Degradation – Juggernaut

It may have taken many years, a tank full of dedication and obvious hard work for Chicago thrash metalers Degradation to get to the point of releasing their debut album but for us destined to eagerly devour its thrilling aggressive sounds that faith and determination has paid off wonderfully. Juggernaut is not necessarily the beast in its title but it is one impressively consuming stirring ride of runaway metal.  A release that lights up every sense and comes armed with all the essences that make metal an undeniable addiction.

Formed in 2001 by guitarist and vocalist Alex Manske, guitarist Mike Hartman, and drummer Joe Manske, Degradation has strived and fought tirelessly to get their sounds out there in. The music worlds at times an ungrateful beast has made their journey long but for us on this evidence worthwhile. 2007 saw the band’s debut EP Unleashed released, its four tracks gaining them some good media acclaim and response. Bassist Steve Holy joined the band in 2009 with the following year seeing the band entering the studio to create Juggernaut. Consisting of eight vibrant and constant blood pumping energy, the album gets its release via the bands own means and is destined to grab them world attention for its fine thrash/metal sounds. 

Juggernaut is certainly not the most original thrash album made in that it does not have any break through or distinctly new things to bring to the ear but it is so wonderfully full on with prime thrash metal aggression that ignites the senses it is easily one of the most rewarding releases this year. It is dynamic, mischievous and a deeply appetising powerful explosion of fluid and invigorating aggressive riffs and magnetic cutting steely melodies that go deep far beyond the ear. There is no pretence from Degradation on their release; it is simply a nonstop giving of proud and honest rock ‘n’ roll.

Sound wise the band’s music has very visible influences from and touches of the likes of Testament, Exodus and of course Metallica, but they also explode with the violence of a Slayer to create their own maybe not unique but distinct sound. Opening track ‘A Necessary Evil’ slams right into the ear from its opening riffs. Forceful with high energy and eagerness it rumbles and grumbles pleasingly. The guitars are fluid and undemanding whilst the bass of Holy is a deep and satisfying tease. Vocally Manske recalls James Hetfield without truly sounding like him which is a bit of a puzzle but adds to a strong song.

From here on in things really pick up. The title track packs in incessant pummelling riffs and a cascade of tumbling rhythms to inflame the heart. The track is a pulsating intense continual stomp upon the ear spiced with great creative guitar from Manske and Hartman countered by the unforgiving drums of J. Manske. This leads into a trio of excellent tracks that really show Degradation are a fine and formidable band.

The Reckoning’ is playful yet direct and hard and shows the bands excellent individual skills off clearly and that they as a band are extremely tight and accomplished. ‘Rise To Fall’ and ‘Trail of Sin’ carry on the quality and energetic high paced attack. Never taking a step back the band thrust and thrash into the ear and beyond to feed and pleasure all the senses. The first song is a no frills but all thrills meaty shredding feast whilst the latter of the two attaches itself with a raw hardcore punk tone to sound like a mix between Testament and Biohazard.

There is simply no weakness across the album though their cover of The Crown’s ‘Executioner… Slayer of the Light’, great though it is does not have the vibrancy and undeniable fresh eagerness heard elsewhere on Juggernaut.  The album though is a nonstop trash/metal slab of deep pleasure.  Degradation may not be bringing something to leave your jaw on the floor but with Juggernaut they have gifted the year with a release that ticks all the boxes and treats the heart.

RingMaster 13/12/2011

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Legions of Crows – Stab Me

The debut album Stab Me from UK blackened doomsters Legions of Crows is a gnarly vindictive release that walks the fine line between appalling the senses and lighting them up with unconventional and deliberately challenging intrusions. Even after numerous listens one does not know whether to consign it to the moving on or the lay back and let it violate again and again folder. For all the release’s disjointed caustically seemingly nonviable sounds and ideas it is deeply mesmeric though not always with a clear distinction why.

Coming from Salisbury Legions of Crows consists of Attila (vocals, keyboards, programming), joined on the CD by Herod (guitars, bass) and Jon “The Revelator” Maple (spoken word, vocals). Despite the demo in 2009 Cacophonous Aural Wickedness the band is still relatively unknown though it grabbed enough attention to fuel a link up with Funeral Rain Records for their debut album’s release.

      Legions of Crows is a venomous release, the band’s uncompromising hatred, disgust, and nihilistic opinion on everything from religion and politics to conforming to an oppressive life and its directors, dripping with caustic intensity throughout. The intent and vehemence disruptively provocative from the band and as challenging and consuming as their crushing black sounds. As the eight tracks do their worst one feels like they are being judged and punished whilst at the same time having every sense fed with unexpected but addictive creativity, like the worst hypnotic horror no matter how you try you cannot turn away or really want to. 

The album is book ended by two tracks that evolve from church like ‘innocence’ into blackened malevolence. The opener ‘Provident Hymn-Malediction’ starts with church bells and a chilly atmosphere to bring forth a hymn which is soon consumed by a heavy ominous doom fuelled sound and threatening riffs. When the two merge further along it is a disconcerting but hypnotic effect. Alongside the clean choir vocals the wizened crone like vocals of Atilla spit venom and despise to ensure no moral comfort will be freely given. Closing track ‘Coventry Carol’ has a similar start, a church organ announcing and accompanying the blackened aural monstrosity devouring all senses. The track then turns into another hymn like doom dirge with the guest vocals of Paul Di’Anno (Iron Maiden, Battlezone) leading the way with the venomous tones of Attila in the background alongside a wonderful choir like backing from Tracey Benecke, the contrast between all and the punishing sounds extremely agreeable.

In between the other tracks are threatening, distorted and doom metal at its more ingenious. Though the sounds on the surface do not immediately stand out from those found elsewhere it is with the delving into a tracks depth and focusing on the creative use and placing of unexpected and unpredictable elements that make the release a more eager proposition. At times tracks such as ‘Legions Of Crows’ with its electronic taunts , ‘Carrion Pond Drove’ and its disturbed filthy beauty and carnal like bestiality, and ‘Bullshit Acres’ intrigue and experiment with the senses as they twist them inside out with slowly crushing riffs and melodies from the blackest abyss. The latter is a formidable march of deliberate antagonistic intensity and probing brutality and easily the best track on the album.

Whether Stab Me will bring Legions of Crows to a much wider recognition it is hard to tell as the album will certainly put off as many as it draws into its black tapestries. It needs work to listen to and many are never prepared to go deeper to explore and welcome the expressions and borderline indulgences bands like Legions Of Crows bring forth. Stab Me is far from being an album of the year choice and still leaves one undecided but it does invite regular continued assessment.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Legions-of-crows-Attila/149292095099071

RingMaster 13/12/2011

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Lifescreen – The Lock Up Sessions

Fancy some good enthused melodic rock with big sounds and eager riffs then look no further than the new EP from UK rockers Lifescreen. Returning with their second EP The Lock Up Sessions, the Leeds trio give proof that rock music in the UK is vibrant, thrilling, and more than able to match their counterparts anywhere in the world.

Since forming in 2007 the Yorkshire trio of vocalist and guitarist Mark Burrows, bassist and backing vocalist Chris Unwin, and drummer Andy Richards have not only been one of the leading forces in their local scene but also gradually made waves further afar with their compulsive sounds, something which the new EP should energise decidedly. Formed from the ashes of Nerve Engine the band has gigged extensively over the years and through this and their releases in the debut EP Extended Play in 2007 and their two albums Deprogramming and Connexions in 2008 and 2010 respectively, have garnered strong praise in the media and a determined following from an ever growing swarm of fans to their sounds. The bands heady mix of melodic grunge tinged rock and heavier thumping riffs and rhythms demand attention without forcing it down the throat, their easily accessible and addictive tones hard to deny. April of this year saw the release of the single ‘Opting Out’ which saw another step in the bands development and a more rounded sound which the new release takes even further to unveil a fuller and inexcusably eager and impressive quartet of songs. 

Lifescreen list their prime influences as the likes of Alice In Chains, King’s X, Helmet, and Deftones and especially with the first of those four it is apparent on many of their songs quite clearly but the band uses these to foster their own sound rather than simply borrowing elements. Opening song ‘Sparks’ is a perfect example. It carries a defined Alice In Chains feel but is given a more vibrant and uplifting energy, as strong riffs from guitar and bass alike sway in front of the ear driven by the controlled drums of Richards. Though there is a strong grunge tone it gives a QOTSA feel as well especially with the dual vocal harmonies and as a personal preference the band really feels complete when they use that rather than a single voice, no disrespect to the fine tones of Burrows but he and Unwin together feel like they are closes of the circle of the band, making the sound complete.

Second song ‘Better’ comes in a similar in style to the opener but has a darker feel recalling the band Gruntruck to mind. The chunky controlled riffs against caressing melodies and smooth harmonies is a treat and though subdued in pace compared to the first track its intensity is higher and deeper.  These two songs immediately prove to any newcomers that this band can write engaging but instinctively powerful songs, and deliver them with the acutest skill.

The second half of the EP gets its heavier and more forceful boots on to show the other more aggressive side of Lifescreen, though they can never be accused of being light at any point. ‘Cyclic’ pulsates with choppy and incisive riffs and seams of mesmeric melodies. As the song progressives the riffs turn more waspish to infiltrate even deeper and hook the senses fully. This is the best track so far though soon to be shaded by the brilliant ‘PRNTRPNK’. This song whips up a frenzy with mischievous intent and devilish riffs to excite and thrill. The incessant grind is hypnotic, clasping tightly as the guitar of Burrows lights up the ear whilst the bass of Unwin throbs belligerently.

The Lock Up Sessions is an excellent release to not only ignite the senses and quicken up the pulse rate but also to firmly put a band already noted for being an extremely fine rock band up amongst the big boys, and a place well deserved. Lifescreen might still be an unknown to you but do yourselves a favour and go check out this impressive and wonderful EP, and it is a free download so no excuses.

http://lifescreen.bandcamp.com/album/the-lockup-sessions-2011

RingMaster 12/12/2011

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Rough Angel – Hear The Angels Rock

 

 

US heavy metal band Rough Angel has been hitting hard with heavyweight riffs and red hot melodic metal sounds for over two decades building a strong and ardent fan base across Nevada and beyond. Formed by Jimmy Z. and Johnny G. in Hollywood, Los Angeles the band were soon ‘owning’ the sunset strip up as they played up and down its length and eventually moved to Las Vegas. The departure of Johnny G. led to the arrival of vocalist Csaba Zvekan and another move for the band this time to Hawaii. Then in 1993 the quintet of Zvekan, guitarists Jimmy Z. and Marc Mougavero, bassist Ross Manzo, and drummer Dave Kappos (later replaced for live shows by Mike Rangel) set about recording four tracks for an EP.

Recorded at Paramount Recording Studios, Hollywood and engineered by Csaba Zvekan himself the recordings were intended for promoters and the industry and until now were never available to the public. Now through Rock N Growl Records and remastered by Zvekan these four prime cuts of heavy metal released as the Hear The Angels Rock EP have finally seen the light of day and it is the only release by the band over their long existence. One wonders why this is the sum of their recorded output as the four tracks though from almost 20 years back still sound strong today and certainly give proof that the band were right up there with the better quality metal bands at the time.

It has to be said there was an element of surprise at how well the tracks have stood the test of time, even if a mere twenty years, and how they fit easily with current heavy metal sounds and bands. Zvekan himself has said “It’s unbelievable how these recordings are almost two decades old and still have the power to convince the listener. The music and lyrics are still current especially these days. I got goose bumps remastering this piece of music. It definitely is a gift for all the friends and fans that are out there.”

Production wise there is the sense of limitation from back then compared to now but it does not take away from the quartet of good impressive tracks. The songs are agreeably large with powerful chunky riffs and pure metal energy infused with smartly formed melodies and striking guitars. The tracks ooze essences of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Dio as expected from late 80’s/90’s metal placed within Rough Angel’s own engaging sound. Vocally Zvekan is aggressive with the genre trade mark high pitched screams and squeals though he never does it to excess and he is a good rounded vocalist in tone and delivery. Opener ‘Standing by Mirrors’ and the closing title track give an excellent if not surprising top and tail to the release, the first coming in off a grunge like lick to employ addictive riffs that chug along and grab attention neatly. The grunge tones appear often and are especially open on the first of the two tracks sandwiched in the middle, ‘Defiance’. The song pumps out eager hard heavy hitting and higher toned scorching riffs to please all tastes and as on most songs is deliberate in its attack in not choosing out and out aggression. ‘Let it Burn’ is equally styled, slow in pace but quick to engage the senses in good heavy metal energy and enterprising intent.

Hear the Angels Rock is understandably not going to leave you open mouthed or in shock by offering something devastatingly new but it will definitely feed your metal tendencies perfectly and make you wonder why it has taken so long for sounds from this rather good band to appear.

RingMaster 12/12/2011

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godMONSTER – Statik Utopia

A couple of months back a slightly surprising and totally exciting release shone in the shape of The Dischordian Society EP from US band godMONSTER.  It was a debut release that caressed the ear with ambient and emotive soundscapes that soothed and provoked.  godMONSTER the solo project from Sindelle Morte one half of impressive industrial hellrock duo Scream Machine, left many who were definite disciples to their harsh and provocative sounds open mouthed and enthralled by her elegant tapestry of captivating and fertile instrumental music. With her new album they are sure to be smiling broadly.

Statik Utopia sees Sindelle unveiling more of her expansive and equally intimate sounds, bringing ten pieces of expressive aural imagery that invoke and inspire. As with the EP the album consists of music that wraps itself around the listener permeating thoughts and senses with darkly macabre spiced vibrant sounds that light up the ear and beyond whilst inducing dark elements and feelings to keep one wary and mesmerised. In the band’s bio Sindelle states “godMONSTER was created as an opposing force to balance out the aggressive assault of Scream Machine. It’s different in that it is more about catching a feeling and holding it, rather than screaming it out.” This sums up the music perfectly and though it is not as challenging or intrusive as the sounds she is known for it is an equal in drawing feelings and emotions from its recipients to feel an experience that is lasting and pronounced. 

The great thing about the music is it is open to individual interpretation, the compositions themed but emotively inviting to each to find their own personal and singular feelings and vision. There is also an engaging contradictory feel across the whole release too, the darker tones and imaginations brought forth with a vibrancy and glow of light that provokes and emotionally incites. Opening track ‘Funeral March’ is a wonderful example, its dark electro opening pulsating and addictive to lead in a mournful flow that is countered by a siren like melodic palpitation that is hypnotic, its beckoning light smiling against the deep blackness. It gives a “Something wicked this way comes feel” in the same way the darkness invites and captivates one in to its dark depths.

Suicide Symphony’ is another stunning example and the favoured track here. Again darkly themed its senses manipulating wicked touch fuelled by a rousing melodic beauty that lightens up the shadows. Though I know the composer will not have intended it or agree the song gives a calming grace and eloquence to the act and subject of the song that can evolve but few see.

Each piece of ambient joy is emotionally and aurally satisfying, the album working as a whole or in its individual movements as an animated symphony of spellbinding harmonies and enthralling creativity. Statik Utopia beguiles with hex like charm throughout and an at times subtle varied imagination. From ‘Ghost Walker’ and its beacon like harmonic light within pressing shadows, ‘Requiem Of Sorrow’ giving a melancholic ambience that permeates every welcoming sense, to the chilled flight through the radiant beauty of ‘Night Passage‘ and its emotive search and hopeful quest, the album explores and pleasure every corner of the mind and heart.

Statik Utopia is a wonderful album of sonic soundscapes carrying a rich ambience that nourishes the heart and inflames the senses. Exquisitely crafted the spread of musical colours tinged with a dark enticement devours as it pleasures to ensure genuine relish and deep contentment.

To find out more and future projects as well as to download Statik Utopia for free go to the brand new label of godMONSTER and Scream Machine Digital Pain Productions  @  http://digitalpain.moonfruit.com/

RingMaster 11/12/2011

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godMONSTER - Funeral March

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KaiDekA – False Idols And Pyrite Thrones

False Idols And Pyrite Thrones from UK thrash metalers KaiDekA may not come with the keenest of originality or the ammunition to forge new directions but it is definitely a release that inspires an eager moshing allegiance from limbs and heart. Rough, raw and aggressive the album proudly uses its thrash and metal influences in a strong union with their own inventiveness to create their self titled nu thrash, the emerging sound a fusion of the likes of Testament, Mudvayne, and Killswith Engage with slithers of Dry Kill Logic/Lamb Of God. Though not overly original the music from KaiDekA is thoroughly satisfying and intriguing and the album very easy to keep revisiting with eagerness.

The quintet from Cornwall formed four years ago building a strong and respected reputation in the UK underground metal scene through their explosive and impressive live shows. Despite many line-up changes over those years the band have steadily been on an upward climb which has seen them linking up with Rising Records and the exiting False Idols And Pyrite Thrones. Renowned hard workers with over 200 gigs to this point in time the release of their debut will surely elevate them even further up UK metal’s rungs and into a wider deserved recognition. 

The excellent ‘Placebos Devine’ opens the album with crushing riffs and intimidating rhythms veined by an honest groove that reminded a little of the likes of Primer 55. Vocalist Dax Partridge growls and spits out lyrics with a deliberate belligerence that sits perfectly within the aggressive sound. Further smooth vocals from Jamie Gill bring a good contrast to the gruff attack and his threatening drums which are almost hypnotic, and with incisive and intelligent guitar work  plus impressively excellent bass lines from Tom Healan the band show immediately they are one mean skilled metal machine.

The album is strongly consistent though some tracks leap out to invite and engage the senses more than others but there is not a weakness across the ten song album that ever makes the experience less than completely enjoyable. The enthused ‘Lets Blame Dahmer’ a prime example as it pounds its way in next with frantic vocals from Partridge sounding Chad Gray like. Cutting urgent riffs and scorching guitars litter the song to wake up the senses even more and get the head and body mobilised in eager nodding.

A slight dip follows though that is more from the couple of songs being sandwiched between a very strong opening to the album and three red hot tracks that sit midway through the release. The first of this trio of dynamic tracks is ‘Drowning’, a song of penetrating energy and striking black intent. Varied and well written the track brings elements of thrash, deathcore and metal in a smooth mix that shows UK metal has some intriguing and firm hands emerging to take it forward, as also in bands like Puritan Slain who KaiDekA remind of at times here. ‘Pride’ and ‘Slave‘ join the song to make a gripping centre to the album, the first a threatening powerful beast that is not as instant on the ear but proof of the creativity within the band and the latter a predatory prowling monstrosity that taunts and punishes the senses with venomous instinctive and skilled brutality.

False Idols And Pyrite Throne is not without its faults like a production that is not crisp enough to stop at times some aspects merging and being muddied within the wall of intensity. Also there are moments where the band bring too much variety into a track to leave it slightly disjointed but to be honest the album is that pleasing and overall deeply satisfying that they do not really become a major  issue. The album will not make your top ten of the year but it will certainly bring definite pleasure from a band in KaiDekA that is still emerging to find its own unique sound. With the base and skill shown within False Idols And Pyrite Throne UK thrash and metal has a bright and punishing future.

RingMaster 11/12/2011

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Elvis Costello & The Imposters – The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! Super Deluxe Box Set

Musically The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! Super Deluxe Box Set‏ from Elvis Costello & The Imposters is an impressive release showing even after three decades plus, the man is still a masterful and eager performer. Financially though there is a huge element of almost disdain towards the release with even Costello himself having aired his issues about it publicly to his fans that casts a shadow over the release.

The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! Super Deluxe Box Set is a three disc live package recorded over a 2-night stand at The Wiltern in Los Angeles on May 11 and 12, 2011. The tracks come from all through Costello’s career from early songs like ‘Watching The Detectives’  through to newer material such as ‘National Ransom’ and all evidence that the man has lost none of his prowess and ability to transfix and mesmerise, the performance fuelled by an enthused energy.

The spinning songbook concept first occurred in 1986 during the ‘Costello Sings Again Tour’. The idea being to give the audience the ‘power’ to choose the songs performed by letting selected fans between each song spin the giant wheel listing song titles. Earlier this year, Elvis Costello and the Imposters (Steve Nieve, Davey Faragher and Pete Thomas) set out in the US on The Revolver Tour of which the two dates comprising the release come from.

The first disc is a CD consisting of sixteen songs taken from both nights at The Wiltern. They are a vibrant set of live tracks that have a good raw feel which inspires the feeling one is right there in the enthralled audience. Tracks including ‘Mystery Dance’, ‘Radio Radio’, ‘Lipstick Vogue’, ‘Everyday I Write The Book’, and ‘All Grown Up ‘ with a wonderful piano display from Nieve, all light up the ears and senses, equally bringing back memories and thoughts of one’s personal musical history as much as aurally reminding of  the impact and strength Costello has made and given music.

The second disc is a DVD of the complete May 12th performance and includes songs like ‘Clubland’, ‘Stella Hurt’, and a cover of the Mick Jagger-Keith Richards written ‘Out Of Time’. Also it sees a guest appearance from Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles on ‘Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s A Doll Revolution)’. The final disc is a 10″ vinyl featuring ‘Pump it Up (6/8)’ and ‘Busted’ on side A with ‘Brilliant Mistake’ and ‘Strict time’ making up the B-side. With the inclusion of a 40-page hardback book with includes concert photos and tour diary plus the box set being individually numbered and signed by Costello the release is an exciting package that will thrill all fans of the great man.

When one says fans this release is for the real diehard fans one feels with a sense of exploitation behind it which one should emphasize has nothing to do with the artist himself. With the package coming in at an Amazon listed cost of approximately $262/£212.99 this is an heavy price for what is certainly a lavish release but also hardly packed with vast amounts of songs, though maybe the fact the box set is limited to just 1,500 copies helped the label justify this extreme price. The Costello camp itself voiced their opinion via the official website http://www.elviscostello.com saying “We at http://www.elviscostello.com find ourselves unable to recommend The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! as the price appears to be either a misprint or a satire.” It certainly is a staggering amount and as great as the man is it is hard to imagine any release from any artist that consists of 1 CD, 1 DVD and a 10” vinyl disc can be worth that kind of money. With individual items planned for release early 2012 the advice is to wait, though on this evidence who knows what the label will come up with cost wise then.

Looking at it musically though and The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook!!! is a wonderful release and yet another great addition to music’s history from Elvis Costello. With dates for the 2012 ‘Revolver’ Spring UK tour starting in May next year will be an exciting time for British Elvis Costello fans.

RingMaster 10/12/2011

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Nami – Fragile Alignments

If an album takes three years in the making, and from the creative process and not simply down to obstacles put in the way, the anticipation for something special will be strong and eager. Fragile Alignments from Nami, a quintet from the little country of Andorra located in the eastern Pyrenees, is more than special it is stunning, the length taking to bring forth fully justified in its amazing contents. The release is an immense and glorious kaleidoscope of ingenuity, imagination, and provocative sounds that stirs up the heart and ignites the senses.

The base sound of Nami is progressive death metal but that really is simplifying far too much as the band draw upon and into their sounds flavours and directions from numerous genres to create music that in one moment can be a mesmeric beautiful and the next aggressively intrusive, not forgetting the times when the band just hypnotise with an incessancy that has its recipient drooling and whimpering at the same time. The first listen was hypnotic and instantly impressive, subsequent plays consume and fuel a love affair from the deepest corner of the heart.  No review or description will fully bring over the quality and jaw dropping glory of Fragile Alignments or give the true depth of the emotive grip of the haunting and soulful melodies that permeate every track or the virtual brutality that is unleashed at times, often unexpected but always effectively. To be honest the album is not flawless which in itself engineers the greatest thrill and unbridled lust for what is yet to come from this young band. 

Mixed and mastered by legendary producer Jens Bogren (Opeth, Amon Amarth) the album ripples with elegance and melodic beauty whilst flexing its muscular might and intensity, erupting with varied and gripping textures that  combine the elements that the likes of Meshuggah, Opeth and Between The Buried And Me have made their own, until now. Fragile Alignments consists of nine pulsating and captivating tracks wonderfully written and realised by vocalist Roger Andreu, guitarists Bernat Argemi and Filipe Baldaia, Ricard Tolosa on bass, and drummer Sergi Verdeguer, each member of the band excelling with distinct musical prowess and skill and though their talents are clearly obvious it is all seamlessly brought together to blend into one perfect soundscape.

Fragile Alignments is a conceptual album which as their website bio states “The story arc of “Fragile Alignments” is developed through the choices made by the album’s central character “The Man”: a representation of our modern humanity. Anchored by the themes of optimism and freedom, the album follows The Man on a secular journey towards his own enlightenment as he clashes with the natural world that surrounds him.” The album also has the songs layered in an “achronological storyboard” which means the album can be approached in any track order to make the experience of the one story being told, different, inspiring and provoking; never has shuffle on your iPod been more worthwhile.

Every track is a triumph with pinnacles in a solid wave of exhilarating songs and quality coming in the shape of the opening instrumental ‘Awakening from Lethargy’ where the music slowly comes alive building to crescendos through atmospheric bright musical stretching, the song bursting to life with emotive keys , vibrant guitars and glorious warmth, and ‘Cosmical Beginning (Air)’ with its gruff almost belligerent stance leading seamlessly into the sumptuous and absorbing passion of ‘Conscience of the Void (Water)’. Top honours though belong to ‘Oppression and Understanding’. The song erupts with a venomous death metal intensity and the deepest growls from Andreu over threatening and commanding rhythms from Verdeguer, before adding infectious siren like hooks and riffs that are aural addiction, the guitars of Argemi and Baldaia slicing scorched slithers off the senses from their incisive magnetizing skill. The bass of Tolosa punches and throbs its way into the ear and as throughout the whole album, he brings an irresistible beguiling element to the music.

Fragile Alignments is outstanding and without doubt one of the most impressive and genuinely enjoyable albums in a long time. Nami might be new, they might also be still yet to reach their full potential, which is a scary thought, but they are right now one of the more refreshing and exciting bands to step forth. There is no option you really must go and find out why.

Band Web: http://namiofficial.com/

RingMaster 09/12/2011

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Austrian Death Machine – Jingle All The Way

After a year of a constant conveyor belt of sounds consuming the ear from impressive to car crash the new EP from Austrian Death Machine is a fun and enjoyable explosive blast of extreme and intense sounds to bring the festive period in. Though the EP has no actual Xmas tunes within it the three tracks are as is the band’s usual brief inspired by the Austrian/American heavyweight Schwarzenegger and his film output. For the Jingle All The Way EP, the songs are themed by the festive film of the same name, a movie best forgotten but with the great fun songs on the release it can be allowed one more brief flurry of attention.

Austrian Death Machine is the side project of As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis, who brings in extra spice with guest contributions. To this point his project has ensured attention through the two albums Total Brutal and Double Brutal and previous holiday release A Very Brutal Christmas. It is fair to say not everyone has taken to Lambesis’ brutal and uncompromising comedic silliness but after months of serious intense sounds and attitude from hundreds of releases the EP and band are a splash of freshness and enjoyment to leave a definite smile bursting from ear to ear. This is not to say musically the band is less than determined as the release lets fly with riffs that pummel as relentlessly and violently as can heard anywhere and offer up an addictive varied creativity that make the songs more than simple gimmicks.

First track ‘I’m Not A Pervert’ is a thrash fuelled metalcore assault with cutting guitars and punishing riffs plus some scorching solo work by Jason Suecof and Eyal Levi all thrusting forward the Ahhnold impressions from Count Your Curses vocalist Chad Ackerman and lyrical frivolities inspired by the man’s pursuit of a Turboman Doll. It crushes just as effectively as it works on the humour receptors to ensure the track has a definite longer life than just a passing piece of novelty.

The same can be said about the entire trio of thundering songs. ‘It’s Turbo Time’ splatters the senses with a punk soaked hardcore attack and red hot guitar solo from Mark MacDonald who also adds his skills to third track ‘Who Told You You Could Eat My Cookies?’.  The second song with Ahhnold ‘played’ by Josh Robert Thompson is a no holds barred ear bashing, a track that is swiftly abusive with an air punching anthemic feel as the big man closes in on his ‘Xmas Grail’. Great fun with a final gag at the ends that tickles if not inspiring enough to breakout full blown chuckles for, it is hard to resist the song and its simple eager rough charms.

As mentioned before ‘Who Told You You Could Eat My Cookies?’ finishes off the EP. Taken from the Double Brutal album the song is a surge of great guitars and rampant riffs and music that without the lyrical content and theme would be taken very seriously. The metalcore chants of ‘cookies’ on each play never fail to get one joining in and scarring the throat.

Jingle All The Way does not offer anything new musically but is of a high quality that one would expect from Lambesis. It is importantly extreme fun matching its dominating harsh noise and taken as such is a gem that can be enjoyed over and over again. In fact it might well be the very tune to get us through that chaotic time called Christmas with a perpetual grin thanks to Austrian Death Machine.

RingMaster 09/12/2011

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Interview with Joey Eppard from 3

 This year has seen a strong amount of outstanding albums thrilling and deeply satisfying the ear, a feast of varied and imaginative creativity from a diverse array of flavoured metal releases. One of the most impressive and stunning albums was The Ghost You Gave Me from New York based quartet 3. Expressive and inspired with pulsating veins of intense sounds and glorious melodic progressive rock/metal tracks the album is one of the year’s biggest highlights. The Ringmaster Review had the pleasure to have time with vocalist/guitarist Joey Eppard to ask him about the album and 3 themselves.

Hello and welcome to The RingMaster Review, thank you for talking time to talk to us.

Would you like to introduce the band members and tell us about the origins of 3?

Joey Eppard: Lead Vocals, Guitar
Chris “Gartdrumm” Gartmann: Drums, Backing Vocals
Billy Riker: Guitar
Daniel Grimsland: Bass
I actually started this band as a sophomore in high-school. I wanted to start a band with no boundaries that was still song based yet experimental. I was mostly interested in doing something completely different than the death metal band I was in previous to 3. We have a long and storied history of near fame but never quite getting there. We played the main stage at Woodstock ’94 along with Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and King’s X just to name a few. We were managed by Michael Lang and were the sub-plot of a movie that was ultimately a bust. We were signed to Universal Records in ’98 but it didn’t work out. We finally started releasing albums at the turn of the century. 2004′s Wake Pig garnered the attention of Brian Slagel at Metal Blade and we’ve been there ever since.

What was the trigger to make you participate in a band rather than simply being a fan and listener?

I think it’s a genetic trigger, almost all the males in my family are performing musicians. I don’t remember making a conscious choice, performing music is just as natural as breathing to me. Of course I’m a big fan of a lot of different music, but the more I take in my output becomes that much more.

Since starting as a band has the influences and inspirations for your sound changed or been added to in any distinct way?

Our inspiration is always evolving, so we chase it and see where it goes. That’s all part of the fun and what keeps us coming back to make more records. That’s why each record is very unique and also why we’re harder to pin down stylistically than most other bands.

You have just released the deeply impression album The Ghost You Gave To Me, which element within it are you the most proud of? 

Probably the lyrics, they actually took the most time. I’m very particular about the language in our songs. The imagery has to really flow out of the soundscape.

This is your sixth album, how has the creating process of the album differed over the years from when you first venturing into studios?

Well it used to be we’d write and rehearse and then go in and record. But now we write, record, and rehearse as we go because we have our own gear for recording. We can actually demo everything first and it helps to evolve the production to higher levels. When we’re really ready, we’ll go into a nice room (like Applehead) and cut some drums there.

Could you tell us about the writing of the songs and the changes to them if any once recording started?

Songs happen in different ways. The first few seeds began as little riffs I recorded in my living room after returning home from Progressive Nation ’08.  We’d beat them into shape at rehearsals and really make compositions out of them. They eventually became “Sparrow” and “The Ghost You Gave To Me.” Some of the other tunes were truly group efforts.  When we were writing “Numbers,” Gartdrumm laid down the beat, I wrote a Primus-ish little groove to it (that seems to be mistaken for bass by a lot of people), Daniel wrote the Chorus riff and Billy came up with the ending. The working title was “oh shit” for the longest time because on the demo that’s what we all simultaneously shouted when the bass kicked in against the drumbeat. It remained instrumental until the final days of mixing when I was forced to come up with the lyrics and melody before we ran out of time.  It gives them a raw vitality that I really dig.  The intro, “Sirenum Scopuli,” was actually the first thing I recorded when the time came to really make the record. It led directly into “React” which was one of those songs that just appeared clear as day in my mind one evening as a complete verse and chorus. In that situation I usually just run with the inspiration and try to figure out what the vocal wants in terms of guitar, and other instrumentation. Other songs like “Only Child” were born out of hours of Gartdrumm and me jamming. I would then go through everything and sort of piece together a sketch of what the song could be and we’d relearn it like that. The rest of the instruments and vocals would follow after that.  On “One With the Sun” I had written and recorded the vocals and acoustic guitar first and then everything else followed. It was the same for “Afterglow” as well as “The Barrier.”

Things are constantly changing because we demo songs and sometimes demos evolve into keepers, sometimes they don’t.  For example Afterglow’s demo originally had mellower vocals up front, but I decided to throw more of a rock element in to the mix and add a higher octave full voice singing the first verse.

Do you have a tried and tested way to write your songs?

My attitude is to be open to all the possibilities of how a song can come into being. Essentially… Stay out of your own way. Sometimes its melody and lyrics first, sometimes they come last. The main thing is to really listen and let your heart tell you what to do.

Has The Ghost You Gave To Me exceeded your hopes and expectations going into the studio with its impressive depth and creative energy or ended up as your envisaged all along?

I’ve learned to expect the unexpected; you never know how things will turn out in the end. There are moments that exceeded expectations, and those were basically the songs that were left to be finished at the last minute vocally and lyrically. I guess I do some of my better work under pressure.

Is there a particular track on the album that you feel really has all the essences of the band shining brightest?

I think “Numbers” is a great example of a real balance of all our musical personalities. We each added vital elements to the music, and the end result is very exciting I think. Also “Only Child” is a great example of a song that is a journey in and of itself and shows many sides of our band.

You recorded the album at Applehead Studios, what is it that this place offers that suits the band most?

Applehead has a great live room for drums. My dad actually designed and built it, so that made it extra special to record there. The head engineer there is Chris Bittner, who is really great to work with. We were also really excited to have Chris and Mike Birnbaum to mix the record once we’d finished recording.

With each album bringing more acclaim and support your way do you find you put more pressure upon yourselves for the next?

To a certain degree. We always want to make a better record than the last. The main thing though is to make a record that reflects our passion for what we do and the spirit of musical exploration that drives us forward.

You have just started a tour with Cynic around North America, what can fans expect especially from 3 on stage?

We play our hearts out no matter what. “3″ live is a pretty intense experience and we win a lot of our fans on the road because of it. Sometimes seeing the music being created right there in front of you can really take it to the next level and I feel that is especially true for us. We also work hard to write sets that are entertaining and dynamic.

Any plans beyond the tour for the band?

There are several irons in the fire but we’ll have to wait to make any official announcements. We expect to be on the road quite a bit once the snow subsides.

For more info on the album and the band check out http://www.theband3.com

Read album review @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/3-the-ghost-you-gave-me/

RingMaster 08/12/2011

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