Ash Return – The Sharp Blade of Integrity (Swell Creek Records)

It’s hardly a secret that I adored Miozan and when they initially decided to call time on their musical endeavours, I felt like I’d been punched in the gut by a trusted old friend. And when they rode off into the sunset, after reuniting a decade or so after they’d split, for the second and final time I was heart-broken. But you can’t keep a good band down and when four fifths of Miozan, like a phoenix rising from the ashes of the scene retirement home, regrouped with a new frontman and set their collective compass for Hardcoreville, they helped me to find my smile again.

Taking their name from an Ignite anthem, which is a pretty clear indication of where they’re coming from and that they mean business with a capital H and a big old C, The Sharp Blade of Integrity is Ash Return’s debut album and holy extra scene points, it’s knocked me right off my feet, turned me inside out and upside down. Hitting like a ten ton megaton bomb fuelled combination of the band that they took their moniker from, Rykers and Grave Digger, Ash Return have slammed their way straight to the top of 2020’s slam-happy albums that you need to hear list.

Fusing just the right amount of metal with rabid hardcore energy, intensity, melody and integrity, massive sing-a-longs and the sort of infectious choruses that immediately embrace your soul and refuse to let go, The Sharp Blade of Integrity is an astounding record. Don’t believe me? Listen to Nothing Left to Lose, Onwards, Delete and Rest in Peace and try telling me, yourself or anyone else that they’re not instant, pit ready, finger pointing classics.  You won’t be able to, because as soon as you hear them, they’ll sweep you away on a tide of instantaneous Hardcore pleasure.  Unglaublich…   Tim Cundle

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