Alaya –Thrones

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Now that US progressive metallers Alaya have unveiled their debut album we can confirm that the feisty buzz and acclaim for the Chicago trio is more than just for their powerful sound and presence. Thrones is a formidable adventure of technical prowess and passionate endeavour funnelled into a ferociously compelling and imaginative experience. Anticipation for the band’s debut has been as eager and fiery as the sounds it offers and it is easy to say that no one will be disappointed by the encounter just awe inspired.

It is fair to say that Thrones took longer than some to unveil its intensive persuasion though that was nothing to do with accessibility issues just the richness of depth and invention waiting to be discovered. It is a dramatic and demanding listen with its never ending twists and persistent evolution and unashamedly rewarding every step of the way. There are times where arguably the landscape of melodic fire and unrestrained technical ingenuity suffocates the chance of memorable moments within some songs preventing them being as strong a lingering temptation as they deserve but in their hands senses and emotions are invigorated playthings for a thoroughly riveting proposition.

Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Evan Graham Dunn, bassist/vocalist Michael Brandt Rinkenberger, and drummer David Jacob Robison, Thrones_CoverAlaya has forged a formidable reputation which has caught the imagination of fans and musicians alike as well as the media. Offered comparisons to the likes of Periphery, Muse, and Protest The Hero, the band has still forged its own distinct identity which bursts from Thrones like a corona ejection. Over two years in the making, the Basick Records released album is a soulful and soul filling tempest of melodic beauty, intrusively confrontational technical rhythms, and exploratory incisive grooves all under deeply evocative atmospheres and similarly sculpted lyrical narratives. It is easy to see why Alaya have been smothered in strong plaudits and easy to join the queue.

The expansive adventure of the album begins with Inside, its initial coaxing of sharp grooves and punchy rhythms a restrained yet eager pull which once stepping aside for a gentle caress bursts forward again with sinews flexing and colours blazing. The vocals of Dunn ably assisted by the tones of Rinkenberger throughout are as immediately impressive as the sounds, his delivery adding spice to the tale and texture to the already shifting scenery. The track twists and veers down unpredictable and intensively investigated avenues, rhythms a constant heavy provocateur and guitars a designer of the most enthralling incitements.

The impressive start is taken to another level by the following White Noise, its first acidic strike relaxing into a seducing enticement of melodic crooning veined by a rhythmic virulence, both courting the continuing to impress vocals. It is a relatively gentle absorption of the imagination but one which infuses an intimidating threat to its mesmeric landscape. Forceful and restrained, open and intriguingly deceptive, the track continues to reveal extra corners to its imposing beauty and appetising shadows which fascinate and envelop.

Both Sleep and Screaming Still tighten the hold of the album, the first with its emotive breath and drama clad rhythmic framing around an expressively engaging melodic painting and the second with its simply virulently gripping enterprise. A definite Muse like lilt casts its spice to the thrilling and tantalising technical waltz of the song, flavoursome bait which accentuates every muscle and creative hue of the exciting endeavour. Its intensive suasion is matched by the more melancholic Poor Gloria, an emotive hug which whilst filling the ears on a slow canter has a flame to its passion and expression reinforcing the diversity of songwriting and sound. It does not quite light the fires within as other songs but still leaves a greedy appetite and hunger concentrated on Alaya and album.

Haunted Pt. I is a delightful brief instrumental which is as emotive as it is elegant, lighting up the imagination ready for the outstanding Grace to rummage through shadows. Thrones seems to take on a darker intensive intent at this point, the track bringing a more rapacious snarl to its riffs and antagonistic punch to its rhythmic manipulations. The vocals also gain a slight growl to their expression whilst around them the song resonates across the senses with angular strikes of guitar and jagged spears of beats aligned to similarly predacious bass surges. It is an exceptional track, one which does linger long after the curtains close as does the next up Day of the Dead, its opening swarm of sonics an instant scar for thoughts to hang on to before a celestial melody cast grace falls over the ears. The song soon explores its provocative beauty in strong emotive detail before the title track launches another contagion soaked exploration of sound, textures, and thoughts.

The pair of Paths and Entropy keep the engrossing nature of the album in full flight even if neither quite steal the same rich responses as other tracks. Both ensure the album continues to hold the tightest grip on body and mind though with their fluid transformations and irresistible technical craft, which allows the closing two parts of Haunted to exploit and send the imagination off to explore and draw its own premises.

Thrones is a scintillating encounter from a band making existing claims about them pale against the reality. As mentioned there are maybe too many tracks which drift in the memory away from their captivating embraces to push the album into the terms of a classic debut but it is certainly an immensely powerful and stunningly inventive one declaring Alaya as one of the most exciting emerging forces around.

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8.5/10

RingMaster 28/03/2014

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Intervals – A Voice Within

 

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    The additional information accompanying the promo for the debut album from Canadian band Intervals, declares that the quartet is ‘set to be the most exciting new progressive metal prospects of 2014 with the release of debut album, A Voice Within. As their offering seduces and fascinates it really is impossible to disagree, the nine track adventure a magnetic kaleidoscope of sonic colours, inciting textures, and contagious adventures. With a technical craft to match its progressive enterprise, the self-released A Voice Within, with distribution across Europe by Basick Records, is a maze of diverse and inventive flavours which captivates and absorbs from start to finish.

      The Toronto hailing Intervals was formed in 2011 by guitarist Aaron Marshall and took little time in earning a well-respected and acclaimed presence with their evocative instrumental soundscapes. With a line-up completed by guitarist Lukas Guyader and drummer Anup Sastry (Jeff Loomis / Skyharbor), the band released two well-received EPs, The Space Between and In Time in 2011 and 2012 respectively, as well as playing and touring with the likes of Texas In July, Northlane, Structures, The Kindred, The Color Morale, Misery Signals and more. Last year a new direction was taken by the band, not so much in sound though that was unavoidably affected, but with the joining of vocalist Mike Semesky (formerly of The Haarp Machine). Work began on their first album last September with Jordan Valeriote (Silverstein, Structures, Counterparts) and what has emerged is a riveting triumph taking the band to new scintillating levels and you can only expect greater spotlights.

      The first single taken from the album Ephemeral opens up the endeavour, the track taking no time to immerse the ears in the Intervals.AVoiceWithin.cover.lotechnical skill and inventive breath of band and release. Bass and drums instantly cast a web which entangles and excites the senses whilst the guitars flirt and dance with the imagination. It is a potent start enhanced by the melodic tones of Semesky, his expressive and fluid delivery holding hands with the melody rich flames licking from within the sinew framed opener. Sculpting an aurally scenic venture which intrigues and draws in thoughts with ease, it is only hindsight and not its company which suggests the album’s introduction is merely an appetiser to greater things ahead.

    That suggestion arises straight away with the following Moment Marauder, the song a compelling temptation which enslaves and dances with the passions from its initial melodic caress and technical invention. Winding jazz bred imagination around precise and bewitching temptation, it seduces with almost mischievous glee as the vocals stroke and coaxes the emotions as irresistibly as the complicated breeze of sounds surrounding them. Dazzling bordering on disorientating , the ingenuity and sculpting of the song is a virulent lure but one which never indulges itself, each transfixing technical exploit matched by an openly accessible and infectious hook or sweeping groove aligned to the persistently persuasive vocals.

     Automation and The Self Surrendered struggle just slightly to match the album’s first pinnacle, though both build their own plateaus to rigorously enthuse over. The first offers an almost pop rock swagger within its progressive and technical mesmerism, the melodies and contagious assets framed by muscular rhythms which take no prisoners but equally have a respect leaving ardour rather than wounds. It’s equally smouldering and vivacious bait is swiftly matched by the second of the two, a song which has voraciousness to its opening technical gambit which it then lends to the rest of its potently catchy and provocative body. As all the tracks, the melodic canter never settles into one gait or stance for long, the ever evolving and twisting emprise coming with flared nostrils and irrepressible passion.

    After the brief elegant instrumental Breathe, the song allowing that very action before the next spiral of adventure, The Escape confronts the ears like a frantic acrobat, leaping through and wringing out its sonic narrative upon a mouthwatering canvas of inventive hues and emotion. Its beauty is replaced by the fiery landscape of Atlas Hour, technical poise and passionate energies once again offering a journey of unpredictable and persistently shifting scenic inspiration clad in formidable rhythms aligned to just as forceful riffs.

    Siren Sound confronts the senses next, the song a whirl of almost carnivorous jagged riffs and rhythmic antagonism reined in by the ever impressive vocals and harmonies. As the second song on the album, the track explores and unveils that something extra, something which sparks a furnace in the imagination and passions in comparison to the fierce blazes spawned elsewhere. There is a predatory instinct to the song too which inspires everything from the skill and hunger of the band to the uncompromising sounds themselves, and all engulfed in an irresistible seduction. The track steps up to offer a real challenge to the brilliant Moment Marauder for best song accolades, the pair then tested by the closing title track. Bringing the outstanding album to a tremendous close, the song stomps and teases the passions with a weave of severe rhythms, awe inspiring technical artistry, and simply unbridled adventure.

     Offering a kind of mix of Circles and Beneath the Buried and Me with TesseracT, but something different again, A Voice Within is an exceptional encounter and yes as suggested the evidence of something new and exciting emerging. The evolution to include vocals and new adventures by Intervals might just be the boldest most inspirational move from any band in recent times too.

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http://intervalsmusic.bandcamp.com/

9/10

RingMaster 05/03/2014

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Circles – Infinitas

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Having been seduced and drawn deep into the musical heart of Circles by The Compass EP two years ago, it is fair to say we had like so many, a near lustful anticipation for the Australian progressive metallers debut album Infinitas. The EP was one of those introductions to the senses which came with an instant understanding and emotional connection which is long-term. The new album proves that the hunger and high expectations before its unveiling was justified, the twelve track fire of striking creativity and startling craft a scintillating and breath-taking adventure.

Formed in 2010, the Melbourne quintet first drew attention with their demo Prelude released in the same year, though it was with The Compass that they found a trigger to ignite the widest attention around the globe. Released like the new album via Basick Records, the EP confirmed and elevated the strong reputation already earned by the band from their first release and live performances. Two years in the making, Infinitas emerges as a stunning evolution and expansion of the band’s already impressive sound and unpredictable imagination, a release courting and crossing numerous styles and flavours to create something which is an intriguing mix of full uniqueness wrapped in a call soaked in undefined familiarity, the band knowing what feeds the needs of the appetite but creating it with a wholly original and inventive invention.

The brooding atmospheric lead into the album extends a melodic almost tribal/folk welcome as the impressive vocals of Perry Kakridas Circles_Infinitas_Coverembrace their welcome with his ever striking tones and delivery. With evocative harmonies and wakening guitar strokes bringing Erased fully into view, the song opens up its charms with a potent design before riffs and rhythms unleash their inventive sculpturing of sound and air. The djent whipping of the ear is an immediate enslavement, the craft of guitarists Ted Furuhashi and Matt Clarke a sturdy charge with slithers of sonic enterprise spewing from the depths of their full persuasion. The track twists and writhes across its length, electronic strikes adding a sense of The Browning to moments of the opener whilst the drum craft of Dave Hunter and the soaring delivery of Kakridas fuel further the already awoken appetite for the invigorating start.

The following On My Way backs up the immense start with ease, though the opening almost boy band like vocal caress was disturbing before its brief tenure was splintered by a raging ferocity of riffs. As with all songs any element is a passing wind and the track is soon striding through a constant turning and weaving of imaginative discourse and captivating adventure. Circles always crafts a woven ‘pop’ infectiousness into their songs, a ridiculously contagious temptation which works perfectly within the intensity and here is no exception, the song a magnetic lure with limb and voice drawing potency. Seduction and senses chewing abuse is the order of the situation, the latter equally the driving force to the sensational As It Is Above which launches its prowess next. The track opens with a carnivorous rabidity to sound and vocals, it a perpetual aggressive provocateur around which the band casts a melodic and atmospheric enthrallment which leaves thoughts and imagination floating off in their own realms before being ripped from the peace back into the intensive muscular tempest.

Band and album immediately provide another fire of brilliance through So It Is Below and Another Me. The first of the pair is similar to its predecessor in its united bestial and mesmeric spellbinding of the senses, riffs carving out their dramatic canvas whilst a vocal fury raids the surface as the bass of Drew Patton prowls and preys on the ears with an irresistible rapacious presence. It is a simultaneously crippling and hypnotic temptress of a song which leaves you submerged in its explosive venture. Its successor is the first single from the album, a track which has been laying down a ridiculously irresistible teaser to the album for a while now and even with its now full familiarity still makes another pinnacle within the company of the other tracks.  It is a pop cored track, a melodic infection with a ridiculously addictive chorus which lies upon a rippling, snarling maelstrom of violent ingenuity and ruinous intrigue. The blend is sensational and provides another major highlight in a plateau of nothing but riveting highs.

Through the electronically speared Ground Shift, a kind of Faith No More meets Enter Shikari and Meshuggah, the sonically dazzling Responses, and the emotively sculpted Visions, the album continues to impress even if without reaching the heights laid out before them whilst the elegant Radiant soaks the ears in a distinctive incendiary beauty bringing new corrosively seductive flames to the release. The track is an excellent blaze which has moments of pure enslavement of the passions and others where it merely impresses for the fullest enjoyment, which is a success any band would dream of.

Wheels in Motion takes little time in thrusting Infinitas up further levels in the passions with its melodic rock and progressive metal narrative alongside absorbing technical imagination; the songwriting and track a ravishing exploration of exquisitely hued sounds and emotions.  The Signal climbs even deeper into the heart with its rhythmic and melodic incantation which caresses like a lover and enthrals like the fullest sunset. It is a brief rapturous encounter which leaves the sonic torrent of beauty and incitement that is Verum Infiniti to conclude a quite outstanding and enlivening album. Infinitas is a masterful encounter, a release which outshines the already high hopes and expectations which bred in thoughts before its arrival. Admittedly its middle passage slips below the extensive heights which top and tail the album but that is due to the pure excellence of the other tracks  and cannot prevent Circles providing yet again one of the most sensational and thrilling triumphs to grace ears.

http://circlesband.com

9/10

RingMaster 14/10/2013

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Bear – Noumenon

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Just when you think maybe you have heard the best the year has to offer, along comes a band like Bear to grip the imagination and passions by the throat, shake them rigorously until sense shows its teeth and then seduce to an even greater degree with sonic alchemy which leaves exhaustion and lust bred satisfaction raging rewards. Noumenon is the second album from the Belgium quartet, a release which ignites and fuses synapses with its bordering on psychotic mathcore and technical devilry. It has been a highly anticipated release but goes far beyond hopes and expectations those appetites will have had lying in wait, quite simply Noumenon is demonic genius.

Formed in 2010, the Antwerp-based foursome of vocalist Maarten Albrechts, guitarist Leander Verheyen Tsjakalov, bassist Dries Verhaert, and drummer Serch Carriere carve out new potent levels and mind altering creative temptations with their new album. Taking all the essences which have been spawned through previous releases starting with their self-released 5 track MCD Abstractions in their formative year, the band lends it to a greater corrosive and intensively invigorating scorching of the senses. Debut album Doradus of 2011 was the major seed which led to such a hunger for the new release along with its first single Wreckthings which preceded it. Both ignited the appetite and acclaim of media and fans worldwide and were followed by Bear stepping into bigger sized venues and recognition with shows alongside the likes of Periphery and within festivals such as Euroblast, Eierfest, and Groezrock. Released by Basick Records, Noumenon stalks and torments a new plateau of adventure and caustic brilliance to potentially steal end of year honours with insidious accomplishment and sinister ingenuity.

Opening track Boxer lurks in a reserved mist only allowing a singular guitar coaxing to wrap its tendril around the ear. It is soon Packshot 1500x1500welcoming a second strand of melodic acidity, again restrained and gentle in its touch though behind it there is a brewing presence and sinister electronic breath. Suddenly the song explodes into a tsunami of energy, rhythms cracking viciously on the ear whilst the guitars score and sear flesh though spirals of sonic fire and senses splicing corrosive predation. The vocals equally cut and scar though at times offering great melodic and harmonic mercury which makes for a mesmeric mellow union. The track is best described as The Dillinger Escape Plan and Kabul Golf Club meets Converge and The Fall Of Troy, though that only gives a whisper of the unique tempest of sound and invention working voraciously away and the psyche.

The brilliant start is soon matched by Mirrors, the track going straight for the jugular with crippling rhythms and bass rapaciousness coring another furnace of sonic irreverence and imagination soiling enterprise. Once again the vocals ignore predictability to squall and brawl within the song with the same passion and menacing invention as the sounds. Whether raging with antagonism or soothing the wound with harmonic craft, the vocals like the music are an evolving never settling torrent of flavours and energy. Across the track a punk scourge seems to tone the attack though it is just a spice to the unbridled twists of stance, technical conjuring, and time shifts. Like the album the song brings mathcore into a noise, djent, progressive metal maelstrom and emerges as something simply Bear.

Both Rain and The Falling Line snarl and spit out carnivorous toxicity which only seduces to greater depths, the first crafting an anthemic call to its venom and aggression whilst the second tunnels its way into the brain and stakes its territory with sonic weaves of twisted guitar animosity from within a wall of donkey punch raps upon the senses from the drums drawing unavoidable submission. Both are outstanding instigators of the passions and though debatably many of the tracks need a concentrated focus to discover all their nuances against each other, it is a rewarding endeavour which only increases the thrill of being the prey to the album’s hunt.

Mantiis unleashes a groove which is pure addiction, a hard rock teasing tightening its grip whilst vocally and through its contagion there is a familiarity which defines realisation as to the source. A major pinnacle of the album, the track is a storm of crescendos and climactic sonic insults which steals the breath and ardour with ease whilst laying down bait which lingers long after its passing of the fire to Aconite, a track starting with a somber invitation to emerge cobra like, swaying and growing its height into a hypnotic influence with a lethal acidic toxin and danger clad persuasion. The Fat Dukes of Fuck like in its diablerie, the track keeps Noumenon at its lofty height with grandeur and accomplished ease.

Through Centrefold and The Human Thing, the release and Bear strike with new ridiculously compelling and virulent suasion, the first of the two a mugging of the senses through a swarming attack which rather than picking certain targets just consumes and pressures in a blanket of intensity and creative sonic pestilence. There is a delicious blackened breath to the encroachment too whilst a Meshuggah like carnality of guitars and rhythms simply induces total slavery for its intensive landscape. Its successor is bred from the same beast and admittedly without attention the two can merge into each other but again the track is a bestial rabidity which leaves only exhausted pleasure in its tow.

Completed by the waspish swarming of L.A. Layer which chews and stings across its sultry atmosphere and inferno like landscape, and the wonderfully rabid and dramatically metallic Postbreaks where the chorus reminds of Sepultura though it’s a passing growl in one more fire-pit of an inventive scourge of sound, Noumenon is a riveting and senses frazzling treat which will demand contention in the awards giving come December and from a great many take titles.

https://www.facebook.com/bearpropaganda

10/10

RingMaster 08/10/2013

 

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Damned Spring Fragrantia – Divergences

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There are many adjectives you can place upon Divergences, the debut album from Italian metallers Damned Spring Fragrantia, but the most accurate one is without doubt, savage. The album is primal predator, relentless, creatively skilled in the hunt and kill, and completely fearless in the lengths it will go to devour and annihilate. The ten track album is a brutal exponent of progressive metalcore/technical violence and irresistibly compelling, even as it corrupts every atom and synapse with carnivorous ingenuity.

Formed in 2006, the Parma quintet initially was a metalcore/deathcore confrontation. Line-ups changes helped shape and guide the band to the sound they were looking for and destructively lays awaiting within the album. With an invigorating technical animosity and progressive imagination to the still ravaging metalcore intent their sound is a monstrous capture of the imagination and now unleashed to consume on the world via Basick Records, Divergences takes what was started on the previous self-titled EP of 2010 on to another level. If you wanted to know what standing in the way of a tornado was like than slap this album on at the highest decibel, the only difference between the pair of viciously twisting maelstroms is that there is no merciful eye of the storm within the album.

As you can probably guess listening to Divergences is not exactly an easy or pain free experience but the damage and discomfort bred by the inventive sounds and deeply malevolent corrosion is simply delicious. For many listening to tracks singularly might be more to their liking but daring to endure the whole release in one full consumption with the songs rolling without a breath into the next brings the biggest and devastatingly impacting rewards.

Damned Spring Fragrantia, and with a name like that you have to ask if the band are hay fever sufferers as that would explain their DSF_Divergences_Covermassive musical irritability, go straight for the throat with brief opener Still Alive. Once fully unleashed it unloads towering rhythms and rapacious riffing upon the ear, their eight stringed guitars gnawing away with full voracity and drums cascading down like lead weights, it all prowled by the guttural squalling of vocalist Nicolò Carrara. It is short but impressively potent easily igniting an appetite before making way for the following A Common Tragedy. The opening melodic acid scrub is ok but soon left in the shadow of the tsunami of sonic vengeance from the guitars of Andrea Tinelli and Enrico Picari to follow, their flesh ripping riffs and searing melodic acid as intriguing and skilful as it is voracious and intrusive. Alone this impresses but with the rabidity of the rhythms from drummer Nicolò Ballabeni and the bass of Luca Marchi adding their distinctive and insatiable imagination to the continually twisted and scorching enterprise the song just ignites the fullest passion, and fears.

As the brilliant and lethally addictive The Obsidian Fate, a track with a hornet persistence and sonic sting to its venomous carvings, the excellent oppression that is D.M.Z, and the synapse condemning Pariah, featuring Charlie Holmes the vocalist of Heart In Hand, lay out their inventive and insidious presences and all with devil bred imagination and grooves to steal souls, the album just persistently rises to higher levels of impressive ingenious sonic spitefulness. Admittedly the surface of songs come in a similar hostility which can see tracks merge into one and pass by without notice if given simple mild attention, but add extra intent to your focus then the creativity and craft beneath the sonic squall is open and quite scintillating, it just demands extra work to fully discover.

The likes of Lost Shores, the rancour driven sonic toxin that is Drowned in Cyan, and the ravaging title track continue to bruise and sear the senses welcomingly whilst The Refusal Effect brings another immense highlight with its contagious melodic deception teasing whilst riffs and rhythms chew up and spit out thoughts and emotions with a technical vitriol and discord fuelled intensity. Imagine Meshuggah, Despised Icon, and the recently demised Livarkahil conspiring to leave your body devoid of hope and life and you get a sense of what Damned Spring Fragrantia staggeringly conjure.

With one final staggering inventive vendetta uncaged to close up the assault as the thrilling enmity that is Heritage, Damned Spring Fragrantia has unleashed not only one of the most exhausting and best debuts of the year so far but one of the best albums full stop. Divergences is plain nasty and strikingly intoxicating with its sonic and virulently malicious fumes.

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9/10

RingMaster 24/06/2013

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Glass Cloud: The Royal Thousand

A sonic explosion to exhilarate and enrapture every sense and thought the debut album from US band Glass Cloud is quite simply stunning. It is an enveloping maelstrom of persuasive emotive atmospheres and a storm of dehabilitating aggression brought with an imagination and technical ingenuity to leave one in awe. When you have a band consisting of a great vocalist like former Sky Eats Airplane and Of Mice & Men frontman Jerry Roush, inventive and expressive guitarist Joshua Travis of The Tony Danza Tap Dance Extravaganza, and the supreme rhythmic prowess of bassist Travis Sykes and drummer Chad Hasty, you expect something good to come out of their union. Whether you could have imagined something as staggering as The Royal Thousand is debatable but their collective creativity has certainly given birth to something simply immense, a true colossus of a release.

Released through Equal Vision Records in the US and Basick Records in Europe, The Royal Thousand stretches then manipulates the ear and beyond from the first breath of opener White Flag. As guitars conjure heated weaves within the ear and Roush brings his usual impressive mix of strong vocals, the song spirals with majestic craft and incendiary energy to greater heights. The intensity it brews twists and grips tighter to evolve into a disarming rage of disrupted rhythms and blistering riffs within a warm sonic soaked ambience. It is majestic yet only an understated sample of what is ahead.

The following If He Dies, He Dies from an emotive caressing of the ear stalked by an intimidating air erupts into a thoroughly intrusive provocation of metallic fingerings from the guitars alongside rhythms leaving knees like jelly. The fusion of sonic and heated beauty with safety destroying corruptive intensity is beyond acclaim; the track is pure poetic violence and alone makes claims for Glass Cloud as the true masters of your senses.

Track after track the quality and invention is unrelenting, the likes of the quite brilliant Ivy & Wine an example of the continual ingenious dark enterprise leaving only numbed devastation in its melodic scathing wake. Even the melodic beauty of instrumental Prelude For A Ghost is brought with an eerie ambience to leave one looking over their shoulder.  Midway through The Royal Thousand and the opening song seems long in the past and against what impressively followed it seems almost ordinary in comparison though that is not a word one can truly use in any real context in regard to the release.

The mesmeric creative chaos of She Is Well And Nothing Can Be Ill takes the senses on a controlled yet perpetually evolving disrupting journey whilst the following Counting Sheep rampages in corners of the heart and emotions you never knew existed with phenomenal technical guitar intrusions within an atmosphere which colours thoughts and feelings with every hue of bruising.

Closing on firstly the dark hearted Memorandum whose opening passion and play is as hypnotic a piece as you can find anywhere and finally the outstanding From May To Now, the album is pure excellence veined with brilliance. Heavily and skilfully textured The Royal Thousand brings a new and deeper experience with each immersion into its pulsating fresh magnificence and malevolent aggression. Glass Cloud leaves you on your knees but also in total bliss.

RingMaster 27/06/2012

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7 Horns 7 Eyes: Throes of Absolution

The release of a three track digital EP in the shape of Convalescence last year from Seattle melodic/progressive death metalers 7 Horns 7 Eyes inspired much anticipation for their debut album Throes of Absolution. The trio of songs on the release showed the band had evolved in sound and might into a formidable and thoughtful band in craft, songwriting, and the bringing of those into an aural reality. The long awaited album more than confirms this and fulfils all the enthused eagerness that the EP spawned. Impressive, powerful, and imaginatively constructed it is a mighty and thrilling release, its open and undeniable glories far outweighing any negatives of which there are very few.

Formed in 2006 the band first drew attention with their self released debut EP from fans, media, and other musicians equally, especially from now ex-Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis who makes a guest appearance on Throes of Absolution. The sounds on the album are a long way from the early music from the band, their ability and skills let alone ideas having evolved and matured in the subsequent years. The recording of the album did not run smoothly though with a change in frontman meaning all the album vocals had to be re-recorded by new singer JJ “Shiv” Polachek. Finally though the album is unleashed via Basick Records and it more than builds on and expands the promise and hopes instigated by the earlier release.

     Throes of Absolution is not the easiest of albums to get to grips with, it is a demanding beast with depths that require and deserve full focus and time to explore and be consumed by. There is never a moment where the release goes for the instant and easy connection, the band only intent on making music that has an atmosphere and breath of its own. The album is almost like an immense groan, the release of dark and ominous emotions in the shape of intense and weighty riffs, threatening yet controlled rhythms, and melodies that burn as they light up the senses. The release feels alive in itself not merely from the skilled musicianship of the band and the energy they give to it. It is because of this the album is a challenge that confronts all before it and is all the more impressive for it. Some may have to take it in bits or stages but the rewards for the endeavour are immense.

From the opening beckoning almost peaceful beginning of Divine Amnesty the album wraps itself around the ear before bursting from within with thunderous rhythms, a predatory bass, and guitars that weave sonic colours and passions upon the senses. As the track flexes and reveals its muscular strengths the band brings emotive melodic imagination and manipulations to alternately sooth and further scorch the bruising caused by the intense sounds that surround them. Vocalist Polachek and his delivery are bestial; a black hearted growling creature all on their own that add to the dramatic and deepness of the song.

Each track that follows is wonderfully varied but within the same structure shown on the first, the brutality going hand in hand with the marked and intrusive yet mesmeric melodic invention and presence. Phumis: The Falsehood of Affliction alongside the likes of The Hill Difficulty and Delusions with its perfect mix of warm light and invasive dark, all turn listening into an experience involving passions, thought, and a deliberate submission before the invading extensive sounds. Throughout the band shows their obvious and controlled ability, the guitars of Aaron Smith and Sean Alf making each note and riff an exploration and satisfying experience for the listener whilst the bass of Brandon Smith prowls with a menace and bulky pulse alongside. The drums of Ryan Wood are excellent throughout too, the guy knowing exactly when to pummel and smash through the ear and when to bring vibrant restraint. The production of guitarist Smith has to be commended highly too; he allows each component of the band to have a clarity and depth without interfering with the overall intensity and organic flow of the songs.

Many of the track almost lumber across the senses but as a personal preference it is when the band raise the tempo and energy that they find even greater heights. Cycle of Self first shows this with its eager rampage, feisty riffs and merciless initial march whilst the guitars throw cascades of melodic expression down amongst the debris. The song does slow its stride as it progresses to evolve into a different but still impressive track. Vindicator is the best song on the album and again a raised energy within it takes it above the other fine tracks. The intrusive riffs and sonically sharp guitar creativity its offers is a seamless blend of opposing diversity from the flowing melodic elegance and crushing heavy dark aggression. Mesmeric and at times hypnotic the track is dangerous and irresistible.      

     Throes of Absolution is one of the best albums out so far this year and for those who want more than simply being crushed and barracked without any depth it is a must investigation. It is not perfect with the excellent vocals of Polachek lacking a distinct variation, whether the song is a long crawl or an intense rummage through the senses he stays within his own strong but similar delivery. The only other comment that can be made is that not everyone will or want to take on the challenge of delving deeper to find the rewarding treasures beneath the surface assault but it is doubtful the band really care about that and why should they as7 Horns 7 Eyes has created a great and impressive album for us to revel in it.

Ringmaster 20/04/2012

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