Album Review: From Ashes to New, The Future

By Matt “Rabit” Martinez

Love can often times serve as one of the mainstream inspirations for creativity.  A fresh new love can inspire very heartfelt and loving lyrics of times you wish would never end. A long-term relationship can evoke lyrics with deep passion for your partner or contemplation of other people as the relationship may have become stagnant.  However, some of the largest sparks for creativity is that of love lost. Fresh out of the studio and ready to unleash their sophomore album, From Ashes to New presents to the world The Future. Though the album title may be referring to looking to the future and the unknown that may come your way, the album seems to be a reflection on the failure of a past relationship that have molded the now future. Following up their chart-topping debut album, Day One, Matt Brandyberry recruits new clean vocalist Danny Case for an album that takes the listener through a journey of heartbreak and recovery which I’ll navigate through herein:

Starting with the opening track “Wake Up”, From Ashes to New throws you right into the end of a relationship with one person needing to wake up and realize they are living a lie, and that the relationship is not what they want.

Next, this leads perfectly into the second track and first single, “Crazy.” The song opens with a more slow and melodic touch as Case sings in the first person about the other partner in the relationships and how Case is in disbelief and questioning the validity of their partner’s love. Brandberry raps his lines as if the thoughts inside Case’s head are running a mile a minute. Yet, as the song goes on, the tempo picks up and Lance Dowdle’s guitar riffs get heavier while Case’s clean vocals become more of a scream as he realizes the truth of his partner’s detachment.

The third track, “My Name” is a bit of a curve ball on this album, as it stands outside the overall theme of the album. This song is more of a dreamer’s song. Brandberry uses lyrics singing from an up and coming artists point of view. The song includes the lines “I’ve got my head in the clouds, my feet on the ground, I’m gonna make the world know my name.  Essentially, the song is a proclamation of a dreamer working towards bettering their situation and achieving the success that they have been longing for since childhood.

With “Gone Forever” we return to the failing relationship ride that has been unfolding in front of us. This song is the lie you tell yourself once the breakup has officially happened. With the line, “With all we’ve been through, I know I’ll never miss you because you’re not who I remember, you’re gone forever”, Case sings from a hurt man’s perspective.  He’s not ready for this to happen and is coming up with any lie to help soften the blow that just hit him.

Broken” comes up thereafter and at this juncture we are accepting the problems that may have led to the breakup but we are truly standing our ground to come out of this entire scenario wholesome. With the chorus, “I am standing in the dark, I’ve been damaged from the start, but I know it in my heart that I won’t be broken,” a man realizes the damage that has been done to him but won’t let this tear him apart. He looks into the void and finds the determination to persevere and come out the other side in one piece.

Forgotten” is probably one of the saddest songs on the album. This is the depression stage that hits everyone during a break up.  The imagery of drowning in the water serves as a metaphor for the overwhelming emotion that overcomes someone.  Frantically, the heartbroken claws to reach the surface in hopes to grasp any amount of air.  Barely surviving, they try to keep their head afloat so that hopefully someone will reach out to them instead of sinking to the bottom crippled by the heavy anchor dragging them down.

With “Enemy” we are still stuck in the depression of the break up but you are now trying to come up with any excuse not to blame yourself. Brandberry raps about finding other people to blame, that they are the ones that need to change and you yourself can just stay the same. Unfortunately, the phrase, “You are your own worst enemy” is layered throughout the song by Case, and you fight to accept that you are the problem that led to the break up.

Nowhere to Run” is your first step to recovery. This song tackles the mental demons that plague you. “I feel it coming on, something is changing us and the sun goes down, we got nowhere to run,” because in the darkness your demons have everywhere to hide. You can’t escape them, you can’t out run them, you need to either succumb to them or stand up and fight for yourself.

Let Go” is probably the song I am most connected with. In every break up, there is the one who breaks it up and the one who is broken up with. Being the latter can be one of the most devastating situations to be in. No matter how much time has passed and how much you feel you have recovered, you still end up with lingering thoughts about them. You see their face in other people, you see them in the places you visited together, you’ve accepted the break-up but as the chorus goes, “I’m still holding onto the world I used to know, I’m not ready to let go.” You just wish for one last chance to try and right things but you know it won’t happen.

In terms of the song “On My Own”, you have made it through the depression, all the lies you told yourself, all the dreams you knew would not come true but you made it and you are finally able to stand on your own. The chorus heralds the triumph of realizing how strong you can be by yourself: “On my own I can make it, on my own I will embrace it.” Case sings this with such energy and passion that you cannot help but smile as you remember a situation that you yourself have overcome in your life, one that required you to stand above your predicament and just be proud of the journey you’ve lived through.

The final track, “The Future”, is a bit of a weird one as it doesn’t seem to directly tie into the overall theme of the rest of the album. Referencing back to track 3 where Brandberry is delivering a ferocious rap claiming to be better than anyone, the chorus is then sung by what sounds like children singing, “We are the future and we have just begun.”  This seems to invoke the idea that the children are the future and they cannot be stopped. Personally, I found this a weird way to end the album after such a streamline theme throughout the rest of the tracks.

The Future tackles a very hard topic but From Ashes to New handles it in a very smart way. Matt Brandberry and Danny Case trade off lead vocalist duties and sing with such passion with groovy writing that they inhabit some of the catchiest chorus’s.  One cannot help but sing along and enjoy each song. I know I was singing along after my first listen. Guitarist Lance Dowdle and drummer Mat Madiro carry the tune of the album perfectly with upbeat guitar tunes, heavy riffs, and head-banging drum beats to offset the gloomy aspect of the lyrics. There’s no way to listen and not move and jam out to each track.

From Ashes to New did something not too many artists do these days.  They created an album with a very stream-lined theme and built a story around it. The group takes you through an emotional journey and every step that a person goes through during a break-up and the recovery thereafter.  Even with the two out-of-left-field tracks, this is an album I can find myself coming back to. If you ever find yourself in a bad relationship situation and need a pick me up, The Future is an album that can sympathize with you no matter where in the break-up you are and by the time you get to “On My Own”, you’ll be ready to get up and tackle the world.

8.5/10

01. Wake Up
02. Crazy
03. My Name
04. Gone Forever
05. Broken
06. Forgotten
07. Enemy
08. Nowhere To Run
09. Let Go
10. On My Own
11. The Future

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