Melodic fire and raw passion: an interview with Kyle MacKenzie of 7stbaby

7stbaby - Promo Image

The turn of 2014 saw the unleashing of the debut album from UK rock band 7stbaby. Control swiftly announced a band to keep close attention on with their gripping blend of varied styles into a riveting stoner and grunge veined blast of heavy melodic rock. Garnering strong support and acclaim, the band’s album was a potent statement for 7stbaby and their emerging presence in the UK rock scene. Ahead of the band’s new single Horses, we grabbed the chance to talk with one of the band’s founders and vocalist/guitarist Kyle MacKenzie. Looking at the origins of the band, Control and the new single as well as his and his band members other project, Kyle led us to the heart of 7stbaby.

Hey Kyle welcome to the site and thanks for taking time to talk with us.

Thanks for having us

For those yet to discover the delights of your sound, introduce 7stbBaby to the readers for us.

7stbaby is a project Ben and I (Kyle) had decided we wanted to do several years ago while writing for the first Static Plan EP. There were lots of riffs and song ideas which were not fitting with SP’s style, but that we still really liked and wanted to use. In August 2013 we finally got round to doing something about it, Ben basically moved into my place for a couple of weeks and we wrote and recorded Control. We then asked Greg to join us on drums for the album, and he was happy to be involved. Although we didn’t want to pigeon-hole ourselves genre-wise, we are a project that is definitely coming from a stoner rock viewpoint, just with anything we like thrown in!

Can you give further background to the band too, exploits before and alongside the band for its members.

Hilariously, line up wise 7stbaby is basically Static Plan, so 7stbaby’s background for the members is pretty much exactly the same. Ben and I met years ago while we were studying at university, when I answered an advert for a rock band looking for a vocalist. That then became Static Plan with Jonno on guitar duties, and after several drummer changes we finally ended up with Greg, who changed the dynamic of the band for the better. We gigged our balls off for a couple of years while writing and recording as many demos as possible.

7stbaby then came to the forefront as Static Plan began to wane a bit. Member changes, money issues and health and personal problems stopped us from carrying on the great momentum we had built, but we still wanted to make music and get it out there. So Control was about creating without the pressures we had experienced over the last couple of years.

Your music as evidenced by debut album Control earlier this year, is unafraid to employ a wealth of styles and flavours in its roaring recipe. How would you describe your musical canvas?

7stbaby is about doing whatever we want to do musically. If people love it that’s great, but if people hate it, then so be it. We created a concept album in a very short space of time with the tools that were available to us at the time, and because there was an ‘anything goes’ attitude, we approached it with no fear. 7stbaby’s musical canvas is anything that we want it to be.

It suggests you guys have a wide range of inspirations personally too, what are some of the more potent influences on your sound and ideas?c

Yeah we have quite a diverse range between us I think. I love artists and bands such as Martin Grech, Jeff Buckley, Radiohead, Porcupine Tree, Karnivool, QOTSA, Alice In Chains etc. Honestly there are just too many to list! I am inspired by great songwriting and great musicianship. Ben has a slightly more ‘alternative’ influence list than I have, loving bands like Gorgoroth, Mortiis, Mayhem, Mondo Generator, Sonic Youth etc. By no means are we limited to these bands or genres, I think we both have a healthy appreciation of music and its influence over us.

I read that Control was written in just three weeks, was that the reality or were some songs already around in some form or idea before that?

There were some riffs and parts floating about from writing the SP EP a while before, but the vast majority of the album was written in three weeks

Control deservedly garnered eager praise and acclaim upon release, did that surprise you in some way the vocal support and enthusiasm it received?7stbaby - Horses Single Cover

Ha-ha it did a bit! I think I was expecting it to either get distinctly average reviews or none at all, I didn’t think anyone would understand what we were trying to do! But the reviews were great to read and made me realise that people did understand what the album was about. Some of the reviews were just emphatic, and really brought some joy to me after a difficult couple of years making music.

Give us some insight to its creation and how you fitted it in with your other projects like Static Plan.

Static Plan at the time had ground to a complete halt after a couple of line-up changes. Ben and I had some free time during the school holidays and we just decided to get it done. It was incredibly fun and made us really want to start work on the Static Plan album.

September 26th sees the release of your new single, Horses. Taken from Control, it is one of the album’s biggest highlights for us. Was it an obvious choice for a single?

I think it’s a heavy song on the album, and probably the kind of song that most people can respond to without hating it ha-ha! We debated for a while which song was going to be released actually, and Horses at first didn’t seem like the obvious choice to me, I thought Leave Me To Bleed would be the better single after releasing Somebody’s Bitch. After a while of debating I realised that Ben was absolutely right, Horses is just the right single; it’s much more immediate!

Have you tinkered with it for the single release?

We have not; it’s as pure as it was

Horses, as the album, is out on Got Wrong Records; your own label?

Yes it will be a pay what you want digital only release on my label Got Wrong Records on September 26th. Available at https://gotwrongrecords.bandcamp.com

Can you give us some insight to the inspiration and theme of the song?

Horses is about conquering the power someone can have over you, and breaking out of the cage you confine yourself to when you let them control you. It’s the climax of the album for me

Horses sparked thoughts of Life of Agony for us, its provocative nature and intimate energy reminding of the great US band. Is that something you can feel?

Yeah I can see that. They’re aggressive and melodic, and that’s what Horses is in its simplest form. We really wanted to get the emotion across in the vocals, so hopefully we have done that if you’re comparing Horses to Life of Agony :)

The song is accompanied by a great video, who was that filmed by?

The video was filmed with a lovely chap called Sam Sheridan. Ben and I wrote some music for a short film he made several years ago, and we lost contact afterwards. As we were hunting for a director to make the video for Somebody’s Bitch we got chatting and got him involved. He has done an amazing job with incredibly little budget and filming was an absolute riot. Our lead man Alex Netting absolutely smashed it as well, bringing some intensity and humour to the whole thing.

It looked like a fun day out ha-ha; I am imagining that the central character (Alex) drew plenty of attention from the passing throng during filming?

It was a hilarious day for sure! Amazingly every person that interacted with us on the day was very positive; they loved the idea, loved the make-up and loved the character. We definitely got a lot of attention that day.

You guys are in two bands to my knowledge ;) It is hard for any band to make an impression in the current state of music, so how have you found it juggling and driving forward with your projects?

Yep it’s hard, that’s just the way it is. I think it’s always been hard though. The key is to keep going and enjoy the small victories I think. It’s definitely possible to juggle everything and find the time if you are committed enough; you just have to want it bad enough.

How do you see the current state of music especially the catch 22 effect of the internet with its usefulness and detriment for bands.

I think that even though there are always things we can complain about, bands and artists are in a much better position nowadays for people to hear their music than say 20 years ago. It’s incredibly difficult to earn a living from it, but there’s no change there really. Hopefully in the years to come, with organisations like the Musicians Union working on behalf of musicians, fairer deals can be made on behalf of musicians on the likes of streaming royalties.

10505283_311135829045859_3576936077197922227_nIs it hard to hold your enthusiasm at times, or does the music always hold sway over the emotions?

Personally I go through high and lows on a daily basis. Sometime I can struggle to bring myself to pick up a guitar and other times I can’t tear myself away to go to bed.

What is ahead for 7stbaby?

Not a clue! We’ll have to have to have a chat about that at some point ha-ha

…And from your other projects?

I’m currently working on albums for Static Plan and Outpost Zeta, and Ben is working with Ventenner and Exquisite Ending.

Thanks again for sharing time with us. Any last words you wish to share?

Thanks very much Pete, we really appreciate the support! My last word shall be check out www.gotwrong.com for a free EP/Album from Static Plan, Outpost Zeta and 7stbaby, and spread the word ;)

https://www.facebook.com/7stbaby/

Read our review of Control @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/7stbaby-control/  and of Horses @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/7stbaby-horses/

Pete RingMaster

The Ringmaster Review 23/09/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Pop Evil – Onyx

onyx

Though its veins are not exactly bursting with originality, Onyx the new album from US rockers Pop Evil is without doubt a rigorously compelling and invigorating slab of fiery melodic rock. Every shrug of its sinews and each melodic flame exhaled soak ears with an open familiarity whilst every muscular blaze of emotion and searing of sonic enterprise leaves thoughts and passions greedily content. It is may be not going to set the year on fire but the band’s third album is definitely bringing it a thoroughly enjoyable stomp of aural temptation.

Still under a keen spotlight after touring across Europe supporting Five Finger Death Punch, the band hits the European market and ears with a mighty slab of potent contagion. Released via Eleven Seven Records, the album has a voracity and tempestuous passion to its body which along with inciting melodies and perfectly barbed hooks, simple enthrals the senses and imagination. Having already established themselves on their side of The Pond with their rich tempting sound and albums War of Angels and even more so Lipstick on the Mirror, as well as a clutch of attention grabbing singles, the Michigan quintet are setting their sights on a wider audience and it is hard not to expect a healthy success through Onyx alone. Having also impressively shared stages with the likes of Three Doors Down, Papa Roach, Puddle Of Mudd, Theory of a Deadman, Buckcherry, Judas Priest, Black Stone Cherry, and Seether since forming, as well as going through the obstacles music throws up including line-up changes, Pop Evil have found a fresh and determined tenacity which shines across their new release as powerfully as the craft and passion soaking it. Produced by Johnny K (Disturbed, 3 Doors Down, Megadeth), Onyx is an encounter which does not herald a torrent of surprises but does ensure satisfaction is fat to bursting.

The album gets off to a flyer with opener Goodbye My Friend, an instant attention grabbing encounter which from its initial guitar and bass coaxing awakens a potent appetite for what is to come. Nick Fuelling and Dave Grahs take little time casting a web of riffs and grooves to snare the imagination whilst bassist Matt DiRito brings a predatory growl to the mix to accentuate the immediate potency of the song. It is an enthralling mix to which vocalist Leigh Kakaty adds his impressive tones as the rhythms of drummer Josh Marunde punctuate and frame the thrilling enticement. The track also offers the comparisons which stand across the whole album, its sounds like a mix of Seether and Sevendust with the metallic rapaciousness of Spineshank, the emotive angst of Three Days Grace, and the anthemic craft of Drowning Pool. To be fair though that still only gives part of the picture as shown by the second song on the album.

Bringing a rich colour of Alice In Chains to its striking canvas of sound and gripping narrative, Deal with the Devil prowls and strolls around the senses like a warrior, the guitars and bass crowding ears with forceful intensity and ravenous intent whilst rhythms punch with weighty persuasion. The latest single is a stirring and climactic incitement, ablaze at times with infection soaked melodies and senses entwining grooves for a thoroughly exciting temptation. One not quite matched but certainly thrillingly backed up by previous single Trenches. Holding a defiant air to its body of sound and lyrical call, there is an air of antagonism to the song which only urges the sonic warfare of the guitars to blaze with brighter flames and virulence as additional keys and electronic bait bring extra charm.

The riotous charge of the album takes a break with power ballad Torn To Pieces, a magnetic song which goes exactly where expectations assume but still leaves a lingering and increasingly potent lure in its wake. Kakaty is a powerful and controlled vocalist throughout the album and shows his depth of expression and emotional quality masterfully here to match the strengths of the sounds caressing and at times scorching his words. It is a glorious emotive encounter which leaves the following Divide looking a little pale in comparison. To be fair the song is a feisty and vivaciously striding suasion but lacks the extra guile of say its predecessor or the punchy invention of other songs on the release. Nevertheless it makes a pleasing play upon the ears as does its successor Beautiful, another song which just misses the potency and success of others, but still leaves a flavoursome offering for a hungry appetite to devour.

Things return to the opening plateau with the outstanding Silence & Scars, a song which seduces and pressurises thoughts and emotions simultaneously with imaginative and emotion driven invention. There is a touch of Bush to the song, its grunge spice and melodic weaves absorbing whilst a cathartic essence to its whole picture offers a magnetic radiance. The track is bewitching as is next up Sick Sense, a furnace of a song which is as raw as it is mesmeric, as caustically charged as it is a resourceful seducing. Again it is like an instant friend, that familiar seeding inescapable bait but with a voracious fuel to the backing vocal roars and a nu-metal menace to the ingenious twists within the song, again that Spineshank reference coming forth, the track is an exhilarating proposition.

Fly Away and Behind Closed Doors keep the album burning brightly and at times ferociously, the first an eagerly striding charge of pop rock urgency across evocative textures whilst the second steps into a more formula yet forcibly appealing canter of melodic fire and vocal enticement. Both songs leave a smoking long term bait working away even after their departure, their heat and passion enough to override a slightly predictable design, before the more aggressive and excellent Welcome To Reality has it moment to ignite the senses. It again confirms that Pop Evil are masters at creating songs which might not break away from existing trodden paths but bind the listener up in feverishly addictive and irresistible anthems.

The album closes with Flawed, a striking dramatic and impressive end to Onyx which simply underlines the quality and exciting presence of band and release. Pop Evil is not inventing the wheel, or arguably even redesigning it, but it is giving it a breath-taking and often scintillating soak of explosive colour.

Onyx is available now through Eleven Seven Music with the standard European version holding 3 additional tracks whilst the deluxe version features an extra 5.

www.popevil.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 02/07/2014

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Kodiak Jack – Alhambra

Kodiak Jack sky

Though UK rockers Kodiak Jack has not exactly been a secret it is fair to say that they have yet to ignite the widest attention across the country, something they will surely address as new album Alhambra starts its rampage. Built on eleven irrepressible inventive slabs of prime rock ‘n’ roll , the album is an incendiary fuse for the imagination and passions, undiluted heavy rock which thrusts the band to the fore of not only British but European rock music. With raging sonic endeavour around infection clad hooks and intensive riffs, all strapped to a rhythmic enticement which refuses to take no for an answer, the beast of a release is the kind of feast you can never stopping licking your lips to.

    Hailing from Portsmouth, the quintet first drew keen attention with debt album Your Death: My Glory in 2011, the release becoming no stranger to acclaim from fans and media alike. Strong radio play followed as well as the record having tracks featured on the cover mounted CD of an international edition of Metal Hammer, used on the closing credits of Eurosport’s British Superbikes coverage, and part of the States released Rumble Rides: Muscle Drag DVD . Their live reputation equally has earned the band a big reputation, shows with the likes of Kobra & The Lotus, Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big and Racer X), Everything Everything, Elvis Jackson and many more only confirming the emerging might and presence of Kodiak Jack. Recorded last year in Sacramento, California with Tesla bassist Brian Wheat who became a fan when the band sent him their debut back in 2011, Alhambra takes it all to the next level; actually up a  good few levels such its tremendous power and enterprise.

     Released via Angry Badger Records, and featuring three reworked tracks from their debut alongside seven voracious new Alhambraexploits, Alhambra takes no time in firing up the appetite with opener Get Out Alive, guitars dangling an initial temptation before thumping rhythms splinter their bait aside the vocals of frontman Bryn Roberts aided by those of guitarist Jon Karp. Into its stride the track brews up a rousing contagion which it accelerates further with storming riffs against melodic flames from Karp and Jeff Arnold, whilst the bass of Kev Farren stomps alongside the equally hungry beats of Keiran Bellinger. It is a roaring blaze of hard rock setting the release off in fine anthemic style, sparking an immediate greedy appetite.

     The first single from the album Brother steps up next, again no second wasted on lightweight beckoning as heavy riffs and crisp rhythms immediately set to work on the ears. A grunge feel emerges as the song expands its sonic narrative, a winding groove seducing the senses as the vocals of Roberts again impress with a Glenn Danzig essence coating some of his delivery. A strong acidic solo also spears the song towards its end to raise extra temptation before a dramatic finale makes way for the equally riveting and impressive Wasted Youth. Roving beats join scrapes of riffs alongside the opening narrative of Roberts as the song sets its irresistible toxicity in motion first, before hitting a similarly enthralling and magnetic passage of melodic passions pulling virulence. There is a blues flame to the guitars which only accentuates the swagger and addictiveness of the song too, it an early pinnacle in already a heady range of peaks.

     Both More Than This and Crossfire keep album and reactions sizzling, the first once again employing the greediest rhythms within an expansive wash of sonic causticity and expressive vocals whilst its successor has a broader rock wash to its earnest declaration. The pair stroll a level below what came before but with undeniable craft and the passion to inspire, neither leave anything but thrilled satisfaction behind before the outstanding THEM takes over. It almost nags at the ears from its first breath, riffs and beats a persistently probing trap beneath the wider rock delivery of Roberts, again perfectly assisted by Karp. A tinge of glam rock mischievously grins in their and the music’s incitement to tease just a little more and like so many of the tracks it secures a swift tempting for feet and voice which only the deaf and dead could resist.

     No Surrender is just as epidemically riotous and catchy, Karp and Arnold sculpting a sonic playground for the vocals and the more intimidating rhythmic section to prey and incite within, whilst the brilliant Waves with its heavier almost carnivorous presence stalks the senses with a predation which is dangerous and drenched in irresistibility. The compelling quality keeps coming on strong as firstly the masterful Live To Fight unveils a drama driven melodic rock pyre of emotive balladry and La Rue follows it up with a muscular impact of passion stirring energy and bordering on antagonistic craft, melodies and harmonies unafraid to seduce with every note and syllable.

     Completed by debatably the weakest song on the album, Coming Home, though that is down to the quality of the rest of the release than real short comings it may have, Alhambra is a rock album setting Kodiak Jack as one of Britain’s strongest and masterful rock bands but also declaring them as a new big noise in hard rock full stop. For those with a taste for Velvet Revolver and Guns N Roses, through Stone Temple Pilots and Alice In Chains, to Blackstone Cherry and Thousand Foot Krutch, and everything in between and around them, this album is your new best friend.

http://www.kodiakjackofficial.com/

9/10

RingMaster 24/02/2014

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Def-Con-One – II

 

      Def-Con-One

    Bawling inventively in the face whilst being driven by a constant fury which simply exhausts and exhilarates the senses, II the new album from UK metallers Def-Con-One, is one of those riveting muscular scourges you just cannot get enough of. It is fair to say that the band employs well ingrained flavours and styles across its riotous body but with a flair and imagination which sets them and the release apart from most. It is a thrilling adventure which rarely leaves you wishing for more in any particular song and constantly has the emotions beaming broadly under the creative onslaught.

     Hailing from Newcastle, the quartet of vocalist Davey Meikle, guitarist Johnny Hunter, bassist Steve Miller, and drummer Antton Lant (ex- Venom and Mpire Of Evil and the brother of Venom frontman Conrad Lant) brew up a sound which merges thrash and groove metal to name just two of their rich spices, into a maelstrom of ferocious enterprise and fierce imagination. II follows the critically acclaimed Warface of 2012, a release which thrust the band into a certain hungry spotlight not found by the band’s 2008 self-released Blood Soaks the Floor, a release which has been seemingly passed over with II described as the bands second full-length. The new provocation reinforces the success of its predecessor whilst unleashing a greater maturity and invention to its striding predation. The band has been described by the organizers of renowned Bloodstock Open Air festival as ‘a bar fight between Machine Head, Slayer and Pantera’ and in many ways that still fits except that the inventiveness and tempest of styles driving the new album has increased and expanded to bounteous new depths.

   The Scarlet Records, who the band signed with before Warface, released rage instantly unleashes its full strength and animositySC 235-2 DEF-CON-ONE the moment the first full breath of H8 Ball hits the ears. Jagged riffs and thumping rhythms are soon splintering cartilage in the opener, a djent savagery riling up the senses whilst the vocals of Meikle switch between clean rock and squalling antagonism in the midst of the continually evolving sonic rabidity. By the halfway point the song has teased thoughts with essences of American Head Charge, Alice In Chains, and Meshuggah, though all merely loud winds in a storm all Def-Con-One. It is a scintillating beginning to the album which immediately slams it up another gear with Broke. An unavoidable Pantera comparison wraps the opening seconds of the song remaining across the whole of its mouthwatering stretch, grooves and rhythmic battering as contagious and magnetic as the expressive vocals and sinew parading riffs equally inciting the juices. As the track, like many on the album, rummages in thoughts and emotions you do feel you know the provocation before it spreads each moment of its narrative but are left satisfaction drenched as everything comes in a uniquely different guise to any waiting expectation.

    The following Soul Possessed is the next on the continuing ascent of the release, its opening melodic caress aligned to clean vocals an appealing but deceptive invitation refusing to hint at the ferocious tsunami of imagination and intensity to follow. The invention of the song comes with an electrified voracity, it’s twisting through straight on corrosive metal into nu and groove lit thrash vivacity irresistible. The track throughout its inventive carnage never settles into more than a few moments of any one direction resulting in a persistently intriguing rampage with imaginative flexibility in its sound and stylish enterprise.

    Both Scarred For Life and Debt To Society were destined to slip below the new plateau set by the previous song but only just miss its lip with the first a breath-taking adrenaline fired torrent of thrash and heavy metal whilst its successor wires veins of southern metal into a ravenous brawl of groove fed heavy metal . The pair feed the already greedy hunger for the album with a full meal of craft and aggressive passion whilst the next up Skinhead Shaped Dent swerves and seduces the listener with a caustic fire of grunge inspired punk aligned to a commanding web of rapacious grooves to raise the stakes. At this point the album can and does no wrong, and whilst that familiarity to other things is never far away it only enlivens the irresistible toxicity of the band’s enterprise.

     The pair of Need A Reason  and Die Again provide the first undulation in the course of the release, the first an intoxicating ear devouring stomp of contagious and at times venomously sonic rabidity whilst the second is a slow meandering slice of classically spawned metal which fails to rise to previous heights. It is to be honest a well-crafted and satisfying piece of songwriting but just does not ferment in the imagination and passions anywhere like the potency of the previous songs. That slight dip though is soon addressed by Damned Disgrace where the already carnivorous bass sound of Miller is at its most primal, and the closing Drag Me To Hell, a rhythmic agitation of pure infection and bestial riffery which leaves the senses sore and blissful. The final track concludes the album as impressively as it started; a lingering last intrusive splinter of ravaging to ignite the passions.

   To be over critical you could accuse II of not being unique enough in many ways to other bands, though there are few fusing as many facets of metal as inventively and successfully as Def-Con-One does. The truth is that when the album emerges as one of the most enjoyable favourites so far this year, certainly for us, giving the strongest fattest satisfaction, who really cares?

http://def-con-one.tripod.com/

9/10

RingMaster 16/02/2014

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Tracings of time and reflections: an interview with Black Space Riders

Black Space Riders 1

German heavy rockers Black Space Riders is a band which has persistently drawn acclaim and attention with their unique and ravenously adventurous sounds but it is fair to say that new album D:REI is their finest moment. A journey of progressively sculpted metal and psychedelically forged rock through a dramatic narrative, the bands third full-length is a compelling incitement for the imaginations and passions. We grabbed the chance to find out more with JE and Seb from the band, touching on origins, albums, and much more…

Hello and thanks for talking with us.

Hello and thank YOU, here are JE (vocals, guitars) and SEB (vocals) from Black Space Riders

For newcomers to the band, please tell us about its beginnings.

JE: Black Space Riders were born in the deepest winter of 2008/09. C.RIP (drums) and I wanted to play Heavy Rock again after some years of making decent songwriter-stuff. I contacted SLI (guitar), an old friend from the schoolyard, we had been doing a NWOBHM-fanzine together when we were teens around 79/80. He brought in SAQ (bass) and we started jamming in an old mouldered bowling alley. It was great from the start. Fantastic musical and social chemistry! We created 4 songs in 2 rehearsals. We recorded our debut in 2010 and played shows while writing material for album No.2, “Light is the new black”, which was released in 2012.

SEB: In 2012 I came across and joined Black Space Riders first as an additional and background singer, then as the 5th member. But I already had known these guys years before.

JE: Now there are 5 Riders, 5 friends, just been releasing album No.3 called D:REI.

What are the musical histories of the band members before Black Space Riders?

JE: All of us have been playing in many bands or projects before. SLI played in Heavy-, Punk- and Indie-Bands since the Eighties. SAQ had a couple of Punk Rock bands before but also played in Indie-Rock-Bands, SEB used to sing in Metal bands but also has a great experience in playing accordion and singing weird, folkloristic Chanson-Stuff together with C.RIP who played and plays every imaginable musical style from Jazz over Metal to Ska. I also played in a lot of bands since 1980. Metal, Rock, Wave, Punk, Indie, Folk, Jazz … I played and sung for a long time in a Crossover band with C.RIP, which gained a decent regional/national awareness in the Nineties.

What was the spark or initial intent within the band when you started out?Black Space Riders 3

JE: As said, to create something loud and wild after years of “decent” music and to take up the Heavy stuff that we all are loving since our youth. The idea was to jam around and to create a hypnotic wall of sound … there were no ideas of releasing albums in the beginning

The band’s name stands out and suggests a space ranger like almost comic book appeal. What inspired the band name?

JE: Exactly what you have read in the name. 60ies and 70ies Sci-Fi had a very strong influence on me. I read a lot of those books when I was a child, my uncle had hundreds of them. We were looking for a name which can instantly create cartoonish, dark, hypnotic, psychedelic and cool images.

How would you say your sound has evolved since the early days and your self-titled debut album to what we thrillingly hear on new release D:REI?

JE: This time when we entered the recording studio we knew even better what we wanted and what we did NOT want. As for the sound of the recording itself: we wanted to retain the warmth, the organic live-feeling and the bottom of the first two albums but wanted to add additional freshness, transparency and openness to our existing drive. So – for example – we have been discussing a lot about the amount of “attack” in the drum sound or about guitar amps  and how to record the guitars with our friend and engineer Role (“die Tonmeisterei”) before entering the studio. Stylistically we allowed ourselves to integrate more elements and accepted the eclectic result of our songwriting without sorting out parts, grooves or ideas that sounded a little bit far out in the beginning.

As you said earlier D:REI is your third album; for us an exceptional progressively sculpted metal and rock adventure which can seduce and prey on the senses at any given moment. Did the album end up exactly how you envisaged it or did it have some surprises in store for even you guys as it evolved and emerged?

SEB: There are, in fact, some positive surprises for us. Partial tiny, audiophile little things – but also relevant structural changes we have made during the recordings.

JE: There are always surprises in the studio. The songs and arrangements are final before entering the studio, but then you begin experimenting with sounds or somebody within the band or let´s say our engineer Role has a charming “new” idea and – oooops –you find yourself changing the master plan. We are a live-recording band, old-school, five friends and all their instruments and amps in ONE room … but sometimes  we are adding some decent flavours later … experimenting with dozens of effect-pedals and creating some “space” can be so inspiring almost addictive! We are also experimenting with our vocal expression while recording, encouraging and coaching each other.

1545083_10151894936042963_1727001018_nThe album is split into ‘chapters’ exploring a…actually could you tell and expand on the theme behind the album for us please?

SEB: A new life in a new world? The depths and abysses of the human soul? Find out for yourself !

JE: On the first look a post-apocalyptic plot of destruction, escape, voyage and looking back. But maybe it´s all just in your head and it´s all about inner liberation and freedom?! The listener is defining the meaning of the story. My advice: Take a look at the story and the lyrics (you will find them here: www.blackspaceriders.com/d-rei), then put on your headphones, lights out, volume up and find it out!

Did the lyrical aspect or idea of the album come first or the music?

SEB: We had framework for about the half of the songs when JE delighted us with his concept of “Total destruction as the root of a new beginning and the Journey as a transformation”. From this point concept and music were evolved in parallel.

JE: Music first, basic concept next, lyrics last.

How does the writing process work within Black Space Riders?

SEB: On the way from our debut album Black Space Riders to D:REI we have expanded  the common songwriting.

JE: The process of songwriting has changed over the years. In the beginning I brought in almost finished songs and structures. Today it´s “just“ a riff or some harmonies, somebody picks it up, we start jamming and then we love it or we don´t. At one point SEB and me are starting to hum or sing. We are recording every rehearsal, every jam and are listening to it before the next rehearsal. We then discuss about it and try out different grooves, tempi, atmospheres, sounds. Our drummer C.RIP is playing a big part in arranging songs and developing structures…So the “song” as you know it from the album, is a common work of several band members.

Being a concept album did you approach the writing of D:REI any differently to say previous album Light Is The New Black?

JE: Not really. Light is the new black was considered by many to be a concept album as well. But D:REI seems to be so perfectly balanced and cohering, both musically and lyrically. To be honest: that is a happy ending and not a result of a worked out master plan. We have changed the sequence of the songs several times to find the perfect flow through the whole album … so we had to fiddle around with song titles and lyrics in the last moment during the recordings.

What did you take into the recording of D:REI in particular which you learnt on previous releases to enhance or ease its emergence in the studio?

JE: As said above … a clearer vision about the desired sound, recording techniques, approach and modus operandi. Additionally a greater open-mindedness, a grown faith, trust and friendship within the band and with our engineer/producer … relaxation and a strong belief that this album was going to become something special.

With a concept album is there a more demanding and intensive focus needed to link music and the expanding lyrical story of the narrative or does it pretty much come together as any other album?

SEB: I find it even a little easier because I had a specific movie in my head since the said date.

And is another concept album a possibility for future releases or maybe with the next will you return to individual standalone songs?

SEB: Anything can be, nothing must be.

JE: … all is possible. No plans, no expectations, no disappointments ;)

Have you shows/tour in the works to support D:REI, and if so will you be rampaging around Europe, the UK maybe?Black Space Riders 2

JE: Yes we have played some release-shows in some of the bigger German cities and are working on more shows and festival-slots in 2014. We are doing all this on our own. We have a distro and some professional help in the background, but in order to keep our independency and all rights… no label-contract! So most of the work, organization and booking is up to us. Additionally we all have families and jobs. It seems as though our new album, D:REI, will be received very well, so with that kind of “tailwind” we are starting now to book more shows for 2014 and will hopefully be able to play some festivals in the summer as well. Would love to play some shows in the UK, but we don´t have an “official” distro or label in the UK … so I guess we have to wait for some nice offers to play the UK.

Rightly or wrongly I have the assumption that you are a band which never stops writing or working on ideas, if correct how far are you into writing album 4? ;)

SEB: Honestly we have just a few ideas or fragments, because we were very busy with the preparation of our release-shows. But the prickling is already there and I’m looking forward to the upcoming rehearsals.

 Once again many thanks for sharing time with us, any last thoughts to leave us with?

JE: If you like what we are doing … tell the world about it! Spread the word! May the force be with you!

And lastly what are our biggest inspirations not so much for Black Space Riders but just as musicians?

JE: Of course each of us has different inspirations that is why we sound like we sound. On the other hand we have a lot of common preferences – and again – that is why we sound like we sound. Band-favourites are e.g. Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, NWOBHM, The Chameleons, Motorhead, Monster Magnet, Alice in Chains, Massive Attack … many more. For me personally on top of those: Psychedelia like on the early Pink Floyd –Albums. 80ies Dark Wave like Bauhaus or Joy Division and the BIG three: David Bowie, Tom Waits and Johnny Cash.

Read the D:REI review @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/black-space-riders-drei/

http://www.blackspaceriders.com

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 12/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

 

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Akb’al – …Of Darkness and Light

Akbal Online promo shot

    …Of Darkness and Light is one of those encounters which makes a striking initial impression but over time and subsequent journeys unveils and expands into a constantly rewarding and riveting adventure. The creation of Welsh progressive metallers Akb’al, the seven track album soon shows it is much more than that tag suggests, the band exploring and employing resources across a multitude of styles to produce one thoroughly absorbing and provocative experience. The release is not without minor issues, and they are minor but with craft and hunger to seduce and savage across its formidable presence, the band’s debut is an impressive adventure to grow from.

     The seeds of the band began back in 2006 with Michael Young-Temple (vocals, bass, tablas, djembe, didgeridoo and the kaossilator!) who coming to the end of travelling around the world began fusing his experiences and world percussion instrumentation into a more stoner/prog rock and metal bred songwriting. Linking up with Thoby Davis (vocals, guitar, violins) and Rob Miles (guitar, backing vocals, synths), the trio began evolving and expanding Young-Temple’s early ideas. The band was eventually completed with drummer Michael Hourihan, also of Onslaught, and from 2010 set about building a live presence. The Cardiff quartet took little time in making a mark locally and with shows alongside bands such as Ten Cent Toy, Thorun, Chaos Trigger, and Fell on Black Days was soon an established and eagerly followed proposition around their region. Next came a venture into the studio to set about working on…Of Darkness and Light; the result a tempest of imagination and invention and one of the more exciting and compelling entrances so far this year.

     The band bring influences from the likes of Tool, The Doors, and Porcupine Tree through to Kyuss, NIN, Alice in Chains, and Akbal Cover ArtworkCoheed And Cambria into their sound though again certainly they are spices heard but only a slight flavour of what …Of Darkness and Light feeds the senses within. The title track opens up an imaginative and intimidating flight, the track a venture through the dark side of the release’s theme, an exploration of the darkness and light in human reality and state of the mind. Opening female torment within a cloud of pestilential breath coaxes in a shadow drenched bass and guitar incitement, the former heavy and respectfully imposing and the latter a melodic tender heat wrapped in spoken whispers. It is an intriguing and imagination probing invitation which flows into an aggressive and tempestuous oppression of noise and intensity. Merging mellower caresses with menacing sonic rapaciousness the song weaves and entrances the senses with a blend of progressive, nu, and psyche metal for a potent and riveting start.

     The Ride takes over with the same fluidity and mix of dark and light evocations, voracious and magnetic textures easily lying in each other’s arms as the song develops a melodic metal temptation. Again nothing settles into a singular persuasion or attack, bursts of primal agitation vocally and rhythmically punctuating the transfixing melodic wash of the song and great clean vocals. Sonically the track equally ebbs and flows with intimidation and temptation, both fuel to the open invention and craft consuming the ears.

    From the very strong start the album switches up another creative and impacting gear with Totally Recalled and the following Equilibrium.  A muscular rock essence which at times flirts with a Metallica like tempting guides the heavyweight stoner persuasion of the first song, an exhaustive metallic predation united with an infection clad groove just as irresistible and virulent in its ignition of the passions. As with many of the tracks there is a slight familiarity to certain moments but never anything to deter thoughts and emotions from falling greedily into the scintillating feast of sound and enterprise on offer. The track’s successor and new video single from the band is pure magnetism, simply nine minutes of smouldering wanton seduction from its opening melodic notes. Thumping rhythms and a bass snarl is soon stalking the senses whilst another strong and impressive swarm of clean vocal harmonies soak the ears with the equally pleasing lyrical narrative. The song is an unbridled addiction, unveiling a mouthwatering range of grooves and hooks within a flowing evocative soundscape which never relinquishes its hold and immense stature across its epic expanse. Like a mix of KingBathmat and Tricore with a healthy touch of Mishkin to its ingenuity at times, the song is a masterful triumph and the obvious doorway into Akb’al.

     Restless And Waiting is bred from the same bloom of ideas and inventive sculpting as it predecessor but returning the ears to the scavenging causticity of coarse vocals and sonic predation within the melody rich adventure. The song provides a subtler though no less captivating addictiveness with its squalling charms. It imposingly completes a trio of major peaks in the range of lofty highs with the sultry suasion of Pacha Mama stepping up next to take its share of the imagination. A gentler and progressively crafted soar through melody enriched and expression cast sky, the song is a mesmeric and evocative exploration bringing diversity and further acclaim upon the release.

    …Of Darkness and Light closes on the extensive instrumental Light, a lingering invention driven travelogue of emotional reflection and expressive scenery taking in twelve minutes of tantalising continent travelling endeavour. Admittedly like a couple of songs it is a little too long to keep attention as enraptured as it deserves but as mentioned earlier the issue is a minor quibble against the pleasure and enthrallment surrounding the senses. It completes an outstanding encounter from a band in Akb’al, who you can be sure we will hear much more of and in even greater circumstances ahead.

http://www.akbalband.com/

www.facebook.com/Akbalband

9/10

RingMaster 10/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Ethersens – Your Wandering Ghost

   Ethersens (3)

    Thick in emotional tension and driven by a seemingly personal drama Your Wandering Ghost, the new album from French band Ethersens, is an enthralling and provocative encounter which strikingly sparks the imagination. The successor to acclaimed debut album Ordinary Days, the new release sees a shift in sound from the band and arguably brings a greater intensity than before and though it demands a focused attention to reap all of its depths and textures it rewards by providing the strongest satisfaction. Brought to our attention by French metallers Eryn Non Dae’s guitarist Franck Quintin, the album is an evolving emotive adventure which leaves thoughts deep in reflection and emotions hungry for band and release.

     The Toulouse hailing Ethersens was formed in 2002 by friends and guitarists Johan Bourrut and Mickael André (also bassist in Eryn Non Dae). The first year saw the band take shape with several line-up changes and it was not until the following year with the arrival of drummer Stéphane Nestiri, bassist Fred, and vocalist Stephane that Ethersens found its serious intent and presence emerging. The members experience working in bands such as Eryn Non Dae, Zubrowska, Talian, Disphoria, and Eradykate gave the band a focus and shaped the decision to work immediately towards an. Ordinary Days was unveiled in 2008 to strong critical and fan responses, its progressive and dark metal blend an impacting persuasion on a great many. The following year saw departures and the recruitment of vocalist Laurent Mora and bassist Rémy Boyer alongside the founding members and Nestiri. With their sound moving to a more progressive/alternative rock mix inspired by the likes of Porcupine Tree, Karnivool, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains; its touch lighter but atmospherically more empowering emotionally than ever before, Ethersens were soon creating Your Wandering Ghost, eventually recording it with Julien Soula at Antistatic Studios.

     Released like the first on Italian label Scarlet Records, Your Wandering Ghost is a concept album looking at ‘a relationship TP_125_2_(K2-TC).pdf between two people which takes a tragic turn, a story about a lost love which tends to be re-born into death, regrets and sorrow.’ It is a release which at times is as intrusive as it is seductive and persistently is an intensive incitement for senses and emotions. From the opener Two for One Mind, the album steers thoughts through an imposing and riveting landscape of varied emotions, at times sharing raw and caustic issues lyrically and sonically and in other moments soaring through atmospheric climes of ethereal and dynamic temptation. More often than not the extremes are merged into one enthralling narrative as with the potent opener. The song instantly has a melancholic air through the first rub of guitar chords, a shadowed ambience slowly immersing the senses as the equally darkly lit vocals and words also begin their narrative. It is a full seduction even with its heavy hearted breath and has intrigue alongside a keen appetite alert for the expanding provocation before them. Through its nine minutes of intensity sculpted suasion the track unleashes its emotional and physical muscle, rhythms unreserved in their dynamic buffeting across the expanse whilst bass and guitars craft a tempestuous and enthralling blaze of skilful invention to voraciously capture the imagination and offer a lingering contagion.

    The first track is an explosion of ingenious mergers and skilled enterprise which grips and shakes the senses from start to finish. A mighty towering entrance by the album it soon relinquishes some of its hold with the following Same Goodbye. To be fair attention is not lost or disappointed but with a smouldering exploration of emotional shadows and being a slow invasion of the passions placed right after the immense starter it is given a hard task to remain at the same plateau. Nevertheless with Mora continuing to show an excellent voice and delivery, emotion dripping from every syllable, and the guitar painting from Bourrut and André only adding the richest hues to song and ears it keeps the album firmly under an eager gaze before the similarly tension clad This is Where You and I Part Ways and the excellent Livin’ Memory provide their edgy and powerful presences. The first with the drums impressively framing another emotional maelstrom smothers and invigorates in simultaneous strength whilst its successor shapes peaks and intimidating climbs to high summits with abrasive riffs and sinew driven rhythms. With as ever strong vocals riding a stirring wind across the sonically rugged landscape, the track is a scintillating triumph, a mix of soaring beauty and mistrustful energy providing light and dark in a thrilling slice of rock invention.

     After the Mourning Light, a song like the second on the album which misses out on igniting a fire in the emotions but still provides an undeniable quality and impact with its presence, the album hits another pinnacle with Reflect. The track is a voracious assault which entwines its anger and spite with a melodic seduction and sonic expression which tempers yet coaxes the intimidating predation of the song. As happy nagging and riling the senses as it is caressing them with mouthwatering beauty, the fiery declaration is glorious and the best track on the album.

    Completed by the emotionally instigative Waking Disorder and the smooth yet tenaciously inciting To Live is to Forget, two tracks which undulate and entice the passions with infectious might and invention, Your Wandering Ghost is a rapaciously compelling experience that strongly impresses and richly pleases. The album needs time to show its strengths and rigorous depths as mentioned but proves Ethersens to be a band which leaves no creative stone unturned and emotion not wrung out. Wrapped in stunning artwork from French visionary artist Romain Barbot, this is a confrontation to wrap up within especially if fans of bands such as Karnivool, Katatonia, Opeth, and Tool…

Your Wandering Ghost is out on January the 20th via Scarlet Records.

http://www.ethersens.com

http://ethersens.bandcamp.com/

8.5/10

RingMaster 16/01/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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