Ed Hale And The Transcendence – All Your Heroes Become Villains

To inspire more than a passing bout of excitement the release of a new album from Ed Hale And The Transcendence in the impressive shape of All Your Heroes Become Villains is the perfect tool. The follow up to 2005 Nothing Is Cohesive , their new album is a stunning collection of themed songs that are as creatively varied as they are distinctly satisfying.

Ed Hale is no stranger to giving quality with his previous link up over two albums with the critically acclaimed Brit-pop/indie-rock collective Transcendence plus an album of rare and unreleased tracks, and his solo work with his current album Ballad On Third Avenue riding high in charts and within eager ears. Hale is no wallflower either when it comes to world and personal issues, and musically his lyrics as ever strongly consciousness raising, unafraid and passionate.

All Your Heroes Become Villains released via Dying Van Gogh Records sees the band returning with their unique and creative guns blazing. The album is diverse and imaginative with an eclectic blend of energy, power and elegance. The line-up of Hale who as well as being the vocalist brings guitars and keys to the mix, bassist Roger Houdaille, drummer Ricardo Mazzi, pianist and on keys Allan Gabay, and Fernando Perdomo with guitars, electric sitar, mellotron and more, have combined to work tirelessly over a long period on this release to create something that draws on a wide and bold array of sounds and the brought in additional music and abilities of a diverse range of musicians, their skills infused into the distinctive and recognisable band sound.  

The concept within All Your Heroes Become Villains is of one man and his personal story, the pain, hopefulness and faith within him, and its dissipation through the tracks until his end in the penultimate track. As the music, this theme and lyrical representation is powerful and expands wider with political commentary of a screwed up world alongside the personal aspect.  The album title itself the starting point with its obvious and truthful statement of even those we admire and believe in at some point proving to be infallible and ‘wicked’.

The title track opens the album with a lively and soulful stroll complete with vibrant keys, emotive brass and gospel like soaring vocals. The song seamlessly slips into recent single ‘Blind Eye’, deeply personal and political at the same time, the world and its state imploding on personal feelings. The song is bitter and forthright and a stunning rock track even if dangerously close to ‘I’m Not Trading’ by Sunna at times. Again the use of brass is impressive with the song pulsating on many levels and with multiple faces.

Though the songs all stand alone with confidence the album works even better as a whole with each track moving into the next without pause or deliberation. This makes the theme work even better, one piece of eleven distinct but seamlessly fitting movements. Each track is impressive in their varied ways with the likes of the melodic brit pop ‘Solaris’, the boldly rampant ‘Waiting For Godot’ with Hale at his finest emotive best, and the almost anthemic rock thrust of ‘‘We Are Columbine (The Unforgiven)‘ riling up the senses with sound, intent and content.

Best track on the album is ‘Messed It Up Again’, a rhythmically taunting track that gives glimpses of the pop punk of Buzzcocks with a melodic keyboard pulse of maybe a Radiohead, though this is a far superior prospect. It epitomises the whole release, wonderfully alive with twists and turns to intrigue, engage and fuel constant attention.

All Your Heroes Become Villains is a complete joy unveiling more delights and charm over repeated plays and focus. It may have been a few years since Ed Hale And The Transcendence blessed with new material but they have more than made up for it with this album

RingMaster 14/11/2011

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Rob Mancini – Rock ‘N’ Roll Circus

Let us get the moan over with Rock ‘N’ Roll Circus the new album from Rob Mancini. Just where are the clowns and songs about freaks and bearded ladies, as the title and opening track ‘Carnival Of Fools’ with its dark circus sound suggests? Seriously though there was an expectation from the first track that the album would be subtlety themed that way but the disappointment was soon tempered as the album unveils its strong deliberate sounds and emotive intent, with life’s circus and the fools of passion and emotion the purpose fuelling the songs.

German/Italian born musician/producer Rob Mancini is returning with his solo album after over a decade away from studios and in many ways the limelight in Ireland where he toured the Emerald Isle’s Club scene.   In the mid 90’s Mancini played extensively on the international rock circuit in the bands Hotwire and Crush as well as sharing stages with artists such as Victory, Thunderhead, Dare, and recording several albums before moving to Ireland in 2001 to work as studio and session musician. With the assistance of Aine Mancini on backing vocals Mancini has come back with a true solo release that bursts with guitar driven AOR force and ripples with some sparkling melodic hard rock ingenuity.

The music within Rock ‘N’ Roll Circus is a good mix of classic and hard rock with up to date sounds and flavours that sets it apart from many similar genre releases. As mentioned the album is a guitar based collection of songs but which are also spiced liberally with vibrant keyboard sounds and harmonies to bring a rounded feel to the tracks and melodies. Often infectious and thoroughly engaging the album is a release that may slip pass the attention of many but once found will please all hard rock fans deeply.

Opening track ‘Carnival Of Fools’ starts on a demented clown chuckle and dark discordant circus sound spiced with sinister intent before slipping immediately into ‘Rock And Roll Circus’. With a sound similar to Italian band Houston! the track throbs with chunky guitars and essential rock urgency. Melodic and beckoning with big hooks and great guitar sounds and solo it still carries the carnival vibe.

Edge of a Broken Heart’ comes next marking a change in the album as from here on in the songs ride on a strong eighties sounding power sound and the emotional theme previously mentioned. Though flavoured with those distinct influences and early rock essences, the addition of clean and often indie like creative key spices light up the tracks to make all intriguing and to some extent surprising. The electronic start to the satisfying ’Lay Down The Law’, the undeniable infectious opening riff of the impressive ’Too Late To Die’, and the soulful balladry of ’Time Stops For No One But You’ just three of the varied examples.

Rock ‘N’ Roll Circus is a mighty fine rock album and deserves as much attention as possible with tracks that are well written without dipping into indulgence and impressively delivered, even the cover of ‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush is a very enjoyable and impressive version, Mancini making it his own. Though probably the album is mostly for hard rock fans there is enough within it to engage anyone and for old school rock fans it is a guitar rock festival to embrace.

www.robmancinirock.com

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From The Kites Of San Quentin – Mitochondria

Distinct, imaginative, and mesmeric, Mitochondria the debut EP from Manchester band From The Kites Of San Quentin and first release on This City Is Ours Records, is all of those and some. The release is a unique and fluid blend of sounds, musical thoughts and electronic experimentation as well as a vibrant fusion of genres such as dub, hip-hop, electronica, trip-hop and prog-rock.

From The Kites Of San Quentin is made up of Alison Carney (ex-Lost Contact), Luke Bhatia and Phillip Bretnall (both formerly in Prog-metal band Profane), the trio coming together to make music that is distinctly different from their previous outputs. Since formation the band has drawn increasing acclaim and won over audiences with shows alongside the likes of 65 Days Of Static, Mount Kimbie, Max Tundra and Esben & The Witch, as well as in festivals including Electric Picnic and Soundwave in Croatia. Becoming known as an unmissable live act the release of their EP will surely see them take large and quick steps forward.

Mitochondria consists of three new tracks as well as a number of remixes of the songs from Co.Fee (My Hollow Drum/Low End Theory) Capac (On the shelf records) & Anclove (This City is Ours) plus two remixes from the winners of the band’s recent competition through their bandcamp, Manni Dee and Zoir. 

Opening track ‘Stoopid’ is a wonderfully multi faceted song with displaced and discordant tendencies running through electro pop melodies and fluid electronic flows. The spiky bass groove that permeates the song adds a depth and intrigue whilst Carney’s vocals engage and sway with hypnotic grace as the track skips round the ear eagerly without losing the control of all the elements brought into its mass. Vocally Carney sounds like a mix of Beth Gibbons (Portishead) and Katiejane Garside (Daisy Chainsaw) bringing a smooth serene beauty and almost childlike naivety to the songs.

Second track ‘Leopold’ is a multi layered array of pulsating sounds and aural sparks compared to the opener’s more flowing feel, carrying a slightly schizophrenic mix whilst staying controlled and instinctively melding everything together. The song dances on the ear without any really obvious hooks and though the song ultimately leaves without any lingering sound in the head whilst it plays it ensures attention with its constant and varied seamless collection of electronic sounds and melodic intent, musically and vocally.

Tiny Numbers for an Abstract Mind’ is the last of the new songs, the band on this track bringing an ambient atmospheric presence. The feel of the song is gentle, inviting imagery to develop as it plays across its chilly soundscape and it lets its fingers reach deep and arms surround the listener.

The remainder of the EP is made up of the five remixes which are all fair in their own way but really the release is about the original material and it certainly does not fail there. It is fair to say that Mitochondria does not exactly set the heart ablaze with its sounds just falling short of being infectious but it does ignite numerous bright sparks and an enthusiasm to want to delve deeper into the band as a live proposition and on future releases, whilst also satisfying the senses right now.

Mitochondria EP is released via the This City is Ours bandcamp:  http://thiscityisours.bandcamp.com on a ‘choose your own price’ scheme.

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Black Polaris – Empires

If you are going to go on the assault you may as well do it with a merciless conviction and leave all lifeless in your wake. This is exactly what UK melodic death metalers Black Polaris do with their second album Empires. Released nationally on 5th December the quintet have again merged metalcore and death prog sounds in an unrelenting abuse of the senses but stepped up the intensity and quality from their impressive debut release This City Falls. This new album simply shatters and scatters nerve endings and synapses in a very satisfying explosion of aggressive musical prowess and power.

Formed in 2009, Black Polaris has pulverised audiences nationwide sharing stages with the likes of Martyr Defiled, Eternal Lord, This Is Colour, Eradication, Seven Year Kismet, Devil Sold His Soul. More shows in support of Empires and intrusions into Europe next year should see them take an even bigger step forward towards leaving a deep creative ‘scar’ upon metal. The band from Royston, Herts consists of Sam Burgess (vocals), Paul Futter and Gaz Groombridge (guitars), Luke Jackson (bass) and Andrew Stagg (drums), five friends that combine to brew their own unique sound from fusing varied elements from different genres. The band’s tight and uniform direction is evident with the fluidity they bring the intense attack and aggression into bed with the melodic and atmospheric progressive sounds, each member and specific piece of their music in sync to make music that intrigues and engages as it strips away the senses with determined intent.

The album starts with intro ‘Charles Bronson’, intimidating confrontational words lead in the all consuming and oppressive short virtual instrumental to open up the release and the ear for what is to come. Providing more than a hint that what ahead will be massive the opener makes way for ‘Forget’ with its destructive riffs and threatening rhythms. Veined with an addictive groove the track pulls in all the creative elements of the song from the manic intensity and aggression to the precise melodic fractures  into an overwhelming unrelenting onslaught, so impressive that one wonders ifs the Geneva Convention covers this kind of stunning abuse on humanity?

The quality and  perpetual aural bombardment never slips a degree throughout the album, only increases as ‘Oracle’ and the ‘Effortless’ stand upright and bold in the ear. The first is all about the riff and scathing vocals, actually it is obviously much more but these dominate and linger after the track makes way for the tsunami of energy and sound that is ‘Effortless’. Starting on a brief slow and emotive tone it soon raises the attack through stages and great varied elements. The addiction of smoother vocals alongside Burgess’ growls with dark melodies and chords make the song an adventure at every turn.

As the second of those songs is especially varied, so is the album as a whole though it might take a couple of full listens to find all of its pleasures behind the wall of incapacitating sound. The black metal harmonies of ‘Power, Corruption’ with its Chthonic edge, ‘Oblivion’ a smartly constructed song that attacks and attacks with measured deliberation, and the straighter metal groove laden ‘Mountains’ which brings many bands to mind without sounding like any of them which sounds odd but just wonderfully is, all whip up a storm in the head with distinct differences and equal effect.

Empires is a beast of an album that if you are not made of sterner stuff will leave you a wasted wreck in its powerful glory. The definite feeling that there is much more to come from Black Polaris even with this impressive release leaves one drooling in anticipation of times ahead with arguably UK’s finest deathcore band.

Black Polaris album Empires is available for free download @ http://www.mediafire.com/?hi3rvzgmthz3h0k

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