Ourfamous Dead: Claws at the Door

As the twilight weeks of last year closed their eyes there was one release which lit up those dark nights with a sound that roughed up the senses whilst mesmerising them at the same time. The EP in question was I Am Human from UK electro rockers Ourfamous Dead. Consisting of four tracks which stokes up limbs and emotions through infectious hook fuelled electronic punk sounds and eager explosive melodies, the release though not quite perfect installed the band as one to keep a close eye upon. Now the band returns with their new single Claws at the Door to not only repeat the irrepressible energy and intent found on the earlier release but to take it forward many huge steps to produce a song which is a feast for the ear.

Formed in 2009 the Leeds based band has made formidable strides in capturing attention and acclaim through their debut single Untitled Part 2 and the EP as well as their high energy live shows. The quintet found themselves under positive media scrutiny and as they continued to work hard sharing stages with the likes of The Blackout, Funeral For a Friend and Gallows. Now with the new single the anticipation that it will ignite 2012 for the band is more than a strong wish.

Claws at the Door is a track that demands and seizes attention from its opening dark electronic prowling around the ear right through to its punk punchy chorus to the siren bred climax. Showing a stronger maturity to their song writing the song is a well rounded and incessant beast which beats up the ear with the mix of punk, hardcore and electronica the band is becoming well known for. The vocals of AJ Reeves once more massage the ear with fine clean tones and a grouchy harsher delivery ably supported by the combined group shouts and chants of the rest of the band. This vocal blend is a perfect ally to the similarly enthused music, the guitars of Callum Knight and Rich Jennings, the pulsating bass of Simon Green, and the thumping rhythms of drummer Robin “Bobbyo” Speight, as one in pushing down defences with their aggressive punk urgency and revitalising them with a flowing melodic infection which permeates deeply. As the synths swirl and ignite emotions behind the forceful barracking, the song leaves one breathless for more and gives rise to an impatient anticipation for their forthcoming debut album.

In a mere few months the band has grown to reveal a sure hand on their creativity and a firmer definition to their sound. Ourfamous Dead have forged their own style which still lies between the likes of The Browning and Enter Shikari with flavouring of the likes of My Passion and Linkin Park but as the single indicates has evolved into music with its own breath and heart.

With a tour alongside another band to watch out for The Sun Explodes through April, a video for Claws at the Door due any day, and the previously mentioned album on the horizon, now is the right time to introduce yourselves to Ourfamous Dead, one of the most exciting UK bands around right now.

http://www.ourfamousdead.com/

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RingMaster 03/03/2012

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Heidevolk: Batavi

With strong chest beating and red hot blood rushing through its veins the new album from Dutch folk metalers Heidevolk is a stirring and thoroughly pleasing release. With a firmer aggression and intensity then on previous releases, Batavi the fourth album from the band is an expressive force which excites and deeply satisfies. Even with the limitation for many in the fact the band sing in their home tongue the energetic intent and craft within the emotive sound and voice immerses one into the turbulence and theme that fuels the release easily.

Batavi transports the listener to a time of violent unrest as Germanic tribes waged war against the Roman Empire along the banks of the Rhine for domination of Northwest Europe. Alliances, intrigue, and betrayal were rife as the Batavians, the protagonists of the new album from Heidevolk, found themselves stuck in the middle of the conflict. Through their own brand of traditional pagan metal the Dutch band bring forth the struggle and fight of the time and people to great effect with songs that are as catchy as they are striking, and as proud as they are forceful.

Formed in 2002 in Arnhem, the band did not take long to draw acclaim and a strong following through their mesmeric intense live shows and releases. From their debut album of 2005 De strijdlust is geboren, coming after the demo Het Gelders Volkslied the year before; through to albums Walhalla Wacht and Uit oude grond of 2008 and 2010 respectively, Heidevolk with their defined sound of thundering riffs, folk veined melodies, mountainous rhythms and triumphant clean vocals explore their chosen genre to pulse racing effect. With Batavi they have stiffened up their sound and flexed broader muscles to create an album which leaves one breathless and fired up whilst basking in an instinctive sweeping dark grace.

As the towering rhythms and tense riffs of opener Een nieuw begin march through the ear alongside the enthused harmonies of dual vocalists Joris den Boghtdrincker and Mark Splintervuyscht, there is instant recognition that here is a galvanising and inciting experience waiting to flourish upon the senses. The drums of Joost den Vellenknotscher lead the way with a formidable hand whilst the bass of Rowan Roodbaert and guitars from Reamon Bomenbreker lead the battle cry. The sound reminds one of heavy metal Finnish band Stam1na more than of other folk/pagan metal bands showing that Heidevolk openly stand apart from similar genre bands.

De toekomst lonkt raises the intensity further, the song rampaging forth with a determination and willingness to engage forcibly whilst still surging with vocals that spill strength, confidence and pride. Musically Heidevolk are as accomplished and impressive as they are incessant and irrepressible but it is the vocals that set the band further apart from the likes of Tyr, Ensiferum and other pagan metal bands, they are simply soaring and glorious whilst retaining the power and might the music needs. The song sets the heart up to stand tall and confront whilst the following likes of Het verbond met Rome and Wapenbroeders only go to reinforce the inspired quickening of breath and eagerness ignited within.

Songs like Als de dood weer naar ons lacht, the thrash/folk bliss of Einde der zege, and the wonderful melancholic acoustic instrumental Veleda, show the diversity and versatility of band and album, a release that offers a varied feast on each and every slice of folk metal presented. Musically Heidevolk do not push boundaries as far as they certainly could but with sounds as easily consumable and uplifting in spirit as those on Batavi it is not a real complaint, and with such bass and baritone vocal might ripping through each song the deficiency is barely noticeable.

Batavi is stunning and an album that can only bring good things to the ear and music, Heidevolk use adrenaline and uncomplicated mastery to enflame the senses and show pagan or folk metal has no need for tricks or frivolities to be a genre with true heart and quality.

RingMaster 02/023/2012

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Always The Quiet Ones: Freak Show

If there was ever a release to epitomise the term a grower than it is the new EP from Liverpool rock band Always The Quiet Ones. The first couple of listens to Freak Show and one hears a strong and well crafted trio of songs which engage instantly if not distinctly. What it does not immediately reveal is how infectious that same music is and how once one gives it more attention it will return to mind often and far away from the disc itself. Though not a perfect release subsequent plays place Freak Show deeper and firmer into the heart with especially two of the songs within its expressive walls, lifting the spirit and emotions to lofty levels.

Formed in the later part of 2010, the quintet of Blas Barragan Jr. (vocals), Joe Danher (guitar), Adam Lucas (guitar), Chris Nicholls (bass) and James Lorenzo (drums), hit the ground running with lively and ear catching live shows supporting the likes of Deaf Havana, Mojo Fury, Axis Of and Turbogeist. With a show as impressive and unforgettable as their sounds the band soon gained strong attention from fans and undergrounds media alike. With the release of Freak Show the band are surely about to stir up the UK and accelerate the enthusiasm already gaining momentum to an even greater height.

The EP opens with Sign Of The Times and no reticence in spicing up the ear with commanding rhythms, wanton riffs and melodies to tease and mesmerise. The track twists and turns with great imagination and diversity. The inventive beats of Lorenzo lead the track up and down distinct avenues whilst the bass lines of Nicholls cajole the ear to jump on board the heartily driven express train of sound. Whilst the guitars of Lucas and Danher rage and intrigue to equal measure and often at the same time vocalist Barragan Jr. rides the sound with an expressive hard rock type delivery which grabs and sets off the imagination. The song sets a stunning start to the release which leaves a formidable challenge for the next track to follow.

Valentina sadly fails to rise up to the question. The song is actually very good but with the band taking a more straight forward approach with it there is not the inspirational and originality to it as so apparent on the opener. The melodies within it are graceful and the vocals once more dripping emotive skill. Musically the band is impressive and really there is not anything wrong with the song at all, but there is something missing from it which lit up Sign Of The Times and returns with full force in the closing song on the EP. With a chorus that digs deep and guitars which scorch the senses the song is certainly one that is not easily forgotten once it lays down its last note though.

Title track Freak Show completes the trio and is the best song offered. From a momentously striking mouth watering melodic crawl the song evolves into a muscular beast that ripples attitude and might within a chorus and crescendo of sound that envelopes the ear like a tempest. Switching back to the mellower tone and intent it feels like one is in the eye of the storm soon to be buffeted again by the delicious intrusion of heavy riffs, caustic melodies and driving rhythms. The song growls and snarls at times and in others offers a mischievous but inviting smile, all intended to lead you into the maelstrom of creativity, madness, and wonderfully unpredictable sounds within.

Many seem to cite early Biffy Clyro and the likes of A Perfect Circle and Tool as influences in the sound of Always The Quiet Ones and one can see that especially with the darker elements of the latter but the one band that seems to lurk within the songs, especially the addictive and expressive side was Manic Street Preachers, throughout the way the melodies and songs attached themselves with an eager and irresistible grip echoed the Welsh band.

Freak Show is quite simply excellent and a sure doorway into the heart and vast invention of Always The Quiet Ones. With already a double-A sided single planned for just a mere few weeks ahead, 2012 could and should be the year the band twists us all to their way of thinking.

RingMaster 02/03/2012

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Witness The Fall: Self Titled EP

Since their formation in 2007, Scottish metalers Witness The Fall have pulled in a constantly increasing attention and acclaim for their extreme sounds and aggressive intensity. Through their debut demo and shows with the likes of The Casino Brawl, Horizons, and Scar My Eyes the band have left deep marks and good impressions to ensure people took notice. Their self titled second EP should bring an even stronger focus upon them with its blend of metalcore and straight metal, intrusive sounds and demanding intensity.

Upon the EP, Witness The Fall hit hard and ruthlessly with a sound borne from the likes of Killswitch Engage and Shadows Fall. The quintet from beginning to end treat the ear to towering riffs and merciless rhythms, which combined with the intrusive acute melodies also on offer makes the release an experience that is uncompromising and intriguing.

The release starts strong and only gets better as it muscles its way through to the excellent closer. For extreme metal fans there is plenty within the release to excite and draw from but for those less inclined to being bashed from pillar to post the melodic play and invention within is also plentiful and pleasing. To be honest the only criticism that can be placed upon its shoulders is that the music is not particularly original, of a high quality and constantly engaging it is without doubt but lacking in the sparks to set the band apart from similar fuelled bands. The indication though is that it is only a matter of time and not so far ahead.

Opening track An End To Darkness sets a blistering start with riffs to bludgeon the ear and drumming from Dilkie that demands attention. The guitars of Tony and Chris leave scorch marks with their melodic play and bruises with their stomping riffs whilst vocalist Nels growls with spite challenging with each word and syllable. A good start if not remarkable but things instantly pick up when the following song Victory assumes control.

The track is brutal, a devastating assault which grips tight steely fingers around the throat as it forces scorched melodies, violent riffs, and rhythms that leaves one staggering under their weight.  The song also fully shows the great creative bass play of Jason, an aspect not so obvious in the opener.  Though the song does not give as much diversity in melodic and sharp guitar invention it is a firmer and deeper satisfying track than the first.

The following The Dying Art Of Integrity and The Tragedy Of Man are insatiable slabs of metal which further show the band as fine musicians and sure in their delivery and creativity. There is little to dismiss about either with each song a formidable treat to digest but at this point the lack of diversity and uniqueness is clearer. Saying that though there are moments in the second of the two which border on escape into something substantially different but they never quite make the move, something the closing two tracks are bolder about.

Righteous Kill with its use of sampled words and a groove which demands obedience offers strong and intriguing diversions within the expected and pleasing aggression. This is a great step forward and improved upon further by Darkest Hour (No Surrender). The song is masterful bringing knee bending riffs, controlled and powerful rhythms plus an unrelenting intensity which overwhelms and manipulates. The song is unpredictable and apart from the vocals there is no certainty to it which is the key to why it is so impressive.

Witness The Fall , band and EP is a must check out for all metal fans extreme or not, and though as mentioned one feels the band has yet to discover its distinct voice they more than satisfies the fires within right now with this release.

RingMaster 02/03/2012

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Diabulus in Musica – The Wanderer

Building on their well received debut album Spanish symphonic metal band Diabulus in Musica return with their new album The Wanderer. Carrying on where Secrets left off but taking things to a higher and more defined level, the quintet from Pamplona have unveiled a release which stings and bites whilst taking the senses into dramatic realms full of melodic beauty and soaring harmonies. The album is often majestic, constantly absorbing and overall deeply satisfying.

Diabulus in Musica show two sides to their sound on The Wanderer in similarity to the recently released album from Xandria.  The difference though is where the majority of tracks from the German band wonderfully combined highly aggressive and harder metal intensity with their symphonic creativity within each song, the Spaniards apart from within No Time For Repentance use this blend either to just steel up the symphonic flows or to create distinct metal tracks which keep the grander sound at bay. This works well in an album that is eclectic in sound though at times one wishes the two elements actually clashed at full might to see what would emerge.

Formed in 2006, Diabulus in Musica are instantly notable for the great vocal range and skill of Zuberoa Aznárez, her voice wonderfully taking flight to impressively varying heights and depth. Complimented by the striking guitar play of Adrián M. Vallejo and the emotive and atmospheric keys of Gorka Elso the band frequently soar like eagles or swarm around the ear in persistent harmonious waves. Powerful though the guitar and riffs are the intensity is raised higher by the muscular bass and commanding rhythms of Alex Sanz and Xabi Jareño respectively. All components combined their strength and musicianship ensures the band is a formidable treat which even with seeds grown from the likes of Nightwish and more so Epica, forge their own enjoyable sound.

Released via Napalm Records, The Wanderer opens with the intro A Journey’s End and the sound of waves lapping gently as a storm brews before the idyllic calm is moved by an impending sense of menace and a crashing climax. This leads into the rampaging Ex Nihilo, a track unrelenting on pace and eagerness to consume the ear with glorious harmonies and enthusiastic riffs. With guitar, bass and drums pressuring, the vocals of Aznárez alongside the keys, rise and sweep around the senses to dazzle and caress. The melodic operatic tinged harmonies radiate and even the harsher male growls can only add an edge rather than over power their grace.

Sceneries of Hope comes next to show the diversity within the album, offering an electronic vein through and beneath the euphoric keys and voice. Only two songs in and one realises Diabulus in Musica with their large gothic sound and orchestral weaves know how to avoid straying into indulgence and excess, each song no matter the size of its design is tight and restrained, this ensures the likes of this song and the impressive Oihuka Bihotzetik never out stay their welcome or disengage focus.

Continuing the diversity the band brings in a classic rock edge for the explosive Blazing A Trail and then dip into folk metal with Hidden Reality each carried off with a confidence and surety in the results. With the terrific vocals ofAznárez as well as the skill of everyone else it does not take long to realise the limitations of the band is only defined by their own belief in what they are doing. An already pleasing album is elevated into impressive the further one ventures into it especially with the mighty assault of Shadow of the Throne. Here the band go into battle with metal alone. Crushing riffs march through  the ear like battalions whiles rhythms demand subservience. The vocals are solely male and delivered with a growl dripping venom and violence showing that the band can do metal as well as anyone and with invention as the teasing melodic extras and male vocal harmonies raining down upon the song show. It is glorious and despite the lack of Aznárez and her cultured sound is a big highlight even if they sound like a different band.

With the fiercely creative and almost experimental progressive No Time for Repentance (Lamentatio) and the simple but stunning folk driven title track, Diabulus in Musica reveal deeper pools  of aural nectar to feast upon. Though not perfect with the similarity to other bands unavoidable at times and a closer union between the majestic and metal side of the band maybe needed, The Wanderer is an excellent album which feels and sounds better play after play.

RingMaster 01/03/2012

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Swound!: Into The Sea

Missing some fun and mischief in your music? Do not worry as UK rock band Swound! is back to fill the gap with their second album Into The Sea. Full of whimsy, delight, and infectious tunes the album is a strongly enjoyable romp to put a smile on any sour face. The four Staszkiewicz brothers originally from the Isle of Man follow up their debut Hello Future Our Name Is Swound with a release that refreshes and reminds us that music should be fun and simple, an uncomplicated pleasure and a wicked tease for the senses which only the likes of Baddies and Innercity Pirates along with Swound! seem to have kept in their creative arsenal.

     Into The Sea is a thoroughly engaging and pleasing frisk of the senses though there are a couple of things that have to be said just to balance the unbridled eager words to follow. The album shows the continuation of the maturity to the bands songwriting first indicated with the previous single Predator 3. What has seemingly happened though is either the band has moved on from or forgotten the distinctly quirky and imaginative ideas that frequented previous releases. The unpredictability and downright eccentricities to their songs has been tempered into almost expulsion by the growth of their writing skills. You will not find the spectacular diversions within a Bust-A-Move, Whats Your Poison or We Are A Danger among the songs on the new album and as great as the new material is this lack of inventiveness does leave a tinge of disappointment. This change has also left a kind of similarity across the album, a singular pace and structure that is not as varied as one would have expected, but for all of that the album is simply great and destined to be a constant on ours and many others daily playlist.

The band release the album on their own The Grelmin Corporation label with sounds that reflect the quartets influence and love of the likes of Weezer, Nirvana and other nineties guitar bands. Self produced and mixed by Chris Sheldon the release leaps into the ear like an eager child, excitable and bursting with temptation. The album takes first breath with the excellent Your Kids Are Gonna Love It, with punchy drums from Lloyd and prowling bass from Tom to the fore. A Buzzcocks like hook adds to the fun as vocalist Joe begins the songs announcement and alongside Rowan their combined guitars jangle warmly as the rhythms continue to ignite ones inner beat. The influence of the previously mentioned Manchester band continues with a melody right out of Everybody’s Happy Nowadays to complete a vibrant and hypnotic opener.

As songs like the rock flavoured Big Trouble, the current single In My Head with another delicious grouchy bass manipulation from Tom and a chorus with more infection than the common cold, and the definite Weezer toned If Only I Could, ride the ear with a impish glint helping the album feel like one is going out with old friends, destined silliness and unbridled fun guaranteed.

The centre of the album holds the best songs starting with the grunge lined swagger of Everybody Hates Her. It is actually almost on the reserved side with the band utilising a simple and uncluttered approach to build a compulsive song which if you are not drawn into participation by mid way the recommendation is to check your wrist for a pulse. Within a couple of songs the punk spiced Oh No! erupts with a Ramones like crash of guitars spaced by voracious melodies and hungry bass groans. Though the song never explodes into life it has an appetite to rile up the senses and does just that by its end. The third song is the best on the album. Ghosts rumbles and strolls along with a swagger and attitude that is irresistible. It taunts and skirts around the ear before taking hold to spring wonderful hooks, insatiable rhythms and sheer warm pleasure.

With the likes of the catchy Physics Makes Us Strong and the Smokey Bastard like folk fun of Mean People Suck adding to the album, Into The Sea is a wholly appetising treat to relish and sure to put a grin on your face far beyond its actual stay. Their sound may have changed a little but the pleasure and satisfaction they give is just as endearing and thorough.

RingMaster 01/03/2012

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Erevos: Descensus Ad Inferos

Apart from the stirring and sonically intrusive sounds upon the debut album from Greek black metalers Erevos, the most notable aspect of Descensus Ad Inferos is the imagination which frequents its shadowed corridors. Though the creativity is not always openly apparent at first glance the quintet from Thessaloniki layers their music with an impressive and very pleasing varied ingenuity. Descensus Ad Inferos is a very fine album which the more attention it is given the deeper the pleasure received.

Formed in 2004, Erevos drew good reviews and responses from their first demo of 2005 Burning Souls onwards. Despite a line-up that changed almost consistently over the years the band grew in stature and strength proven by their second demo Mythological Evil the following year, and a split release and the Adou Katavasis EP later. 2010 saw the current line-up of two of the band founders in vocalist/bassist Growler (yes we chuckled at that too) and keyboardist Tisifoni, plus guitarists Pias and Abraxas, and drummer Tek established and settled. In May of last year the quintet then entered the studio to record Descensus Ad Inferos, the result a well thought out and crafted symphonic lined black metal gem.

Against a formidable and towering blend of persistent riffs and a blackened consuming groove, the opening track Adou Katavasis spreads its distinctly dark arms around the listener. Punctured by a simple solitary keyboard interaction the track evolves with menace into an excellent trash fuelled assault of black metal intensity and guitar manipulations. With a complimentary production the atmosphere of the track and its successor The Omnipotence Of The Judges is as effective as the growing intensity, a ferocity that grows as the album progresses. With guitars that light up the ear and keys which place a melodic weave of sounds around and through the directness elsewhere, the song is a stirring composition with a strong mass from the impressive assaulting rhythms and hungry bass of Tak and Growler respectively, the malevolent growls and caustic delivery of the latter adding a further snarl to the song and album as a whole.

As Decensus Ad Inferos unleashes each track it gets better and better, the mightily relentless intrusion of Kires and the magnificent beast that is Those Who Decide About Fate both flexing muscles of quality and creativity. The first has a rawness and honesty to it that attaches like a sonic leech whilst the latter leaves the sense staggering under its immense oppressive intensity. Both add a unbridled rock n roll element to the music providing further evidence of how the band multi task in styles within their songs. With keys that coax the ear like a mischievous angel to open up for the rampaging beats and destructive riffs, the song is only matched by the later Kerveros for the greatest moment on this excellent album.

Kerveros takes things more into death metal territory, its heavy intent a rolling boulder through the sparkling keys that flash behind the force. The musicianship as it is throughout the release is striking and a major factor in the success of each song. No one plays to excess, each member pushing themselves but within the tense and tight format of the songs. This makes the tracks on the surface seem rather straight forward and they are uncomplicated on the whole, but beneath there is a bubbling stream of ideas and spectacular though subdued essences waiting to be discovered.

The likes of Erinyes with its hellacious ear twisting groove and the brutal Grotesque Blasphemy (Slaughter pt.1), a track that grabs by the throat as it forcibly rams forth its contents, keep standards extremely high. The album is a blackened rapture for the soul conjured by a band that really have a defined destination and direction for their invention.

As the closing carnivorous bass and emotive keys only closing track Adou Anavasis explores the senses with intriguing ingenuity and sinister drama one knows they have just experienced a release from a band that with a tight continued rein on indulgence will create something even more special in the future. Erevos have given black metal food for thought and us a feast for the senses.

RingMaster 01/03/2012

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