Interview with Henry Kaye of the The Static Jacks

New Jersey indie rock band The Static Jacks has just given the UK a double treat in the release of their new double A-sided single ‘Into The Sun’/‘Mercy Hallelujah’ and a virtual whistle stop visit to these shores to put on a handful of warmly received and acclaimed gigs. With the release of their debut album If You’re Young on Fearless Records in the UK also impending The RingMaster Review had the pleasure whilst the band were here to ask guitarist Henry Kaye about the visit, single and about The Static Jacks themselves.

Hi thanks for talking with us at The Ringmaster Review and welcome to the UK.

This is your first time here as a band and individually?

Henry:  Yeah this is my first time here! As well as Michael and Andrew’s first time.  Nick and Ian have been to the UK before though on vacations.

It may be a silly question but what is it about the UK that excites you and makes you guys think, as we do, that your sounds will hit the right key with audiences and ears here? 

Henry:  I think it’s exciting that the other night we played Koko in London and in between bands they would play The Vaccines and MGMT over the speakers.  In America you go to a club and they play Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.  It’s nice to hear indie rock music at clubs.  It shows there’s a real interest for it.

Within a day of arriving you had your first show, how did that go?

Henry:  Ahh yeah, we played at 100 Club.  It was a blurry show.  We all felt dead after stepping off of the plane but knew we had to still bring it that night.  Let’s just say after all of the plane ride’s turbulence Ian still didn’t get sick all over the crowd.

Did you find the crowd had a stronger knowledge of you and your songs than you expected?

Henry:  Yeah I think we find that recently everywhere we go there are surprisingly people there that know who we are.  This is all so new to us.  It’s mind boggling to see people singing along to “Into The Sun’s” final chorus.

What are you expecting or hoping to achieve from your brief visit to the UK, for yourselves and the band?

Henry:  It’s been a goal of ours for a very long time to come over here and play shows.  We were just hoping a few people would come out and give us a reason to come back again and again and again.  The reaction so far has definitely exceeded our expectations.  We’ll be back.

Can we go back to the beginnings of The Static Jacks, how did you all meet and what was the aim starting out as a band?

Henry:  I met Ian and Nick when we were 14-years-old and freshmen in high school.  We started writing songs together in an early version of what would become The Static Jacks and playing at school events and in clubs in New York we weren’t old enough to get in to.  The aim was just to write rock songs that friends could relate to and sing along to.  One of the first shows we ever played was in Nick’s basement, where we have practiced since day one.  It was just a ton of our friends surrounding us in a corner singing and dancing to every song.  I think that set a good tone for what we were trying to achieve.  After graduating high school we decided we wanted to push forward with the band idea where we met Michael who grew up in a town over from us. And so the adventure continues.

The songs carry a great and effective mix of influences and genre flavours, how would you describe your music to someone never having heard a track?

Henry:  I would call it rock music with hooky melodies and a punk spirit!

What are the influences that have helped form your music and sound?

Henry:  I think Arcade Fire have really helped remind everyone what a band should sound and look like.  Also, their subject matter is something we all really connect to.  All of these ideas about growing up in the suburbs, riding bikes with friends, parties.  It’s all there.

Your debut UK double A-sided single ‘Into The Sun’/‘Mercy Hallelujah’ is just about to be released here, that must add extra excitement to the shows?

Henry: Definitely! We’re big fans of the 7” single.  It’s amazing to come over here and have an exclusive to give out.

Do the two great songs making up the single give a good representation of what people can expect on your impending album If You’re Young released here soon?

Henry: Yeah I think it’s a good lead off for what to expect from the whole thing.  Big choruses.  Sing a longs.  That kind of stuff.

Mercy Hallelujah’ carries a melody that we cheekily said you ‘borrowed’ from The Cure, would it be too rude to ask if that really was where the inspiration for the hypnotic melody came from.

Henry:  Haha, it wasn’t intentional but if there’s a place to steal from I think The Cure is a good spot.

You are very much an independent band in thought and ethos, continuing the punk DIY intent. Would you relinquish that control and instinct if a big time label came in with an enticing offer which included them having control of most things?

Henry:  I don’t think we’d ever feel comfortable in a situation where we weren’t in control of most things.  I think we’d no longer be this band if we didn’t have a say in what songs made an album, what the package looked like and where our music winds up.  I want to be as big of a band as possible, but it has to be done the right way.

Lyrically your songs are emotive and intelligent ‘story telling’, what inspires the majority of the themes?

Henry:  This album is mostly about being 20 or so and growing up and moving on from your hometown and relationships that you’ve built there since you were a child.  Everyone you know, including yourself is moving in opposite directions and it’s a tricky situation to “figure out” the rest of your life and where you want to go.

How does the songwriting process work within the band?

Henry:  There are ideas flowing in from all directions.  We all can bring song ideas in individually, in which case they are then fully worked out as a group.  Or I’ll come in with a riff and structure idea.  Every combination has happened.  We definitely have a lot of material because everyone writes.  It’s so much easier then depending on one guy.

Is there a final voice that makes a decision when things cannot be agreed amongst you or are moments like that left to concentrate on other aspects of the band and music?

Henry:  Usually the band can just vote on it and we can figure it out internally.  But when things can get more complex we talk to our management and listen to their ideas.  It’s definitely not a final say, but it at least gives us another opinion to sway the arguement.

What is next for The Static Jacks on both sides of The Pond?

Henry:  More and more touring next year!  Constant touring.  Our debut album “If You’re Young” should be finally coming out over here.  And we’ll definitely be coming back to play more shows soon.

Do you set yourselves targets or simply concentrate on the now?

Henry:  We have goals for sure, but I think it’s important to just keep blinders on and plow through the moment.  I don’t like to get caught up in long term plans or strategies.  Save that for the labels.

A big thanks for sparing time to chat with us, and good luck for the remaining dates with hope your return is swift. Would you like to finish with a message for the UK and your existing fans everywhere?

Henry:  Thanks for coming out to see us and showing us that people do know our music!  We’ll definitely be seeing you again next year.  Come say hi at the merch table!

And finally what special treat are you sneaking back to the US in your luggage?

Henry:  I think Ian will be sneaking back a few bags of Percy Pig candy.

 

Read Single review@ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/the-static-jacks-into-the-sunmercy-hallelujah/

Ringmaster 30/11/2011
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Careless – Coalition

 

To all extent and purposes Coalition the debut album from US rock band Careless has been 25 years in the making. With half of the tracks that make up the album written and recorded in the 80’s and the remainder post 2008, the album has been on a long journey to realisation but now it has unveiled its great rock sounds the album is a definite welcome addition to this year’s releases.

The journey began in the early 80’s when guitarist Walt Kosar and drummer/vocalist James Collins met whilst attending a college in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Finding mutual musical minds and loves the duo began writing and recording music together. Bassist Nolan Ayres was added to work on these initial songs and their home recording via a Tascam 234 4 track cassette machine. These songs ‘Curtains’, ‘Boundaries’, and ‘D.F.M.’ open up Coalition continued by tracks ‘Out of Control’ and ‘Blackened Walls of Freedom’ which were also created at the time. Life, circumstances, and opportunities etc came into play and the guys went their separate ways, losing touch over the years. Despite the members being in different geographical regions 2008 saw Kosar with the aid of modern technology find and make contact with his band mates. This resulted in the band revisiting the older material and working on brand new songs, the result becoming Coalition

As mentioned the 80’s written songs make up the first half of the album and apart from the actual song quality the notable thing is how easily and seamlessly they play against the newer material. There is not a majorly distinct difference to the sound quality to tell the music was created and recorded two decades, apart at no point does Coalition particularly feel like an album of two parts. Opener ‘Curtains’ reveals the band’s influences and love of 80’s new wave of British heavy metal bands with its clean and melodically powerful guitars which often unveil intriguingly surprising meanderings and the strong but never indulgent vocals of Collins. The other thing that shines is the great bass play from Kosar; every track pulsates with his honed ability and imaginative lines.

The early songs like ‘Boundaries’ and ‘Out Of Control’ continue this flavoursome rock sound , vibrant and fresh sounding despite the material’s age it engages the ear eagerly ensuring all classic/hard rock fans will find much to get excited over. These songs carry a Maidenesque essence too that ignites thoughts of the times the songs were spawned from.

The newer songs have firmer steel to them, a metal edge that demands attention without deliberately abusing the ear. Tracks like the excellent ‘Against Stupidity’ and ‘Contend In View’ with its commanding riffs and frisky solo, stand as confident examples of the quality songwriting and individual skills of Careless. The new songs also feature a grouchier bass from Ayres, his riffs veining these later songs with even more depth to feed all primal needs.

For all these great songs the ones that actually made the deepest mark are the three instrumentals on Coalition. Each is strongly different to themselves and the rest of the album to show the diversity of the band. ‘As Time Passes…’ is an emotive piece with wonderful guitar work from Kosar against atmospheric keys, its beauty sparking emotions within the listener. ‘Between the Mayhem’ is a similar piece with this time the delicious bass of Ayres having full reign minus the keys. To some these tracks might feel like fillers or indulgences but with their quality and satisfying effect they more than deserve their worthy inclusion. The third ‘5ive’ is the best, a cyber energised rhythm creation from Collins that would grace any sci-fi movie soundtrack. As with the other two it explores and gloriously reveals the talents of the members of the band.

Coalition is diverse, strong and most of all very enjoyable. With all indications that the album is the start of a sustained stay by Careless it suggests future glories as well as current pleasures that will light up the senses of all rock lovers.

RingMaster 30/11/2011

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Wasted Sinners – Unleashed And Dangerous

Suffering from a lack of straight from the heart sleazy rock ‘n’ roll? Then fret no longer as UK rockers Wasted Sinners are here to fill the gap with their deeply infectious sounds and attitude derived from influences like Hanoi Rocks and Motley Crue. There is also a strong tinge of Guns ‘N’ Roses to the band’s music but not wanting to give any negativity (though I am sure the band will welcome the comparison) to what is an impressive debut mini-album from Wasted Sinners, that is the last we will mention them.

Unleashed And Dangerous is an extravaganza of honest and exuberant rock music with harder tones in all the right places. It riles up and excites with six tracks that show the strong and varied range of the band from out and out rockers to more defined melodic rock ballads, all destined to please and satisfy all classic and hard rock fans everywhere. To be fair the album does not explode with anything distinctly brand new to add to the genre but instead uses the band’s obvious influences to create a release that pulsates, throbs, and triggers off the juices.

London based Wasted Sinners began in 2008 when long time friends Dude Rock and Pete Sin, bass and drums respectively began rehearsing together. This inspired the realisation that they had to form a band as they began adding lyrics and melodies to their rhythms. After a while vocalist Roxx Hydi linked up and things began to really gel. After going through a few guitarists the talents of Gary Dainty (Dainty Rockstar) was found and added to put everything in place to start their quest to inspire the world with their rock sounds.  The end of 2009 saw the band record Unleashed And Dangerous with producer Bill Gautier and this December 12th sees the unveiling of its irrepressible and addictive sounds. The time between its recording and the album’s release was marked by the departure of Pete Sin in 2010 and his welcome return early this year to bring the original line-up back in force. With work already happening on new songs for imminent recordings Unleashed And Dangerous will pave the way for what one suspects is an unbridled wave of further enthused anticipation and following. 

If you are looking for ear bashing and senses pummelling sounds this is not the release for you, the songs from the opener  ‘Fakeness’ right through to the album’s last note, simply tease and toy with classic rock sounds to eagerly devour. With an added glam rock sensibility and hard rock power every song no matter its form of attack is an exceedingly rewarding experience. Starting on a rampant drum roll the track and its scorching guitars, leap into the ear with a stylish swagger matched by the great bragging tones of Hydi. It is also the first indication of the great throbbing bass from Dude Rock, his skilful lines and play even more prominent on the subsequent songs.

The great start to Unleashed And Dangerous is raised further by the direct and uncompromising ‘One Night’, uncompromising in the fact it just mercilessly leaps into and captures the ear then boastfully parades its trophy around on unrepentant contagious riffs and hypnotic concise guitar strikes. Two rock ballads ‘Questions’ and ‘I’m Fallin’ sandwich the release’s best track in ‘I Want More’, the first an emotive and powerful song that displays the certain writing skills of Wasted Sinners and the band’s ability to slow down their energy without losing its effect. The second of the two is a heavily G’N’R’ (damn that slipped out) flavoured song and maybe explains why though it is a strong and solid song it did not grab as deeply as the others.

As mentioned ‘I Want More’ is the standout song, though closely challenged by ‘One Night’. Making its presence known upon a glorious rumbling bassline soon followed by cutting chugging guitars the song is an instantaneous web of catchy hooks and anthemic chorus. It is the simplest song on offer but it is impossible to find any resistance to the melodic contagion it comes with.

Closing with ‘Drugs And Angels’ and its straightforward heartfelt blast of rock ‘n’ roll, Unleashed And Dangerous is a complete joy which the more one give it access to their ears the deeper it ingrains its charms, even to the point of waking with the chorus and basslines of its best track ringing around the head. There is only one thing to say, go check out Wasted Sinners, now!

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RingMaster 29/11/2011

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Susie Soho – Twelve Twenty Seven

If you have not yet heard of Irish alternative rock band Susie Soho it will only be a matter of time before their infectious indie rock sounds find and pleasure your ears. Already dripping with strong acclaim and inspiring a rapidly growing fan base the foursome from Celbridge are poised to trigger greater interest with their new EP Twelve Twenty Seven. The release is one of those gems that though it does not necessarily explode new sounds or directions on the listener  it is a wonderfully warming and uplifting release that plays like a familiar friend bursting with a fresh and invigorating character.

Susie Soho, the band name coming from the 2000 jazz album Good Morning Susie Soho by the Esbjorn Svensson Trio, was formed in 2009 by singer/guitarist Tony Fitz who was joined by Jason Maher (bass), Niall Campion (guitar) and Mia Fitzgerald (drums). The same year saw the band make their actual live debut at Oxegen and the release of their first single ‘Spinning Top’. The following year was just as impressive in seeing the band collect more ‘armoury’ in the shape of being nominated for a Meteor Award (The Irish equivalent of The Brits), plus the releases of second single ‘Little Prince’ and debut album Where All The Ladders Start. These were two years of impressive steps for the band even more marked knowing the background to the well received and excellent album and songs.

In contrast to Where All The Ladders Start, new EP Twelve Twenty Seven actually sees the first appearance of material recorded as a band. The previous material and album was recorded at Fitz’s home studio before the band had basically played together. Mixed by renowned Greek electro-acoustic composer and producer Anthony P. (aLfa.P, Stereo Nova, Supermarket) and mastered by Geoff Pesche at Abbey Road Studios (Lily Allen, Coldplay, Gorillaz), the album and studio work all happened before the first band rehearsal was arranged. 

The EP opens with ‘Your Way Or Not At All’ to instantly bond with the ear, the fluid melodies and warm harmonies coaxing the senses with lively and wonderful charms. A murmuring bassline veins the song wonderfully whilst Fitz’s vocals smoothly compliment the assertive sounds. It is a strong and inviting start to the release but soon eclipsed by second song ‘Stand To Arms’. Powerful in its defiant lyrics and riffs the song grabs hold with a firmer and very agreeable grip. The Irish accent of Fitz wonderfully expresses itself adding another texture to the politically charged content. Amongst a quartet of fine tunes ‘Stand To Arms’ leads the way with its punchy attack and rock fuelled call to arms.

The EP is completed with ‘Making Taste’ and ‘Eye For An Eye’. The first stomps along with an eager grace that blends wonderfully with the song’s firmer rock veined flow. As with all the songs the track instantly throws up a rapport with the listener which though in some ways means there are little surprises offered there is a vibrant essence and unassuming beckoning attitude that engages and entertains the ear deeply. The latter of the two songs closes Twelve Twenty Seven as powerfully and impressively as the EP began. It drives through the ear with care and easily consumable melodies to lay a feast for the senses to devour happily.

Following up an already strongly praised album, the EP further thrusts Susie Soho into a brighter spotlight.  Since forming the years have seen fast and impacting moments for the band, on the evidence of Twelve Twenty Seven 2012 is going to be very eventful and memorable too.

http://www.susiesoho.com/

RingMaster 29/11/2011

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Revocation – Chaos of Forms

Every now and then amongst a plethora of great releases there is one album that goes a little further and deeper to pleasure and ignite every sense.  Chaos of Forms from Boston metalers Revocation is one such glorious album, a release that taunts, teases and then delivers the most inspired and satisfying sounds. It does not take too many seconds of the opening track to suggest and instantly prove that the album should go down as one of this year’s most essential and rewarding releases. It is lively, hectic and thoroughly hypnotic with a blissful blend of thrash, death, and technical metal intricacies that mesmerise on every level.

The trio of David Davidson (guitars / vocals), Anthony Buda (bass / vocals), and Phil Dubois (drums) follow up their acclaimed Existence Is Futile of 2009 with all the essences that made that release so impressive. On Chaos of Forms everything is raised to greater heights, the unrelenting flow of intense siren like riffs powerful and instinctively direct with the blistering energy produced consuming and animating every synapse and sense. Intertwined are some of the most elaborate and mesmeric melodies found anywhere, and to finish off such impressive sounds there is a glorious unpredictability and  waves of unexpected diversions oozing out of every song. It is unlikely there can ever be the perfect album but Revocation come very close with Chaos of Forms.  

The one major difference to its predecessor is the addition of guitarist Dan Gargiulo to the ranks, his concise skill and sounds complimenting the undeniable ability and creativity of Davidson to bring an even sharper edge and artistry to the music. Together  they produce stunning sounds and ideas that ripple and pulsate from the heavy thrash/metal riffs to the engaging and catchy melodies, not forgetting some of the most hypnotic and ingenious progressive technical metal wizardry to grace any ear. This even more impressive sound and creativity cannot be put down simply to Gargiulo’s addition as everyone has found another peak from the rhythmic beats produced by Buda’s bass to some of the more impressive drumming display shown anywhere for many years from Dubois, but certainly as a quartet there is an even greater animated vision and stimulus to the music.

From the opening devastation within first track ‘Cretin’ the album simply dictates the next 50 minutes of one’s life. There is so much going on that it is impossible to lose focus or become bored, every song  alive with unexpected elements spawn from high calibre songwriting. The deep growling basslines and eager aggression within next track ‘Cradle Robber’, plus the urgent punk thrust of the straighter thrash fuelled ‘Harlot’ combines with the opener to bring one of the best openings to any album in a long time. Not that the quality or satisfaction slips in any degree across the length of the album.

Though direct and verging on violent the first three songs are more intent than intrigue even though crafted with plenty of wonderful twists and turns. It is with ‘Dissolution Ritual’ and its wonderful prog jazz mid way meandering that the heart of songs are really shuffled up and the imaginative originality they conjure unleashed on eager ears. The black/death metal muscles of ‘Conjuring The Cataclysm’ veined with scorching progressive metal flows and thug harmonies, the wonderful jazz funk excursions of ‘The Watchers’, and the hardcore/metal brutality of ‘Beloved Horrifier’ a song with the  combined might of Brutal Truth and Converge, contain flavours and spices as diverse as they are addictive.

Chaos of Forms is immense, an essential investigation for all who entertain metal sounds in any form. If there is any negative to the album it is still hiding despite complete plays running into the teens. This may well be the album of the year, without doubt  certainly top three.

RingMaster 29/11/2011

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Save Your Grace – The Arms Of Idiocy

There has been a great and deeply promising burst of new British metal/Hardcore/metalcore type bands forcing their way to bigger attention and focus this year with the likes of Adelphia Of Kings, Doomed From Day One, and Gacy’s Threads, all make their distinctive deeply scarring mark on UK metal with sounds to crush and inspire. Another band to be solidly added to this impressive bunch is Birmingham band Save Your Grace. Their new EP The Arms Of Idiocy the overwhelming and perfect evidence as to why they should and will be one of the future forces in UK metal.

The quintet from the Midlands first made their appearance in 2010 and continued through hard work and shows to increase a more than ardent following. A full UK tour and the sharing of stages with the likes of Devil Sold His Soul, While She Sleeps, Martyr Defiled, Heights, Silent Screams and many more has only gone to make the band one of the more exiting certainties to break big for a great growing many. It will be with this their second EP that most positive damage will be done as its intense muscular charms spread wide and far.

Consisting of Dazz Jones, Luke Sheppard, Joe Geach, Dan Morris, and Eddy Geach, Save Your Grace have unleashed an EP of five tracks fuelled by uncompromising might and deliberately malevolent intent that will inflame a great many metallic hearts. The EP is raw and in need of a fuller and more rounded production to fully meet its potential but despite this it is a mighty and impressive debut any band would be proud of.

The release starts laying waste to the senses with ‘Intensity’, its senses shattering riffs and consuming rhythms an instant satisfaction upon demanding ears. The guitars grind and groove deeply into flesh as destructively as the heavy riffs crumble defences. The grating growls are harsh and venomous and even the appearance of clean vocals midway carry a sinister tone to their harmonies.

Next track named ‘Interlude’ shows the melodic skill and creativity of the band, its incisive and emotive guitar sounds making the two minute instrumental a mesmeric piece and subtle lead into next song ‘Limitless’. Though not as instantly addictive as the other songs this third song is a menacingly lumbering track veined by scorching guitar play and caustic vocals showing just how well the band can vary their sound.

The title track is the real standout moment. Bursting in on a cutting groove and senses wilting riffs coupled with acidic threats and brutality posing as vocals, it is an impressively persuasive and compelling song that is as vibrant as it is intense. Though the band is still in its informative musical years this of all the songs shows why the promise and acclaim coming their way is so strong. Creative , diverse and unrelenting it with a warm welcome lingers in the ear and head long after it lays down its last thoughtful note.

As mentioned the production is lacking a little preventing the full effect of the band’s sound to truly numb its recipients. The hollow tones especially on the vocals is a shame as is the fact the drums sound held back far more than personally is preferred, but the music and quality still shines through with great effect. The Arms Of Idiocy  gives all the evidence and belief that Save Your Grace will turn into one of the bands whose strength and ability will guide British metal to greater heights in the near and future times ahead. With bands like this UK’s extreme metal future is in safe hands.

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RingMaster 28/11/2011

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From The Depth – Back To Life

For someone who struggles to fully appreciate the attributes and assets of power metal it has to be said Back To Live form Italian band From The Depth is one fun and thoroughly engaging release. Only the recent album from Powerwolf has previously thrilled the senses and leapt with a firm welcome into the ears as does Back To Life, power metal as a whole as with classic rock pushed aside for much harder pummelling genres. It has to be admitted though that From The Depth are a band that even with its distinct genre flavoured and expected sounds has an extra flourish and almost majestic feel that lifts up even the naturally dark emotions.

From The Depth  formed in 2008 and with a few months and the release of their debut EP The Will To Be The Flame made a strong impression and mark in North Italy’s metal underground scene. This success led to  the band finding themselves in impressive and important venues around the country building up their fan base and strong positive impressions.  Rising Records signed the band in October 2010 soon followed by the worldwide distribution of their debut album. April this year saw the band start recording Back To Life with a brief interruption when chosen to take part in the “An Evening With Kamelot” event, sharing the stage with Kamelot, Sons Of Season and other special guests such as Simone Simmons and Fabio Lione. This month sees the release of  the album and the start of an emotional bond with undoubtedly a great many new power metal and melodic rock fans.

Immediately the album begins, the biggest positives on the album reveal themselves to ensure full attention and focus over the album’s full length. The first thing and the most impressive is the keyboards of  Davide “Fortress” Castro , the man is a maestro and without exception he enhances and lifts every track to heights they would not touch without his skilful and melodic imagination and ability. The opening instrumental  and title track even with a length briefly over a minute unveils his skill and mesmeric play. From the off and throughout the whole album he conjures up melodies and sweeping sounds that do nothing less than enrapture the senses.

The following eager rampant power metal anthemic ‘Live For Today’ brings forth the other great things that makes Back To Life an album that demands attention. Firstly there is the energetic and formidable drums of Cristiano Battini, instinctive and with an inner primitive hypnotic pull in the ear he leads songs supported by the deep resonating tones of bassist  Alessandro “Kara” Karabelas. Then there is the well written and presented melodic guitars of Alessandro Cattani, striking and never predictable they add extra biting texture against the keyboard sounds. Though Cattani does not often stray from classic and melodic rock familiarity he uses influences and flavours in an assured and varied way to give extra spice rather than repetition. Lastly there is the vocals of Raffaele “Raffo” Albanese, his clean and well balanced voice firmly in the hard/classic rock style but without indulging into the formula high pitched squeals and wails.

There is a slight inconsistency to the album but that is more down to personal taste with songs like the power ballads of ‘The Cruel Kindness’ and ‘Nenia’ plus the predictable and familiar rock sound of ‘You Just Have To Fly’ which plays quite flat in energy and vocally, not working as well as the other more impetuous and thrilling tracks. These moments are rare and soon forgotten by the catchy hooks and  melodic endeavours from the guitars and especially the keys plus the irrepressible rhythms as in the likes of ‘Don’t Forget Who You Are’, ‘The Will to Be the Flame’, and ‘Nothing to You’ though everything is wiped away by the stunning instrumental ‘Lack of Emotion’, easily the best track on the album and one of the most emotively effective pieces of music found on any rock album this year.

From The Depth may not be the most flavoursome sound in theory to these ears but with Back To Life they have produced an album that enthuses and thrills even the hardest of rock hearts with magnetic power rock sounds.

RingMaster 28/11/2011

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Rwake – Rest

Arkansas band Rwake is one of those bands that cannot be labelled or pinned down sound wise. Many label them progressive/sludge/doom but they gloriously defy any distinct tagging, their music a rewarding and unrelenting blend of a vast array of sub metal/rock genres. After four years the quartet return with new album Rest, a stunning and mesmeric follow up to their acclaimed Voices of Omens release of 2007. Consisting of six mountainous tracks the album reminds and reinforces the previous evidence that Rwake is one of the more unique, creative and essential metal bands of the past decade.

Since the band released their first official album Hell Is The Door To The Sun in 2002, though there was previously in 1999 a full length which was only distributed by the band whilst on tour and on hand written CD-R’s, Rwake has stirred up firm attention and stretched senses to great effect. A tour with Alabama Thunderpussy thrust them further upon the metal map as did the album If You Walk Before You Crawl You Crawl Before You Die released via At A Loss Record. The beginning of 2006 saw the band sign to Relapse Records and the following year marked the awe inspiring and senses slapping release of Voices of Omens, the point when the band really took hold and wonderfully scarred metal. With a mix of venomous harsh metal and striking melodically atmospheric sounds Rwake announced their importance then and for the future of rock music. Rest picks up the momentum and accelerates it with music and sound that the word impressive really does not do justice.

The album starts with the brief ‘Souls Of The Sky’, atmospheric and haunting with hypnotic female voices complimenting the soulful acoustic sounds it lifts the senses to the emotive heavens with no indication of the intrusions ahead. The piece is not there to trick but to gently and deeply open up the heart and senses for what is to come, waking up emotions to a level where the varied power and consumption of next song ‘It Was Beautiful But Now It’s Sour’ is welcome and eagerly accepted. This second piece of wonder explodes from the off, bristling with keen intensity as it aggressively snarls. The track is a monstrous beast playing with its prey. Across its twelve minute length the song’s creativity and diversity is as immense as the menacing power it delivers, overwhelming wonderfully as it evolves from a rampant beginning into a lumbering brute of a track,  with engaging progressive guitars scything their way into the ear. The vocal growls are as harsh and abusive as the intrusive sounds, earnest shouts and ‘groans’ that push the intensity higher.

An Invisible Thread’ tears at the ear next with a black metal flavoured tint added to the progressive guitars and ultimatum giving rhythms and riffs, their intent and force demanding submission. As sludge grown grooves permeate the track and the pace varies with little respite from the intense tones the sounds attach themselves deeper and firmer into the listener. This is audio breath, essential to survive the day once it’s mesmeric and hypnotic flavours roost on every synapse and thought.

As the track ends the thought is the band has found its pinnacle but not at all, for once the album’s best track ‘The Culling’ unveils its glory new heights are reached. The song is stunning, a glory from its melodic and peaceful yet haunting emotive opening which builds up into an expansive maelstrom of bitterness, venom and eventual brutality. The track is beautiful if the word can be used to describe the oppressive deathly corruption it eventually turns into. Sixteen minutes of diversely flowing flavours and uniquely impressive songwriting that has not been challenged let alone surpassed for quite a while.

Final song ‘Only A Dream’ brings forth the only criticism that can be laid at the Rest, in that its three distinct parts, a progressively scorched caustic opening half, an acoustic declaration with scowling vocals which opens into a rock filtered heavy flow, and a final closing narrative over a dying ambient sound, feel simply placed one after the other rather than brought forth with a smooth transition. The parts are perfectly delivered and the intention obvious but against the undeniable skill and union of such diversity in previous tracks it feels less polished.

Rest brings forth a bleak stark and darkly ominous feeling within its mighty sounds, a realistic and uncompromising impression of a world we all endure. Dark though it is the veins of imaginative and engaging razor sharp melodies give some light in the blackness. Rwake may have taken a while to return but they have once more taken metal down new and deeply pleasing adventures and soundscapes. The word classic was made for albums like this, and the sounds within Rest destined to inspire and enhance each and every lifetime.

RingMaster 28/11/2011

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The Dead Lay Waiting – Almost Heaven

It has been impossible to miss quite a flurry of negative almost vehement reviews and first reactions to the new album from UK metalcore band The Dead Lay Waiting. Certainly Almost Heaven is not the perfect album or a classic in the making but it is also far from being the car crash and failure that many seem to be declaring. Obviously any review is down to personal opinion and taste as much as the evidence that is the music but it is hard to understand the harsh and destructive views of many towards the album and band itself. Maybe The Dead Lay Waiting is simply the current band to hate much as My Chemical Romance and Disturbed and countless others have been before them. All that is apparent from Almost Heaven is that though not flawless the album is a very agreeable and enjoyable release that shows a band creative and with great promise.

From their coming together in 2007 the band has grabbed attention, making a marked impact on a swiftly growing fan base. Debut EP Memories Of A Massacre in 2007 followed the next year by a self titled one plus an appearance at the 2008 Bloodstock Open Air Festival increased the interest and led to signing with UK based label Rising Records. January 2010 saw the release of the band’s debut album We Rise surrounded by acclaimed performances at Download in 2009 and ’10, plus tours with the likes of Trigger The Bloodshed, Bleed From Within and Sarah Jezebel Deva. The band this year found themselves nominated for KERRANG! Magazine’s ‘Best British Newcomer Band’ award, and the Metal Hammer Golden God ‘Best Underground Band’ award, their stock and rise continuing at a rapid rate, something surely Almost Heaven will accelerate further. 

The album starts with an ascending intense sound erupting into the explosive ‘This Day Will Be Your Last’ through the brief but mountainous intense ‘Wake Up’. Crushing riffs and ear bending rhythms pour incessantly over the senses, vocals growling deeply and threateningly aided by lighter screamo chants and shouts. As following track ‘Take Me Away’ picks up the hard lined energetic baton it is apparent The Dead Lay Waiting know how to create and deliver flesh melting sounds and have a string ability to write memorable and intricate songs. It is also clear that they are far from the finished article which gives exciting promise ahead from the impressive sounds within Almost Heaven.

One can understand some of the criticism laid at the band’s door for as good and as agreeable the strength and incisive music within the album is there is not a great deal of originality there. This is not to say it is just reproducing sounds others have created but there certainly is nothing awe inspiring or jaw dropping either. This can be said about75% of all releases this year so it is a criticism that applies to a great many. The two things that do stop the album from being a major land mark is firstly and something that I never thought I would complain about, that the songs are too varied within their own skins. This makes songs such as ‘Always Ask Why’, chaotic with many elements included which would really work if they were better blended with a more seamless feel, something experience will surely improve. It should be remembered this is a very young band and credit should be given that they do try to be different and attempt to make their songs unique, it is just they need to know when less is more. The other problem with the album is that it feels like the band is trying too hard, as if comments given and seemingly continuing made them try so hard that their instinctive touch and ease was held down.

Despite this the album is an impressive release with songs like ‘Open Your Fucking Eyes’ with its crunching basslines, the abrasive ‘Choke on Your Words’, and the immense ‘Burnt to Ashes’ easily bringing great pleasure and pulse racing emotions. Even the epic meanderings of the closing title track ‘Almost Heaven’, despite its slightly overblown near ten minute journey gives far more joy than doubts.

Almost Heaven has its negatives but far more positives and is far ahead of the majority of albums coming out of the woodwork these past months. Why some have such a downer on the band is hard to comprehend unless it is solely based on their seemingly manufactured visual image. The Dead Lay Waiting will ahead make those doubters eat their words one suspects; they just need more time to find their very own unique sound and undeterred belief.

RingMaster 27/11/2011

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Skeletal Damage – Fire And Forget

Fire And Forget the debut album from UK metalers Skeletal Damage is one mighty chunk of thrash power, a muscular riot on the senses to satisfy and rile up the pulse rate. Released via Rising Records the album from the Stoke quartet takes the heart and influence of early UK thrash with a liberal infusion from the likes of early Metallica with a splash of Slayer to unleash meaty rhythms and imposing riffs across nine honest and formidable tracks.

Formed in 2009 Skeletal Damage has made a distinct impression and name with their live shows resulting in a triumph performance at this year’s Download plus support slots for the likes of Revoker, Holy Grail and Funeral For A Friend.  This live intensity and power is notable on the album and the ‘…a headshot is the only way!’ EP released earlier this year, the releases holding a very agreeable raw edge to their sounds. 

Opening track ‘Rise of the Morningstar’ is an instant barrage of thumping explosive rhythms and senses consuming riffs. Though not the heaviest or most numbing assault heard this year the track pummels the ear with eager intent and intrusive success. Sounding like early Metallica given a booster of Killswitch Engage anger, the song treats the ear with excellent driving riffs and well crafted and executed melodic guitar insertions to raise anticipation of what is to follow even higher. The growls of Martyn Flannagan spine the song with belligerence and attitude, direct and uncompromising and though there is no variety to his delivery which brings a similarity across all tracks, it simply adds to the pure thrash sound and aggression bursting from the speakers.

There is good variety within Fire And Forget though overall the sound, especially the straight forward riffs and Bren gun drum assault and as mentioned the vocals, do instil a strong similarity from track to track. Inside songs though and never far from the surface there is a distinct and exiting array of engaging and impressive guitar play from Tom Barnes to ensure no song is simply a repeat or continuance of another. If one was being fussy there could have been more variety to the thrash riffs and what seems like a single minded drum attack but they are so effective and well formed it can be excused for the enjoyment given.

The consistency and quality across each track is also impressive though as the base sound is so great and every song uses it that maybe is not a surprise. The songs all rile up the juices and excite the heart with their skilled play and unforgiving riff laden intent. From the second track ‘Beneath the Deep’ with its predatory intent, through the thumping energy of ‘Kissing The Knives’ and ‘Blue On Blue’, to the melodic and expressive play within ‘The Deadlights’ and ‘Of False Hope’, the songs never fail to absorb the ear and attention with their neat and instinctive sounds.

The album’s best song is ‘The Dogs Of War’ a song rippling with defiance and menace. The song epitomises the band’s sound, large powerful and with no pretence or attempt to be what it is not. Yes Fire And Forget is far from the most original album you are likely to hear but it certainly delivers thrash better than most releases from similar styled bands this year. Skeletal Damage leave nothing behind on the album, with no shortage of energy, heart and intent Fire And Forget is one of the most enjoyable releases and one that will see many returns to its thrash delights.

RingMaster 227/11/2011

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