Saint Asonia – Self-titled Review By: MelodicEnmity
Latest supergroup, Saint Asonia, debuts with an album that packs a whole lot of punch while still maintaining to deliver extremely heartfelt, emotional melodies. But, (isn’t there always a “but?”) as great as it can be, it simultaneously leaves something to be desired. With four of the best musicians in their genre teaming up to write an album, expectations of greatness are going to be high. To say the least, being able to completely remove bias while critiquing a group such as Saint Asonia, is next to impossible, but I will discuss more regarding that subject later.
To start, Adam Gontier, has never sounded better. His break from Three Days Grace and journey through his short-lived solo project, shows that he has grown, both as a musician and a vocalist. If anything, Saint Asonia proves that Adam Gontier has stepped up his game and will only go upwards from here. If he were to team back up with Three Days Grace, I am confident that it will be one of their best releases to date.
Mike Mushok, of Staind fame, is highlighting the true technical ability of his guitar playing via this record. Taking on a more aggressive songwriting approach for this album, shows the world that he is, in fact, one of the greatest modern rock guitarists of this era. Mushok has proved his versatility time and time again throughout his entire career. From the beautiful, yet gut-wrenchingly powerful songwriting portrayed in Staind, to the perfectly executed, face-melting solos and hard rock riffing that is Saint Asonia, Mushok rivals the best of them. Mike Mushok, may just be “the perfect package.”
Corey Lowery (Dark New Day/Stereomud) does what he does best; holding down a solid backbone for the band to stand on. Lowery does a superb job of filling out the sonic spectrum with his tone and creative bass lines, while Rich Beddoe (Finger Eleven) provides Saint Asonia with some of the most solid drumming that I have heard from him to date.
Everything sounds perfect so far, right? If the musicianship on an album is so divine, why is there something missing? Saint Asonia’s self-titled debut comes out hitting hard with tracks such as “Better Place” and “Blow Me Wide Open.” Those tracks lay the groundwork and pace for the entire first half of the record. After the mid-way point, the mood and style change drastically. Out of nowhere, the record jumps from in-your-face rock anthems, to a much lighter, more reflective side. For example, I was ecstatic to see “Trying To Catch Up With The World” revamped from Adam Gontier’s solo project after Three Days Grace, and I fell in love with the beauty that is “Waste My Time,” but I just cannot wrap my head around their placement on the album. These tracks are pure gold, but the transitions between them leave me scratching my head. After track 6, “King of Nothing,” the record does not pick up again. Maybe this is simply a logistical problem. Maybe if the tracks were distributed differently, creating a record that is more even-keeled, I would not feel this way. On the other hand, maybe not. I personally believe that if Saint Asonia had placed a couple of “buffer” tracks, a song or two stylized to sound as a midway between the night and day extremities of the record, that it would have been that perfect, cohesive package. But, maybe I was also expecting more from four of my top favorite musicians in modern rock as well; coming back to my point on bias.
I remember a conversation with a colleague of mine regarding this record. We both agreed that if Saint Asonia were a brand new band, with all unknown members, that we would be giving it critical acclaim. That’s exactly why bias is such a funny, fickle thing, because it is almost always impossible to completely rid yourself of. In dealing with psychology for example, one of the only ways to remove bias is to create a double blind experiment, where even the experimenter does not know which group is doing what. Even though my career expertise is in psychology, here, at New Transcendence, I am a musician and a critic. Here, I am not afforded the same luxury as with these specific psychological experiments. We, as critics, know exactly, or at least have an idea of what we are getting into every time we take a piece of art to examine and critique.
Regardless of an oddly placed track order and the possible need for an extra track or two to make sense of the drastic transitions, you would be a fool not to pick this album up. As far as supergroups go, Saint Asonia has set the bar, and set it high. Saint Asonia’s debut record is available now wherever music is sold.
Replay Value: 4.5/5
Final Score: B+