Down From Up Demonstrates Instrumental Mastery

Guitar shredder Andy Wood is the star of From Ashes to Empire

The latest incarnation of Down From Up is going for broke on its new disc, a heavier and faster set of moody modern rock than anything they've ever done before. It's also a showcase for the band's chops. Both drummer Andy Campbell and bassist Matt Reynolds have plenty of room to show off the band's bottom-end range, and singer Matt Brewster shifts from gruff verses to soaring choruses in a heartbeat. But guitar shredder Andy Wood is the real star of From Ashes to Empire; the songs are set-up primarily for Wood to throw in maddeningly technical licks and runs of jaw-dropping dexterity.

Some of the credit goes to go-to local producer Travis Wyrick, who's captured the sound of a band swinging for the fences. There's no getting around the standard alt-rock format, and the songs themselves do get lost amid the neck-wrecking time changes and Woods' guitar-nerd solos. But few Knoxville bands, especially unsigned ones, have ever demonstrated the instrumental mastery that DFU shows here.