic, complex rhythmic sections on guitar are a huge driving force on most of this record. The new-age metal fits in perfectly with the rest of the elements. Vocals are refined so elements from clean to screaming are not that strange or abrupt.

Musically, brevity is key when it comes to “Material Control.” This is a record when tracks are not much longer than two to three minutes and maintain a high energy on every track. A few breakdowns exist on tracks like “pompeii” and “closer,” which provide more progression than some of the others. Tracks like “bibleland 6” and “golgotha” draw from dissonant sounds, but many of their rhythmic sections are more complex than generic. It shows off how well Glassjaw can pull something like this off, and how other bands are just attempting to imitate this effect. Glassjaw really focuses on the metal side of things on tracks like “bastille day.” This works in a huge way as it gives a clean transition for the band throughout the record. Overall, the record is one of the band’s most well-rounded efforts from front to back, and works to be different from previous releases in more subtle ways.

Lyrically, this is when “Material Control” is the most different from anything else the band has produced. Lyrics are much simpler and more defined and do not have a more in-depth artsy meaning to them. “Material Control” abandons some of the old, often scrutinized lyrics that the band used in the past. Now the lyrics confront the more real challenges of an aging punk in the modern era. Tracks like “pompeii” and “material control” deal with an approaching apocalypse and the modern dependency on technology. Just because the band has now moved to a simpler approach to the way they write their songs, does not mean that the ideas that they are trying to tackle follow that method in anyway shape or form.

 Should you listen to it? Absolutely

Glassjaw has always had a cult-like following. If you are into them, this is a must-have record for you, and you will pick it up with relative ease and be sucked in. For an outsider, this is an extremely easy record to get into when trying to find a post-hardcore record to listen to. “Material Control” has been a record 15 years in the making and it is worth all the time and effort that went into it.

Band info: 

  • The band is often compared to Brand New for their cult-like following in the hardcore scene. Bands like letlive cite them as an influence.
  • The band has several issues with record labels in the past and often is quoted for telling their fans to illegally download their first record.
  • The mystery behind “Material Control” was spoiled by Amazon as the website listed the release date with the complete track list.

Collegian Reporter Alec Erickson can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on twitter @CTV_Ace.