Here’s something you don’t see every day: a bunch of metal and post-rock veterans banding together to make a record that Dave Grohl wishes he had written. The dudes in ÆGES represent some of the more diverse demographics within the hardcore scene including the post-metal instrumentalists of Pelican, the straight-edge punk stalwarts of Undertow, the metalcore-techno wizards of the Rise and even the sludge-metallers of 16. The supergroup’s debut LP, The Bridge, percolates the varied musical backgrounds of its members through hazy guitar pop to mostly fantastic results.
Sonically, The Bridge recalls the glory days of ’90s and ’00s riff-rock, some of Queens Of The Stone Age’s sun-baked riffs, the chugging rhythms and straightforward melodies of Helmet and, of course, the prog-y, mosh-ready sounds of the band’s former projects. There’s also little time to rest. Opening track “Wrong” moves from verse to singalong chorus to headbanging bridge with the speed of a bullet train, while “Southern Comfort,” the most metallic track of the bunch, blows up the stadium-sized choruses to downright earthshaking proportions (Don’t listen to this one on cheap iPod earbuds if you want to keep your hearing.). While most of The Bridge‘s tracks stick to a melodic approach, Undertow and 16 fans will be happy with tracks like lead single “Roaches,” a stellar, furious whirlwind of bubblegum melodies, sandpaper-y screams and sludgy breakdowns.
The only missteps come when the polished production threatens to dilute the more interesting metal complexities, veering dangerously close to the land of derivative, Hot Topic emo-pop. Slower songs “Sent From Heaven (Rest In Dirt)” and “Fade Out” could pass for tracks by a rougher-around-the-edges Boys Like Girls, and sometimes, lead singer Kemble Walters’s vocals recall the metalcore-du-jour sounds of any Warped Tour band circa 2007. But these are nitpicks. ÆGES is the way post-hardcore is supposed to sound: abrasive, anthemic and face-melting.