Rites of Ash – Like Venom

Rites of Ash - Like Venom

Rites of Ash certainly has an interesting aesthetic. Labeling themselves as pop/rock/electronica, they add some unexpected elements to a standard alternative rock sound, which serves to simultaneously bring freshness to the music and, well, make it a bit annoying. Their new LP, Like Venom, carries unconventional production that, while certainly unique, may turn off fans of the genre.

Hailing from Washington, D.C., the quintet includes 80-two, Lazzo, Lumer, and Berry. Their range of influences in surprising: Linkin Park, Billy Joel, Disturbed, T-Pain, and Lady Gaga all melt equally into the Rites of Ash stew. Such diverse taste does give Like Venom some surprising aspects, but it also means Rites of Ash may not have a clear target audience. And besides this exclusive incorporation, their music is totally unremarkable.

“Only Human” opens the album with everything Rites of Ash has to offer. There’s heavy guitar riffs and ominous synths, making it perfect for a summer blockbuster. However, there’s also the ugly hip-hop phoniness of “auto tune” and the background vocal accompaniment similar to the interaction between Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda. The first three tracks combine these traits in varying ways.

A shocker comes when “Burn” unleashes its growls, obviously drawing from their metal influences more than their urban influences, although they’re still present. However, just because it’s a new direction for the album doesn’t make it good; besides the horns, it’s a throw away track. “Three Leaf Clover” is the most affective track; there’s chanting, emotional singing and complementary guitar arpeggios. It’s a clear choice for a single, and it’s sure to get girls swooning at concerts. “Weight of the World” isn’t so bad (though it’s not very good either).

The album closes with “Hand Grenade Heart,” a track that’s more intriguing because its title seems inspired by Green Day’s fantastic concept record, American Idiot, than the actual music, which sounds identical to everything else on the album.
Like Venom is 10% innovation and 90% ordinary. There are countless heavy alternative rock bands that follow this formula, and while adding a hip-hop and electronica coating may bring a slight novelty, it is just that; something that intrigues instantly and then fuses with the rest of the mediocrity. Rites of Ash may actually hurt themselves going one step beyond just being another run of the mill rock band; they use production that many rock listeners reject, and therefore many potential fans will dismiss this band while they adore others that are just as average.