Post-Hardcore’s prodigal sons have finally returned. Last December Glassjaw dropped their first record in 15 years, and bloody hell it’s good. However, cast your minds back to 2002, it was one hell of a year for alternative music. Thrice dropped the hugely underrated and under-appreciated ‘The Illusion Of Safety’, Tom Delonge went all minor-key on the Box Car Racer record and Glassjaw released their seminal second effort, ‘Worship and Tribute’.
Before discussing the record itself, it’s important to set the scene. Glassjaw were riding on the crest of a wave after the release of their critically acclaimed debut ‘Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence’ on Roadrunner Records in 2000. They were getting into bigger venues, selling a tonne of the iconic ‘GJ’ logo merch and starting to propel themselves into the mainstream eye, all while playing the abrasive, lip-curling hardcore seen on ‘EYEWTKAS’. However, an acrimonious split with Roadrunner and vocalist Daryl Palumbo’s sickening bouts of Chron’s disease somewhat put the breaks on for a while.
“Imagine stirring a huge bubbling cauldron, containing a mixture of hardcore, jazz, funk and psychedelic rock, it feels that at any point the mixture could bubble over into chaos…”
Fast forward to 2002, and Glassjaw were seemingly back from nowhere, with a new home in Warner Records, and a brand new record in Worship and Tribute. However, what is it that makes WxT so special? Why is it held in such high regard over a decade and a half after its release? The biggest difference on WxT from the previously released EYEWTKAS and even the ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ EP is the running leap the entire band took into their external influences. Imagine stirring a huge bubbling cauldron, containing a mixture of hardcore, jazz, funk and psychedelic rock, it feels that at any point the mixture could bubble over into chaos. However it never does and somehow comes together to form one cohesive mass. This is Worship and Tribute. Vocalist Daryl Palumbo discussed this in an interview with Crude Magazine: “You are only a sum of all of your influences and that’s what we are. . . I think that we’re original and I think that what we’re doing is different and that’s something I always knew we had on our side, but no matter how original you are you’re still just a sum of your influences.”
Sonically, WxT never seems to settle down, something that works in the albums favour. Including tracks like the meandering, ‘Must’ve Run All Day’, show that Glassjaw are more than just your stereotypical throwaway post-hardcore band of the early 2000’s. Moreover, the vocal performance Daryl Palumbo puts in on ‘Must’ve Run All Day’, is one of the first times that his clean singing voice can be fully appreciated. He weaves intricate melodies in and out of the effects laden jazz-chord backdrop, creating possibly the closest thing to a traditional ballad that Glassjaw have ever made. Furthermore, the lyrics in the outro are directly lifted from fellow Long Island hardcore mob, Mind Over Matter’s track ‘Mindset Overhaul’, so that immediately makes it good if nothing else, hey?
Although the album is filled with lighter, more experimental moments, like the aforementioned ‘Must’ve Run All Day’, ‘Ape Dos Mil’ and ‘Trailer Park Jesus’, Worship and Tribute can still stand toe to toe with EYEWTKAS when it wants to get heavy (yeah, we’re looking at you, ‘Stuck Pig’). Featuring a soaring, dual-pronged guitar attack from the criminally underrated, guitar Einstein, Justin Beck, and the equally forgotten about Todd Weinstock, heavier tracks like ‘Stuck Pig’, ‘Tip Your Bartender’ and ‘Mu Empire’ roar through the speakers in a more expansive way to the previous album. Producer, Ross Robinson has a lot to answer for when it comes to the overall sound of Worship and Tribute. His influence on the arrangement of the songs, as well as his raw production technique is the glue that holds all the disparate influences on the record together. Plus, he is also the genius behind ‘Relationship of Command’ by At the Drive-In, ‘Roots’ by Sepultura and the first 2 Slipknot records, what a CV that guy has.
Another thing that sets apart WxT as Glassjaw’s best record is it’s lyrical content. Gone is the rampant misogyny featured on the first album in favour of a far more introspective and mature outlook from Palumbo. This is especially apparent in the MTV2 favourite, Ape Dos Mil, in which Palumbo is self critical about his lyrical output on EYEWTKAS, even praising the lady that left him so heartbroken on the last record. Due to being written post-9/11, a main theme of WxT is the American Governments approach to war and terrorism. Tracks like ‘Radio Cambodia’ deal with Palumbo’s discontent as to how America handled the situation after such a massive tragedy.
“Worship and Tribute is nothing short of a modern classic.”
Worship and Tribute is nothing short of a modern classic. Without it, bands like, letlive., Deaf Havana, and the dearly departed Your Demise simply would never have existed. This album kicked the door in for bands like Finch, and the Used who became equally as huge in their own right (however, how much Dryden Mitchell from Alien Ant Farm rips of Daryl Palumbo is totally inexcusable and incredibly funny). Do yourself a favour and stick some Glassjaw in your headphones this weekend, and remind yourself why they are still the kings of this genre, and why Worship and Tribute is still one of the greatest records ever made.
WORDS: CALLUM HURST
Glassjaw will be playing Chicago’s Riot Fest – 13th Sept-16th Sept 2019 and performing ‘Worship & Tribute’ in full.
Tickets available here: