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Ashes Divide

The first thing that comes to mind is “A Perfect Circle”. So I Googled it and of course it is Billy Howerdel’s project. And he sings on it. And wow, the vocals are really impressive. And the album came out in 2008. Five years ago. And I am hearing it today. And I love it.

But the album was four years in the making.

“Keep Telling Myself It’s Alright” is the album name.

The excellent Josh Freese provides drums and as usual the majority of the instruments are done by Howerdel. I remember reading about some of the bands that were big influences on Howerdel and the whole British new-wave and alternative scene was mentioned. Bands like “The Cure” and “Pink Floyd”. I am getting that feel from this album. If I could sum it up, it is like the mash-up of “Diary of A Madman” from “Ozzy/Randy” with “Love Song” from “The Cure”.

“Stripped Away”

Refuse to lay down tonight,
And tolerate your words…

The mood and progressive feel of the song instantly hook me in. The connection to A Perfect Circle makes me interested. As much as Howerdel tried to not sound like himself, the truth is he couldn’t.

“Denial Waits”

“Run away from the way that you love me”

What a song. I love it. The whole feel and dynamics. The frantic clean tone moody verses clashing against the fuzzed out chorus with the excellent lyrics and melody. Its infectious and majestic. The song is musical and melodic in a way that chart toppers of today can only dream off. A hit single that wasn’t.

“Too Late”

Johnette Napolitano from Concrete Blonde helped Howerdel in a production kind of way with the vocal melodies and she also co-wrote “Too Late”.

If I could separate me from myself, I’d stay away from me.

Again the feel and the unusual drumming patterns employed by Freese make this song happen. One thing that I have always gotten out from Howerdel’s music is the movie soundtrack atmospheres he creates. It puts me at a point in time or place from my youth. And that is why I gravitated towards music in my younger years. Those feelings of innocence that well-crafted music creates.

“Forever Can Be”

It’s a return to Howerdel’s “A Perfect Circle” roots. It draws you in and it is more hooky.

It must’ve been very hard
To have lived and never learnt
To be content with who you are
We all want the same things don’t we
To find the one who opens channels to our hearts
A path you never found upon your own.

The lyrics remind me of that toxic person that we have encountered in life. Sort of like the Machine Head song, “Unto The Locust”. I like that analogy, comparing a relationship with a person to the characteristics of a locust swarm.

You know what kind of people I am talking about. It is a person that you treat and respect right. It is a person that you would go out of your way to help even if it meant arguing with your family over it. But to that person, they always saw life with a chip on their shoulder and that if someone was living a touch better than them, they complained that their chance at a good life was stolen from them by the same person helping them.

“Defamed”

Danny Lohner was into the song, pushing Howerdel to flesh out a real chorus for it, trying to get Howerdel to simplify his arrangements.

I watched you wash away any chance of coming clean to anyone

Having dealt with liars and deceitful people in a band situation, I can honestly say that I will never be in another band again. Because people just don’t get it. The drummer believed that because he drummed on it, he deserved a song writing credit. The vocalist believed because he sang on it and re-interpreted some of the vocal melodies to suit his voice that he also deserves a song writing credit. The bass player believed because he put the case to shorten the interlude section that he also deserves a song writing credit.

“Enemies”

It’s got this British sound if there is such a thing.

Cut a smile in my face so you’ll intake some fleeting comfort
You’ve built a wall of beauty to help tolerate any discomfort

Aint that the truth. It’s a nice diplomatic way to say that we all wear facades in our daily lives.

“Ritual”

You and I keep falling further away
It’s become our ritual
We stare like strangers straight through each other in to the wall…

The groundhog lifestyle when communication breaks down.

“The Stone”

We survive what we can’t change
So let it fade, Just let it go
We pretend so nothing does change
We’re flowers never breaking through the stone

We are conditioned to live, work and die. Call it the post WW2 rebuilding mentality. I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that my children are the flowers that DO BREAK THROUGH THE STONE.

“The Prey”

It’s got almost an EDM New Order feel merged with Collective Soul. Yep, remember Ed Roland and Shine.

They pretend to be the ones to be afraid of
Caressing our souls away from us
And all of the world to keep us all in line
If we just fold our hands and smile

Democracy works when we all obey and do what our Governments require us to do. But when our Governments are in league with Corporations and are taking substantial contributions from them to pass laws, it’s becoming harder to believe.

“Sword”

The epic for the album at six minutes and thirty seconds long. It’s a melancholic ride back into the past of Howerdel and his “A Perfect Circle” tenure. How sad is that piano riff?

We’re cut from the same cloth but we are
Stained with the poison of pride

We’re sucking the life from the whole of the world
Can’t be confined or condemned to be
Reduced to a place that’s a violent resolve
To the end they will try

The vocal phrasing is all Maynard. Not too sure if Howerdel had this style of phrasing before he hooked up with Maynard or if he developed it after working with Maynard sort of like how Zakk Wylde phrases his vocals in a very definitive Ozzy style.

There is no filler on this album. Check it out.

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