Twenty three years after their debut album, UK thrashers Toranaga have returned from a long absence with a new album and what a thunderous storm of a release it is. Many bands return after a long time away and struggle to find that essence which lit up their initial presence or to write tracks which have the same intensity and potency which marked them in the first place. There is no fear with this Yorkshire quintet as Righteous Retribution goes straight for the jugular chewing up the listener with slabs of muscular threat as aggressive and lethal as anything the band has carved before.
Formed in 1988 by bassist Andy Burton, vocalist Mark Duffy, drummer Steve Todd, and guitarist Andy Mitchell, Toranaga made an immediate impression with their debut album Bastard Ballads, the Peaceville Records released provocateur earning strong responses and leading to the band extensively gigging across the UK. It also drew in strong radio play with the likes of Tommy Vance on the BBC Rock Show and sparked an invitation to open up for Manowar on their UK tour. Snapped up soon after by Chrysalis Records, the band released second album God’s Gift in the spring of 1990 which was covered in even greater acclaim. Tours and shows with the likes of Sabbat, Venom, Saxon, Metal Church, Uriah Heep and Annihilator followed as the stature of the band rose, though sadly their record label was one which did not offer the support the band needed to progress and develop which led to their departure from it the following year. From here internal conflict made its presence known within Toranaga and not long after the band called it a day.
Then in 2010 though Burton got in touch with Todd and Duffy about writing new songs together as Toranaga. With positive feedback the trio came together and set about searching for a guitarist to replace Mitchell who had emigrated to Australia in 2006. With a line-up completed by Shane Haigh and John Rodgers the band set forth into a studio to record Righteous Retribution with Mik Crone. Eighteen months in creation, Righteous Retribution makes up for those absent years of the band with an instant forearm smash between the eyes with the first full storm after the opening introduction Portam AD Infernum. As it ravages the senses it is as if the band has never been away but equally sets them up as a new and still refreshing weapon for thrash/heavy metal. The self-released tempest moves through the evocative introduction seemingly eager to unleash its sinews which within seconds of the following Traitors Gate it does and in rapacious style. Riffs are helping themselves to submission with their voracious and heavy provocation whilst the rhythms of Todd punch and jab like a heavyweight moving swiftly with rapid rabidity. Duffy maybe surprisingly, soon shows he has not lost any of his strength and animosity, his vocal attack welcoming and grizzled, infectious and gnarly. The track has a definite Metallica/Exodus like breath which arguably was expected but equally the track stomps across the passions with a hunger and contagion which is pure Toranaga.
The outstanding start is instantly backed up by the scintillating Cynical Eyes, the song another savage but anthemic lure which commands feet, voice, and emotions. Jagged riffs and the perpetually predacious basslines frame the snarling vocal squalls whilst a carnivorous emerging waspish groove wraps teasingly around the rhythmic veining. Thrash at its most compulsive and vengeful, the track is a massive highlight of not only the album but the year, certainly in its chosen breed of genre. Both songs are so potent and dynamic that it leaves the remaining songs almost too much to emulate but boy do they do their very best.
Both The Ultimate Act Of Betrayal and I Must Destroy reap the rewards of a rigorous hunger spawned by their predecessors, the first springing from a slow and evocative intro to launch a tirade of twisted riffs and exhausting rhythms ridden by the continuing to impress vocals of Duffy and band, whilst the second grows from a crawling start into a stalking of the ear with predatory riffs guided by an incendiary groove sculpting a trap for the passions which is sprung by excellent breaks and sonic stabs as well as the scorching guitar enterprise. The pair reinforces the epic start with craft and guile, whilst the following Return Of The Gods with its almost stoner like tease and acidic grooves lays down another rung on the climb to ardour being built by the album.
As well as unleashing riveting heart capturing sounds Toranaga ensure diversity and imagination is present in strength too, The Beginning Of The End igniting yet another blaze of invention and variety with a groove metal hue to its classic metal suggestiveness as it wraps melodic and expressive weaves of hot guitar intrigue around the again crisply commanding rhythms and vocals. Adrenaline rushes through the veins of Prove Me Wrong like boiling blood next, its life force thrusting the song into a high octane fuelled temptation with rich heavy metal antagonism whilst the seductive Judas Priest whispering Something Evil and the primal almost bestial Battle Cry with excellent guttural growls adding their black menace to the barbarous confrontation, only cement the large spread of sound and ideas upon the album.
Finished by the magnetic Rise From The Flames and the outstanding I Play God with its persistent grinding probing and deliberately intensive intimidation, Righteous Retribution is a masterful and thoroughly thrilling encounter. Easily one of our favourite releases this year, Toranaga show that they have not only returned as strong as before but have found something extra to give current bands a real run for their money.
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For those looking for some fresh melodic rock with pop punk overtones heading over to For All The Non Believers, the debut album from UK band White Clouds And Gunfire, would be a definite recommendation. Comprised of eight extremely well crafted and impressively presented songs from musicians which undoubtedly knows how create flavoursome melodies, the release makes a richly promising wider introduction of a band which has already been making ripples ensuring that the album’s appearance September 2nd has for a great many been eagerly awaited.
Formed in 2009, the Peterborough band went through a time of line-up instability during its first eighteen months or so before finding a steady plateau to build upon late 2011. Subsequent support slots and the sharing of stages with bands such as We Are Fiction, Mallory Knox, Army Of Freshmen, Sonic Boom Six, OPM, MC Lars, and The Hype Theory have increased the stature and reputation of White Clouds & Gunfire whilst their first EP, Zero To Hero was home to acclaim from the underground through to the likes of Rocksound and Big Cheese. Now the quintet of vocalist Eveline Verdegaal, guitarists/vocalists Byron Marr and Alex Cox, bassist/vocalist Rob Woods, and drummer Lewis Fountain, stand poised to make a major impression and statement with For All The Non Believers.
From the first minute of opener Bruised Not Broken you have a full declaration of what you are getting from the band, impressively written and presented songs with a more than loud whisper of Paramore about them. There are many other names you could place before them but the American band is the loudest call for sure, though White Clouds And Gunfire does suggest that in their armoury the band has the means and invention to create something more unique ahead. Starting with evocative keys leading into a vibrant and energetic start, the song takes little time in bringing feet and senses alive, the outstanding vocals of Verdegaal backed well by other members of the band, instantly magnetic whilst the guitars of Marr and Cox paint a provocative narrative around the driving drums and roaming bass lines. Harmonies also soar throughout the track to open up strong hunger for the release and help make it a rather impressive start to the album.
Same Old Town and You Can’t Bring Me Down continue the strong beginning, the first of the pair offering a reminder of eighties band The Photos at times as it strolls melodically and energetically through the ear. Again the vocals stand out whilst the guitars flame and dance with imaginative poise to spark the appetite further whilst its successor brings a more anthemic breath to its persuasion with the rhythms of Fountain alongside the pressing intensity of Woods creating a commanding and potent cage for the rest of the band to flourish within.
The exciting riot of drums which opens up next track Poison immediately has lips licked though in some ways the full expansion of the song is underwhelming in comparison, though still another well-defined and warm romp which is as emotive and tender as it is frenetic and greedy for attention. As ever the vocals steer the ship magnificently and the drums crash through defences with skill and predaciousness but equally at this point on the album you realise there is a familiarity and similarity across the release which is louder than the individual traits of songs. It means a deep focus to truly pick out those singular attributes is often needed though in many ways not a major issue on this release such the quality of the songs and their temptation but certainly it might be an issue ahead. The promise bred by the album and the already open creativity and skill of the band suggests this uniqueness will organically evolve, though time as always will tell.
The best songs on the release step up side by side next starting with Pebbles. With an excellent effected start the track gains pace by the second until exploding into a full on punk pop tease with a simultaneous snarl and melodic elegance. Finding a gentler though still rowdy presence, thanks to the again crispy powerful drums, the guitars weave a sonic maze of enterprise around Verdegaal, their flames licking at the walls of the song with invention and riveting adventure. It is probably fair to say the track is again close to the songs before but it has that indefinable something which lifts it above the others and into the passions. Reflection too has that extra element setting it apart, Verdegaal simply enthralling and the guitars poetic in their melodic fire whilst the keys and the stronger and lengthier male vocal contribution are an inspired touch setting the track as the pinnacle of the album and debatably the first to truly stand out.
Dreams and Since You Were Gone complete the album with both in full control of attention and limbs. The first holds a thumping attitude and creative swagger with the bass of Woods finding a new and its finest voice on the release. The track in full stride offers an irresistible hungry stomp which leaves lungs breathless whilst its companion makes a fiery finish with gang shouts and melodic drizzles of entrancing colour which help add that ear catching element all great songs have.
For All The Non Believers is a thrilling and extremely satisfying album from a band which has a massive future awaiting them if they want to seize it. Admittedly it lacks that killer song which lingers and shapes your heart and as mentioned the band still has not that distinctive presence to ensure they stay in thoughts away from view, but White Clouds & Gunfire write and create songs which you cannot dismiss such their passion, imagination, and expertise, and that can take them a long way. Watch this space is our suggestion…
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Certainly not an album you can fully absorb and investigate on one, two, even a third listen, Earth the new release from New Zealand metallers Monsterworks is a towering enthralling journey through time and invention. Fusing almost every metal style you can imagine into fluid and seamless soundscapes which suggest and paint more imaginative portraits in a few minutes of descriptive notes than can be found in a thousand words, the band has come up with one of this year’s major evocations. It is a masterful release which reveals and rewards much more with each eager encounter.
Now London, UK based, Monsterworks has repeatedly stretched their and the listener’s boundaries since 2000 debut album Dimensional Urgency right through 5 further albums, with the latter releases especially The God Album and last year the sensational Man :: Instincts EP, which was our introduction to the band, venturing deeper into an ever expanding creative ingenuity. The EP, now listening to leading to this seventh full length release, was definitely a portent of things to come with Earth the stunning evolution of its craft. Released via Eat Lead and Die Music, the album to simplify things is progressive metal at its most imaginative and potent, but a release which fuses almost every essential essence of the vast realm of metal into a soundtrack covering the journey of our planet from the first union of rock and minerals left over from a supernova explosion forming a globe orbiting an infant star through to the entrance of man and beyond. The album provides a masterful sonic narrative to a chronologically progressing theme with all the melodic colours and sonic explication needed to captivate and incite the fullest imagination.
The album opens with From Dust and Gravity, the track from a quiet unbothered ambience slowly emerging to bring solid slabs of roving rhythms and heated guitar beckoning together before scorching the air around them with great sonically squalling vocals and a heightened rise in intensity and energy. At this point of contact there is a heavy/classic metal mix with an almost post hardcore intensity, an At The Drive In fire wrapping the song before it explores a stronger progressive and melodic metal temptation. To be honest like with all the tracks it is hard if not impossible to keep account of all the irresistible twists and flavours employed, and would certainly take all day to present here for the whole album, but every turn and sweeping venture is skilled and a natural fit to what came before and is to come which really is all you need to know..
The following Late Heavy Bombardment is a heavily weighted confrontation, vocals and rhythms coarse and thunderous with a thrash lilt to the riffs and a predacious tone to the guitars and their sonic descripts. A mix of light and blackened shadows the track feels like it is a dawning from within the dark, dangers and foreboding still rife but being seeded with adventure and new beginnings. Its intensive provocation makes way for the wonder and melodic warmth of Last Universal Ancestor, its opening tender touch an evolution of the hints in its predecessor before erupting into a rigorous sonic jeopardy with the guitars sculpting a web of sonic intrigue and fire bred fervour licking around the tale of the song and ear with a classic metal fuelled tongue. The vocals are exceptional, a delivery and scope as diverse as the sounds being brewed and perfectly in league with their intent.
Both the scintillating call of Oxygenation with its black and progressive not forgetting heavy metal simmering cocktail of invention, and the rapacious aggressively impacting Powered by Fate impressively take thoughts and emotions through the widest range of sounds and experiences with the first of the pair arguably the highest pinnacle of the album. It is hard not to be further impressed by how each track expertly represents or at least suggests the state and climate of the growing world at the point they explore so powerfully and one assumes accurately, as shown further by the brief but destructive Bookended by Extinction and the excellent Aeon of Man, two songs which thrust the senses and imagination into a cauldron of the seemingly annihilatory transitions between stages of Earth’s growth and the emergence of the beauty of man and life respectively. The second of the two songs is another major highlight, the track a raging festival and dance of energy and enterprise with a stoner swagger and hard rock groove marking the ‘birth’ and a blacker metal suggesting the rabid hunger and shadows which equally come in tow.
The album is completed by the nine minute expanse of the title track, the song like a summary of all that came before and brought the planet to the completion of the previous song as well as a prelude to the next brewing chapter in evolution. It brings an outstanding album to the perfect close emotionally and creatively, leaving the listener the only option to learn more by taking Earth’s rangy exploration again…and again. In regard to being one of the albums of the year, it and Monsterworks certainly make a compelling case.
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Making their world introduction with debut album Future Memories, German band Secrets Of Sin certainly gives food for thought with their imaginative and adventurous sound. The nine track release is not without flaws and is openly declares that there is plenty within the band to come out and improve upon, but quite simply the album is one rather appetising encounter that is full of promise and lies in the hands of the band ready to be built upon.
The band’s demo EP Fairytales of 2009 caught the imagination of their home underground press and fans, their merger of symphonic and melodic metal making a strong exciting persuasion but with Future Memories it is fair to say that Secrets Of Sin has leapt forward in their sound and invention. As mentioned the album declares the band as nowhere near being the finished article, if there is ever such a thing in music, but the quintet certainly has the ammunition and skill to become a strong and lingering presence in world metal.
Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Robert Mansk, guitarist Niklas Rach, drummer Michael Schier, keyboardist Philipp Eiperle, and newest member vocalist Christina Groner, Secrets Of Sin take little time upon Future Memories in sparking good thoughts with opener Deus Ex Machina. The track is a brief industrialised dawning provoking rich ideas before merging into the initial electro stomp of Utopia. From here synths make a swirling beckon before the orchestral heights of the keys veined by thumping rhythms immerse the ear in epically toned persuasion. Into its galloping stride the song makes for a strong if unsurprising adventure though expectations are soon displaced by excitement as the wonderful voice and delivery of Groner lays their touch on the senses. She has a sirenesque quality which mesmerises even within the more demanding and caustic squalls of Mansk and the heavy boned sounds building up crescendos of melodic flame and intensity. Reverting to again more familiar essences for the latter symphonic pressing, the almost Nightwish meets The Browning like track is a potent and gripping start to the album with imagination and thoughts finding a steady and pleasing place within the less than unique but enterprising encounter.
Both Alive and Once Upon A Time continue the impressive start if certainly with the first not reaching the same heights set by its predecessor. With Mansk taking the vocal lead the song is a less dramatic and exploratory song but again a more than solid track with the guitars and keys painting a sonically sculpted melodic weave to satisfy the ear before passing over to its successor and its emotive and classically weaned beauty. An elegant ballad with Groner bringing further irresistible temptation to the guitar and string hued evocation, the song from a regular start brings in sun clad melodic flames and a sultry ambience which as it expands its horizons offers greater temptation to mark a step up for the release, a rise soon cemented by the blistering assault of Inside. A spiral of guitar sets things in motion before keys and rhythms stretch its touch and the metal reaped vocals of Mansk herald a heavier suasion. Another step up comes with Groner adding her presence to the continually hungry song, and it has to be said that with all respect to the rest of the band it is no coincidence that songs and the album find even greater potency and originality when the lady opens her lungs.
The two following songs Hope Dies Last and The Joker are arguably the least fluid and for many one suspects will be the least successful in persuading their ardour but for invention and bringing something new in imagination to symphonic metal, they emerge as our favourite and the most exciting songs on the album. The first opens with a straightforward heavy/epic metal like lure before Groner and a great throaty bass sound start picking and teasing at the ear with mischief and adventure. It is an inspired moment leading to another successful union of the two vocalists alongside a wash of melodic heat which rises in temperature with skill and hunger. At times thoughts of Hammers of Misfortune rear their suggestion whilst at other twists and especially in its successor there is a definite Kontrust devilry at play. The second of the pair beckons with a brass lure before diving into another electro waltz blended into a techno metal like suasion. Soon the metallic intent takes over with Mansk opening the vocal narrative but things never settle into predictability as sound, vocals, and band leap persistently and scintillatingly from note to note and idea to idea. It completes easily the best part of the album for personal tastes and the area where you hope the band push and experiment more with in the future.
The extremely potent and stirring power ballad Shadows, the song a merger of tender light and heavier menacing dark with Groner and the keys in conflict and union with the intensive guitar and muscular rhythm storm, and the twelve minute epic presence of Civilisation stretch thoughts and the now truly lit passion for the release further. The second of the two does meander along with undulating success to be honest, losing some of the undoubted grip it forged early on though it is mainly down to its length you suspect, but musically and with the keys especially vibrant bringing a contagious embrace amongst a delicious wash of discord taunting throughout it is another great track.
Completed by firstly Puppet Play where the band and Groner flirt with alternative rock and the very decent closing ballad What I Am, Secrets Of Sin leaves a very healthy appetite and anticipation for their future offerings. With room for improvement but full of very enjoyable and enterprising imagination Future Memories is a great introduction to fresh adventure.
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One of the albums which certainly made a strong and lingering impression this year has been Mortui Vivos Docent from The Pete Flesh Deathtrip, and it should be said that since we posted are review of it a few weeks ago the release has continued to persuade and seduce with its darkest fearful creative journey and surpass what we originally said about it. The solo project of Pete Flesh (ex- Deceiver, Thrown, Maze of Torment), The Pete Flesh Deathtrip is a project which brings fresh venom and breath to death cored extreme metal. Taking the opportunity to find out much more about the album and the man himself, Pete explained about how he creates his music, what drives his thoughts, and how he is doubtful he could return to being just part of a band.
Hi Pete and thank you for taking time out to talk with us.
No problem, grateful for the support.
Before we look at and talk about your new album Mortui Vivos Docent can we ask about your background? What sparked firstly your interest in music, inspirations etc. and in metal in particular?
I remember the first time I heard and saw pics of WASP. I had heard and listened to bands like Deep Purple, Kiss etc. But this was something different, I fell for the rawness. The same goes with the first time I heard Bathory or Tormentor. To be creative has always been in my nature since I was a kid. Then when I tried the guitar I have simply not stopped doing songs since. And that has been more important to me, to find new ways to do songs than actually trying to be the next Yngvie Malmsteen; just trying to find different atmospheres and expressions towards different experiences through life.
Did you take music lessons when young or was it a sudden discovery of a passion to play that emerged and led you to developing alone?
I took 3 lessons then I quit, just because I thought it was more satisfying doing my own stuff. Something I regret today. But I have my own style which you can hear directly when I play.
Is there a particular instrument and style you have a greater passion for and enjoy exploring the most?
Well, I must say the guitar as I write most of the songs on that instrument, even if I don´t see myself as a pure guitar player. I also like to play other instruments to explore different ways to create a song. On every album I try at least to have some songs that have the roots from other instruments, like bass or piano. I also like to explore and develop in the rhythm sections for every album, some details here and there.
You played in Maze of Torment, Embryo, Thrown, and Deceiver before starting up solo project Flesh. What was the spark or trigger that led you to go down that road creatively emotionally?
I think it was the fact that I always think in terms of song-writing, that I get the whole picture and not just some riffs here and there. Sometimes it would get frustrating to have this whole idea to a song, but the out-come would maybe be 70%. Some would maybe say that I´m an egotist, but I see myself like someone with strong ideas, ideas where all dedication is needed to get the songs rightful form… And my ideas mostly have no thinking at all towards any success, genre or what other people would think, and that often fails when you are in a band. I´m really proud of my past, and there is a lot of great stuff released, like the debut album of Maze of Torment or the last one with Deceiver.
Was it a bigger step in reality to have a whole project in your hands and imagination than you envisaged or a natural and fluid evolution for your music?
It was hard to make a decision to leave Maze of Torment, the band was my dedication for 12 years. That was the first step towards where I am today. Then I had some years where I tried out different stuff, did the project Thrown etc. But all that was needed in the evolution. There was no bigger problem for me regarding emotions to put down Deceiver and Thrown, I did most of the music and work anyway. It was harder for me to come to the conclusion that I should only focus on one thing and that all of my ideas and expressions can be gathered at one place, like in The Pete Flesh Deathtrip. Today now it´s done and I think back I only see everything as natural steps.
Is there a big personal aspect to your own music lyrically and musically, your songs a reflection of your inside thoughts on things and you see and come across?
Yes, it is. Everything I do must have full dedication towards all reflections and expressions I create through songs. Sometimes it has failed because of studio, members or producer choices, that the ideas not always have been understood. But you go through all that, everyone does to get experiences. The experiences then either make you give up or simply get you stronger in what you believe in and what you want to do.
What inspires your lyrical side predominantly?
The dead and death in general; its surroundings and the topics that have been created because of it. Just like the music, this comes natural for me.
You renamed the band to The Pete Flesh Deathtrip from simply Flesh, was this forced upon you as I read somewhere or down to a deliberate intent?
No, not forced but “recommended”. But the main reason was that I only was going to create music for this now and I wanted something more personal. If I had wanted to continue just under the name Flesh, I think there would not have been any bigger problem. Flesh and The Pete Flesh Deathtrip is the same thing for me, the idea is still the same and I even use the old Flesh logo in the inner-sleeve of the new album, just to show people.
As we mentioned earlier Mortui Vivos Docent is your new very recently album, your fourth. How has your music and imagination on the album evolved from those early days of Flesh and across all releases?
If you compare to the first one, “Dödsångest”, I would say that it still has the same formulas, but developed. I had for example never, and I mean never, done vocals before that one. And you can hear it, but it has the same kind of dedication like today. “Temple of Whores” and “Worship the Soul of Disgust” I see as progression albums. Lots of stuff going on in my personal life and other music stuff. If you would take the best of those 2 albums and record it in the same studio as the new one it would become a killer album. Sometimes I play with that thought.
Do you deliberately explore certain aspects and ideas or each release or an artist that lets the music naturally evolve itself and thus each release?
I would say that the seeds to my creations come from the same place, only that I try to develop and explore different stuff in different views from each release. I try to do songs that capture the essence from what I feel at that right moment. I can´t erase my past and influences that have built up the person I am, I will always have stuff that marks my way of playing and how I do songs. But I will always try to find those small details that keep it interesting for me, to create and explore new territories.
There was a five year gap between Mortui Vivos Docent and its predecessor Worship the Soul of Disgust. Any particular reason for that extended gap, and how much of that time was involved in the creation of the new album?
Lots of personal stuff that was going on in my life, elements that had to be sorted out. I was still doing music, but I was in this state of mind that everything had to have its time. I had at that point created music, manic, for over 20 years. I had to take that time to find again that “innocent” feeling, when everything was new and you had not recorded any album yet. This has only been good for me; I have a better way today to see the structures in things. The next album will for sure not take this long; the inspiration is there, more than ever.
As with your previous albums you used session musicians on the album, notably Micke Broberg for some of the vocals and Andreas Jonsson (Tyrant, The Black, Vinertand) for drums. Was this approach always the intention from day one and if you ever expanded the band line-up do you think it would unbalance or in some way diminish the current potency of your music?
No, the idea to use them was not there from the beginning, it was a progress that grew through the process. First my idea was to play the drums myself. When I put that news out on MySpace I got a mail from Andreas directly -”I like Flesh too much to let you play the drums, you are not good enough. At least I can´t be worse”. And he was more than right. I was just trying to isolate myself totally from any impact from any other. Flingan that had played on the previous albums had stopped playing and it felt hopeless finding a new session drummer. That Andreas came into the picture was the best thing that could happen for me. He understood the concept of everything and when he recorded the drums in the studio it was pure energy. Micke came into the picture when more or less all songs were done. I had this idea that it would be good with some contrasts in the vocals as there was a lot of it in the music. You know, I only have this kind of vocal style, and sometimes I hear stuff in my head when I do the songs that I can´t really manage vocally. First it was only going to be on one track, then there were two, and suddenly it was half of the album. All this came naturally through the progress of writing lyrics and what I wanted out of the songs. He also wrote some lyrics. Both Andreas and Micke did brilliant work, and to tell the truth, I never thought that there were people out there that I could work this good with, I´m grateful. There will never be any other full-time members in T.P.F.D.T than myself. The reason is simple. This is a solo project and I want to always have the doors open for new ideas. Maybe Andreas and Micke are on the next album as well, maybe not. All depends on how songs etc. progress under the process. Also, even if they are included on the next recording I maybe have this idea that is totally out of their taste, like using an Opera singer as just an example. As a band and full time members you could refuse that. So, this will continue as a solo project.
How do you approach your songwriting generally and how has that changed over the years if at all?
I wait till the inspiration comes to me. Sometimes I tease myself and wait longer then it just explodes. Anyone that can play little guitar are able to fix that fat sound and just do riffs. The riffing part is not hard for me, the hard part is to find the riffs, ideas, structures etc. that in the end will express something and that you can feel dedicated to, simply to create a good song. Also when I start the process in writing a whole album it´s not just about doing single songs, I try slowly to get a picture of a whole album, the expression and atmospheres to it all. I want to have a dynamic to it all. I would say that I in the early days was a bit more stressful in the writing process of a whole album, there are good songs and the structure is there, but to hold it through a whole album has failed sometimes. To put it simple, I know better what I want and how I want to express it today.
When you bring in musicians to help bring your songs to life in the studio are they finished and sealed compositions before them or is there still a little room for ideas to be offered and considered?
All the songs are already there, but that doesn´t take away the room for ideas. For example, Andreas did a lot of drum parts that maybe were not was my idea from the beginning, all cred to that. Also on the trax where Micke had done the lyrics he had a lot of say. I had said the parts where the verse, chorus etc. would be, but the expressions in the words, the type of vocals is his and all cred to that. I notice pretty fast that these guys understood the concept to it all, so to collaborate through different ideas was no problem for me. I would never take away their great impact on this album and say that it´s all mine. The only important thing for me is making the album I had in my head and make it good, and they contributed to that. And I must mention the producer Peter Bjärgö (Arcana, Crypt of Kerberos, Tyrant), his role has been as important. I had tons of ideas that he was able to fulfil, like piano stuff, samples etc. so all cred to him as well.
Do you think having spent the past decade writing and creating alone that returning to a band set up would be a struggle for you creatively, losing the sole control etc.?
I have thought about it sometimes, to form something and rehearse like a band. But after 10 seconds of thinking I realize who I am and know that I will be manic about it; I can´t play in a band just for the fun of it. The closest to a band I ever will get, at least it feels like it right now, is if I put T.P.F.D.T into a live situation, but first I must find a second guitarist.
Did you have a core idea or intent when writing Mortui Vivos Docent?
That this would be the most honest and personal album that I had done; to get back to that feeling when I wrote for the first Maze of Torment album. A mixture between that and when I did “The Suicide Kings Occult” with Thrown (one album project where I also plays drums). Simply finding the core to the reason why I crave and are addicted to making music. It all sounds bloody boring and ambitious, it´s only fucking Metal…..well, not to me.
Written over the long period mentioned how much did songs change and evolve from their original conception on the album or are you a person who can leave things alone once a song is ‘finished’?
No song is done until the mastering is finished. For me a song is a breathing thing, it´s a creation, something that follows me during the whole day and night. Most of my social life is gone because I choose this way of life instead, to write. But when the drums are done the big frame, structure is of course done. But then you are able to “colour” the songs in so many ways. I try to go in with small details if I feel like a song will fail. One of the tracks on the new album “The Suicide End”, that a lot seems to like, was a struggle for me. The idea was clear in my head, I heard what I wanted, but it wasn’t there. Everyone had played everything right, the vocals was right and had the right expression and atmosphere, but there was something missing. When Peter and I mixed the album I was fucking furious. For me this song was destroyed, maybe not for someone else, but for me, that millimetre detail that would put the song in its rightful place was not there, and the song was bloody important to me. Then I just tried to turn up the vocals one small step after trying to mix the guitars, drums etc. different, and there it was. For me it was like day and night in differences. Maybe it sounds stupid and obvious for someone else, that it should not have been too hard to notice it directly. But everyone that has a whole writing process in the head also knows that it’s easy to get a bit blind during the mixing process. Tons of things to keep track of to find that special thing that makes the song.
Is there a part of moment of the album which gives you the biggest tingle or thrill inside, something which is the purest part of Pete Flesh?
Yes, the thing that I just mentioned. Can´t describe that feeling when it turned out exactly as I wanted. Of course a lot of other stuff did as well, but with fewer struggles; the chorus of “Recycle my Death”, the verses in “Burning Darkness”. This is just to mention something, because there is a lot of stuff that I worked really hard with trying to capture. But those two things and the verse in “God of the Crawling Whore”, that is pure Pete Flesh. Other things that give me the thrill, Micke’s and Ia´s brilliant vocals in “Bleed” and his chorus lines in “The Eternal Dawn”. Just brilliant.
Will you be taking the new release into the live arena and if so do you have a regular group of musicians to call on to help?
Nothing is settled yet, there is a lot of work making it happen. But if it would happen I of course want Micke and Andreas to follow. Micke is a skilled musician, so he can also handle the bass. Then I only need to find a second guitar player to work with. This is a process, like an album, that I want to think everything through carefully.
Once more thank you for allowing us to explore your music and creativity.
No problem at all. Thank you for questions that prove your interest for my music.
Any last thoughts you would like to share?
Check out the review for Mortui Vivos Docent@ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/the-pete-flesh-deathtrip-mortui-vivos-docent/
The RingMaster Review 28/08/2013
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
With a debut as strong as the Forth EP it is impossible not to suspect and imagine that Scottish band Teenage China has a potent and vibrant future ahead of them. Three tracks of inventive and colourful rich sounds ensures the release makes the strongest introduction whilst suggesting there is still plenty more to come from the band and for them to investigate within. Taking post hardcore as their seed and invigorating it with melodic and alternative rock essences, the band has created something not yet wholly unique but with plenty of distinctive temptations which sets it and them apart from the bulk of similar genre fuelled artists.
Seemingly themed by youth and its fit in the world of today, the EP takes mere moments to make a loud and impressive persuasion, the quintet of vocalist Ged Cartwright, guitarists/vocalists Barry Topping and Richard Fish, bassist/vocalist Simon Watt, and drummer/vocalist Francis Morgan, flying from the traps with energy and melodic fire on Millionmurk. The vocals of Cartwright instantly impress, never dipping throughout the release, whilst the guitars and firm rhythmic dance match his entrance as they combine to form an immediate pleasing hook. Constantly on the move in sound, direction, and imagination the song is a riveting creative exploit which recruits the passions with ease whilst offering an evocative weave for thoughts to be inspired by. It is an exceptional start which offers more to contemplate and enjoy the more of its incendiary invention you share. It does put the rest of the EP under pressure in many ways such its potency but the rest of the tracks never offer anything less than captivation even if maybe they do just miss that opening set plateau.
Embrace The Street takes a more reflective and settled entrance with melodies and vocal harmonies washing pleasingly over the ear as the song primes all its elements for the subsequent charge of sound and energy. With a definite Avenged Sevenfold feel to the steely riffs and sonic enterprise, the track like the first offers outstanding vocal craft and invention to its continuing to impress creative charm and the skills of Topping and Fish. Everything fits perfectly, the drums and bass as inspiring and accomplished as any other factor of the band and the quite incredible vocal mix from across the whole band adventurous and always fresh.
The closing doesawasphaveaface has a deep soulful growl to its presence especially through Cartwright, and pushes the boundaries of the EP yet again so all songs though closely related offer something different to greedily seize upon and find a passion for. Morgan drives the song with his ever twisting rhythmic attack impressively, giving it intensity and imposing height which is built upon by the striking flames of guitar and again vocal union. Maybe not as immediate as the other two songs, with the additional vocal elegance of Carine Tinney adding further suasion the track slowly burns itself deep into the emotions and emerges as another real highlight of the release, though every track deserves that accolade.
Teenage China is a big force ready to explode upon the world and they can only get better which really heats up the anticipation, but available as a name your price download there is no point in waiting for that to happen when Forth is this damn good.
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
Just as the excellent Australian Reapers Riddle is putting Perth on the map in the sight of a growing legion of fans we find another emerging force in the sinew powered shape of Tempest Rising. Bringing a refreshing fusion of many distinct metal flavours, the quintet make their debut with the Calm Before The Storm EP and a quite formidable attention grabbing slab of power it is too.
Formed in 2012 with influences coming from the likes of Slayer, Metallica, Exit Ten, Disturbed, Karnivool, and Lamb of God, the band has forged a strong status within the underground metal scene at home, drawing acclaim and sparking up an ardour driven fan base at the same time. Consisting of vocalist Vin Trikeriotis, guitarists James Ward-Armstrong and Sheldon Blackwell, bassist Jarrad Cracknell, and drummer Bill Mann, Tempest Rising now set their sights on a wider field of awareness with Calm Before The Storm the hopeful key. Listening to the muscular and fiery release you would not bet against it opening up a new wealth of attention even if at times it maybe lacks enough uniqueness to set it strikingly apart from the constant wave of bands clamouring for the same focus, but with a furnace of passion and openly strong craft to its body it will certainly make a loud enough noise to lure many more into its intensive arms.
My Extascy opens up the release and is easily the best track on the EP, though admittedly seriously challenged by later songs. With a blaze of guitar scorching the ear to herald the entrance of vocalist Trikeriotis who from his first breath and the soon to join thumping drums of Mann, shows strong diversity and strength to delivery and voice which carries right through the whole of Calm Before The Storm . With every sinew making its impact the track explodes with a bruising energy and carnivorous ferocity framed by the now towering rhythms and predacious riffing. It is a furnace of intensity and thrills which eat the passions alive before slipping into a lighter classic and alternative metal flame which eases the intimidation before a return of the flavoursome assault. It is a compelling confrontation and welcome to a band that arguably is offering little new but delivering what it exists in a fresh and inventive way.
The only niggle with the song and EP as a whole is the less than satisfactory and complimentary production which blunts some of the really potent skill and sound of the band, and though the vocals generally seem to escape its touch at times they too get submerged in the unsatisfying production approach. The fact that the song still impresses so much is all down to the band and its quality which is just as striking across the other songs starting with The Descent. The song is less rapacious than its predecessor but just as hungry and inventive and actually has moments where Tempest Rising sound like the previously mention Reapers Riddle, but then with a more purposeful metal structure they also discover a distinct lustful sound wholly theirs. With the guitars carving out another fine design of sonic aggravation and the vocals continuing to ooze strength and passion, the track presses the first for that best of accolade from start to finish whilst lighting a fresh helping of greed for their sound.
Hollow Dream is a ballad which merges keys and acoustic guitar for an emotive hue filled enterprise whilst Trikeriotis shows his slow narrative telling is as powerful as his raging stances. It is a more than decent song though lacking the temptation and hook of the previous tracks in person and in staying as a lingering presence. It does show the depths of the band though and how they have much more to show ahead which is extremely promising. It is followed by the returning rabidity of the band’s sound in No Remorse, a track which again savages the senses as it simultaneously treats them to more classically toned metal. Probably it suffers most of all from the production, the guitars and drums finding their energy and power dissipated by the coarse handling of their potency, but it still makes for an exciting end to an impressive and enjoyable release.
That the Calm Before The Storm EP rises above its main obstacle is more than creditable and shows the strength and promise of Tempest Rising, a power sure to earn the band a greater waiting hunger from around the world for their currently being recorded debut album.
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
Delivering the senses to the jaws of the blackest consumptive devastation, Buried With The Rain the new EP from US fury kato is aural malevolence at its most primal and merciless. The three track release not so much escorts but manhandles thoughts and emotions into a stark and predacious landscape sculpted by a mesh of doom, hardcore, and extreme metal antagonism. It is a fearsome, vicious realm but as synapses wither and hope dissipates into blackness under its onslaught, a very rewarding and provocative experience is found and devoured.
Hailing from Charlotte, N. Carolina, a place which seems to breed great bands and music with every loose seed, kato has earned a strong reputation locally which the release of Buried With The Rain it is easy to suggest could begin to spread their sonic infestation much wider afield. Released as a 7” vinyl via Speedowax and UK indie Middle Ground Records, as well as a free download, the EP lays its blackened breath and intent upon the listener from its opening harsh note through to the last venomous strike of the final track, gripping with a lethal gloom coated claw. It is not comfortable listening, often an encounter which threatens sanity, but lying in a pool of your own waste shell shocked from its brutality you still bask in one blistering and thrilling experience.
Opener Yet His Shadow Still Looms sears the ear from its very first touch, guitars scorching the flesh as lumbering rhythms and the darkest throated bassline prowls within their acid. A lull soon comes over, though the intimidation just intensifies, as the guitars slowly stroke the senses with evocative reflective touches. The atmosphere behind though is building all the time to expel a forceful piece of spite before again a breath is taken ready for the corrosive tsunami of sonic energy and rapacious sound fuelled by the blast of venomous vocals which breaks free. The track is a scene setter simultaneously to creating its own apocalyptic like barren soundscape, cruel and tender elements merging for an evocative and disturbing journey through equally dramatic climes and ruin.
The formidable start is followed by the caustic ambience of And All Of The Rats Gather, the atmospherically dark intro fused to a potent sample creating a brew of intensity which explodes into a hardcore powered fire of fearsome riffs, belligerent rhythms, and again excellent barbaric vocals this time coming with diversity and from all angles. Much more accessible than its predecessor but no less hard-handed, the track delivers a blaze of grooves and punk riffs which recruit the passions with anthemic strength whilst again that bass delivers a presence which is irresistible. Like in the first song the band is unafraid to mix up the attack and keep the listener unbalanced and intrigued with twists and fluctuations in the continually offensive intensity unpredictable and riveting.
Final song Dust of Earth looks at the ear for a split second before consuming it with another more hardcore than metallic introduction of severe provocation. Once the senses are trapped and enslaved the path of the song drops into a doom laden grievous crawl and onerous expanse of sound and intent. At times painful but full of gain for imagination and emotions, it makes for a towering imposing conclusion to an equally demanding but satisfying release.
Buried With The Rain suggests we will be hearing a lot more of kato in the future and that is undoubtedly a very good if threatening thing.
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
Two years ago UK rockers Promethium impressed with their debut album Welcome to The Institution declaring themselves as a band rife with promise and enterprise. Their mix of heavy and classic metal, despite its strong and gripping entrance, also seemed to be saying ‘you have seen nothing yet’ as it left a certain hunger in its creative wake. Now awaiting its moment to burst into the world on September 30th, Origins with ease backs up that apparent statement with a collection of tracks which scream from the rooftops just how much Promethium and their sound has matured and evolved between albums.
Formed from the remains of Skin Crawl, Bodies, Desolate and Natual Thing around six years or so ago the Lancaster band first opened up a wave of attention with their first EP Tribute to the Fallen of 2009. Followed by the successful and well received Welcome To The Institution the feeling that the band was about to erupt upon the higher levels of UK metal was maybe a little premature at that time. Met with acclaim and support things still seem to have moved on slowly for the band in regard to recognition though certainly tours with the likes of Furyon and Beholder as well as their own shows, did their stature no harm at all. Listening to the rich textured sounds and riotous energy and appetite of Origins only supports the notion that we all jumped the gun on their ascent but now could be the time it all kicks off for vocalist Gary McGahon, guitarists Daniel Lovett-Horn and Rossi, bassist Barry Mills, and drummer Dominic Clayton.
Whereas the previous album was a multi-flavoured mix of metal, for Origins the quintet has gone back to the roots of the band and centred the core of their sound in prime heavy melodic metal, though it is as full of aural colour and sonic spice as ever. This definition of their direction we would suggest goes much towards the bigger deeper sound making the songs immersive and captivating, that and the obvious evolution in maturity and musical skills. From the opening track Won’t Break Me the leap in sound and composition openly hits, the track immediately wrapping the ear in sonic flames from the guitar and a bass and rhythmic inducement which stands bold and tall in craft and presence. The vocals of McGahon have also found a richer voice and delivery to match the sounds, and as the contagious opener rampages it all makes for an intensive lure for thoughts and hunger. There is a familiarity to the song which teases but as from day one with Promethium, band and music refuses to be compared to anyone else such the unique flavour of their music.
From the impressive beginning the album unleashes two more fierce encounters in the form of the confrontational Gunslinger and the antagonistic beast The Art of Hurting. The first of the pair, and the track which has been publicly teasing people up to release date, brings a great mix of vocal styles and intensive riffing veined by a cage of rhythmic prowess but it is the searing charm and flames of the guitars which steal the show before passing on to its equally rapacious successor. Holding its rabidity in check certainly compared to the previous songs, the track prowls the senses sucking air from the lungs with its oppressive and menacing nature. It is a brute of a treat which continues the vigorously strong start of the album provoking more thoughts that the band’s time has come.
Bringing a less intensive but no less striking offering, Counterfeit with sonic spires of melodic potency and riveting craft leads the listener into further fresh avenues whilst Rain with its power ballad like passion pushes the envelope of the songwriting and its realisation on the album yet again. The song is a real slow burner with its first engagement drawing strong acclaim and over subsequent listens drawing real ardour.
The riff sculpted almost Sabbath like The Hunted reeks old school metal in the best of ways though the vocals lack the bite and potency on earlier songs, especially the less successful mix of harsh and cleaner hues. It is still a richly satisfying ride which is matched by the slow melodic drawl of Plagued by Evil, another song which reminds of something else but will not give up the source, probably because there is none. The songs make for a less impacting but undoubted magnetic middle to the album which is given another adrenaline boost with Revolver, a song which conjures up a predacious animosity and within its storm an anthemic persuasion to capture the imagination.
Completed by the excellent Believer, a track which has more twists and turns to its inventive sound and melodic furnace than a dog chasing its tail and an invention which leaves each listen a little more rewarding and revealing, and the closing mesmeric instrumental title track, The Sky Rocket Records released Origins is a mighty release and step in the dawning of Promethium as one of UK’s most thrilling metal bands. Strangely it still suggests there is more to come from and hone within the band which is as dramatically exciting as the album itself.
Origins is released on October 7th
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