Thee Orakle: Smooth Comforts False

For all of the distinct positives and equally deep negatives the internet has had on music and bands, one of the greater goods to come from it is the accessibility of artists from countries and places far removed from the media given base and our own country borders. In recent months here alone we have come across stunning bands and releases from the likes of the United Arab Emirates, Russia, South America, and the Maldives to name just four. Bands and music that would have escaped attention before the internet grew its searching claws to go beyond the media force fed likes from the UK and the US. Though Portugal is not situated in the furthest reaches of the globe it is a place where music never really escaped far beyond its walls. So praise the internet for making that possible and for bringing the likes of Thee Orakle to the attention of a great many more, something the release of their excellent new album Smooth Comforts False should turn into an even greater and eager growing mass.

Formed in 2005, Thee Orakle soon built up a fine reputation in their homeland for their well crafted music. It was not long before their sounds made further marks with radio play overseas and a request to them to be part of a compilation release. 2007 saw their debut EP Secret released, more impressive live shows (over the years sharing stages with the likes of Bal-Sagoth, W.A.K.O., Heavenwood, Sirenia, Dark Tranquility, Cynic, Amon Amarth, Orphaned Land), and an increasing attention further afield with airing on further reaching radio shows and through other media vehicles but it was their heavily acclaimed debut album Metaphortime in 2009 that was the point they found themselves a bigger notable name on an ever swelling wave of enthused focus. Now following that up with Smooth Comforts False via Ethereal Sound Works, the band has returned with an even more majestic and stunning album. Their music is an inspiring and mesmeric blend of imaginative progressive metal laced and veined with heady jazz influences, Middle Eastern essences, and symphonic metal graces as well as senses riling metal, groove and tech metal intrusions. It is a mighty unpredictable feast that excites, intrigues, and consistently keeps one enthralled.

The album from the septet of vocalists Micaela Cardoso and Pedro Silva, guitarists J. Ricardo Pinheiro and Pedro Mendes, bassist Daniel Almeida, drummer Frederico Lopes, and Luís Teixeira on keys, is a release that bursts with ingenuity and imagination but weaves it all seamlessly into a musical maze for the deepest satisfaction. Where other bands experiment, many bring a disjointed or punchy intermittent mix which works for them but openly highlights each distinct diversion within the music. Thee Orakle bring all their ideas into a smooth and organic wave of aural beauty, and whether they go from beauteous flighted melodies into djented manipulations or from blood raging aggression into mesmeric ripples of smooth light, the result is always captivating and naturally flowing.

The album opens with Faraway Embrace and immediately it has the senses standing up and grinning with anticipation. The song paces with sturdy formidable riffs and commanding rhythms whilst the guitars entice with fleeting grooves. The keys expand and wrap themselves around the ear as the gruff growls of Silva rough up the edges of song and ear. The wonderful voice of Cardoso than enters to temper and compliment her harsher vocal companion and to walk hand in hand with the warm melodies. Midway the song steps to the side to enter an expressive progressive sound to gently coax and beckon one further inside the vibrant tech metal toned returning attack.
The excellent slightly schizophrenic Psi-drama enters next. The song begins with a sinister impressive tech metal/symphonic tone with again the mix between the two vocalists ideal and impressively worked out. The song along its length ventures into varied and always engaging asides, the song a maelstrom of intensity, surprising imagination and totally addictive, the jazz noir elements and lone soulful trumpet of Ricardo Formoso a pure joy.

Each and every song is masterful, the likes of the brilliantly enterprising and ear wrenching Evil Dreams, the gothic impassioned Winter Threat with the additional Type O Negative sounding male vocals of Marco Benevento (The Foreshadowing), and the irresistible The Bridge of the River Flowing with its ear whipping niggling metallic riffs and melodic caressing amongst the demanding aggressive intent, bringing complete pleasure.

The album produced by Daniel Cardoso, who is an impressive and emerging major force in metal, ends with its best track in Rescue of Mind. The track rampages and stomps from the off earning its right to full attention with an eager immediacy. As it pounds and explores the senses it ripples with skilled direction changes, gloriously crafted innovation , and striking invention, the dazzling mid jazz  off shoot soon merging wonderfully into the muscular mass, the song the proof of a band with the ability to create aural Masters.

Smooth Comforts False is one of the most striking and impressive albums this year, it provokes and thrills equally and is the most natural fit for the heart.

RingMaster 16/04/2012

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Dreaming Dead: Midnightmares

There has been a lot of eager anticipation for the second album from US melodic death metal band Dreaming Dead. The follow up to their acclaimed 2009 debut Within One on Ibex Moon Records, the new album Midnightmares was originally planned for the latter part of last year but after a delay it finally sees its unveiling April 20th as a self release by the band. The wait will be soon be forgotten once the stunning nine tracks fuel a deep rooted satisfaction in their fans and the release sure to draw in many more attentive followers to their mighty and expressive sounds.

Formed in 2006 as Manslaughter and releasing a demo of that year, the band evolved and emerged as a formidable creative unit by their debut album. Shared stages with the likes of Morbid Angel, Immolation, Krisiun, Nile, and Exhausted Prayer led them to stronger attention in the US. April 2011 saw the Californians going into the studio to record Midnightmares, the result an album that stirs up the senses into a very raw and excited state.  Though classed as melodic death metal their sound offers much more, the added progressive metal, thrash aggression, and other varied flavours making it a full and rounded flavoursome beast that offers an imaginative and compulsive experience.

Opening on the crawling death metal instrumental Wake the band explodes into aggressive intensity with the following Overlord. The opening piece of music shows the strong expressive creative guitar work of Elizabeth Schall whilst the darkened basslines of Juan Ramirez are revealed as an inspiring shadowed presence here and throughout the album. Overlord gives evidence of the harsh energised side of the band as it tramples the senses with a thrash veined rampage whilst enticing them with a strong progressive design to the song. The drums of Michael Caffell form a mighty and controlled network of rhythms for the other pair of the trio to explore and expand their ideas within, whilst his guttural additional vocals make a powerful companion to the coarse and caustic lead vocals of Schall.

Though a very strong and pleasing start the album gets better the further it progresses. The following title track raising the level immediately as it blisters the ear with venomous intent from vocals and bass whilst the acidic guitar manipulations scorch with their tight sharp groove and intrusions. The song is a mesh of inspired ideas and riffs that feast upon the senses as equally as they fed them.

The wonderfully niggling and persistent Exile, the stunning mesmeric and majestic  In Memoriam, and the violent addictively grooved Into the Depths, all step by step add more and more infectious and compelling elements to the sound, each superbly crafted and diverse without losing any of the intensity or nastiness the band do so well too. The second of these three rivals for best track on the album only matched by the excellent Lapse and the closing instrumental Departure. In many ways this is the most surprising thing about Midnightmares in that the instrumentals outshine the other songs somewhat. This is not because the vocal led ones lack any quality or satisfaction giving skills, it is that the band finds extra freedom on the instrumentals to explore and take us to even deeper depths. In Memoriam is magnificent, a vibrant and eager mischievous collection of ideas and emotive sounds that flow with ease and confidence down new and adventurous avenues. Departure too shows this side of the band and their instinctive and skilled craft. The song opens with a slowly dawning progressive saunter through its soundscape, guitar and bass bringing rivalling but companion tones. The track expands into a wider intimidating prowl before finding more expressive angles to inflame the senses with. The piece provokes imagery and ideas as it moves towards its leaving and though not with the infectious urgency of In Memoriam it is just as deeply provocative.

Midnightmares is a mightily impressive album and well worth the extra wait for their fans old and new. There are many corridors and rooms within death metal as a genre and Dreaming Dead provide one of the most appealing and exciting of them all.

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RingMaster 16/04/2012

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Ghost In The Static: The Infection Vols 1 & 2

With an album due for later in the year UK electro industrial metal band Ghost In The Static have as a teaser a double volume release called The Infection. As an indicator of what is ahead the EP which came out at the end of last year and beginning of this, is a deeply pleasing and exhilarating inducement that marks their forthcoming album as one of the more important ones in an ever fluctuating industrial scene.

Ghost In The Static first grabbed attention and acclaim with their debut album Open Eyed Dreamer Part I: Revelation in February of last year, the release a vibrant and dramatic voice to an agitated genre. The Bracknell quintet forge irresistible hooks and melodies into striking and aggressive energy offering it with a direct intensity to create music that hits hard but expands into ever increasing and exhilarating intrusive pleasures. The new release is no different except for being even more controlled and deliberate in its assimilation of emotions and heart. It is a very promising statement of what is ahead and makes the anticipation for the album impatient.

Consisting of Steve Fearon, Lewis Collins, Gareth Stapleton, Mike Fearon, and Martin Rogers, Ghost In The Static explode in the ear on Volume 1 of The Infection with Not Enough. The song rushes in from distance with a pulsating beat and eager hypnotic enchantments. It is reasonably restrained initially, the track grazing on the ear with lit up melodies and acidic pinches of rhythms and energy. It then gradually expands and before long one is infected by its blood pumping power and pulse racing energy, the contagion in full swing before you know it and the only disappointment is when it ends. The band brings an impactful blend from the likes of Gary Numan, Nine Inch Nails, and Cynical Existence to help forge their own instinctive metal veined sounds. It is powerful and impossible to resist, a heavy blackened siren which consumes fully.

Now regular readers will know remixes and their point is lost on us here but The Infection it has to be said certainly left one almost as enthused from many of those that complete the EP as from the title track. Steve Fearon from the band and the owner of Static Distortion, their own label, said they would but we assumed he was just biased. The most impressive is the Anarchy Mix by Cyvergence, a track that yanks out the metallic spine of the song and layers it with the punk aggression and directness only suggested in the original. The melodic synth flows are still there but restrained by the primal and combative attack of the song. He makes the track different and unique, his use of the guitars and rhythms pointing at a Fear Factory toned heart. If all remixes were like this than there would never be a resistance to them.

The Not Enough Drums Mix by Witness The Apotheosis is a provocative piece that brings a neat alignment between a coarser tone and electro elements to concentrate on the disentangled beats and energies. A great track diminished by the excellence of the previous two versions. Completed by remixes by Ninja Spice and Kaziko White, both admittedly vibrant and intriguing pieces the EP is a striking release.

The Infection Volume 2 consists of four remixes of the track Saviour. The song is a belligerent track given an attentive makeover in a quartet of approaches that again bring and draw out something different each time. The Ghost Mix is antagonistic but off set by the dazzling electro beacons of sonic manipulations and bristling energy whilst the Machine Rox Mix takes an a sturdier eighties electro Ultravox come Visage pop sound but keeps the raw and militant vocals intact for a great contrast.

The mix by band stable mate Digital Deformation scuzzes everything up into a cloudy and undefined mix which works a treat though as with the remaining Flesh Eating Foundation Mix, it does not take the song into new areas as Cyvergence did on the other Volume.

Not Enough is the key track and alone makes the new album from Ghost In The Static an urgent addition to grab upon its release. Right now though you can grab copies of The Infection @ http://staticdistortionrecords.co.uk/album/the-infection-vol-1-free-download and http://staticdistortionrecords.co.uk/album/the-infection-vol-2-free-download, with Volume 2 being free and Volume 1 offering a free download of the title track.

RingMaster 16/04/2012

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