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No Hot Ashes - No Hot Ashes

No Hot Ashes
No Hot Ashes
by Emmalyn Campbell at 20 May 2018, 3:56 PM

NO HOT ASHES is a Melodic Rock band from Belfast, Northern Ireland. The group formed in the early 1980s, enjoying the budding music scene, and signed to GWR Records in 1988. Unfortunately, there were many problems getting their debut album released, and by the late 1990s, they had disbanded. A tribute gig sparked their reunion, and the band sent some demos to Frontiers Records. After decades, their self-titled debut album was finally released in March of 2018. Tragically, bassist and founding member Paul Boyd lost his battle with cancer in early 2017. He does appear on the album, which is dedicated to his memory.

Come Alive” is about what you would expect from the opening track. Everyone is invited to “gather ‘round” what I can only describe as a classic Rock tune, pleasing vocal harmonies, strong riffs, and a good use of keyboard. Admittedly, the chorus does fall flat, especially when compared to the next song, “Good To Look Back,” which is heavier, more imaginative, and better displays Eamon Nancarrow’s vocal range. “Satisfied” begins with a groovy bass and drum combination that later sets up a guitar solo well worth the replays. “Boulders” is a softer song that relies more on acoustics, keyboards, and vocals that aren’t trying too hard to be flashy. I really appreciate a band’s ability to strip it down and throw in a ballad; it shows creativity and maturity. The song can also serve as a parallel to their dedication to this album, as they were able to return decades later for the love of music and the joy of playing shows.

I’m Back” lives up to its name, powerful instrumentation with a vocal performance that, as opposed to a ballad, holds nothing back. It’s interesting that this is the song that directly follows “Boulders” because, whether intentional or unintentional, it provides a nice juxtaposition. “Glow” is another great track, my favorite on the album because of the rich, deep vocals in the verses that perfectly transition to the chorus and complementary guitars and keyboards that persist and only get better as the song continues. In comparison, “Over Again” and “Jonny Redhead” don’t do as much as the other tracks on the album. They’re decent songs if this is your first time hearing NO HOT ASHES, but a bit of letdown after hearing the others. Even the guitar solo at the end of “Jonny Redhead” doesn’t save the song’s general repetitiveness.

However, the album picks back up with “Souls,” a song that will probably make you feel the most nostalgic for your favorite 80s bands. Give it an endearingly cheesy music video and it could fit right in with MTV’s early days of DEF LEPPARD, POISON, and BON JOVI.  Keyboards may be the focal point of the final track “Running Red Lights,” but there is a satisfying harmony-driven chorus and a simple but enjoyable solo. I honestly didn’t know what to expect with an album 30+ years in the making. Some groups can’t live up to the challenge when comparing their music to what many consider a golden age of Hard Rock music. That being said, I’m glad NO HOT ASHES didn’t let the time spent away from music affect the output. If you’re truly passionate about something, it never stops sucking you in, and this album is an indication.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Come Alive
2. Good To Look Back
3. Satisfied
4. Boulders
5. I’m Back
6. Glow
7. Over Again
8. Jonny Redhead
9. Souls
10. Running Red Lights
Dave Irvine - Guitar
Nial Diver - Guitar
Paul Boyd - Bass
Steve Strange - Drums
Tommy Dickson - Keyboards
Eamon Nancarrow - Vocals
Record Label: Frontiers Records


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Edited 04 April 2020

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