Australasia – Vertebra

Australasia - Vertebra - Cover

Lifting the listener’s thoughts and imagination into an expansive and emotional almost visual flight through an ever evolving soundscape broken up into smaller evocative sceneries, Vertebra the new album from Italian band Australasia is one of those absorbing emprises you just cannot pull away. Ten tracks of predominantly instrumental merging of post rock, shoegaze, classic electronica, and enthralling ambience, the release is a masterful and compelling adventure. There is though much more substance than that description suggests, flavours and styles bred elsewhere seamlessly employed in the melodic web cast, and when vocals are rarely used they are more another texture to the creative narrative than any lyrical storytelling. The album as skilful and magnetic as it is equally suggests this is a project still in evolution with greater glories waiting on its horizon, something which just adds to the pleasure bred by Australasia.

The band is the creation of multi-instrumentalist Gian Spalluto who has linked up with Mina Carlucci and Giuseppe Argentiero of fellow Italian band Vostok. Touched by influences which include the likes of Red Sparowes, At the Gates, Joy Division, This Will Destroy You, Angelo Badalamenti, Mogwai, Pelican, Ennio Morricone, Cult of Luna and more, the band provides emotive landscapes and mesmeric incites which never restrain themselves musically or imaginatively to any singular intent or limiting frame. Australasia’s debut release, the Sin4tr4 EP of 2012, opened up the gateway to the band and its invention which the Immortal Frost Productions released Vertebra continues with striking strides into the awakening imagination and aural world of the band.

The journey opens with Aorta and a guitar cast melody which as the album progresses is a regular protagonist if in varying guises and intent. It is a mellow coaxing of a start to the song which gathers intensity in its breath as it opens up its creatively sinewed arms and melodic armoury. Hitting full stride early there is a tempestuous union of post rock provocation and metallic sculpting which flows and moves towards a stretch of sonic beauty and evocative reserve. Impressive rhythms and drums steer the enterprising exploration superbly and the guitar play is quite riveting across the body of the song. In its final thirty seconds or so the track unveils a union of male and female vocal harmonies which provides a last wash of warmth and elegance to the impressively crafted flight.

The following Vostok immediately offers a vintage electronica sound to thoughts though it is soon smothered by a strong cloud of sonic shadows and blackened emotion. The song undulates thrillingly as it progresses, big mountainous rhythms and textures mingled fluidly with tender elegance and those returning electronic caresses before dissipating for a lone acoustic guitar to wave the dark climes away. It is a track which seems to pass so quickly in time and though almost four minutes in length its successor Zero is soon feeding the senses and providing another heady structure of melodic imagination and rhythmic incitement. Not for the first or last time, the music reminds a little of The Cure around the time of the Seventeen Seconds /Faith albums, a shadowed energy coating the air of the song but speared by a melodic beauty which only raises the spirit and light.

Next up Aura roams through a more electro pop /shoegaze realm with eighties synth pop flavouring, though yet again there are intimidating resonances and dark clad tempting which tempers the radiance enough to add wonderful doubt and menace to the calm. The track also sees the captivating voice of Carlucci swarm siren like over the senses. Lyrically the track is uncluttered with effective repetition whilst gentle soaring harmonies make the prime successful persuasion. Like all the tracks, the song seems simple but holds a real deception as everything is so precisely and imaginatively woven together. The closing vocal scat does not quite work for personal tastes but it does not deflect from the smouldering piece of enjoyment.

Both the melodically flamed but intensively blackened Antenna, one of two tracks on the album taken from the earlier EP, and the excellent towering bulgingly muscular Volume continue the impressive height and stature of the album whilst the title track provides a pleasing short Spring respite with expressive tones and soft weaves, even if it feels a little like an anti-climax from the immense and lofty force and heights carved previously.

The second track from Sin4tr4 steps forward next. Apnea provides a reflective blend of imposing density and melancholic beauty wrapped in another bewitching vocal wash from Carlucci and an electro courting which pokes light through the cloudier ambience. It is a delicious embrace which makes way for the bordering on corrosive presence of Deficit. Scuzzy and thickly bonded to the ears, the track thrillingly riles up the senses but then before they can accept the intimidation the piece twists in on itself to lay a beauteous glaze of melodic endeavour on the incitement. It is a short but scintillating piece of composing and realisation waking up the appetite even further for the closing seven minute plus epic of Cinema. Arguably the track is a shade too long but it is a mere quibble when it makes such a compelling temptation across its emotionally clad presence.

Vertebra is a spellbinding release though to temper that slightly maybe it does not ignite a fire in the belly of the passions as often as it arguably could or should have, though again to put that into context, it is fair and easy to say that Australasia has created an adventure which is impossible to resist or stay away from. The band has the potential to create their own legacy you feel as their album permeates through thoughts and emotions, Vertebra a very striking start.


RingMaster 08/01/2014

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Rhoda May – Sessions

Rhoda May Online Promo Shot

    The info sheet accompanying the promo for Sessions, the debut EP from UK progressive rock instrumentalists Rhoda May, waxes lyrical about band and it has to be said that after being washed over by its absorbing potency and imaginative aural narratives the release offers, you can only agree with rather than doubt the claims made. The six track release is a magnetic slice of sonic majesty, a sextet of songs which tease and ignite the imagination without ever over doing anything. The tracks tempt and hint rather than paint exact pictures and with an uncluttered sinewed beauty only seduce the imagination and passions to a full acceptance and hunger for EP and band.

    The Surrey trio of guitarist Will Pain, bassist Andy Page, and drummer Mark Sanger originally conceived the idea of Rhoda May mid-2012 but it was not until last year that the long-time friends officially formed the band after a local venue promoter who happened to overhear the band rehearsing asked them to support UK hip hop/metal pioneers Senser. From that debut show the threesome has gone on to support the likes of Heights, Freeze The Atlantic, and Three Trapped Tigers, all the time increasing their emerging presence. Their first release consists of the 347 and 589 live sessions recorded with producer Jason Wilson (We Are The Ocean, Reuben, Dinosaur Pile Up) and James Kirk respectively. All tracks were recorded as live takes for a series of live videos filmed & directed by Emma Dalesman and now get their appearance together as an EP release, six songs which cast a mouth-watering adventure of modern rock.

     All the tracks upon Sessions are simply numbered which allows the listener to interpret the songs without any prompting or Rhoda May - Cover Artworknudging which even a song title can do; the slices of absorbing creative invention the only persuasion  upon thoughts and emotions. As opener #3 strolls into view with the guitar of Pain jangling seductively around the ear as the gentle rhythmic incitement of Sanger coaxes equal attention, there is an instantaneous connection as a familiarity and mesmeric bait washes the senses. The bass of Page offers a no less potent lure, again with an initial reserve and provocative tone which sparks attention. There is a surf rock essence to the melodic guitar sculpting throughout which is an easy appetiser but it is merely one spice in the melodic rock enticement emerging tantalisingly. Overall the track is a flight through rugged yet radiant climes and textures, never so thick in sounds and structures to threaten or slow its fluidity and riveting adventure but using the simplicity that a mere three instruments can produce to transfix and almost belie the undoubted craft and intensively shaped enterprise.

    It is a masterful start soon equalled by the scorched sonic landscape of #4, a track which smoulders with heavy rock rapaciousness whilst conjuring a melodic luminance which sways and bewitches like a fire bred temptress. As with its predecessor the piece is unafraid to slow its muscular power to offer tender superbly crafted enticements or once comfortable licking and teasing the passions to rile things up and open the gates to another surge of sonically forging metallic endeavour.

     Both #7 and #5 continue the powerfully impressive entrance of release and band, the first an evocative melodically poetic piece of predacious rock which delivers a slight eighties goth rock breath to the guitar whilst the latter is a scuzz kissed fuzz rock persuasion to eagerly indulge in and imaginatively contemplate. As mentioned earlier there is at times a familiarity which coats elements and passages of tracks, this pair being no exception, but it only adds to the strength and colour of the tracks as they spark mind and passions with their delicious bait and rigorous creative charm.

      #8 takes the listener by the hand and leads them into a compelling soar through weather battered rocky terrain lit by melodic beauty and invention which again simply ignites the senses and imagination with sublime ease. Rhoda May perform musical alchemy at times across the EP and especially within this engrossing and mentally invigorating venture. Its triumph is almost shaded by the excellent closing track #9. From its mischievously nagging entrance of jagged riffs and alluring sixties bred guitar enchantment the track expands to build an emotionally textured soundscape, drums and bass crafting heavy dark infused skies beneath which emotive and provocative mastery urges thoughts to build their own adventure. It is a scintillating end to an outstanding debut.

     It is fair to say that Pain primarily grabs attention with his guitar skill and invention but do not assume that Page and Sanger are part players, the trio converging as Rhoda May to create something which needs and exploits every element to create an impressive stunning sound. With thoughts of bands such as Deftones, KingBathmat, Palms, and early Cure amongst others showing their prompts throughout but never to overwhelm something that is original and fascinating, Sessions gives evidence of Rhoda May’s PR claim that they could be “the next band to nationally break.”


RingMaster 06/01/2014

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Sam Thomas – Internal Ether


From the release of his debut single I’m Gonna Be A Witch earlier this year, UK multi-instrumentalist Sam Thomas continues to impress and mark himself as one of the most potent and exciting new talents to emerge lately. Third single Internal Ether is the next instalment of his impressive arrival on the British rock scene, a track which makes a compelling declaration of craft and enterprise within an absorbing provocative sonic narrative.

Thomas composes with the influence of slow-building classical inspirations which draped his growing up alongside The Beatles and Beach Boys, in a union with the rock sounds he discovered later in life, the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Guns ‘n’ Roses flavouring his unique invention and exploration. The result is a passion fuelled post-rock sound aligned to soft pastoral calms, a merger which instantly impressed on his first single and continues to on Internal Ether. The successor to Gift and taken from his impressive debut album Blind Theatre, the new single is an absorbing adventure which sparks the imagination and feed the emotions with ease.

Opening within a gentle and seductive guitar sculpted embrace, the track is soon casting its provocatively hued painting over thoughts. With potently enticing strings adding their emotive touch to the emerging canvas alongside a guitar which strokes and inspires the imagination into self-reflection and inventive interpretation, the song swells in stature as it progresses. There is also a brewing passion and intensity which fills every corner and aspect of the song, a force which is always held in check but allowed to express its full voice as the track works towards its closing sonic tempest. The vocal samples within the encounter do not quite work as well or as richly as the music but certainly have no ill effect upon the quality and strength of the piece.

The single is completed by a remix of Internal Ether from Opdot, the duo of Tim Laverack and Gavin Kirtley who are Just Music label mates of Thomas. Their version impressively manages to steer the track into another riveting direction without losing the sentiment and heart of the song. It is a pleasing and resourceful take which stands side by side with its source for equal effect and success.

Sam Thomas continues to prove he is an artist it would be foolish to take eyes and ears off of; to miss every step of his ascent a deprivation for the senses and imagination which would be very regrettable as he surely moves on to even greater things and plateaus ahead.


RingMaster 04/11/2013

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Abysse – En(D)Grave


Three years in the making, En(D)Grave the debut album from French instrumental metallers Abysse openly reveals all the passion, fire, and determination which went into its creation. The seven track release is an extensive exploration of bold adventurous lands and emotions; ventures fraught with warriors and bravery, shadows and danger but all brought forth with a potent sinew driven narrative that leaves no emotive intensive stone unturned and inventive imagination untapped.

Formed in 2004, the quartet from Cholet, Maine-et-Loire of bassist Jérémy Cas, drummer Sebastien Pineau, and guitarists Vincent Barbaud and Geoffrey Veron, unveiled their first demo Eight Hours Before Dawn two years later. Followed by the De Profondeur en Immersion EP of 2007 the band was already igniting thoughts and passions towards their experimental progressive metal composing and its accomplished realisation but it was the Le Vide est Forme EP the following year which really put a match under acclaim for their inventive offerings, a fuse which has been replaced by an explosive trigger with En(d)Grave. The previous release was also the key to seeing Abysse touring France and further afield, the band sharing stages with the likes of Kruger, Rosetta, Hacride, Impure Wihelmina, and Klone whilst also lighting up stages at festivals such as Hellfest and Motocultor. The new album has all the strength and invention to send the band into further passions and lands as the band brings world metal a real taste of French ingenuity.

From a sonic brewing ambience Eagle Of Haast makes a gentle Eastern breath toned entrance to start off the album, strong punchy rhythms making a welcoming frame to the already inviting melodic allure. With muscles flexing and the initial sonic mist turning into an evocative storm the track leads the imagination on an adventurous and darkened flight through intimidating shadows with barbarous atmospheres and incendiary colour rich melodic flames. It is a track which offers thoughts of bravery and savagery simultaneously but as a union rather than a battle or of destructive intent. Certainly with the rhythmic craft and intensity there is no doubting the menace and rapaciousness of the narrative yet with superb imagination and sculpted evocation of the guitars it is a journey of rewards and passion rather than unbridled danger.

The following Ten Thousand Changes discovers a voracious passion and energy to its charge through the ear but again it is a landscape of emotive persuasion which ebbs and flows in the energy and force of its attack whilst burning up thoughts and vision with its poetically charged sonic painting. The song suggests intensive climactic occurrences in large crescendos whilst allowing breathers and recovery through mellow yet no less intense melodic coaxing. It is a stirring track which though not as instance for the emotions as the first emerges just as impressive and pleasing for the rampant appetite already inspired by the release.

Mastodon as you would expect from its title is not lacking muscles and weight or an intensity to smother and consume the ear and beyond. It is a ravenous treat, the bass as vociferously throaty and snarling as anywhere on the album whilst riffs drill and grind away at the senses as sonic flames light up the oppressive and addictively contagious body of the track. At times there is a Metallica groove teasing and peering through the heady atmosphere whilst other moments you are reminded of the song’s namesakes but from start to finish the confrontation is an immense and formidably commanding joy.

Through Forest Monument and Sharp & Chrome, Abysse continue to impress and ignite the passions, the first of the pair a classic metal seeded fire with spirals of melodic and sonic craft searing its walls. It takes its time in investigating and painting the surrounding textures and hidden corners of the landscape parading their beauty and perils with again rhythmic incitement and deliciously descriptive guitar ferocity in league with melodic cunning and craft. Its successor is just as strong a persuasive image instigator, the white hot flames of the guitar’s imagination and skill a prickly rapture breeding provocateur skirted by the ever imposing and lead taking rhythmic hunger and predation of bass and drums. A tempestuous piece the track is a furnace of passionate intensity, and just as magnetic, fierce, and beautiful.

The Blue Wave Recordings released album is completed by the air sucking Golden Life, a track which smoulders and seduces, scalds and combusts into irrepressible beauty and broiling expansive heights, and the corrosively candescent Light For Wheke. The closer alone provides an exhausting wholly rewarding traverse of climactic and illustrious climes and within the might that is En(D)Grave, provides the final glorious invigorating flight through a union of darkness and light, a union constantly on the edge. Abysse has provided without doubt one of the most scintillating and emotionally rewarding not just instrumental but metal album of the year.


RingMaster 04/10/2013


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Aeris – Temple

Aeris pic

     Temple is an imaginist’s playground, an album which allows the listener’s instinctive mental adventure to cast its own potent narratives within unique expansive journeys. Sculpted and presented by French progressive metallers Aeris, the seven tracks/movements within three chapters is a magnetic and enthralling landscape, each piece of music a guide and suggestive lure through absorbing and melodically hued textures and sonic scenery.

The quartet from Nantes create a presence which has essences which remind of bands such as Pelican, Sunn 0))), and Red Wave whispering strongly at times in their sound but only as flavours to something distinct and vocal to Aeris. Consisting of guitarists Manuel Adnot (Sidony Box , Detruire Tous Les Humains, Thinking Noise, Swim, 1Band4A Crew) and Louis Godart, bassist Emerson Paris, and drummer Boris Louvet, the band creates and explores more in the less than a half hour in length release than a great many bands achieve in epically lengthy propositions. It is the precise and imaginative touch of each note which provides an incisive frame and canvas for the aural tale of sound and the listener’s own invention to unfold and colour the encounters.  Nothing is forced or laboured and at no point is a second or moment left without rich evocative colour and persuasion working their temptation, the result a masterfully crafted experience and a riveting fire of melodic expression.

Released via Ex-Tension Records, Temple opens with the first part of the opening venture Flame. Entitled Fire Theme, the track is an 968792_10151791686264840_1977370947_nimmediate forceful burn on the senses, a rhythmic inducement crisp and almost antagonistic within the sabre swipes of sonic passion and twisting melodic spires. It is almost Meshuggah like in its entrance soon expanding into a web of intense and acidic melodic guitar stalked by the excellent bass which develops a more carnivorous breath deeper into the piece, its menace a disturbing shadow and danger to the cauldron of heat and energy. The midway flight into calmer if no less intimidating skies offers some sense of safety, once more the guitars painting an enchanting yet caustic atmosphere which leaves thoughts entangled in a scorched world of hopeful yet seemingly destructive fantasy. Moving into its second movement Hidden Sun, the track immerses in a haze of sonic lava, melodic fumes shimmering off of the guitars with an acidic rub to their touch. More dangerous than its predecessor the travel through its corrosive terrain is daunting and toxic, the doom clad ambience and guitar descript within a sludgy rhythmic cage of lumbering intensity verging on suffocation, that is until Rising Light evolves from the perilous stance with feisty sinews and a raging melodic blaze which guides the listener to slightly safer if no less hungry climes.

The second section of the album Richard-Horizon-Robot starts with Richard and immediately the adventure is distinctly different and separate from the previous episode. Vibrantly lighter but equally as creative and exploratory, the track finds the guitars reaping jazz seeds for their slightly schizophrenic intent, riffs and bass casting a dark shadow around the incendiary and frenetic sonic maze of sound and ingenuity. All together they forge a union which plays visions like an eccentric dance through an intriguing neurotic tempest. The emerging Horizon tenderly kisses the ear, keys a seduction which calms the senses and lay imagination within a warm celestial embrace. Like a blossoming flower, the song slowly stretches its lures and elegance across its emotive beauty, gently holding the hand of thoughts as it moves into Robot. Initially like an epilogue to both previous parts, the piece is soon creating its own unique waltz, melodies and the increasing sinewy textures of the guitars carving out a starker imposing template for the band to stretch and investigate.

Final track and chapter is Captain Blood, another piece of creative excellence which stands with a character unique to what came before and able to forge a new in this case noir drenched adventure for the listener to immerse within. There is a sixties progressive bait to its opening stormy gambit, moving into another caress of calm and crystalline enchantment before exploding into a tempestuous but mesmeric fire of soaring invention and melodic chaos all honed into sonic majesty.

Temple is an outstanding album with only one issue preventing it being a classic and that is the production on the drums which to us sound flat and unflattering to the obvious talents of Louvet. Despite that with the at times extraordinary skill and invention of the guitarists and the dark transfixing presence of the bass, the album is a delicious exploit. Aeris create realms and premises it is a pleasure to explore and lose oneself within.


RingMaster 24/09/2013

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Human Pyramids – Planet Shhh!


Looking at the background to Human Pyramids and debut album Planet Shhh!, numerous tags from post rock to post punk, folk to electronic are placed before the project but quite simply the only description you could use is narrative rock. Every track on the instrumental album is a vibrant and potently descriptive tale of life, its beauty and colour declared in aural poetry which leaves thoughts and emotions elevated, body and passions exhausted. The twelve track feast of invention and torrential imagination is simply magnificent, a superbly crafted journey through vibrant sceneries and invigorating embraces of the world.

Human Pyramids is the invention of from multi-instrumentalist Paul Russell, a musician and composer raised in an old mining village in Scotland and now based in London. Featuring a group of handpicked musicians from across the UK to help Russell realise his scintillating adventures, Planet Shhh! took three years to create, time that with its release via Oxide Tones will be surely reaping rewards and ardour for years to come. Easily one of the most startling and thrilling debuts this year, and maybe decade, the album is a uniquely sounding and varied dance through thoughts, emotions, and experiences, a waltz/tango of intrigue and fire bred warmth that captivates every essence of the psyche and body from its first entrancing second right through to its very last departing and waving note.

Tall Tales starts off the passionate romp, the track a fanfare for the album and emotions. Awakening the senses with almost celestial heat spots of melodic temptation and harmonious caresses aided by rhythmic teasing, the track instantly draws out a strong appetite which turns to hunger as the track expands its arms into a stroll through melodic trails across rhythmic mountains, taking in the sights with reflective mellower moments.

It is a hypnotic start soon matched by the equally enthralling The Bubble. A guitar welcome makes a pleasing beckoning though it is also deceitful, hiding the impending rhythmic hypnotism lying in wait to enslave further the previously energised satisfaction. With a clockwork polka gently leaping over the senses egged on by measured handclaps and prodding string taunts, the track wraps a virulent lure around the ear before leading it into a swarm of kissing melodies and feisty energy. It is basically the most enjoyable and welcome trap possible, its metronomic siren call the gateway to a glorious blaze of musical radiance.

A gentle canter through the varied hues of life and energies frequents next up Cafe Hawelka, the piece a tantalising look on the passing vitality of life within a hive of exuberant activity, whilst Alphabet City explores the shadows and bright lights of an urban hive, every corner and breath within the landscape explored and brought to thought through a magnetic capture of rhythmic and electronic passion alongside brass and acoustic elegance.

As the zealous evolving festivities of Relapse courts the fermenting rapture inside the emotions with poise and dazzling enterprise and Skimming Stones unleashes a sunrise of melodic stimulation and big hearted rhythms encased in guitar cast seduction, Human Pyramids could just go home after and rest on their laurels such the impact and glory of the album to this point they would draw nothing less than full acclaim. But no chance of that as Singing Sands shows as it leads in the second half of the release to match the already unveiled riveting bewitchment. The track is littered with a crystalline tempting from the glockenspiel encased in a perpetually increasing energy of summer persistence, its heat and demanding textures a cascade of delicious rhythms and an ebbing and following melodic tide. It is a breath-taking piece of beauty which soothes and rampages within evocative thoughts and enlivened emotions.

Both the emotive tender soporific Duvet Day and the similarly, even with its bulging sinews and expansive inventive jaws, somnolent Tinfoil Stars treat the ear to a luxurious relaxation before the brass driven topography of Port Charlotte brings forth a slumberous picturesque portrait to explore. These smouldering joys are subsequently left in the shade by A Town Called Malaise, a powerful rock based journey which opens with a dramatically commanding tempest of guitar and drums kicking up a storm of intensity roamed by the shadow drenched bass. From behind the pungent encounter entwining streams of melodic whispers and sonic flames bring the hope and underlying beauty of the premise before contesting the air with the returning heavy oppressive voice of the scenario. It is an explosive and fascinating, not forgetting stunning, blend of imagination and striking songwriting that alone encapsulates all the impressive elements and strengths of the band.

     Bus Stop Polka completes the release, the track a busy and vibrant place with drums and guitars leaving no room for breath as the rush for the ride dominates the intent. Once aboard the trip is a dazzling venture of melodic lights and cracking rhythmic enticement which again leaves the listener engulfed in a riot of lung sucking incitation.

    Planet Shhh! is simply an aural temptress, a classically shaped and passionately honed fire of brilliance. That is all you need to know about it and Human Pyramids to embrace their glory.


RingMaster 16/08/2013

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Sannhet – Known Flood

     sannhet     Known Flood is an extensive and challenging journey through desolate landscapes, pervading shadows, and far reaching sonic climates, but most of all it is an album which ensnares thoughts and passions with some of the most descriptive ambiences and sounds brought to metal. The album is the masterful work of Brooklyn band Sannhet, a trio who infuse the widest array of sounds from black, sludge, and doom to groove and post metal. They have created a flight of impacting and inspiring imagination through nine startling and enthralling instrumentals, pieces which captivate everything from senses and thoughts through to the heart. One would suggest the band with their debut is only starting out on their creative discovery and still have a depth of promise to explore, which makes the release all the more impressive and a future truly exciting for them and us.

Consisting of Christopher Todd (drums and samples), John Refano (guitar and loopers), and AJ Annunziata (bass), Sannhet first released Known Flood on vinyl through US Sacrament earlier in the year and now it receives its worldwide CD unveiling with ConSouling Sounds and it is hard not to expect the album to make a deep impact. Already the recipients of strong acclaim for their live performances which has seen them alongside the likes of Black Cobra, The Atlas Moth, Hull, Enabler, Yakuza, and Altar of Plagues, the trio looks set to take things to another mighty level once the Colin Marston (Krallice, Behold… The Arctopus, Dysrhythmia) recorded release works its magnetic and inventive alchemy on the globe.

    Absecon Isle opens up the dramatic adventure, the track immediately charging through to the imagination with urgent hungry sannhet[1]rhythms and scorching melodic acidity as the rugged land of the invading soundscape opens up its bleak yet wondrous arms. Powerful and captivating the song eventually slows enough for the listener to take in the sights within the exhausting soundscape and for visions to shape their own mystery and the picturesque intimidation around them. It is a riveting start soon built upon to deeper pleasure by the following Safe Passage, its bulging rhythmic invitation a towering beckon to start off another breath stealing venture. As the drums continue to cage and disorientate, the guitars create a sonic mist which invades every pore and thought whilst the lingering yet drifting ambience is a stark evocation with sinister overtones especially as vocal samples whisper in the shadows. There are a few vocals additives across the album but all are textures and further facets to the narrative rather than any beacon to cling on to and add further richness to the invention.

The second track moves discreetly behind chilling chanting into its successor Invisible Wounds which in turn darkens the skies and brings in imposing intense clouds and rays of sonic beauty within the rapacious rhythmic confrontation from drums and bass. The track offers up harsh and intrusive breath but at the same time mesmerises with a melodic colour which paints a refuge within the demanding scenery exposing its claws.

As the songs Endless Walls, Moral, and Slow Ruin, the first a tempest of bedlamic emotion and intensity with a wall of rhythmic hypnotism, lay down their individual raw vistas the listener is pulled deeper into the expressive and at times spiteful depths of the unforgiving but rewarding world being unveiled. Whether it is one massive unpredictable realm or a journey through separate majestic heavy and unrelated terrains is up to the individual to interpret but as the last two of these three songs show as they take the senses into their own coarse grasps, it is an easy and fluid transition from song to song which is borne of craft and imagination from three openly outstanding composers and musicians.

The tremendous Haunches which again blends a rhythmic seduction that is irresistible with a sonic flailing wrapped in melodic insidiousness, pulls the passions up to another lofty height. The track, featuring guest squalling and ravenous vocal sounds from David Castillo from Primitive Weapons, is merciless as it softens up the senses further before making way to the biggest highlight of the album Still Breathing. From its dark but restrained doomy beginning the song evolves into a gallop of again inciting delicious rhythmic compulsion within a sonic wash of emotive provocation from the guitars. It is a gentler and more vibrantly hued atmosphere which envelopes the ear but no less hungry and voracious than any other of the more caustically paraded track.

With Flatlands providing a final lingering corrosive embrace, it is an outstanding end to a richly impressive release. A venture inspiring new hopes and fears with each traverse of its invention, Known Flood is the declaration of a new emerging force, and one which will set benchmarks ahead you only suspect.


RingMaster 08/07/2013

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The Lumberjack Feedback – Hand of Glory

The Lumberjack Feedback 2013 - © Mathieu Drouet

Dramatic and compelling, the Hand of Glory EP from French instrumental metallers The Lumberjack Feedback is a masterful journey through cavernous shadows and depths, a tension packed encounter of doom and sludge metal. Consisting of two tracks lasting seventeen minutes between them, the EP is a stunning debut from the Lille based quintet, a provocative apocalyptic soundscape exploring its own darkness and that of the listener.

Consisting of the twin dual attacks of guitarists Simon Herbaut and Arnaud Silvert plus drummers Nicolas Tarridec and Christopher Poirier, with bassist Sebastien Tarridec adding his terrific presence into the mix, The Lumberjack Feedback has earned strong praise for their live performances which has seen them alongside bands such as Crowbar, Gojira, Kylesa, The Oxbow, Wolf Eyes, Spacemen 3, Grey Daturas, Acid King, and Hangman’s Chair. It will be their first release though which will undoubtedly set them as a potent fixture in the acclaim and vision of the widest audience such the power and creative might of the Kaotoxin Records released and Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Cathedral, EyeHateGod, Cattle Decapitation) produced EP.

Opening track A Whisper to the Thunder takes mere seconds to entice the ear with a guitar beckoning soon joined by that 760137002529_TOX025_The-Lumberjack-Feedback_Artwork_600x600-72hypnotic twin drum assault, their craft and temptation measured yet instantly enslaving. There is an energy and hunger to the beginning of the song which makes for a contagious sludge drenched call, riffs carving out a virulent persuasion whilst rhythms and bass define their own enthralling menace to combine for a primal seduction wrapped in a fluid evolution of imaginative and evocative melodic and sonic narrative. Thoughts of bands such as Neurosis and Sunn O))) come to mind but as the piece moves through a piercing sonic tunnel into a heavily weighted and rapaciously intensive dark doom landscape the sound takes on something distinctly unique to the band and visually provocative. The skies have a villainous hue over the track at this point as it lumbers purposefully with a predatory stalking and proceeds to claim any thoughts of escape as it climaxes with a simple but intrusive and lingering sonic breath.

It is an immense start soon matched and evolved further by second track The Dreamcatcher.  Again riveting rhythms from the drums make an earlier invitation which is instinctively impossible to resist, their sinews pacing along the developing wash of guitar brewed sonic mist and the continually thrilling bass provocation. As with its predecessor there is not theatrical invention or awe inspiring technical wizardry going on but the atmospheres and imagery spawning textures as well as melodic emotional painting being created by every skilful and clear but connecting aspect given clarity by each member is scintillating and impossibly powerful. The mesmeric stroll of the first third of the song comes to a point where the brewing climate entices an unleashing of intensive sonic flames and mutually fierce rhythms before flexing even further muscle in an even paced and exhausting investigation of its deepest corners and those of the listener too. The climatic conclusion to the piece towers over the senses, first marked by a flurry of striking punches before closing on one last enriching fire of intensity and sound, and leaves thoughts and passions suddenly alone within their own stark dark world.

Hand of Glory is an outstanding debut and release, but one which in some ways even at its length does not offer enough to really get the teeth into. This is because you only feel you are getting part of a much larger and incredible story or journey. Whether these are teasers to a full length time will tell but as impressive as it is the hunger and expectations on an album will be excited and demanding. The EP is a daunting adventure which inspires without ever using demanding intimidation and as such makes itself a must investigate introduction to a band we will be hearing much more of and one suspects fawning over in the future.


RingMaster 04/07/2013

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The Inner Road – Ascension

Ascension promo

Taking the listener on a compelling and expansive journey through soundscapes which evoke and provoke thought and imagination, Ascension the new album from The Inner Road, is a vibrant and classy adventure which incites personal invention and interpretation to its narrative whilst equally creatively directing thoughts into a proposed direction. It is an enveloping kaleidoscope of instrumental progressive rock with each movement and moment drenched in a full blaze of sonic colour and inspirational craft from its creators for the deepest pleasure.

The Inner Road is a project founded by keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist/ songwriter/producer Steve Gresswell as an outlet for

Steve Gresswell

Steve Gresswell

his more symphonic style of  instrumental progressive rock, sounds and ideas which do not find a place within the creativity of his other band Coalition. The Inner Road also finds Gresswell collaborating with other musicians who bring something special to fit the need of the music. 2011 saw the release of debut album Visions, a record made with renowned guitarist Phil Braithwaite which was met with strong acclaim, and here for Ascension the musician has teamed up with one of the UK’s finest guitarists and rock songwriters to emerge in recent years, Jay Parmar. Fresh from the release of his own stunning album Circle of Fire via Steve Vai’s Digital Nations label, Parmar brings a style to the new album which sets tracks on fire with passion and evocative invention, his striking style drawing out the same hunger as inspired by his previous solo work for this album As well as his own releases and Ascension, the guitarist is also recording the new album from Exorcism featuring Csaba Zvekan and Joop De Rooij (both also in Ravenlord) as well as again joining up with Zvekan in new band D.O. Messiah, showing the appeal and impressive reputation Parmar has earned over recent years, which will only grow further when, after being invited by Gresswell, he joins Coalition who record their new album later this year.

Ascension wastes no second of its inventive presence to light up the senses and thoughts with full and extensive atmospheres, their embrace consistently fuelled by the sonic skill and grace of Parmar’s melodic incisions and alchemy; sounds and imagination which comes more often than not with a breath and caress of eastern influences and suggestion within an almost exhausting creative temptation. Set alongside the equally captivating and warmly invasive keyboard enterprise and ingenuity of Gresswell  the union makes for a release which leaves visual and emotional alchemy in its enthralling wake.

Jay Parmar

Jay Parmar

The title track opens up the adventure, a piano aiding a sun of melodic enticing to introduce the first steps on the departure into the vast realms of the album. Its company comes from crunchy riffs slowly bringing their voice to the brewing unveiling of this beckoning expansive landscape. With the sounds of both musicians coming together to sculpt the view there is a sense of depth and long passage ahead in the exploration of the immediately majestic world. The song appears as a travelogue of textures and sonic exhilaration instantly in league with the wonderful orchestral seduction at work , and their unity finding itself in tandem with the melodic weaves and wash already igniting the passions. As in all songs the music is like a ‘travel guide’, a provocateur to beauteous scenery and imagination whether visual or reflectively emotive, an investigation which is enjoyed physically and imaginatively.

From the immense opener the album takes flight through The Steel Sky; sinewy almost cold riffs from guitar and bass guiding the listener through shadowed clouds and imposing structures to find the sonic rays of light and melodic coating of sun brought from the keys and the stunning persuasive guitar commentary. It is then followed by the equally powerful Two Worlds Two Tomorrows, the track seemingly the sister to its predecessor as deeper in to the heart of the emotive terrain we go. Every song within the album feels connected to what came before and follows, for a fulfilling and ear widening melodic peregrination.

The smouldering and sizzling sonic traverse of Altered Reality and the provocative Troubled Memories step forward next to raise the temperature further. The first has fire to its intensity and creative sonic discharge whilst ensuring a continually evolving surprise in its presence with a compelling regal mid-section with potent and sirenesque strings, their orchestral embrace stepping in to temper the heated insistence of Parmar and set celestial cascades of melodic glory falling upon the ear, whilst the second is a dazzling candescent of melodic and harmonic craft leaving again only rising emotion towards its enthrallment

The biggest highlights of the thrilling album come with the final three tracks starting with A Fleeting Dream, a piece which triggers an unbridled flood of thoughts and ideas with furnace bright melodies and descriptive paint box rich sonic colouring. Parmar wrings out every emotive drop of incitement with his playing whilst the keys of Gresswell especially when he flows through a stunning sea of floral melodic expression which reminds of Dave Greenfield at his best, inciting the fullest ardour for what is the best track on the album. The outstanding and riveting The Awakening has its say on the final choice of top dog though with its initial colonial call moving aside for another poetic and provocative voyage of shifting gait and imagination whilst the closing Flight through Eternity simply lures the last of any passion still sheltering out with its strongest Eastern sultriness and inflamed closing sunset.

Ascension is an excellent and continually giving album, a release which just gets better and more potent with each travel of its ambient hot pilgrimage. The Inner Road has produced a release which is not only progressive/ instrumental rock at its best but melodic enterprise of any description.


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Sam Thomas – I’m Gonna Be A Witch

sam t

The debut single from multi-instrumentalist Sam Thomas, is a song which from its first play right through numerous others, and even now, brings a provocation to thoughts and emotions as well as opening up visions and imagination to go along with its evocative sounds and ideas. The initial lingering thought is do I like it to just how good or impressive is it and in some ways that question is still in the air but the bottom line is that the song is a wonderful piece of composing and realisation incorporating a rich soak of invention and thought. Yes it still niggles at the passions for undefined reasons but in the best kind of way pushing doubts ultimately aside.

Thomas, the son of a former Opera singer, was soon learning the craft of percussion at the age of four which inevitably brought the drums into sight for the youngster. Attempts to learn more classical instruments were not as successful due to, in his assumption, his dyslexia but moving into his teen years Thomas was teaching himself guitar, piano, and bass whilst playing in his school’s swing band and orchestra as well as singing in the choir. Growing up on a diet of classical music for his ears as well as Elvis, Beatles, and Beach Boys through his mother’s record collection, Thomas has evolved the perfect merger in his music on the evidence of the single, the song alone forging a classical touch in a hungry union with rock power and energy as well as pop flavoured warmth. From school Sam undertook a commercial music course at the University of Westminster, learning about the music industry. It also gave him free access to its recording studios which Thomas embraced and eventually composed and recorded an eighteen minute track to which he recruited folk/grime duo iAm1 to add vocals; a piece they played live for a while under the name Samandiam. Further projects for Thomas included a 3-piece heavy instrumental group called Saiga and composing a 27-minute solo instrumental piece. Using the track as extra temptation the musician applied for jobs within the music industry, sending out cut down slices of the track with applications to over 200 people. He received just one reply, that of studio owner and Barber Shop production company honcho Chris Smith which led to an unpaid work experience, which in turn led to meeting Just Music’s John Benedict who fascinated with Thomas’ highly-individual style gave a go for him to record an album, this was just the second day of the work experience. Placed alongside producer Mark Sutherland, work began with the single the first emerging results.

     I’m Gonna Be A Witch begins with a dawning of evocative piano and brewing ambience, its voice haunting and ominous. The track though soon settles into a gentle caressing of the ear with a sample of a child talking about what he would do if he became a witch with his friend. It has to be said the sample takes some time to get used to within the potent and descriptive sounds wrapping it, the guitar flames scorching the sky around and above the children whilst the bass and drums cage all with a firm yet unimposing presence. The guitars dominate the middle section enflaming and riling the intensity of the song to smother everything else but it only goes to spark a stronger imagery and reaction. Eventually with continued listening everything slips into place within thoughts and though still that sample leaves unsure intrigue at times its childlike innocence and imagination within the burning skies of the music is powerful and evocative.

The strong lead track is a single edit and it has to be said the following album version is a far better encounter, the fullness of the piece revealing the whole intent and depth of the invention with an equally fruitful result. The opening to the track is far longer than the single version and perfectly paints an enveloping scene for the sample to lie within and feel organically part of. The playground sounds within the classical piano canvas as well as the female (mother like) vocal caresses broadens the emotive and almost nostalgic air of the music, finding a crescendo of passion right before the children open up their imagination. The latter explosion of guitar invention and fire also brings a more dramatic impact and almost furnace like intensity to elevate the track beyond that initial powerful encounter. Though almost nine minutes in length our suggestion is bypass the single edit and head right for this stunning version to truly find the riches of the song and the invention of Thomas.

The final track on the release is North; another piece of music rising from a distrustful ambience with a phoenix energy and enchantment to unveil another openly emotive and accomplished piece of musicianship and aural narrative. Offering a new imagery with each play the track is a stirring and thought coaxing delight with its orchestral breath simply seductive and as dangerous and evocative in textures as the rhythms and sonic painting alongside.

Sam Thomas is destined to make a major impact, his creativity transcending and inspiring so many genres and flavours, and I’m Gonna Be A Witch an impressive start.


RingMaster 15/04/2013

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