September 12, 2002

Test Spin: Glassjaw

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Question: when America has gotten all its aggression out, where will our angry young rockers go? Once the nu-metal punkers of today have been discarded by the Warped Tour or Ozzfest (or both, in Glassjaw’s case), and even MTV2 has tired of their antics, will they have an encore? Though admittedly derivative (see title) of masters like Fugazi and Bad Religion, Long Island’s Glassjaw make a decent case for themselves with a layered and varied album. Singer Daryl Palumbo runs the show with undulating nasal yowling, rushing through quasi-leftist, Rage-type lyrics with a pained gusto: “Who reaches heaven in what order/ when our kids are baptized in mortar?” (from the crisp and straight-forward anthem “Radio Cambodia”).

It’s a shame that I find myself longing for defunct emo-agitators At the Drive-In when listening to Worship and Tribute, a perfectly competent and enthusiastic rock album. Glassjaw know how to channel thoughtful drumming and yearning guitars enough to make your head nod and ponder at the same time (“Trailer Park Jesus”), and they can just as easily crank up the juice for bone-crunching, machine-gun riffing (“Tip Your Bartender”). All the while, Glassjaw maintain an impressive sensitivity and an affinity for fleeting melodies. Worship and Tribute shows Glassjaw’s potential for intriguing and mature modern rock, but since they will likely be labeled as yet another outfit for senseless aggro-thrashing, will anyone really notice?

Archived article by Dan Schiff