LP, Limited Edition, Transparent Violet Vinyl
Fierce Panda (2023) EU
Ash have been together for 30 years, but it was their two years apart which ultimately inspired their brilliant new album. Like the rest of the world, Tim Wheeler (guitar/vocals), Mark Hamilton and Rick McMurray (drums) were blindsided by the pandemic. It enforced not only the first extended period of downtime the band have ever had in their incredible three-decade career, but also became the longest they'd gone without seeing each other since they met at school in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland.
Tim Wheeler - as you'd expect from one of the greatest songwriters of his generation - had kept writing throughout Ash's enforced lay-off. He turned up for the band's re-boot camp with a rucksack stuffed full of hard-rocking anthems ready to go. And after all, heavy times call for heavier music.
The self-produced Race The Night - the band's eighth full-length studio album, no less - is outstanding in every respect. Recorded at the Oh Yeah studio in Belfast with renewed focus the record combines the irresistible rock riffs of 2004's blistering "Meltdown" album with the melodic mastery of its 2001 predecessor, "Free All Angels" - all wrapped up with a distinctly 2023 twist. And, with the distant rumblings of an oft-mooted rock revival on the horizon, it might just be the essential guitar-centric, anthem-packed album the world has been waiting for.
Race The Night deserves to sit amongst the upper echelons of Ash's cherished history, and remind the world that - even with 30 years of greatness behind them - the best may be yet to come.