The Black Black – Boogie Nights

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There is no denying that the One Blunt Death Party / You’re A Danger 7” single from The Black Black towards the end of last year, scored a deep rooted place on the soundtrack of our and a great many other’s passions with its three tracks of psyche flirting post punk. The release was not only confirmation of an already impressing emergence from the Brooklyn band but a sign post of greater exploits being brewed. It is a recipe which has come to a scintillating and seriously compelling boil on the trio’s debut album Boogie Nights, a salaciously contagious and schizophrenically toned incitement of post punk devilry. Inspired by the 1997 movie of the same name, the album is dirtily seductive and sonically swarthy, though no fakery in colour or overblown additives can be found on the lean and creatively rapacious groove machine. If you thought The Black Black was already the tang to your ears and day, be prepared for melt down once the rhythmically voracious and sonically irresistible Boogie Nights takes hold.

Formed in the latter months of 2011, The Black Black were soon luring attention with the self- release of a pair of EPs in 2012 and a split 7” with fellow Brooklyn band Low Fat Getting High. The early weeks of 2013 saw the band entering the studio with drummer Stephen Chopek (The Everymen) to record the double-A single One Blunt Death Party / You’re A Danger, the first for Money Fire Records and released in the September of that year. It was the spark to a far broader awareness and attention upon the band, the acclaimed release also in the words of the band, the first which “truly captures the bass-driven, groove-heavy sound and energy of the band.” With drummer Tomo Ikuta joining the founding pair of guitarist/vocalist Jonathan Daily and bassist/vocalist Chris Schnaars also that year, the band has obviously continued to hone their sound and invention resulting in an album which stalks new plateaus of imagination igniting alchemy.

From the first stubby rhythmic swipes and acidic strikes of guitar, opener the plan is, there is no plan has thoughts and appetite on their feet and throwing moves. The angular spicy sparks and grooves of guitar are instant flirtation which the wonderfully throaty bassline and crispy rhythms match in imposing kind. Teasing with a bluesy scent to those grooves and its air, the song continues to rumble and shuffle vivaciously as expressive vocals behave as mischievous and predatory as the sounds around them whilst sudden dips into restraint and melodic seducing add extra bewitchment.

The tremendous starts is straight away emulated by black black snow, the second song again throwing out wiry and tasty grooves as its body swings beats and riffs like an Ian Curtis dance. AlbumCover-MichaelSincavageThoughts of Wire come to the fore quite swiftly, as too of The Gaa Gaas whilst the raw and rhythmically addictive side of the track is bred from the same primal instincts as The Fall. The track is a scuzzy turbulence of pure addictiveness and sonic sexiness, but it and its predecessor soon have to bow before the brilliance of until death do us party. The lead single from the album, it is a temptress from start to finish with a compelling acidic groove, coldly exotic hooks, and anthemic vocals as its biggest weapons out of many. Discord as ever is a vibrant colour to the band’s sound whilst a toxic melodic hue only excites the already vivacious adventure, but with grizzled bass tones and agitated rhythms courted by Mekons like sonic tenacity, the track breaches an ingenuity which is breath-taking.

The following what the world needs now strides purposefully in next with a beat carrying bulging biceps and a grizzly bass enticement which soon has the appetite licking its lips. A low tone to the vocals adds to the addictive drama before the song expels a caustic breath and garage rock ferocity. It slips through both elements again before twisting into a psychotic swing and vocal bedlam which again has body and thoughts dribbling in pleasure. The glorious tempting takes a different avenue with the darkly shadowed machine, who me?, cold almost sinister essences draping over the vocal agitation and Joy Division seeded revelry. As in all encounters though, numerous side steps and unpredictable turns bring greater fascination and ardour the way of the eventual Baddies flavoured evocation.

The previously exalted you’re a danger soon has ears and feet engaged with its slightly unruly but seriously infectious sonic emprise. Wrapped in richly spiced tendrils of melodic fire and intimidating bass menace, the song simultaneously smoulders and stomps on the way to hypnotising the senses with its unrelenting and feverish tapestry of alluring discord and searing guitar toxicity. The track as so many from the band, just seems to grow and worm deeper under the skin over time, a persistence which flows through the album and especially in songs like this drink’s familiar. Shimmering loudly with every shudder of guitar strings and grouchily tempting with every bass slap, the song slowly swarms over the senses, flirting with ears on the way through with bright flickering moves and raunchy beats.

Things get dirty and greedily energetic again with the silence is deafening, a grooved beast of riotous and infection fuelled escapades, and restrained with the sultrily tempting phillip gets divorced. The second of the pair is unafraid to occasionally fire up its bedlam though and bursts into occasional fierce blazes of sound and vocal fury, whilst both songs treat the imagination and passions to exhilarating doses of bracing and abrasing rock ‘n’ roll.

With the similarly irresistible creative psych-out of this land is not your land bringing the album to a close, Boogie Nights has little difficulty inflaming old passions and triggering new lustful responses. It is a certain challenge to all best of lists due to be offered around now and for newcomers to The Black Black an inescapable and thrilling doorway into post punk anarchy whilst for fans it is simply the best thing since…well the band’s last sonic plaything.

Boogie Nights is out now via on Money Fire Records digitally and on 12″ white vinyl @ http://moneyfirerecords.com/boogie-nights-by-the-black-black/ and http://theblackblack.bandcamp.com/album/boogie-nights

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RingMaster 12/12/2014

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Ascending Dawn – Coalesce

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The name Ascending Dawn brings images of light emerging from dark and that in a way is exactly what the UK melodic/progressive metal band’s sound is like, except the rugged intensive shadows which frequent their music embraces and shares the moment with its dazzling melodic light. The release of debut album Coalesce shows there is no conflict between the opposites either, instead they make a tempestuous union which emerges as one compelling and very often bewitching proposition. The release is an immediate dramatic persuasion with the soaring tones of Greek/Cypriot vocalist Marlain Angelides a constant rich seduction against the sonic blaze and aggressive tenacity which colours each evocative exploration within the album. Equally there is a potential within the band and album which as the songs entwine around ears and imagination, you come to feel is still not being fully realised and on the strength of the impressive first full-length, makes for a rather exciting prospect ahead.

Consisting of guitarist Owen Rees, bassist Constanze Hart, and drummer Mark Weatherley alongside Angelides, the London based quartet emerged last year and swiftly started turning heads with their diversely flavoursome sound. The first couple of singles from the band’s album wetted the appetite and sparked strong anticipation for Coalesce, but really only hinted at the depths and strengths of the Jochem Jacobs (ex-Textures) mixed and mastered album.

The second single taken from the release opens it up, All in Now immediately teasing ears and imagination with a tangy guitar coaxing before expelling a huge breath of spiky grooves and combative rhythms. It is a spicy start which mellows slightly as the emotive tones of Angelides opens up the narrative. Around her though riffs and beats continue to impose and stalk the senses, intimidating openly within the expanding weave of melodies and harmonies. The song is an enthralling and invigorating start, its sinews and intensity aligning perfectly with the warm elegance and melodic vivacity of sound and voice around them.

The following Miscommunication is more of the same in its individual way, riffs and basslines a predatory protagonist within the smouldering sonic lure of the encounter. Also as in its a1987805667_2predecessor, Angelides opens with a low key delivery, a touch which is alluring but maybe lacking the spark of when her lungs let rip and she impressively roars and soars across the songs . She takes charge of the song swiftly though, extending her vocal chords and delivery to inflame ears and thoughts as the rich tapestry of sound flames around her and the lyrical incitement she shares makes a potent impact. The captivation continues into the band’s first single Cannonball, the song entering from a distance with a melodic swing within a provocative ambience. Riffs and hooks are soon gnawing wonderfully away at the senses before the song slips into a melody rich embrace, crooning with every aspect of its magnetic enterprise. There is still that heavy threat to the pop infused proposal though; raw textures combining almost flirtatiously with the melodic rock weave.

     As impressive as the first songs are, the album’s pinnacle comes with the pair of Integral and Opposites, the first a bordering on carnivorous blaze of hungry wiry riffs and heavily swiping beats with a blistering melodic flame to its temptation. The track stalks and seduces the senses simultaneously, every scythe of guitar and throaty bassline a dark protagonist courting the radiant elegance of voice and sultry invention. Its successor similarly bares its rhythmic and riff laden teeth, snarling and leering at the listener whilst a bloom of beauty rises from the throat of Angelides and in the guitar enterprise. Not for the first or last time, song and sound reminds of US band Vajra, the more exotic essences they bring finding a less vocal but certainly matching potency and success within song and album.

Both the fiery mystique lit Simplify and the contagion driven Inside the Silence spark further hunger in ears and appetite, in the case of the first exploring the adventurous aural exoticism of their predecessor for an even more riveting creativity whilst the latter of the pair alternatively writhes and stretches with almost visual imagination and ingenuity. Each leaves thoughts and emotions basking in startling creative colour and temptation with the second an anthemic and intricate slice of rock pop setting the listener up for the immersive instrumental Opaque which leads the imagination into its own landscape of adventure and interpretation.

Coalesce ends with the sonically spidery Indiscretion, grooves and melodic washes sculpting a web of intrigue and emotional drama upon another infection lit canvas of barbarous riffs and uncompromising rhythms. Veined by the vocal majesty and power of Angelides, the track is a fierce and tantalising encounter with mesmeric charm and adventure.

If we were being picky, there is arguably a slight lack of surface diversity amongst some songs within Coalesce which warrants a closer focus to avoid some blending together, but as we all should be listening attentively anyway it is no issue and just another part of the great potential still locked up in the band to emerge. For an introduction to Ascending Dawn, the album is a potent stealing of the passions, the first of many from the band we suspect.

Coalesce is available now as a name your price download @ https://ascendingdawn.bandcamp.com/album/coalesce

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RingMaster 12/12/2014

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Aevum – Impressions

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Listening to Impressions, the debut album from Italian gothic metallers Aevum is pure theatre, every track an adventure which at times has ears and emotions in bliss and in other moments seriously challenged and unsure. For all its undulating triumph and uncertainties though, the album is one seriously compelling proposition which persistently ignites the imagination.

The seeds of the band began with the meeting of vocalist Evelyn Moon and pianist Richard around the changing of 2007 into the following year. The first twelve months saw the release of Celestial Angels EP and the first showing of the band’s fusion of diverse sounds. Though tagged as gothic metal, Aevum transcend a multitude of styles with their creativity as proven with Impressions and its expansive diversity. Various changes in personnel came with subsequent years before a stable line-up emerged around two years ago. 2012 also saw the released of the Nova Vita EP, again as the previous offering a self-released encounter earning good attention. Last year the band signed with Wall Records for the release of acclaimed single My Vampire before the Turin quintet converged on the studio to create Impressions. Mixed and mastered by Ettore Rigotti (Disarmonia Mundi) and released via Fuel Records, the album is a tapestry of sound and shadow fuelled emotions; the exploration of opposites using a perpetual weave of startling flavours and provocative invention upon a neo-classical and gothic metal bred symphonic canvas.

As soon as the ghostly wails and electro tempting of opener Il palcoscenico della mente grasps ears, imagination and intrigue is yanked from their slumber, the brief instrumental a haunting of sinister and captivating potency. Building a portentous air through rising harmonies and symphonic seduction, the piece soon grows into an epic and imposing electronic provocation, slipping into the mellower yet still intimidatingly textured lure of Blade’s Kiss next. The second song in no time is striding with combative rhythms and shadow cloaked sonic colour, the entrancing play of Richard against the more expansive soak of synth enterprise cast by Ian magnetic. The formidable rhythmic antagonism of drummer Matt and bassist Violet are soon laying down their thick bait too as the operatic squalls of Moon pierce the landscape, joined soon after by the potent tones of Hydra. In no time it is a maelstrom of fascinating drama and unpredictable turbulence, spoken tones from Violet and rapacious growls uniting in the eventful and resourceful bluster of individual flavours. It is a challenging proposition, more vocally than musically, but one becoming more persuasive given time and attention. The electronicore and industrial elements of the song provide further transfixing and exhilarating temptation, adding to a song, which as the album, has plenty to excite and enthral but a few moments which worry personal tastes, which maybe something as varied and experimentally imaginative as this was always going to come up against.

Intermezzo is another bewitching instrumental, its melancholic flame of brass sounding keys dour but spicy bait before The Battle takes over with a sorrowful caress of piano cast melodic a0417005191_2emotion embraced by an evocative synth crafted atmosphere. Hydra adds his croon to the poetic landscape next and is almost immediately joined by the rich throated narrative of Moon. As the music is ever evolving across songs, the band presents each narrative in a web of primarily English and Italian presentation, both languages interlocking seamlessly. Bulging rhythms push the walls of the track outwards as a great vocal mix almost toys with the listener whilst the guitar of Lord Of Destruction sculpts its own gripping adventure into the engrossing soundscape. A spellbinding song which just gets better the further into its virulent thirteen minutes you go, it sets a fine plateau for the album which the classical beauty of Il lamento della ninfa cannot match but certainly adds a fresh vein of masterful exploration to the release.

The swift shadow lit kiss of Impressioni leads to the outstanding Lost Soul, an imposing and voracious roar of a track which charges through ears like an adrenaline fuelled lover equipped with an armoury of the folkish vivacity and death bred savagery and undertaking a do or die mission. It is a blistering predator of a track, every second either musically or vocally an experiment of tenacious invention and sonic experimentation. The song leaves ears and passions bruised and blissful as it forges the album’s pinnacle.

To Be or…to Be in its smouldering individual way is another track which brings new surprises with every twist and melodic swing within in its creative emprise. Irresistible classical and jazz seeded persuasions settle easily in ears just as the ruggedly melodic textures and more blackened metal essences seducing from within the bold drama. As the album, it is a track which takes a few listens to reveal its majesty but rewards relentlessly once understanding is found, much as after the dark menacing skies of the album’s instrumental title track, the mighty Monsters. Dark clouds instantly smother ears as the soaring tones of Moon scythe through their intimidating ambience, but within the tempestuous climate the band continually switch from a forceful stride to a ravenous charge unleashing a kaleidoscope of almost salacious sounds and fiery ingenuity which colours the explosive theatre of it all.

Finishing on Adieu à la scène with its music box like waltz, Impressions is not going to be for everyone and definitely needs proper attention and time given to it. Its first touch left us rigorously unsure but compelled and it was only over numerous plays that the songs and Aevum’s imagination found clarity in thoughts and emotions. There are still parts which fail to convince but for the main Impressions is a thrilling and hypnotic adventure all gothic, symphonic, and avant-garde metal fans should have a go at.

Impressions is available now via Fuel Records http://www.fuelrecords.it/?wp_releases=impressions and digitally @ http://aevumopera.bandcamp.com/album/impressions

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RingMaster 11/12/2014

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Juggling Wolves – Self Titled

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With first single Mercury an impressive, thickly flavoured appetiser a few months back, anticipation for the Juggling Wolves debut album has been eagerly building as the weeks passed by. The song was a potent and fascinating encounter, its potential and tapestry of sound and emotion alone enough to awaken a keen appetite, but now in hindsight it was only a mere whiff of the majesty that is Juggling Wolves the album.

Every track upon the album is an immersive exploration, a kaleidoscope of invention and fluid evolution of sound which takes ears and thoughts on a transfixing melodic flight. The band cast a sonic narrative which can be described as progressive rock and pop, but there is wonderfully no exact label to be put upon music and album just a long list of hinting references and whispers as colours to describe the albums unique exploits. Consisting of Jimmy Deface from folk/blues rockers Rufus Coates & the Blackened Trees and Johno Leader of acoustic indie rock band The Radioactive Grandma, Juggling Wolves has spent the past two years working on their first album, creating and recording it at their own studio in Co Cavan. Mastered by Fergal Davis, the release is now having its dawning with the deserved broadest spotlight hopefully beckoning.

From its first breath, opener Deadmans Strings is crooning and potently serenading the senses and imagination, a lone guitar amidst an embrace of keys a potent texture for the instantly magnetic vocals. It is a riveting start, a gentle invitation which is soon erupting with an appealing dark bassline and crisp rhythms. Bolting on a vivacious rock ‘n’ roll adventure, the track proceeds to twists and flirt with various textures and swathes of invention, harmonies as bewitching as the sparkling melodies and muscular energy as compelling as the unpredictable imagination of the encounter.

From a head start the album only gains in temptation and captivation as Mercury steps up next. Radiance smothers ears from a distant entrance, swiftly consuming ears with harmonies and a tangy tease of guitar. Almost from its first second there is a drama to the track, a theatre to its chords and cinematic air to the vocal and emotional investigation. As agitated beats and dark bass tempting joins its melancholic yet fiery heart, the song ebbs and flows like the sea, its intensity lapping the beaches of ears and thoughts with relentless but intermittent tenacity. As in all songs though, any moment is just a character in a broader waltz of sonically poetic enterprise and melodically fuelled invention.

Tow pushes things up another level again, the engrossing proposition basking in a Faith No More like ingenuity and drama with flights of spellbinding progressive flirtation adding intriguing Juggling Wolves Album Coverand mesmeric hues. Grooves and rhythms provide a sturdy almost imposing edge and core to the song throughout, the offering a merger of light and shadows which is almost sinister in its transfixing elegance and charm before following instrumental One Trick Pony brings its almost portentous melodic haunting to ears and psyche. A sombre track which sparks new thoughts and discoveries with every fresh listen, it leads the listener towards the outstanding Daze Unknown. The track’s warped twang of a start is an immediate seduction, a glorious discord kissed bait which evolves into a spicy web of guitar and vocals within a slightly deranged ethereal haze. It is soon spreading its dramatic narrative and musical croon across the imagination with bordering on unhinged guitar endeavour contrasting and complimenting the warm breeze of keys and harmonies. Intimate yet also spatial in its presence, the song is sonic magnetism, bringing a craft and bold inventiveness which rests potently alongside that of musician John Bassett and especially his band KingBathmat.

Through the fascinating realm of Lonely Gold, a track sharing melodic elegance and reassuring calm with a darker, emotionally distraught sonic discovery, and the immersive hug of Wither, Juggling Wolves simply entrance ears and emotions. The first of the two is a startling dive into the unknown and quite invigorating whilst its successor sultrily smoulders as it expels emotionally evocative and vocally provocative beauty which recalls singer songwriter Colin Vearncombe, especially in his Black guise; a comparison which can also be applied to How to Salvage a Failing Butterfly, though across its numerous aspects and ingenious turns, the song defies everything apart from inescapable attention. Though may be not our favourite as magnificent as it is, the track has to be the pinnacle of the album with its climatic structures and busy but relaxed twists. A melodic emprise to soundtrack any emotional and intimate adventure, the song is simply sublime, just as the album to be honest.

The closing instrumental Terms & Conditions makes the perfect epilogue to the album, a luminousness weave of evocative sound and emotive intrigue capping off an increasingly impacting proposition. Hopes were high, and may be expectations too, of the Juggling Wolves album but it left those looking meagre within mere minutes of its exhilarating presence. This is a band creating musical alchemy and their album their first creative hex on the passions.

Juggling Wolves is available now via iTunes and all other digital outlets and @ https://jugglingwolves.bandcamp.com/

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RingMaster 10/12/2014

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Thy Fallen Kingdom – Fear The Hunter

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Wearing its old school inspirations proudly on its sleeve, Singapore thrashers Thy Fallen Kingdom unleash debut album Fear The Hunter, an encounter swift to fire up ears and neck muscles. The nine track aggressor is not a proposition to change the shape of thrash metal or bring it anything particularly new but for passion and thoroughly enjoyable enterprise, it is an album to eagerly embrace repeatedly. The band lists major influences as bands such as Exodus, Slayer, Megadeth, Testament, Destruction, King Diamond, and Mercyful Fate, no real surprise as you listen to their raw and highly flavoursome encounter, but to be honest this familiarity only adds to the lure of their sound and makes Fear The Hunter like an old friend in the ear and a seriously irresistible stomp for the body.

Formed in 2005, Thy Fallen Kingdom has uncaged a trio of releases leading up to the new album. From the five-track All That Is Left EP in 2009, the quintet has aroused local attention and passions as well as creating interest in the metal underground generally. The following UnDemocratic Society a year later and Army Of One EP in 2012, only added to their emerging presence ensuring there was plenty of anticipation for the band’s first full-length. After numerous line-up changes, the more settled line-up of original member and rhythm guitarist Akhbar, lead guitarist Christian, bassist Bryan, drummer Aip, and vocalist Aidil (though since the album’s recording he has left the band to be replaced by Rajuna), has crafted the band’s finest moment to date, an album to ignite body and appetite with ease.

Adrenaline and energy spurts voraciously from the speakers from the first seconds of the second track, never relenting until the album’s final offering, but it is the short alluring instrumental Mental Oppression starting things off. An evocative melody drifts from the strings of a guitar, its elegant expression and caress a potent coaxing but courted by a sinister sonic squall which offers shadows and portentous suggestiveness, a threat soon realised in Army Of 1. The song lays down a rub of nagging bait before rampaging with nostrils flared and rhythms slapping ears with their mighty swings. In full stride the track is a thunderous provocateur loaded with torrents of abrasing riffs and great tangy grooves, all punctuated by heavy fisted beats. Vocalist Aidil stands in the midst of the incitement, his delivery scowling with serpentine hostility for a great caustic hue to the tempestuous yet melodically fuelled sounds around him. The song as a whole only increases its lure as the blend of every element beds in the senses as grooves drip with temptation.

My Murderous Childhood keeps the great start to the album in full swing, charging and pounding through ears with broad sinews and acidic invention. Vocal variety across the band adds to Thy-Fallen-Kingdom-Fear-the-Hunter-e1415715183881the contagion of the track but it is the virulent riffing alongside spicy grooves and hooks which turns recognisable seeds into a masterfully magnetic proposition. The track leaves appetite and ears that little hungrier, an increasing greed the title track is only too please to satisfy. From a sonic drama a delicious throaty bassline steps forward, skirted by a rhythmic shuffle of beats. It is a bait impossible to resist, even more so when a tangy solo sears its addictive web. In full flight, the song does not quite live up to its opening or predecessor but still lays down an anthemic and contagious provocation to devour, especially with the addition of a bluesy colouring and subsequently furious animosity.

The anthems keep coming thick and fast, the next up Imperious Regime a vocal roar over a contagious sonic turbulence whilst its successor Psychosis provides an inescapable addiction. The first of the pair teases with a Suicidal Tendencies like predation, especially in the vocals, to provide an exhausting and rigorously thrilling incitement, though it is swiftly left in the shade by its successor. From its opening swagger and grouchy bassline, the track is in full control of attention and emotions. A Pantera-like swing to grooves is pure infectiousness which persistently lingers even as the song spills the rawest corrosive essences for a cantankerous canter of sound and attitude. That is enough to make it a formidable encounter but with a slip into a pasture of radiant melodies and harmonies with an air of Motherjane to them, the track has its sights on best on album honours.

The salaciously grooved Operation B.E.A.S.T. has its say on that straight after though, its rugged terrain a barbarous temptation bound in infection soaked grooves and vocal persuasion. The result is another epidemic of tenacious thrash enterprise which with plenty of creative hues and craft from the guitars and potent invention throughout sculpts its own peak in proceedings. That success is matched by the outstanding Unchallenged, another relentless assault with additional punkish textures to the surge of voice and riffs. There is no getting away from the fact that Thy Fallen Kingdom enclose themselves in their open inspirations without seemingly trying to break into bold originality, but here and across the whole of Fear The Hunter, it does not prevent the album from being one of the most pleasing and fun genre releases this year.

Closing with Possessors Of Absolute Power, one more creative cage of vicious rhythms and inventively spicy grooves roared on by torrential riffery, Fear The Hunter is thrash metal at its most furiously compelling. It may be bred on a diet of classic influences which the band is unafraid to share in their sound, but it is a familiarity which Thy Fallen Kingdom uses in their own attention grabbing way for a proposal all thrash fans should take up.

The self-released Fear The Hunter is available now.

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RingMaster 09/12/2014

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Alex Highton – Nobody Knows Anything

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Whether it is charm or simply mischief which fuels the songs of UK singer songwriter Alex Highton, probably both to be honest, it makes for a thoroughly engaging proposition and his new album one captivating treat. Nobody Knows Anything is a collection of intimate yet easily connectable songs for the imagination and emotions to greedily embrace. The successor to his folk seeded debut album Woodditton Wives Club, the Liverpool hailing Highton has pushed into more jazz and at times dare one say eccentric explorations within Nobody Knows Anything, resulting in a fascinating and almost devilish proposition.

Naming prime inspirations as Sufjan Steven, Here We Go Magic, and Joni Mitchell for his new Gare du Nord released album, Highton has called on an array of musical talent to explore his new songs, long time musical companions double-bass-player Jonny Bridgwood (Morrissey, Kathryn Williams, The Leisure Society) and drummer Howard Monk (Billy Mahonie, The Clientele) joined by the likes of Nancy Wallace (of The Memory Band and The Owl Service), Laura J Martin, and Robert Rotifer (of Rotifer) across the David Dobson produced release.

As soon as the melodic caress of opener You Don’t Own This Life cradles ears, there is open vivacity to the song, especially in the relish which Highton’s distinctive tones seem to have casting every syllable. The track entices even more potently as keys and sultry flames of trombone and clarinet join the narrative, ending on a jazz drenched shuffle which simply ignites ears and an anticipation for what is to come. It is an appetite given a flavoursome dose of fun through It Falls Together, a mischievous canter of melodic revelry and vocal adventure. Instantly there is a potent scent of 12 Stone Toddler to the imagination and revelry of the track whilst the discord spiced keys provide an early XTC flavouring, all very welcome and thrilling in the inventiveness of Highton’s verging on avant-garde creativity in the song. It is an early pinnacle of the album, joyful harmonies and tenacious revelry all adding their colour to the dance before the following mellow reflection of Panic takes over. In a synth cast celestial climate veined by blues kissed and seventies spiced melodies, the song floats and resonates over the senses. It swiftly awakens the imagination, its visual tones magnetic scenery to which electro and rhythmic enterprise add their creative fun.

Through both the gentle croon of Sunlight Burns Your Skin and She Had This Sister, Highton offers varied and enthralling melodic proposals, the first a simultaneously melancholic and vibrant weave of twilight lit jazz infused temptation and the second, a folky acoustically bred kiss on ears with a seductive swing and tangy groove to its smoulder. Though neither matches the romp of previous and the more experimentally infused songs for personal wants, each leaves a lingering hug and easy to accept invitation to soar their elegant landscapes again.

   The rich hazy atmosphere and emotive enticement of Kills is next and again offers plenty to warrant a constant return to its warm seduction, the vocal union of Highton and Nancy Wallace pure magnetism, a lure matched by the melodic aesthetics and emotion of The Evil That Men Do, where this time the cello of Claire Hollocks and additional vocals of Bonnie Dobson add a riveting glamour to the song’s mournful countenance. The pair has ears and thoughts tightly embraced in their reflective beguiling, but soon have to give sway to the bubbly provocative pop of Fear and its pulsating magnetism.

I Only Asked You to Try and Somebody Must Know Something each add individual drama and forlorn intimacy to the expressive depth and uniqueness of the album before the instrumental majesty of the album’s title track takes ears and imagination on a provocative fall through emotive structures and melodically flirtatious adventure. It is a trigger for thoughts and feelings to play and invent before relaxing into the welcoming humid embrace of the outstanding Mephisto, another merger of folk and jazz filtered through a resourceful vat of discord mystique.

Nobody Knows Anything is completed by the glowing tempting of It’s, a bewitching end to a powerfully engaging release. Certainly some songs leap out over others for personal tastes but every moment upon Alex Highton’s album is an exciting opening into the adventure driven heart of its author and a tonic for ears and emotions.

Nobody Knows Anything is available now via Gare Du Nord @ http://alexhighton.bandcamp.com/album/nobody-knows-anything

http://www.alexhighton.co.uk/

RingMaster 09/12/2014

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Stormcast – Frame of Mind

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Whenever dark clouds crowd in on thoughts and emotions there is always a place for an understanding soundtrack, something Cyprus-based atmospheric black metallers Stormcast offer with their impressive debut album, Frame of Mind. The release is a tempest of oppressive intenisty and emotionally ravenous shadows but brought on an epic wave of melodic and atmospheric invention. An increasingly compelling fusion of black and symphonic metal with additional flames of melodic death and gothic expression, the release is a startling and intensive introduction to the Nicosia quintet.

Formed in 2007, Stormcast take their lyrical and atmospheric inspirations from the personal struggles of man and society’s ills. A couple of promos in 2009 and 2012 respectively, opened up a certain amount of attention but it is with the Pitch Black Records Frame of Mind that it is easy to suspect Stormcast will stepping into the widest gaze. The band’s live presence which has seen them play the likes of the MetalDays Festival and share stages with bands such as Rotting Christ, Sabaton, Stratovarius, and Nightstalker, sparked real anticipation for Stormcast’s debut full-length and from being a relative secret expect the band’s name, because of the new release, to be on the broadest expanse of lips as it infests ears and psyche.

The Executioner opens up the physical and mental examination, emerging from a spatial ambience with vocal drones, scything drama clad riffs, and orchestral grandeur. It is a portentous dawning soon realised by the crushing heavy booted feet of rhythms and a ravenous sonic enterprise from the guitars and keys. The song soon settles in to a smaller and more intensive pressure of hungry riffs and combative beats, both carrying the vocal animus of Mike Angastiniotis. His voice is a venomous squall, clinging to ears with every rasping syllable whilst around him the song ebbs and flows with intimate hostility and expansive melodic temptation. It is an instant attention grabber of a track, an inescapable provocateur with nostrils flared and creative wiles in full flow. The golden blaze of horns which lord over the song’s finale make a striking contrast to the pestilential vocals and savage riffery, a moment and conflicting union which in many ways really epitomises the whole of the album.

The potent start is swiftly matched by the dark depths and majesty of Wishful Bliss, its opening elegance soon a predatory stalking of the senses but still wearing a mesmeric cloak of keys from Cover_pbr033Mark McDonald and sonic intrigue from the guitar of George Masouras backed by that of Angastiniotis as his vocals spill further malevolence into the mix. Elements of the track, as across the album, bring thoughts of bands like Dark Tranquillity and The Pete Flesh Deathtrip but only as spice to something distinct to Stormcast, something again shown by New World Order. The track backs up the might of the first two songs with consummate and uncompromising ease. Keys and guitar offer an immediate inviting drama, before passing the fire to a torrent of niggling riffs and intensive swipes from drummer Andrew Laghos, both courted by a prowling and magnetic bassline from Andreas Spyrou and the return of the roaring horns. Whereas the previous track was a maelstrom of dark emotions and riveting enterprise, keys and guitars weaving radiant melodic colour across a brutal rhythmic and riff painted canvas, the third track strides a brighter terrain of still imposing incitement and intensity. Hooks and grooves light up its landscape with enthralling imagination and expressive hues, whilst the bass of Spyrou makes for a carnivorous accomplice to the raw throated narrative of Angastiniotis.

There is also a background hint of clean vocals to the song which are given greater rein in Of Flesh and Stone, an evocative track looking at soldiers at war and families left behind. From a sample of a wife talking, a captivating croon brings the song into potent view. Presumably it is again Angastiniotis singing and it has to be said he is a gripping element with his clean tones swiftly sparking a wish that the band employed this side of his skills even more across the album. He is soon spraying his regular caustic tones though, spite and rage impregnating the turbulent but beauteous tapestry of the epic encounter.

The pair of Withdrawn and In Entropy stirs up air and emotions next with their own individual designs and torment. The first is cored by another addictive bassline around which riffs and beats create a smaller but predacious confrontation, the track almost punkish in its hooks and spiteful riffing. It eventually drifts into a melodic pasture which simply bewitches even as first Angastiniotis and subsequently crippling rhythms add their dark offerings to the outstanding aggressor. Its successor is a radiant wind of sonic and melodic adventure contradicted by the bullish tenacity and contagious strength of rhythms and riffs. Light and dark in a riveting conflict for the listener to immediately immerse in, the song as its predecessor sets another plateau for the increasingly thrilling album.

An opening tangy lure from the guitar sets Immune off in fine and exciting style, that initial tempting continuing to coax ears and imagination as around it the song‘s atmosphere darkens and its climate becomes more imposing. The track never goes into the brutal rage it hints at though, keys providing a poetic elegance as the guitars flame with sonic adventure and the song with a creative revelry. Only Angastiniotis’ scarring tones resist the light, his words a great blackened toxin to the engaging landscape before final track Dysthymia takes over to bring Frame Of Mind to a satisfying close. It again reveals the depth and invention in the songwriting and sound of Stormcast, a blend of smoggy rabidity, unpredictable mouth-watering twists, and emotive melodic endeavour gripping ears and imagination for a potent finale.

It did not take Frame Of Mind long to impress but it is with further plays that its true weight of creativity and grandeur shows itself. With only a wish for a little more diversity in delivery from Angastiniotis a minor thought, Stormcast has pushed themselves towards the strongest spotlight with the album, a must investigation for all extreme melodic metal fans.

Frame of Mind is available via Pitch Black Records now @ http://store.pitchblackrecords.com/STORMCAST-Frame-of-Mind.html#.VIgbA3vzDox

http://www.stormcastband.com/

RingMaster 10/12/2014

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