The space between soaring euphoria and dwindling hope is much thinner than so many of us would dare to admit. Glassing, however, not only reside in this liminal space, but thrive.
The Austin, Texas-based power-trio have overcome every grisly obstacle thrown their way, sharpening their teeth over eight relentless years of touring and drinking in the wisdom earned off the back of their inimitable palette of post-hardcore, black metal and soaring, celestial shoegaze.
Now though, on ‘From the Other Side of the Mirror’, Glassing invite us inside to take a hard look at ourselves from an alien, uncompromising and often unsettling perspective.
Born of Austin’s underground musical melting pot; Glassing’s 2017 debut album ‘Light and Death’ erupted out of the famously genre-resistant scene. 35 minutes of harrowing blast beats, searing angular feedback and frontman/bassist Dustin Coffman’s sandpaper screams that set out to redefine the idea of heavy music to better reflect increasingly heavy times.
Two subsequent full-length releases, 2019’s ‘Spotted Horse’ and 2021’s ‘Twin Dream’, only dialled up this intensity as Glassing continued to push the envelope and cemented their position as an important new voice within the noise rock community. 2022 however, is when Glassing set the scene for what is to come. The introduction of formidable drummer Scott Osment (Deaf Club, Planet B) bolstered Coffman’s gut-punching basslines and inimitable howl and provided the perfect foil for guitarist Cory Brim’s razor-sharp playing style, as evidenced on the band’s most recent release, the eponymous two-track EP, ‘Dire and Sulk’.
More discordant, more distorted and somehow even angrier than before, ‘Dire and Sulk’ was just the beginning as, on ‘From the Other Side of the Mirror’, Glassing prove that uncertain times call for decisive measures. Recorded across two years of intense fits and starts, affectionately nicknamed ‘Hell Weeks’ by the band, ‘From the Other Side of the Mirror’ is a metaphysical foray into the fractured, warped impressions of ourselves that exist only in the minds of others. Working again with producer Andrew Hernandez, who the band liken to a fourth member at this point, Glassing pushed themselves harder, faster and more punishing than ever before. As their first full-length release with Osment and their first release on Pelagic Records, ‘From the Other Side of the Mirror’ became an opportunity for a new beginning, free of any pre-existing limitations or thresholds. As Coffman tells us, “This allowed us to forgo a lot of the convention and structure we’ve relied on in the past, the substitution was for raw expression. Kindred to the emotions that birthed it, this record is spirited, painful and unmethodical.”
Wasting no time, album opener ‘Anything You Want’ is the aural equivalent of blunt force trauma, complete with the dizzying concussive delirium. Coffman’s raw, guttural screams convey a desperation and hopelessness at deliberate, duplicitous odds with his eerie alter ego, all whilst Brim’s unmistakable guitar work slices through everything like a dichotic, white-hot blade. Lyrically, every song on the record explores a different interpersonal relationship in Coffman’s life and the layers of artifice at the heart of every interaction or engagement. As such, each track presents its own voice, but whether it’s sincere or synthesised is uncomfortably uncertain. Immediately following the total despair of ‘Anything You Want’, ‘Nothing Touches You’ lets the tiniest amount of light in. Hope seems to gather in the fleeting pockets of dynamic respite dotted throughout the song which suspends the listener in liminal space, briefly able to see through the mirror as well as who or what it reflects.
This duality continues throughout the album. Searing tracks like ‘Defacer’ and ‘Circle Down’ cast off Glassing’s sludge metal pigeon-holing as Osment’s relentless blast beats and Brim’s lean and taut guitar playing conjure all-out blackened metal fury to accompany Coffman’s plaintive, throat-tearing screams before epic album closer ‘Wake’ washes over us with its triumphant, major key optimism that leaves us reinvigorated and hopeful despite our uncertainties.
There’s an indescribable, beautiful rawness to this album that comes from Glassing throwing everything on the table in plain sight, rather than polishing ideas for the benefit of others until they’re unrecognisable, perfect and fake. As such, ‘From the Other Side of the Mirror’ is the convergence of self-destructive introspection and the unwelcome understanding that no one ever reveals how they really see you or, as Coffman puts it, “You might catch your reflection from time to time, but you’ll never know who put it there, them or you.”