Album: Eye of the Stygian Witches
Label: High Roller Records
Genre: Classic Rock
Release Date: September 28th, 2018
This album is the very definition of Dad Rock.
That’s no insult, either, because Dad Rock can be damned good when it’s done right, and it really can’t be done any better than it is here. Lots of smooth guitar, excellent playing, professional production and great songwriting is what makes up the Eye of this particular Witch, and she never blinks when it comes to delivering some sweet grooves.
Ashbury is a pretty obscure band from the early 80’s. Brothers Randy and Rob Davis put out one album (Endless Skies) and worked on a follow-up that wasn’t released until 2010 (Something Funny Going On) before disappearing into the ether. High Roller Records re-released those two albums and now, hot on the heels of their “rediscovery,” the brothers have brought us an all-new album of tunes.
Mostly what we have here is softer, acoustic numbers, that are perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon. There are some rockers but to be honest, they’re pretty polite, and there’s no real danger that you’re going to come up out of your easy chair and pump your fists. What you will do, if you give the album a chance, is get entranced by the catchy hooks and choruses and the damned fine guitar playing. I mean, Randy smokes on the guitar. It’s a real shame we haven’t gotten two-plus more decades of him showcasing his skills, because he’s damned good. So is the rest of the band. They’re very tight. Brother Rob sings and his voice really does bring the whole Dad Rock tag to the fore, but to be fair, his sound is perfect for the songs. I prefer rougher vocals and his are smoother than silk diapers on a baby’s butt.
Opener “End of All Time” is a good example of the band “rocking,” and displays some guitar harmonies that most bands would chop their toes off to have. Again, very smooth and fluid, as is the entire album. You’ll know on first listen if you want to dive any deeper, and hopefully you will, because the slight prog vibes and the inherent joy in the playing will win you over, unless you’re some basement-dwelling dragon who only wants Death gargles and muddy production. Even those people might be lulled, if given a chance.
Another couple standouts for me was “Good Guitar,” which delivers exactly what it promises, and the title track. “Good Guitar” feels like a lost 70’s radio song that should have been a hit but somehow never made it. The song is that good and also that sappy (that’s a compliment). “Eye of the Stygian Witches” is kind of their prog epic and it effectively finishes and summarizes the entire album that came before it (there is a slight lullaby “All My Memories” after, but it feels mostly like a coda). The guitar on this is amazing and the rest of the band compliments it with some fine, tasty playing.
Did the world need a new Ashbury record? Nah, probably not, but we were blessed with one, anyway, and every person that gives it a chance will probably be happy we were. This one is for the old-timers out there and for the younger, more adventurous among the metalheads. Ashbury have delivered an album that you can crack a beer open to, smoke a blunt to, or simply lay down in the middle of your living room and let the music wash over you.
1. End Of All Time
2. Good Guitar
3. Summer Fades Away
4. Celtic Cross
5. Waited So Long
6. Out Of The Blue
7. Faceless Waters
9. Amber Glass
10. Eye Of The Stygian Witches
11. All My Memories
Total Playing Time: 54:23