Stained Ashes are a four piece metal band operating out of Florida. The band was originally the solo project of singer Brandon Turner until recruiting his fellow band members after completing his first record. In Brandon’s own words, “We had talked a bunch of smack (unwisely of us) and we had to come up with 7 songs in a month and a half so that we didn’t look like idiots after talking big”, so the first EP as a band, Funeral In Fire, was put together three months after the band had come together. Ever eager for more sweet tunes, I checked out the record to see what I can find.
The EP as a whole has a very rock and roll feel to it, as well as being steeped in Avenged Sevenfold style riffs and breakdowns. It’s as if Guns And Roses, Avenged Sevenfold and Every Time I Die had a clusterfuck and out of that strange and twisted orgy, this was born. First track Born To Lose is right in there with that punch-you-in-the-face feel, starting out on some pretty heavy screams. The screams themselves are pretty good, but having two different unclean styles and then clean vocals on top seems rather fragmented, and would probably be better kept to one screamer or style – as it sounds like two completely different vocalists – and then clean. Either way, the chorus is memorable and has some great backing behind it. The Fallen is similar, but with heavier vocals and faster drums, as well as an interesting lyrical paradox – if in The Fallen, he’s got nothing to lose, then how could he be born to lose in the first song? I’m going to be honest, the lyrics aren’t the centrepiece of this EP. They’re not as bad as some we’ve encountered (hello latest Bullet For My Valentine album!) but they’re not going to win any prizes. However, guitarist Charlie Howell might. There are some seriously brilliant solos and riffs on this album. The A7X influence is clear, but he makes it all his own.
My favourite track of the EP, In The Crowd, has a completely epic build up, going from slow burning melodic strumming to rocking solo with a bit of fuzz in between. Brandon has a fantastic voice and this track showcases it best. It also shows a bit more variety than a couple of the other tracks on the EP – while they all sound great, a few tracks are also quite similar to each other. In comparison to the other tracks, This Is Not A Vacation seems a bit superfluous. It’s well put together, but sounds almost exactly the same as its predecessor, The Fallen, which on the whole is a much better track.
Closing track, Eyes, is an absolute blinder of a song. It completely caught me unawares and shows the band as completely multi-faceted songwriters. It utilises some more interesting effects than previous songs and has a fantastic breakdown. The hardcore influence in this song works really well for the band and possibly as a pretty big hardcore fan, swings it for me as one of the best songs on offer here. It’s the longest track on the EP, but none of it sounds unnecessary, none of it bores. The mix of clean vocals and screams works best on this song, with some of Brandon’s growls sounding so pained and raw. Awesome stuff.
The production of the EP is astounding. The vocals don’t overshadow the music, the guitar and drums are perfectly balanced and the bass provides a solid backing. For a first full band effort, the EP is very impressive. I wouldn’t be too surprised if they were appearing in your local rock magazine any time soon, and if their live sets live up to their reputation (Brandon described themselves as having “the energetic stage show of early punk bands – dressing up, blood tablets, breaking guitars, throwing drum sets around, etc”) then you certainly shouldn’t hesitate to get on the road and see them create some chaos!
4 out of 5 high fives!