One Day Remains – The Agony Is Abated EP

One could argue that the hard rock genre over the past decade has been at its strongest and with new bands appearing on every street corner will carry on staying at that intensity for a long time to come. From the various subgenres of it and bands like Nickelback, Creed and Hinder through to the new breed like Our Innocence Lost and The Ourz, not forgetting the return of The Darkness, as much as we try, fans have been spoilt and had a feast this past decade. Now there is another band to firmly add to the new breed camp and they are One Day Remains from Bradford, UK.

The quartet consisting of Liam Jarvis on vocals, guitarist Andy Ledder, and Jord Doherty and Daz Brearton, bass and drums respectively, have just released their debut EP The Agony Is Abated showing they are a force to watch closely and to listen to intently. Consisting of a trio of tracks it is an inspiring collection of songs that shows a distinct ability to write and create melodic and heavy music that is passionate and emotive.  

The band is becoming renowned for their very lively shows and though the EP does not portray the franticness of their gigs it does clearly reproduce the intensity. Their sound recalls the likes of Alter Bridge, where maybe or maybe not the band’s name comes from,  Seether , and Staind, though One Day Remains carry a power often missing in those bands.

Opening track ‘The Reason’ immediately sets the tone with commanding basslines and forceful drums whilst Ledder’s guitar is soulful and probing in equal measure. The vocals of Jarvis brings home the emotion of the words cleanly and impressively, never forced but a flowing part of the song, there is no sense there is a star in the band and that all stand equally in contribution and prowess.

The impressive quality is continued into the second track ‘Try’ with the same set up of stirring riffs, especially the surging metal one that leaps out from time to time, and eager melodies. The song is a neat blend of metal and hard rock in places and at one point was almost moshable, if one rushed. As previously mentioned the band is a shared four way unit but it has to be said the guitar of Ledder is especially impressive on this track.

Broken Lies’ closes the EP, a slow ballad paced track that is powerful for its emotion though against the previous two tracks slips a level, but that is more down to personal taste as certainly the song is a well constructed and presented piece of music and words.

The Agony Is Abated EP is an impressive debut for a band that will easily become a friend to more and more ears over the months ahead. The only criticism that could be levelled at it is the similarity across the tracks but in many ways that is clutching at straws for something to level against it and with the songs being this strong for a first release One Day Remains has a more than promising future ahead.

To steal a closing line from the band themselves  ”… Spread the word, One Day Remains…”

Pete RingMaster 28/06/2011

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Puritan Slain – A Matter Of Life And Death

The greatest metal band you probably never heard of!” is a line from one of Puritan Slain’s bios around the web but with the release of their new album A Matter Of Life And Death they will soon have to amend and remove the word ‘never’. Their second album is a powerhouse of riffs, metal sounds, impressive melodies, and intense emotions. It is also an evolution on their debut which in itself notably attention worthy, but A Matter Of Life And Death brings a more refined approach from the songwriting and music through to the delivery and production. This is a band comfortable with their sound and now ready to explore and expand it, which they do on this new release with quality.

   Puritan Slain has been throwing out their style of thrash metal since 2006 from the Isle of Wight, UK, not the easiest of bases for any band to grow from and meaning even more emphasis of creating a sound to take them across the surrounding water is needed. Simply finding gigs to play is hard thus gauging feedback on new material difficult, but hard work and belief has led the quintet to the release of what is destined to be in numerous top ten albums lists for 2011.

Recorded at the Agile Studios in the Isle Of Wight, and produced by the band and Jason Paine, A Matter Of Life And Death is a journey of the psyche, a harrowing journey through the darkness of the mind and emotions, leaving the listener to contemplate more than just the music they heard. From the opening of the curtain of sound from first track ‘ITL.I’ through to the closing epitaph of ‘ITL.II’ every corner of the mind and dark feelings are explored and laid out exposed.  

The consistency is very impressive across the album and rare to find in the majority of releases currently coming out. The defiant trash punk of ‘Rebellious’, ‘Obsession’ carrying a disturbing dark feel that is hard to shake off, and the pulsating and imposing riff laden ‘Determination’, are just three examples of the immense flowing intensity within the album. The rhythm section of Matthew Wade, driving each track hard with his formidable drumming, and the addictive bass lines of ‘riffmaster’ Darron Murrant  create a web of sound that allows the three guitar attack of Ben Smith, Shaun Reed, and vocalist James ‘The Bagz’ to weave their metallic magic.    Track after track working through a tortured soul the album menacingly shines. One never feels comfortable but loves every moment.

Though tagged as thrash metal the band offers much more, flavours recalling the likes of Metallica, Slayer, In Flames, Exodus and Municipal Waste are apparent but mere suggestions as the sound is solely Puritan Slain. No one else is creating tracks like the oppressive stalking beast that is ‘Fear’, or the sorrowful and deeply emotive sound of ‘Regret’; add the epic and music creativity of ‘Loss’, where as on most tracks the guitars weave some wonderful and at times unexpected sounds even occasionally skimming the edges of prog rock, as well as the harrowing and desperation fuelled ‘Death’, and the package is a complete vision and realisation of metal at its best.

For all the greatness within A Matter Of Life And Death there is one track that stands out as the destined marker for the band and what is easily the track of the year which is hard to imagine being surpassed. ‘Madness’ is perfection, the riffs come thick and fast like an aggravated giant wasp drilling away in the brain as James expels the all consuming oppressive mental maelstrom and destructive bedlam. It is simple, effective and perfection; this is what the word genius was invented for.

    A Matter Of Life And Death is an essential listen for all metal fans and Puritan Slain their new favourite band; with quality of this level it is hard to see any other outcome. For proof of that statement just take that first step and go take a listen, start with ‘Madness’ and you will be one of their rapidly growing legions within the blink of a twitching eye.
http://www.puritanslain.net
http://www.youtube.com/puritanslain
Pete RingMaster 27/06/2011

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Letters – Flash! Lights

Previous double A-Side single The Grand National/Pipe Dreams startled and stirred up a lot of attention when released earlier in the year marking Edinburgh’s Letters as a band to closely watch. Now add their brand new single Flash! Lights into the equation and the quintet have leapt far beyond just keeping an eye on into essential listening for the soul. They return with an impressive slice of velvety darkness which wraps itself around the listener with an enticing but slightly unsettling ease, the sense of shadows and inescapable insecurity building all the time.
   Flash! Lights has a darker intensity than their debut though that too carried a thick sense of disillusioned hope within its layers. The lyrics again on the new single are poetic and incisive and their ability to conjure up imagery instantly to compound the emotive feel of the track immense and at times emotionally challenging. To avoid feeling the sense of fear and panic inside that is portrayed by the skill of the writing and the haunting and imposing music is impossible.
Musically the band achieve this intrusion with many components, the moody stalking cello of Georgie Williamson as powerfully intense as ever, leads the way; she is the call to arms for despair which the rest of the band build upon wonderfully. Dougie Fuller’s bass is soulful and just as effective on creating that clinging fearful desperation as Williamson’s glorious tones, the words, and Michael Ferguson’s sad and searching voice. It all plays like a movie in the head and the heart, radiating out emotion and imagery.
During the first part of the song the guitars of Ferguson and Ed Ellis alongside the stylish drums of Kerr Donaldson stay subdued, gently adding to the slow build upon the senses until exploding in a crescendo of new hope and taking the track down new avenues gloriously for its second half. The more you listen the more the genius of it all becomes apparent, not a word you will find used lightly on this site.
Flash! Lights is glorious, it is powerful and disturbing, and Letters are the future of dark, indie pop. The following words from the band perfectly sum up what they set out to create and achieved beautifully on the single, “Flash! Lights’, to paraphrase one of the lyrics in the song, is about feeling dwarfed by the possibilities of time and the panic induced by fear of under achievement. It’s about trying to let go of your past and your vices in order that you embrace the things that truly inspire you and ultimately drive you forward, all the while recognising the complete hopelessness that neither of these aforementioned things can exist without the other.
We wanted to write a song that put the fear of God in us, something that can be as scary as the subject matter and I think we’ve managed to achieve that.”
Flash! Lights is available as a free download from July 4th, for more details and news of shows in support of the single throughout July check out the Letters official website http://www.wewriteletters.co.uk
Pete RingMaster 27/06/2011

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http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F16768674 LETTERS – Flash! Lights by Soundandvisionpr

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Top Buzzer – Outside Is A World

Channel Island band Top Buzzer with the release of their single ‘Remission’ a mere few weeks ago, immediately raised an excited enthusiasm for the imminent release of their debut album. The track’s instant burst of irresistible melodies and punk hooks wrapping around smart stinging lyrics, the best possible invite to investigate the album.
Outside Is A World is unleashed June 27th on their own label Back2Forward Records and The Ringmaster Review can announce that the album more than lives up to the awaiting enthusiastic anticipation and in fact goes far beyond. Consisting of eleven vibrant songs the Jersey trio have created a release that gets the pulse racing, body moving, and smiles flowing with their punk pop directness and ingenuity. Though recorded in the UK it was mainly mixed in New York City by Kennan Keating (Nine Inch Nails and Blondie), finding a combination of British and US vision that brings an overall openness and directness that delights.
Over the brief years the band has been operating, they have shared stages with the likes of Futureheads, Macabees, and Primal Scream and from the album there is no doubt they have watched, noted and learned from those bands, taking the strongest elements and turning them into their own unique attributes. Rippling with firm riffs and addictive melodies and hooks that never let go, each song on Outside Is A World is a mini event culminating in one big show of an album.
It opens up with the punk burst of ‘All I Want To Do’, all attitude and personal social commentary delivered in an enticing vibrancy of sound, the guitar of Becksi surging skilfully as Welshy drives the track with his firm and direct drumming; the punchy bass of Dukey completing the compulsive attack as he delivers the smart lyrics in the style of his playing. As the last note drifts away second track ‘Wake Up Call’ takes over with a Devo like opening riff and its group chant chorus, defying all not to join in by the second repeat of the line. Here as with many songs there is a deeper meaningful premise behind the cleverly and instant lyrical writing and delving is well worth the time.  
The single ‘Remission’ follows next, it’s brash, urgent, and witty representation of a relationships end still as essential from the first listen when appearing weeks back. The band calls on many punk influences from the late 70’s into the 80’s, reminders of bands stepping forth in the mind as the album moves through track after track. They are never big elements though as the sound is distinctly Top Buzzer nothing more, the references mere spices. From the Radio Stars/Max Raptor feel of the single through to the Baddies tone of ‘Are You In?’, and in ‘You’re So Good You’re Great’ with its punk vibe of The Lurkers, there are varied flavours the threesome bring to their energised punk rock and make their own.
With their ability to bring into and use without indulgence simple but siren like hooks and melodies the songs fly by but always with total satisfaction. Not in sound so much but in that style of songwriting they recall The Undertones especially in the last two tracks on the album, the lustful ‘When I Look At You’ and another song impossible to not sing-a-long with, ‘Deeply Shallow’.
Truly the whole album buzzes away and feeds the ear welcomingly, even the cover of the M song ‘Pop Musik’. If anyone can turn a song that we all know and probably wish we did not, into a great version I am still not sure but Top Buzzer give a fine attempt and it does bring plenty of smiles as well as showing how strong their own songs are in comparison.
The eagerness to entertain by Outside Is A World is equalled by the total pleasure from listening. It is an irrepressible package that shows Top Buzzer are about to take centre stage for many more people as they come across the album. Spread the word and bless many more with the sounds of Top Buzzer.
Pete RingMaster 24/06/2011

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Kobi – Masquerade

From Northern Ireland and loaded up with attitude and talent to match steps forth Kobi, a four piece rock band that offers a sound that is likely to stir movement in the most belligerent of hearts. With their intense and stunning live shows drawing more and more to their music as well as critical acclaim, the quartet from Larne should find many more joining their rapid rise with the unveiling of their brand new single Masquerade.

The band is labelled as hard rock but this track alone reveals there is more to their sound than that too easy to use term suggests. Their influences list the likes of Black Sabbath, Metallica, Black Label Society, and Thin Lizzy, though as the single plays the impression was more of Therapy? in a suggestive union with Nine Inch Nails at a blood soaked dirty bar being crooned by Revoker.  Masquerade is bursting with big imposing riffs, colourful and sweeping melodic guitars, and one of the best dual vocal attacks currently around, elements that make all Kobi tracks essential listening.  

The single kicks off with a delicious dark heavy riff chugging along menacingly. As vocalist/guitarist Ztveo Harrison unleashes his fine vocals joined by the excellent voice of drummer Warren Boyd the track rises and expands as the guitars of Harrison and Aaron Gowdy flex their muscles and skills. It is very engaging but it is the wonderful bass of Jamie Mills stalking the whole time that really completes the track. He brings a deep throaty grumbling sound to the song, delivering riffs that one could listen to all on their own; this is not to say he is the reason the track is so good but he certainly plays a big part alongside the quality of the others. As the song progresses the switches between the more metal heavier elements and the hard rock guitar grooves and parts are seamless and though the combination sounds risky the quartet not only pull it off but show it is instinctive and undeniably impressive. The dual vocal attack is just as stunning as the musicianship, with the voices of Harrison and Boyd totally distinct and completely different. With Harrison’s slight growl on his delivery imparting the attitude and defiance, Boyd matches him with his melodies and more subtle tones, it is the perfect combination.

Though this is a review of the single, a mention for another track Contradiction should be made. This is more of a hard rock track but still delivering the strong striking riffs whilst adding some inviting guitar moments and an expressive solo; undemanding but very satisfying it is simply hard driven great rock ‘n’ roll. It may not quite live up to the heights of Masquerade but that is simply because the single is one special track.

 Kobi are a band on a rapid rise and if they can keep creating tracks like Masquerade who knows to what heights they may find themselves, certainly it will be a long way to look down once they get there.

The single is available now and to obtain it go to either their official website http://officialkobi.bandcamp.com/ or to http://www.officialkobi.com

Pete RingMaster 21/06/2011

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Spirits Of The Dead – The Great God Pan

Having already impressed with their self titled  debut released in 2010 Oslo progressive psychedelic rock band Spirits Of The Dead return with their follow-up The Great God Pan. Their first release stirred up the critics and listening public alike, being named in the Classic Rock Magazine’s top 50 albums-of-the-year list a notable achievement; their contemporary sound born from the electric passion of the late sixties and opening seventies years finding a home in the hearts of a growing multitude. The Great God Pan will undoubtedly expand upon that, the diverse experimental feel the band has brought to it has fused a warm inviting flow of folk rock to some striking and surprising creative detours.

Spirits Of The Dead have a sound that is impossible to solidly pin down as being in a certain genre, it has the folk rock tag but unlike their more raucous counterparts they deliver their music with a gentler and more sophisticated hand, and the same with the progressive rock label they get attached to, they certainly have that weapon in their arsenal but it is much more subtle and eloquent than from other artists. Also strapped with influences such as jazz, 70’s electric psychedelic, and simple indie rock, they keep the listener on their toes from song to song, the diversity within the six pieces of wonder on the album impressive and very satisfying.  

The Great God Pan is a more conceptual album than their debut, taking the listener on a tour of the beauties and darkest deepest corners of Pan’s Kingdom. The journey begins at Mighty Mountain, a slow ascent that builds as the guitar of Ole Øvstedal paints an immediate landscape of wonder and the vocals of Ragnar Vikse smoothly float into view. Within moments scuzzy wrong footing sounds eagerly strike before settling once more. Eventually the track reveals its full glory, opening out into a 70’s flavoured tapestry laced with a joyful Hawkwind/ELO spiced feel.  The folky Leaves Of Last Year’s Fall takes over with the same joyous cheer, its jazz prog guitar sounds tripping through the ear delightfully. The drums of Geir Thorstensen fluently guiding the track especially where it takes a more frantic turn and throughout Deadly Nightshade and his bass openly dance.

Two tracks especially stand out on the release, the first coming next in the electrified sound and feel of Pure As The Lotus. It ripples with skilful creativity bringing a Doors like kaleidoscope of melodies and wandering exotic sounds full of eastern promise, or in this case Norwegian. The other challenger for track of the album is the disturbing and slightly disorientating atmospheric Casting The Runes. With the sense of disarray and uncaged lost souls, released and brought forth with the distorted and unhinged muffled vocals, the song is a masterpiece is misdirection; the flowing mellow and melodic spine of the track keeping the darker elements hidden until they leap forth from their hiding places.

Splitting those two is the title track, its subdued but purposeful mood a gentle example that Spirits Of The Dead have versatility as their middle name. It has a slight Paul Simon feel about it, though hopefully that will not offend. The gentle summer ebb and flow of GoldBerry closes the release, its electric urgency of certain parts a seamless contrast and compliment to the slow breezy pace of others.

The Great God Pan is one of those gems that from first play there is an instant attraction and delight but also gets better with each subsequent stroll through its lands as more treasure are reveal ed. With this release Spirits Of The Dead will leap into the hearts of so many more around the world, they deserve to for creating such a beautiful piece of musical history.

The Great God Pan is released on White Elephant Records August 1st.

http://www.thespiritsofthedead.com

Pete RingMaster 17/06/2011

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The Loud – Harris Shutter


Music and Liverpool simply goes together as obviously as any renowned duo, whether salt and pepper or Jedward and the toilet bowl, some things just are instinctively linked. The city’s music scene has spawn more than its share of great bands and legends and constantly throws more out to the world year after year. The Loud is one of the latest and the best to emerge recently, the trio from the Wirral producing music that has the unique quality of inducing nostalgia whilst having one of the freshest sounds currently being heard. June 20th sees the release of the single Amy’s Gonna Get You on 7” on vinyl and download followed not too long after by their debut album Harris Shutter, both on Liverpool independent Payper Tiger Records.

A self released sampler in 2010 saw heads turning their way further from home but with the release of their six track burst of garage psychedelic fuzz beat there will be a concentrated wave of enthusiastic interest without doubt. Their sound is an amalgam of various influences and shared loves of long time friends, guitarist and vocalist Pennington Lee and bassist Matthew Freeman. From such flavours as T-Rex, Velvet Underground, and 13th Floor Elevators to Jesus and The Mary Chain and The Black Angels there are familiar touches but all interpreted and then completely enhanced by the band’s own unique perspective with sound. Joined by drummer Leroy Oxton, The Loud are lighting up the music world with some of the most intuitive and senses stirring sounds, fusing instinctive melodies to scuzzed up garage post punk attitude.

Amy’s Gonna Get You’ opens the album and instantly one knows this is the start of a special ride. It saunters along swinging its wares against a throbbing bassline and firm drum beat. Lee’s vocals are earnest in their warning but also giving a sense of excited anticipation over the lady in question. The track is a joy, its distorted stroll engagingly addictive. A strong start that is instantly taken higher by the awesome ‘Horrorscope’, from its recognisable guitar opening, though from where eludes, the song stomps all over most music currently doing the rounds. Freeman’s bass rumbles majestically with moody belligerence as the guitars grind and chatter to give the track a neat punk feel.

A Little Taste of Home steps forward next sounding like a meeting of Jesus and The Mary Chain and the Pixies. Attitude soaked it simply stares you in the face and delivers a sentiment that one can interpret to their own current state of mind and place in the world. The Bolanesque There’s A Bomb In The House with its warm and familiar fuzzy glam rock feel  equipped with T-Rex backup melodic vocal, sways into view next swiftly followed by the slow blues emotive Avida Dollars. This track and the psychedelic haunt of Magic that closes the release, bring a more soulful and effectively simple and slower pace to the album and if any criticism could be made of Harris Shutter it is that it ends on a marked downbeat that the replacing of one or both these tracks in the album’s song order will have avoided but as always it is down to a personal feel and not a fault.

Produced by Ross Halden (Wild Beasts, The lucid Dream), Harris Shutter is a wonderfully stunning release that on each play grows and elevates higher in opinion. Vocalist Lee quoted on the albumHarris shutter has been a labour of love. We had a great time making it and a better time doing all the things that it’s about. It’s worth all the shit gigs when you finally have the record in your hands. The way it’s all come together, the way it looks feels and sounds, I couldn’t have asked for any better, and couldn’t have asked for a better group of people than those who have been working on it. It’s pretty special man.That sums up the release perfectly; you would be a fool to not listen to the creator and the album itself.

www.theloud.co.uk

Pete RingMaster 14/06/2011

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