As ASG pumps out stoner metal/hard rock, the Raleigh, North Carolina-rooted outfit's album covers lay bare its interests. The 2002 self-titled effort features a woodcut of a topless woman. The Amplification of Self-Gratification, from 2003, spits at subtlety: A near-naked harlot, dressed in Old Glory, leans on an amp and cools her crotch with a bottle of Jack Daniel's. Feeling Good Is Good Enough, from 2005, features a disorienting, high-contrast picture of shears and flowers that suspiciously resembles Black Flag's Everything Went Black comp. Finally, there's the band's latest album, 2007's Win Us Over. Its cover spotlights — no surprise — curvy dames, this time in bright psychedelic symmetry.

If you are expecting Win to be loaded with testosterone, you're correct — most of the time. "Dream Song" intends to decimate, and "The Dull Blade" revels in its weighty complexity. These riffs are thick. Yet just as the party gets going, ASG's sound softens up. The morning-after meandering of "Coffee Depression Sunshine" dwells in modern radio lethargy. Then there are the overbearing histrionics in "Taking Me Over": "In a land where love is forsaken/It's kinda hard to climb out these holes/And it stains, yeah, it stains your soul." When ASG's rock gets to rock, it's rock-solid; when tenderized, it's trite.

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Reyan Ali
Contact: Reyan Ali