Echoes – The Pursuit

 

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Whether the music or band name came first is something to ask in the future but certainly the sonic tempest of sound which progressive hardcore/post metal band Echoes casts over air, senses, and emotions is a resonating and lingering incitement which leaves little room for respite in its oppressively smothering presence. The Pursuit, the debut album from the UK quintet, thrusts the band into the imagination and mistrust though the latter is not a concern for the undoubted technical and imaginative craft of the band or of their emotively intrusive exploration, just a wariness of the damage the erosive might and intrusive rabidity of the release is treating senses and psyche to The ten track immersion is not an easy listen at times, not a merciful encounter which allows senses to breath and regain a foothold in its caustically acidic soundscape, but one which captivates with just a few reservations.

Taking inspirations from the likes of Devil Sold His Soul through to Hans Zimmer, Echoes emerged in 2010 with the intent ‘to create a sound that is entirely true to them’. Undertaking a gigging regime as intensive as their sound, the band has played around the UK and Europe numerous times, taking in over 150 shows and sharing stages with bands such as Devil Sold His Soul, Feed The Rhino, Heights, and Our People Vs Yours along the way. Intensively created across time and effort, The Pursuit lays down a potent marker and imprint as the band forges another potent step in their ascent. It is a sonically carnivorous encounter, one with a hunger which consumes with little consideration for emotional relief in its recipients but one which even in its suffocating dark depths infuses a melodic hope and positivity, just no respite.

Opener Empty Lungs has no care for a gentle coaxing into its maelstrom of enslaving textures and atmospheric voracity, the guitars of FRONT Packcover (hi-res)Angus Cadden and Karl Koch an immediate grazing courted by the intimidating throat of the bass of Steve Tolloczko and the predatory rhythmic challenge of Oliver Todd. The sonic submergence is like a free fall for the senses until they reach the passionate raw squalls of vocalist Joshua Thurbin where intensity engulfs before spreading out into more restrained but just as intrusively testing scenery. The slow immersive crawl of the track which takes over is as magnetic as the previous vitriolic incitement was violently bracing, their subsequent merging a stimulating canvas for imagination and emotions to place their own narrative before being dosed in that provided by Thurbin. It is an exacting experience but one, which as the album, over time unveils the richest persuasion and understanding upon the emotions.

As the first track drifts away the following Leaving None Behind flows in, a commanding but respectful acridity wrapping ears before the raising of an intensive temperature which itself flows into another melodic caress with sinister shadows. Again the track takes time to share all of its rewards but does so eventually as the guitars and rhythms sculpt a powerfully evocative landscape to ponder and explore. The following title track is similarly a long term investigation and journey but one which mentally ignites thoughts and feelings as rigorously as it does physically. Like the album, it is impossible not to fall into the immersive ambient depths of the song even as the sonic endeavour sears and scars.

Both Honour Lost and Rivers takes things up another level, or is that down, to darker intimidating corners; the first a bordering on anthemic engagement of group calls vocally aligned to an imaginative and harsh traverse of raw climates whilst its successor provides an initially muscular confrontation which evolves  impressively into an expanse of crystalline intrigue and shimmer mystique within a rhythmic sky which is always mere seconds from inviting a fury of vocal angst and voracious sonic design. The pair are the most potent and thrilling provocations stretching the already accomplished thought and passion of the band musically and emotionally.

As stated The Pursuit is not the most painless proposition, though there is never a second where adventure and unpredictability do not reign, but there are elements which prevent it scaling the heights of personal acclaim which it could have deserved. The lacking of truly memorable moments other than the just mentioned songs does leave it standing out against other contenders, as does the fact that it is easy to lose yourself within its familiarity s at times songs are hard to distinguish from others without purposeful attention.  Also the vocals of Thurbin make the release a struggle at times as in For What It’s Worth and the beginning of the following and thrilling Wooden Hearts as examples. Certainly his delivery and craft is impressive and potent to match the fire of the music and invention, but without a lack of diversity, only occasional additional group additives giving that, it does leave that part of songs a little one dimensional though certainly also passion drenched. It does not prevent the album from stirring up appetite and eager emotions for itself though.

Safe it Seems bursts in next to rage and snarl at the senses, anger and reflection soaking every syllable and note within another pleasing tempestuous range of piercing sonic peaks and lush melodic hues. Its drama clad presence is instantly tempered by the opening ambient caress and floating melancholia of Navigate, the piece a vision inspiring instrumental with scathing edges to its elegant beauty. It is the one time the album allows breathing to be engaged in without a savage incursion; that left to the closing See & Believe to explore within its emotively intense and creatively vibrant body. It is a powerful finale to a striking full debut. There are elements where the release could have truly stolen the passions and misses out but The Pursuit still leaves you eager to invest in its consumptive depths, even if nervously, and push Echoes into a band to fully recommend.

http://www.weareechoes.com/

7.5/10

RingMaster 24/03/2014

 

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Black Polaris – Life/Death EP

Blk Polaris

Following the impressive inventive and technically destructive furies of second album Empires of 2011 and the Envisage EP the following year, all expectations were that UK metalcore band Black Polaris would become one of the prominent forces within the country’s extreme metal scene. Awareness wise that has not quite happened yet for the inventive Royston, Herts quintet but on the evidence of their new EP Life/Death, the band are still on course to achieve that musically whilst such its new breath of technical and melodic temptation not to forget its violent voraciousness the other aspect should soon follow. The EP shows the band has matured and expanded their creative passion and craft with no expense to their renowned hostile aggressiveness and confrontational fire. It is another mighty treat from the band and possibly overall their best offering yet.

Formed in 2009, Black Polaris have fought through the usual obstacles laid before bands, line-up changes, lack of finances etc. continuing to evolve into a stronger more determined creative force. This has seen them earn acclaim not only for their previous releases but equally stage performances which has placed the band alongside bands such as Martyr Defiled, Eternal Lord, Seven Year Kismet, Devil Sold His Soul, This Is Colour, Eradication and many more as well as successful shows and tours across the UK. The five piece storm of vocalist Sam Burgess, guitarists Paul Futter and Gaz Groombridge, bassist Luke Jackson, and drummer Neil Prenty, now unleash their new furnace of intensity and provocative antagonism, a release which confirms all the earlier promise and declarations placed before the band whilst carving out another depth of texture and imagination to their caustic presence.

The title track intro open up the release, a sampled drama making an intriguing entrance to the quarrelsome encounter whilst into its a1409551889_2stride the track is a commanding enforcement upon the ear and senses with the almost convulsive rhythmic and riff attack a jagged seizure of attention and instant hunger. At less than three minutes, which includes the opening narrative the only complaint is that the compelling starter feels over before it begins and the wish it had been a fully-fledged assault strong, though admittedly soon forgotten once S.I.M consumes the ear with its initial sinister ambience erupting into a furnace of crippling rhythms behind a tempest of passionate melodic endeavour and sonic fire, all thrust home upon the ever squalling vocal venom of Burgess. The ambience of keys brings a warm almost soothing wash within the continually searing heat and spite of the song whilst as expected the band unveil a technically accomplished scythe of sound and imaginative fire, it keeping them still within comparisons to the likes of Meshuggah and In Flames.

Taken emerges next, again an evocative ambience caresses thoughts whilst a lone guitar designs a narrative within the atmospheric suggestion of an impending force, which is realised as the track expands its welcome and muscular arms into a magnetic maelstrom of corrosive vocals and belligerent rhythms courted by the rapacious jaws of guitar incitement and oppressive intensity.  Futter and Groombridge light up the track, sonic fascination honed into shards of melodic flame seduction within the persistently doom laden weighty breath of the song. A refined mix aflame between the extremes of death metal voracity and progressive metal temptation, the track without stealing the passions like others on the release leaves an enthralling touch on the senses.

The rabid Lost Souls is a monster of bestial predation, riffs and rhythms a pillaging provocateur of fear and intimidation whilst the carnally bred technical prowess shown is pure serpentine malevolence disguised as sirenesque mesmerism. Burgess ably backed by the vocals of Groombridge, rages with the deepest toxicity of spite and maliciousness to be found on the EP whilst musically the track is a juggernaut of a storm, the heaviest turbulent slab of anger on Life/Death and its pinnacle. Everything about it from the unpredictable sonic majesty and the ferocity of guitar, the blood and guts bass and drum entrapment through to the uncompromising vocals, the song is simply outstanding.

The release closes with The Tyrant, a truculent frenzied quarrel with the force and unbridled brawn of a bear and the sonic beauty and severity of a tornado. Again though, it is only part of the picture, Black Polaris veining it with a glowing seduction of melodic and progressively charmed elegance brought from a craft and imagination which simply captures the imagination. It completes in Life/Death, a release which finds the band at its most creative and exploratory but still within the enslaving grip of its equally impressive annihilatory temper. Thoughts are still debating if the EP is the best thing the band has done but it is certainly right up there whilst poking those same ideas with an even greater promise and assumption that Black Polaris will be one of the most potent forces in UK metal.

https://www.facebook.com/blackpolarisuk

8/10

RingMaster 08/08/2013

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ElevenEleven: Life EP

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The Life EP is a delicious emotive storm of post hardcore from a band which has already garnered strong acclaim and support since forming in 2009. From the North East of Scotland, ElevenEleven has taken a major step forward from already impressive earlier releases with their new EP to give the genre in the UK a new tempest of creativity. It is an expansive mass of passion which without inventing new tools uses existing genre weaponry to fresh and adventurous heights.

Since their first days the quintet has shared stages with the likes of Lower Than Atlantis, Flood of Red, Heights, The Elijah and Don Broco, made their own successful national tours, and released to acclaimed reactions the Memoirs (Part One) EP in 2010 and a two track release The Light/Dark Sessions in 2011. Last year though was one which brought a few obstacles the way of the Aberdeen band in the shape of serious illness, a line-up change and the subsequent collapse of their intended second EP. The band has on the evidence of Life though emerged a greater and even more imaginative force and by marking their return with the EP as a free download, has opened one expects the doors to greater recognition.

Life is seemingly inspired by the previous months for the band, its themes of love, loss and life trials maybe not directly reflective but coverit feels as if it is charged and emotionally sculpted by events. It is an atmospheric wrap with is intrusive and weighty whilst offering a captivating shadowed beauty. As the release agreeably scores the senses the obvious comparison is Deftones but to that you can add essences of Funeral For A Friend, Thrice and Devil Sold His Soul, with dark whispers of muse and Incubus for extra spice. It is a dense engagement lit by melodic invention and sonic skill, and an encounter which as soon as Lost unleashes its passionate heart finds a fulfilling connection to the listener. The opener stages a dramatic initial contact with bruising rhythms from the drums of Ross Senkbeil and the intimidating bassline of Stuart Ritchie within caustic flames of guitar from Eliot Leonard and Euan Wilson. It is a striking start which with the entrance of the fine vocals of Chris Spencer entwines and exchanges its intense gait with another of smouldering mellow ambience, the ‘respite’ itself also carrying a charge of passion which ignites thoughts.

The following Iscariot offers a similar stance though is still distinct in presence, soaking one in further intensity and thick melancholy to challenge and reward equally. As with the first, it is a song with a haunting shout to its voice and a coarse defiance which erupts in scowls of vocal rage at times alongside the increasing impressiveness of Spencer. At this point as one wonders if the whole release would offer a similar breath to is passion, the band shifts into a harsher aggressive tact with The Other Side. The song is an energetic badgering of the ear with an irresistible groove and questioning air. It is an excellent provocation which shows another side to the band whilst stretching their invention and skills in a new direction. Probably the most accessible of all the tracks it leaves one glowing in satisfaction to the same depths of the previous songs but with an openly different aspect.

The release is completed by the expressive rich sonics of Chemical Dreams and the slowly emerging passion of The Ocean. Both songs again venture down new soundscapes and songwriting craft whilst making seamless connections to the other tracks. The latter is a rising torrent of emotion which like the subject of the title ebbs and flows, rises and sweeps over the senses in powerful waves. It is an exceptional end to an excellent release which at times makes you work with it to discover all its wonders but ensures only a wealth of pleasure in return.

ElevenEleven provide something fresh and inventive to a genre which has seen many new bands step forward this year, but this quintet is the one you feel will go the furthest.

Grab the Life EP for free @ http://officialeleveneleven.bandcamp.com/album/life-ep

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RingMaster 13/12/2012

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Lay Siege – Obolus

In what has been a constant stream of British metalcore and extreme metal releases so far this year Obolus the debut mini album from UK metalers Lay Siege, emerges as one of the most impressive. Though the release does not breakout with anything truly stunning, it powerfully indicates greater promise ahead and stands as a strongly enjoyable and commanding release which is heads above a great many of the similar veined releases to appear over the past few months.

Northampton based quartet Lay Siege since forming in 2010, have taken no time in becoming a force in the Midlands underground metal scene lighting up stages alongside bands like Devil Sold His Soul, Feed the Rhino, ACODA, Heart of a Coward, Carcer City, and While She Sleeps. This year will see them venturing further throughout the UK and into Europe which with the release of Obolus as their newest part of their armoury, makes it not beyond expectations to imagine them rising and growing higher in stature.

Obolus certainly marks them as a band with real strength in their sound and songwriting. As mentioned the release gives the suggestion of promise and greater things ahead but it is impossible not to recognise the musicianship and craft going on already. Starting with Explorer the album confronts the senses with towering riffs and titanic rhythms linked by intricate yet unexaggerated technical ability. The opener bundles through the ear with a greed and power to leave one gasping. The track is not rippling with originality but has a freshness and vibrancy which is open. Musically the song skirts through multiples avenues of ideas without lingering in any to make an unpredictable riot of sound.

The following storm The Ferryman worries and oppresses the bruises caused by its predecessor whilst treating the ear to further inventive melodic and imaginative creativity of the band. It attacks in a similar vein but with good variation under its surface to make for another excellent three minutes. Many have accused the release of having too much similarity across its length and one can understand that with the overall bruising encounter it offers but that just makes for an album which needs closer attention and focus than most to find its rewards and bubbling invention beneath the storm.

Snarling Teeth prowls and taunts the ear with more explosive rhythms from drummer Lewis Niven and hungry basslines from Dave Bartlett. The track has a Pantera/sludge groan to its weight which ignites a deeper infection, the vocals of Konrad Barrick splattering the ear with bile and tortured expression alongside the taunting mesmeric dark shadowed play of guitarist Jamie Steadman. All the songs loiter around the three minute mark and work well at that length, punchy and crisp in presence but this is the one time one groans as it lays down its last note, the pleasure it brings making one not only wanting but needing it to linger around much longer. The song confirms the thought that the delivery of Barrick maybe lacks enough diversity across the seven tracks, great though he is, but it is a minor issue here with the qualities of the songs but ahead might become a problem for some but we will see.

Glitches and Wastelands continue the bombardment and explosive engagement with equally impressive effect, the band showing further skill and spread of good ideas to their music. The dexterity and thought shown by the band in all aspects is striking and sets the band apart from other new extreme metal bands.

Obolus is a definite grower, a release which consumes and evolves within the affections at a slower rate than most but to a deeper effect. After a few plays the release drew full praise but as the album exposed its might more and more that positivity grew in to a full affection. Yes the album has limitations and hides its individualism a little too deeply but it also marks Lay Siege as a band with a mighty future if they progress and explore themselves even deeper.

Closing with the combative Solitary Confinement further crushing the senses, Obolus is a fine and impressive debut. Lay Siege is a band on the rise and we for one cannot wait for their next assault.

www.facebook.com/laysiege

RingMaster 01/08/2012

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Black Polaris: Envisage EP

Hold onto all loosely attached articles or hairpieces ladies and gentlemen because if you thought the album Empires from Black Polaris of last year was a staggering storm upon your senses the return of the band with their Envisage EP is going to leave you deliriously wasted. The UK melodic death metal quintet have without doubt moved on from being something already special to set themselves at the dawn of becoming a major force in certainly extreme if not metal as a whole within these shores. Their new release shows a band just as devastating and aggressive as ever if not more so but with a certain evolution in the imagination and craft of their already impressive melodic invention.

Since 2009 the band has only accumulated more and more acclaim and an eager ever growing following though their releases  like debut album This City Falls and Empires plus explosive live performances which has seen them setting nothing but impressive statements alongside the likes of Martyr Defiled, This Is Colour, Eradication, Devil Sold His Soul, and Seven Year Kismet. A band with a work ethic as strong as their sounds they have been through the likes of line-up changes and financial difficulties which are never far away from independent and unsigned bands, using these setbacks to fire up their energies and defiance. The new EP has been no different with the departure of their drummer just before its release and a string of shows. Thankfully the band find the resolve to continue each time and as Envisage easily proves just get better and better.

From the early weaves of the opening title track there is undeniable evidence that Black Polaris has found even more depth to their sound and creativity. The track instantly grabs synapses and senses pulling them taught with spiralling corruptive riffs alongside air twisting sonic manipulation. The guitars of Paul Futter and Gaz Groombridge litter and splatter the ear with enterprise and aural spite for a mesh of Meshuggah and In Flames whilst creating a sound unique to Black Polaris, the band without doubt now having found their distinct identity. The rhythms of bassist Luke Jackson prowl with a further air of menace to that generated by the intensity whilst the drums batter with skill and controlled violence. Vocalist Sam Burgess simply boils the atmosphere with his caustic and bullying tones, his delivery not the most varied if one is honest but easily one of the most welcome and riveting of the emerging British metal front men in recent years and a perfect aggressor to enforce the powerful songwriting.

The mesmeric melodic breath of the following Power, Corruption is a startling intro to the track and immediately brings a deeper focus to what is going on especially with this continuing harmonic beauty underlining the blistering assault raging within the ear from then on in. The track is a fiery weave of twisting imagination and scorched exploratory sounds. Even after numerous plays one never gets a full handle on where the song is going so each venture across its oppressive expanse is fully rewarding and surprising.

Oblivion and Mountains originally had a place on Empires but both make an easy and impressive entry in their new guises on Envisage. The first is a rampant beast of a track, its flank rippling with heavyweight sinews of expressive energy and treacherous riffs. Like an aural sand storm with heated atmospheres of melodic venom the song is immense but then one has to say that about each and every song on the EP. The second of the pair is a less direct aggressor though no less oppressive whilst its incendiary breath ignites the air with a malevolent dynamism and spite.

Valleys has the honour of closing the stunning release and does so with no drop in intensity and quality. As ever the band is merciless seizing the senses to sand blast them with stone borne riffs and a scything melodic courting which scars as deeply as it hypnotises. Ferocious and unwilling to compromise the song is brilliance in its cruellest form and ends what is a stunning magnificent onslaught.

Envisage EP is one of the best releases to appear so far this year but more so is the mightiest declaration that in Black Polaris extreme metal has an emerging force to take the genre to future untold heights. This is a band and release which should not be neglected by any metal fan so to buy or stream for free check it out at http://blackpolaris.bandcamp.com/right now.

RingMaster 24/07/2012

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Save Your Grace – The Arms Of Idiocy

There has been a great and deeply promising burst of new British metal/Hardcore/metalcore type bands forcing their way to bigger attention and focus this year with the likes of Adelphia Of Kings, Doomed From Day One, and Gacy’s Threads, all make their distinctive deeply scarring mark on UK metal with sounds to crush and inspire. Another band to be solidly added to this impressive bunch is Birmingham band Save Your Grace. Their new EP The Arms Of Idiocy the overwhelming and perfect evidence as to why they should and will be one of the future forces in UK metal.

The quintet from the Midlands first made their appearance in 2010 and continued through hard work and shows to increase a more than ardent following. A full UK tour and the sharing of stages with the likes of Devil Sold His Soul, While She Sleeps, Martyr Defiled, Heights, Silent Screams and many more has only gone to make the band one of the more exiting certainties to break big for a great growing many. It will be with this their second EP that most positive damage will be done as its intense muscular charms spread wide and far.

Consisting of Dazz Jones, Luke Sheppard, Joe Geach, Dan Morris, and Eddy Geach, Save Your Grace have unleashed an EP of five tracks fuelled by uncompromising might and deliberately malevolent intent that will inflame a great many metallic hearts. The EP is raw and in need of a fuller and more rounded production to fully meet its potential but despite this it is a mighty and impressive debut any band would be proud of.

The release starts laying waste to the senses with ‘Intensity’, its senses shattering riffs and consuming rhythms an instant satisfaction upon demanding ears. The guitars grind and groove deeply into flesh as destructively as the heavy riffs crumble defences. The grating growls are harsh and venomous and even the appearance of clean vocals midway carry a sinister tone to their harmonies.

Next track named ‘Interlude’ shows the melodic skill and creativity of the band, its incisive and emotive guitar sounds making the two minute instrumental a mesmeric piece and subtle lead into next song ‘Limitless’. Though not as instantly addictive as the other songs this third song is a menacingly lumbering track veined by scorching guitar play and caustic vocals showing just how well the band can vary their sound.

The title track is the real standout moment. Bursting in on a cutting groove and senses wilting riffs coupled with acidic threats and brutality posing as vocals, it is an impressively persuasive and compelling song that is as vibrant as it is intense. Though the band is still in its informative musical years this of all the songs shows why the promise and acclaim coming their way is so strong. Creative , diverse and unrelenting it with a warm welcome lingers in the ear and head long after it lays down its last thoughtful note.

As mentioned the production is lacking a little preventing the full effect of the band’s sound to truly numb its recipients. The hollow tones especially on the vocals is a shame as is the fact the drums sound held back far more than personally is preferred, but the music and quality still shines through with great effect. The Arms Of Idiocy  gives all the evidence and belief that Save Your Grace will turn into one of the bands whose strength and ability will guide British metal to greater heights in the near and future times ahead. With bands like this UK’s extreme metal future is in safe hands.

Download ‘The Arms Of Idiocy’ for free @  http://www.mediafire.com/?kt5uuo1o2p4m7s5

RingMaster 28/11/2011

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