PHOENIX ASH – Voices (2019)
PHOENIX ASH is America’s own Japanese Rock band.: half members born in Japan, half in the US. However their new album “Voices” isn’t J-Rock at all. The guys try to break musical and cultural barriers, fusing the essences of Japanese and American rock with their unique brand of infectious melodies and heart pumping anthems.
The results? They sound like a Scandinavian band from the new melodic hard rock wave indeed, think a mix of H.E.A.T, current Reckless Love, Brother Firetribe and a pinch of Crazy Lixx.
Yeah, “Voices” is plenty of anthemic tunes. The mentioned bands come as comparison for the sonic attack, however Phoenix Ash add their own spin. Having toured in both Japan and the USA, they’ve learned what works for their fans and what doesn’t. Their live show, according to reviews, is just as energetic as their studio performances and always leaves fans begging for more.
“Voices” begins with a techno-like intro called “Rise”. This track seeks to get the listener pumped and features a sampling of the chorus melody to the track that follows, titled “Face the Light” which comes in hot and heavy, reminding you immediately of something you might hear in a video game with the fast-paced guitar sections and clever use of electronics.
Vocalist Sean Chen sings about overcoming anxiety as he steps onto the stage, and what it takes to give the fans what they deserve. After the first chorus, we’re flawlessly transitioned over to Japanese lyrics and a new chorus. This track really has a lot of power to it, as Chen shows off his higher ranged vocal style and soars throughout each chorus.
Not to mention… that face-melting bridge solo, provided by American guitarist Cameron Brochier.
“Goodbye” comes in with mute guitar strumming and a blazing solo, right from the gate. After about 30-35 seconds, Chen comes in and shows more of an emotional side to his lyrics/singing. It’s much more midpaced song, with a poppy melodic rock chorus featuring a great dual vocal chorus between Chen and bassist Law Hsu.
“Tired of Romance” pumps with punchy verses, a very melodic verse and its melody that bring to mind 7th Heaven. “99 VS 1″adds some heavy funk rhythms for variation, while melodic rocker “It’s All a Lie” isn’t far from Vega’s latest works.
One of my personal favorites on the album is “Afterlife,” if for nothing more than that it provides a different type of soundscape. This track is beautiful and builds to an explosive chorus and I feel could really get a crowd going, as well as participating. For instance, when the song breaks down into a clean, electric guitar section and Chen’s vocals overpower that… there could be a moment where the crowd begins clapping their hands.
There is a lot of opportunity for some ’80s style air guitar on this track, too, in the solo that bridges the middle of the song into the final pre-chorus.
Final cut is title track “Voices”. It’s another good song, however my least favorite, the more modern rock radio oriented. It’s the promotional single, and I understand they have to sell the album.
Regardless of what you’re into, you’re guaranteed to find something to enjoy in Phoenix Ash. Not only are there fast-paced, complex guitar parts (Cameron Brochier is a really killer axeman), there are stupendous melodic rock choruses & melodies all over this record.
They’ve turned a lot of heads and, I wholeheartedly believe that “Voices” is going to be their breakthrough record.
01 – Rise
02 – Face the Light
03 – Goodbye
04 – Tired of Romance
05 – 99 VS 1
06 – One Night
07 – It’s All a Lie
08 – Afterlife
09 – Voices
Sean Chen – Vocals
Cameron Brochier – Guitar
Law Hsu – Bass
Aaron Kelley – Drums