IIIrd Alternative – IIIA

Instrumental music always has the capacity to inspire images and thoughts in the listener, the best examples guiding those thoughts to certain places and events in the mind. Some like Danish progressive post-rock band IIIrd Alternative take it further with artistry and skill, their music creating soundscapes and worlds in which the listener is immersed to freely find their own visions and emotions within the immense sounds created, each with their own distinct and unique feeling and image.

Audiences across Denmark have been steadily swept away by the Aarhus quintet and their imaginative and creative sounds since 2003. Now with their debut released on their own label, Gehör earlier this year, IIIrd Alternative should see Europe being the next to submit to their musical enticement. The album consists of six tracks that span across almost an hour of musical imaginativeness that inspires and nurtures personal narratives in the listener. The band recently commented on instrumentalism with “Music for us is the most direct form of creative expression of moods with feelings and sensations for both artist and listener. IIIrd Alternative is exploring the possibilities that instrumental music offers in terms of not dictating or predefining the perception of the moods and feelings the listener should sense or feel.” They went on to say “As we do not imply in words or pictures the thoughts and mood to the listener, we have the potential to create an atmosphere where an audience can have totally different experiences from the same source of communication.”   

   That potential is realised with IIIA as a package and in the individual songs, opening track ‘Umbra’ the first proof and realisation of their comment and aim. The track is a big worldly experience, an emotive musical landscape that wraps itself around the sounds recipient. The guitars of Lars Evers, Rasmus Frisenvang, and Daniel Malling Zederkoff produce an expanse of generous and engaging sounds invoking senses to bring an inner reality to the song.

Across the six musical pieces IIIrd Alternative bring strong variety and variation so each song has its own distinct character and story to inspire. ‘Eye Against Eye’ has a darker more intense tone, the driven riffs and grinding sound almost a foreboding for the following epic sense of ‘The Great Flood’. The song is dramatic and haunting bringing a cataclysmic feel tinged with hope. The sense of chaos and tension consumes at times but is then tempered by calmer and mellow trust fuelled elements. In every track there is a dark and light feel and not once is either allowed full reign adding to the deep feelings felt when listening, each track an emotional journey whatever its length.

The mysterious and menacing ‘Dark Rift’ is a tension breeding slice of sound and the strongest on the release. The deep growling bass of Hamed Golchin matched by the firmly directing drums of Simon Meiner bring an air of possible violence and whatever the trio of guitars bring on top that air of foreboding is inescapable.

Deficit’ and ‘Æble’ complete the release and just as ably instil the same reactions in the listener as previous tracks just with their own diverse imagery to encourage but never to direct.

IIIA is a creative and powerful delight and a wonderful showing that music does not need words, imagery or hand guiding for the listener to create a tapestry to feed the imagination.

IIIA is available as a name your price download at http://iiirdalternative.bandcamp.com

RingMaster 25/07/2011

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Winds Of Plague – Against The World

Metal, deathcore, hardcore, death metal, L.A. Wind Of Plague court them all making exact labelling of the band’s sound impossible. Such difficulty is a sign of a band that is always thinking and looking for new ideas or random, often both as in the case of Wind Of Plague and their new album Against The World. On the album there is an eagerness to stretch and expand their music with often surprising and intriguing ideas and directions which for the main work impressively well. There is as expected still the power, defiance and in the face aggression that previous releases have gained acclaim for in abundance.

Against The World brings simple and devastating attacks flavoured and enhanced with some inspired keys from newest member Alana Potocnik, her skills obvious throughout, and the album is a riveting amalgam of sounds underneath the Wind Of Plague canopy of power. About the album vocalist Johnny Plague  has commented “We set out with producer Matt Hyde to raise the bar for Winds Of Plague both as a band and as musicians. We put a lot of our writing focus into the energy and the structure of the songs and everything else just seemed to fall into place naturally. We really just wanted to create a fun but heavy album. We still topped every song off with over the top epic orchestral arrangements, but we brought back the more hardcore, live show elements from ‘Decimate The Weak’. Unlike the previous release this record is not a concept album, which gave me freedom as a writer. Both fans of ‘Decimate The Weak’ and ‘The Great Stone War’ will be pleased for we haven’t altered the formula or strayed from our roots, but injected them with rage and fury. This record is beautiful, ignorant and heavy.”  

The album starts off with one of the best beginnings on any album this year so far. ‘Raise The Dead’ is a cinematic and atmospheric track that is long enough to be more than a mere intro though it sets up the tone and leads wonderfully straight into ‘One For The Butcher’. The haunting keys and disturbing child chants from the opener reappear in this second track, making a death/black metal flavour at its best creating not only good sounds but emotional  responses too.

Drop The Match’ and ‘Built for War’ step up next screaming at and bludgeoning the ear with a hardcore/ deathcore middle finger up assault. On the first the keys play elegantly behind the storming intense drum attack from Art Cruz and the pillaging throbbing bass of Andrew Glover. Vocally Plague delivers his growls and force with venom, as always you know what you will get with his vocals but they never from become stale at the same time. The second of the two songs rides in on some fine teasing symphonic keys whilst the metal urgency and direct strikes from the guitars of Nick Piunno and Nick Eash come striding through. There were moments  on the track that brought bands like Mudvayne and Children of Bodom  to mind all distilled in a neat blend of vintage Biohazard and Hatebreed.  ‘Built for War’ does feature gust vocals from Jamey Jasta so a clue maybe as to one of the spices to it.

 Jasta is one of a few guests on Against The World, which include Martin Stewart (Terror) and John Mishima (ex Blood Runs Black) on ‘California’, and also Mattie Montgomery (For Today) and Drew York (Stray From The Path) elsewhere. Also notable is the appearance of wrestling legend Ultimate Warrior on the brief ‘The Warrior Code’. Musically the Japanese sounding keys are great but overall with the vocal spoken narrative  from the wrestling icon it is debateable if it works and really was just a moment of self pleasuring by the band. Good to see the ring rope shaker is still alive at least.

Tracks such as ‘Refined In The Fire’, ‘Most Hated’, and California’ all satisfy immensely and the blend of hardcore devastating ferocity and flowing melodic keyboard pleasure from Potocnik make the album intently pleasurable and very repeatable. No, Winds Of Plague will not set new trends for others and lyrically they do not exactly write words to be devoured eagerly by scholars in decades to come, but they are what they are. A strong and powerful band that eagerly fills your ears and hearts with greats sounds.

http://www.myspace.com/windsofplague

RingMaster 25/07/2011

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