DreamCatcher – Never Look Back

The upcoming weekend is going to be as busy for UK melodic metallers DreamCatcher as the sounds in their new single Never Look Back which is released this coming Monday August 13th. Before then the Leeds sextet have a double appearance at Bloodstock to enjoy, Saturday the 11th seeing them play an unplugged set on the Acoustic Stage followed by their full high energy show on Sunday. The single caps things off with fine accomplishment in what will be a notable three days for the band.

Formed in 2008, DreamCatcher has gone from strength to strength with their live performances which has included sharing stages with Delain, After Forever, and Pythia, and their acclaimed SoulDesign EP of last year accelerating an already steadily growing dedicated following.  Never Look Back is taken from the album released through Rising Records and is available via the Bandcamp profile of the band as a free download in exchange for a Facebook Post or Twitter tweet, a barter which is certainly one of the best deals this year. The three track single is a treat which not only cements the band as a growing force but makes a satisfying celebration of where they and their sound are right now.

Never Look Back is a storming maelstrom of sound and invention which teases the borders of chaos whilst roaring with heated elegance and sure confidence to pull it all into a striking and enveloping presence upon the senses. Bringing the best aspects of major influences like Nightwish, Epica, Powerquest, and Anubis Gate into their own distinct muscular riotous form of metal it is a heady fusion which consumes every pore. There is a distressed clarity to it all which works a treat and adds that extra intensity which marks the band from other melodic metal bands. The track is a scorching amalgam of excellently crafted melodic imagination and rampaging power metal borne energy. The mesmeric keyboard skills of Adelé Pease flow with ease and understanding alongside the melodic play from guitarists Ben Scott and Alexei Green whilst their raging riffs bounce off the bruising rhythms of bassist Matt Hudson and drummer Rossi Lavery. Vocalist Lukas Jackson soars amongst it all with a craft and power which is never swamped or lost within the expansive sound, full credit going to the songwriting and the production from Jacob Hansen (ex-Anubis Gate, Mercenary), as well as the skill of the band itself.

Track one is an edit of Never Look Back with the closing song the original version though there is nothing to choose between the two, the thirty second difference neither improving nor detracting from the song. In between there is new instrumental Foresight. It is a muscular charge of creativity further exposing the individual skills of the band and the sure melodic craft which pervades their invention. The piece stirringly ruffles with crisp rhythms and explosive enterprise whilst showering the ear with equally marked melodic radiance and flair.

If SoulDesign eluded your attention then Never Look Back is the open invitation into the progressively symphonic metal world of DreamCatcher, it would be rude to refuse.

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RingMaster 08/08/2012

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Gehtika: Uncoventional Manicism

From the topping and tailing mono recording of a classic tune your great granny would have revealed her ankles to, the new album from UK metallers Gehtika announces immediately it is not a release here just to feed your expectations. From its opening seconds Uncoventional Manicism sets thoughts racing from their initial dazed reaction with a crushing obliteration of unbridled and insatiable extreme metal. It takes no time to realise the band is bringing an unconventional and theatrical approach to their vision and sounds making for songs and an album which though not wholly successful leaves one basking in imaginative enterprise and an exhilarating onslaught of intensity.

The bio for the album declares that Gehtika in their words ‘truly formed in February 2011’ with the quartet having ‘written off’ their older material. They then went into the studio to discover and define their new style, the result the tremendously unpredictable Uncoventional Manicism. Released through Rising Records on July 23rd, the album is set to build on the acclaim and success of the Escape the Asylum tour in the latter part of last year. It is a perpetually and eagerly evolving release which at times works better than others but always drips sweet intrigue and hungry invention upon the palate. It might not be the easiest release to get a handle on and be consistent enough in its highest triumphs but it is definitely one of the more interesting and independent of thought albums out this year so far.

The Stratford upon Avon based band instantly grabs attention with their first full track Archai, the air inflaming guitar play and driving riffs impossible to ignore. The song though is relatively straight forward sounding in the sense of its direction with the vocals of Scot Allen growling with spite and contempt whilst the rhythms of Dean Hemming barge their way through the ear with firm and determined intent. With the riffing and sonic manipulations from Allen and fellow guitarist Topher O’Meagher scoring the senses decisively it makes for a song which is satisfying without leaving any lingering impression.

That is soon rectified with Prevail, the track a boiling torrent of creative devilment and uncompromising aggression. Bassist Psy’ Timms stalks the song with real hunger whilst alongside Allen their vocals brew the strongest and abrasive storm. The track is a continually twisting venomous beast spewing out knee buckling rhythms, laser sharp grooves, and ravenous riffs persistently within its memorable frame.

The equally inventive Into Asylum continues the eager addictive presence of the album but it is the twin attack of Reality of Mortality and Archai the Fallen which ignite the fiercest fires of pleasure. The first lifts its bulk from a bed of slightly discordant melodic peace but once awake the song stomps all over the senses with sheer brutal intent. With a ferociousness which never lets up the track lays vicious flaying riffs across the ear whilst inciting rebellion in the senses as they run in all directions under the malevolence of sound and vocal delivery. A multi flavoured creature it passes its fiery baton of glory onto Archai the Fallen which runs with it in its own distinct and diverse way straight to the heart. At times one wonders if the band knew where they were going with the song as like a chameleon it changes its shape and hue persistently. For many bands this would be messy but with Gehtika it is just corruptive poetry.

Other songs without reaching the heights of this pair are still impressive and wrong footing enjoyment, the likes of Lost Thoughts and the epic Fear Within taking one on a mystery trip of intrigue and rewards. Uncoventional Manicism is an album which in order to discover and appreciate its qualities needs one to stand right within its storm and give a focused attention. Within the hurricane of ideas and sounds all the imaginative skills and ideas show their worth, stand back with a more casual attention and at times the album appears merely as a sprawling wall of annihilatory metal, which admittedly is not always a negative anyway.

    Gehtika have returned to fire up sure anticipation for their ventures ahead and right now simply left us with one welcome and pleasing creative bruising.

RingMaster 12/07/2012

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Silent Empathy: A Broken Vision

A Broken Vision the new album from UK metallers Silent Empathy is such a frustrating album though overall it is also an enjoyable one. Within its punishing walls there is a real gem trying to get out and the promise of something major from the band ahead more than apparent. The trouble is one feels A Broken Vision could have been that important release as its eleven tracks of imaginative and adventurous sounds pummel and stroke the senses but somewhere along the line the album loss or never found a clear definition and direction. The production is no aid to their creativity either and one feels with a top producer, no disrespect to whoever took the duties, the album could have been a remarkable release.

Formed in 2009, Silent Empathy have been through their share of line-up changes but the band has stayed strong and continued to pick up fans and strong interest along the way to this their debut album. With influences ranging across all genres of metal brought into their melodic metal/hardcore assault the band is one brutal and formidable beast with strong invention to their songwriting and ideas. They have an obvious creative quality and craft in their ability to blend their melodic prowess and aggressive nature which is clear to see across the album showing that any fault in the album does not lie in that area .

Released July 2nd via Rising Records the album features the great drumming skills of Alex Micklewright (ex Martyr Defiled) and it has to be said is the drums throughout the whole release which are the one impressive constant on an variable album, powerful and unpredictable they leave one breathless. The release opens with the crushing Si Vis Pacum, Para Bellum, a track which disrupts the senses from the off with its insatiable drums and surging riffs. Like a waking leviathan it consumes with its immense weight and oppressive atmosphere with the vocals firing up the intensity. The dark growls spew malice and spittle with every syllable and with occasional slips into a malicious clean delivery leave tingles in their wake. The full clean vocals though just feel like an intruder. They are strong and well delivered but the mix is off putting and at odds with the mountainous effect of the rest of the song, unfortunately this becomes a frequent event throughout A Broken Vision. It is confusing with things so good elsewhere and the voice itself more than decent and leaves one again going back to the production and mixing side of the album being at fault.

The likes of Into The Mouth Of The Harlot, the excellent For the The Guest Artist, and A Saga Beyond The Silence, keep the attention firmly gripped as the guitars weave and scorch quality melodic aural patterns before the ear and the rhythms drive with impressive intimidating power. The songs are unpredictable and surprising in the best way, leaving one engaged consistently despite the growing feeling of a lost opportunity as the album progresses in its destructive and expansive adventurous mix.

Biggest album highlights come in the shape of the imaginative Hourglass Memoirs with its emotive beginning the catalyst for a storming ravenous consumption of the ear and a mighty melodic/violent blend and the marrow sucking Human Weakness. This song is pure nastiness brought with manipulative ingenuity only strong songwriters and musicians can conjure. It leaves one in a numbed state whilst contemplating what just happened and wading through a flood of triggered thoughts and emotions.

As mentioned at the start the album as a whole is actually pretty satisfying but it could have been much better. It is though worth your time and attention and offers more than a few moments and strong qualities to suggest the case for Silent Empathy having the potential to be a big noise in the future.

Ringmaster 27/06/2012

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Neonfly: Outshine The Sun

Coming from a genre which does not bring the greatest excitement to these ears it has to be said the debut album from UK band Neonfly is a rather agreeable piece of melodic metal. It may not manage to offer a serious consideration for album of year choices or possibly is likely to find a constant place on playlists but Outshine The Sun certainly captures the imagination more often than not when given the opportunity. As mentioned the band rides on a core of melodic metal but adds inspired shots of power metal and hard rock,  mixtures which do not light up any lanterns for us here but Outshine The Sun persistently entertained and satisfied with a strength and engagement many other bands struggle to achieve.

After forming in 2008 the London based band first drew attention with their first EP Clever Disguise and live shows. Since then the band has gone through line-up changes whilst still exciting audiences and gaining a strong reputation with their live performances. Consisting of vocalist Willy Norton, guitarists Frederick Thunder and Patrick Harrington, bassist Paul Miller, and Boris Le Gal on drums, Neonfly has been building to this album released via Rising Records, and it is hard to imagine anything but positive responses to its well crafted sounds especially from fans of the genre they spring from. For the rest though there is still plenty to keep the ear engaged and interested to make for an enjoyable time together.

The album hits the ground running with opener Broken Wings. The vocals and riffs are as expected strong yet maybe unsurprising whilst the chorus is easily accessible and inviting. It is the underlying groove which really lights the song whilst the guitar solo and interplay as it progresses is absorbing with the bass of Miller a persistent growling presence behind. The bassist proves to be the best thing on the album overall his lines and tones always adding a depth and dark energy to the melodic waves around him.

The infectious rock n roll eagerness of The Enemy holds a catchy grip on the ear and anytime it delves into overplayed melodic escapades the song whether from drummer Le Gal, Miller or some unexpected heavy pitch of metal invention, keeps it all in check. Fine though the song is it did not inspire a personal longevity within something the following Ship With No Sails and its successor A Gift To Remember managed to a much stronger degree. The first is a mix of reserved energy and passion and epic blood pumping grandeur which weaves around the ear with detailed melodic play and enveloping symphonic like keys. The band crafts the two elements of their music well creating a song which earns good attention and respect. The second of the two is a darker toned track with further predatory shadows from bass and rhythms beneath the enflamed melodic invention. The song as with the majority of tracks is inventive veining the somewhat expected sounds and ideas with essences and striking interjections from sterner metal sources.

Tracks like The Revenant with its steely groove metal opening, the power metal Reality Shift, and the mesmeric Morning Star with its opening Middle Eastern flavouring keep things energised and lively ensuring one never truly slips into a presumption of what is to come but it is the mighty Spitting Blood which takes top honours on the release. Many of the tracks on Outshine The Sun come from their debut EP but this song is one of the new ones and sets definite promise for future releases. The song is a feisty brew of thunderous rhythms and riffs amongst an ever twisting flame of melodic imagination. With an intimidating breath and heavily driven energy the song is the most aggressive and rewarding on the album by far its climax a virtual chug fest.

Outshine The Sun is a strong and enjoyable album which will find much more eagerness and appreciation from those favouring their choice of genre. Neonfly did give a good time though whilst offering suggestions of greater things ahead and that is all one wants in any release primarily.

RingMaster 07/06/2012

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Mask Of Virtue: In This World

Electro metal from the UK seems to be on an ascending high right now with continually bands and releases emerging to light up the senses with intensity and quality. The likes of Silent Descent and Ourfamous Dead have blazed a trail through the ear in recent weeks to great effect and now adding their own might and fine creativity is Mask Of Virtue and their debut album In This World. Released May 21st through Rising Records, it is a pulsating and mesmeric slice of melodic post-hardcore metal and electronica, an album leaving scorch marks as it envelopes with impressive sure invention and blistering energy.

Formed in 2009 the Rotherham band has been the epitome of hard work with persistent gigging the length and breadth of the UK and refining their thoughtful and impressively textured sound. Conquering the local scene and further afield was inevitable with this ethic and their great sound but now with the release of the album things look set to explode into greater realms. Recorded last year as the final month began closing its eye, In This World is a vibrant and captivating release that bristles with muscular intensity as equally as it infects with triumphant melodies and caressing electro seductions. It stirs up the pulse rate and emotions through persuasion rather than intimidation but still packs a distinctly formidable punch.

As the opening brief and striking introduction to the album of Antagonistic Nations leads straight into the following The Bridges Will Burn the sense of something special ahead is unleashed, energy and expectations rising dramatically as the song opens up its firm and welcoming arms. The track accosts the ear with a tempered but eager stomp whilst wrapping tightly around it with swarming electronic warmth. The song offers unpredictable twists and turns and quite impressive vocals from Joe Rosser who also provides the electronic invention. His vocals are supported more than ably by those of guitarist Dan, and either with stylish clean or predatory growls the pair provides the band and songs with a pair of impressive voices.

From a strong start the band raise the tempo and heat with the excellent Blood For Free. The song swaggers with an aggressive but controlled attitude, its infectious enveloping sounds rubbing the senses into an excited and agitated state yet perpetually captivated by the keen outstanding vocals and vast melodies. The track drives with a sure intensity thanks to the drums of Ash and growling basslines of Tom, both bringing a spine of might and steel to the songs. With the guitars of Dan and Seb battering with caustic and powerful riffs the song is the best on the album though closely challenged throughout the release.

Through Your Eyes is one to make a claim for top honours, a tightly and imaginatively crafted song to leave one breathless from its unpredictable avenues and strikes. When Mask Of Virtue steer their sounds with a force and intensity they hit the mark accurately and effectively but they are no slouches with the skill and quality of their mellower and melodic persuasion of emotions either. Songs like Drowned In Tears and the outstanding Cure The Pain, a song which from its piano enchanted start whispers and soothes with an atmospheric presence and even when its soul takes on a more energised heart remains a stirring emotive rapture. It is another song that fights for best track showing the general high standard and craft of the album and band in many guises.

To be slightly critical of the album there is a similarity across its length at times which means if the focus drifts a little you can easily find yourself a couple of songs along from where you think you are but as the sounds and songwriting is strong and very satisfying it is not a major problem, just an invitation to hit replay. From a personal preference maybe more of the more aggressive intensity would give the band an even more distinct tone though they stand apart from most rivals easily and when songs like the wonderful It’s Here To Stay with its staggering melodic grace and yes another contender for that top spot, are so good it is impossible to be dissatisfied at any point.

In This World is an album which not only holds its head up high with great power and invention but pitches Mask Of Virtue into being a band that is on the verge of great things. Even though the album does not quite ignite the biggest fires within consistently it always sparks up compulsive enthusiasm and eager anticipation for much more from the quintet.

RingMaster 14/05/2012

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Kyshera: Made In China

Let us not beat around the bush about it, the new album from South Wales band Kyshera is simply exceptional, a kaleidoscope and maelstrom of ideas, invention and intrusive imagination that provokes as strongly as it thrills. Made in China leaves one on a lofty high whilst deep in thought with its startling and captivating sounds, challenging intent, and unique ingenuity.

     Kyshera (pronounced K-eye-she-ra) are a trio who refuse to conform in life and musically without that becoming a uniform in itself, they are in their words “anything that is otherwise indefinable”. This makes for a release that is completely unpredictable and deeply diverse but without falling into indulgences or a disconnected mass of invention. The album and songs have a seamless flow which at times wrong foots and leaves one open mouthed but still fully engages and makes one part of the schizophrenic soundscape. Following up their debut album Paradigm, vocalist/guitarist James Kennedy, bassist Matt Warr, and drummer Phil Smith, have created a masterpiece of ingenuity that takes one through a multiverse of thought, complex and simple ideas, and music that stirs up and inspires fully. They and their lyrics are deeply political which challenge personally, socially, and confront, all brought with accessible yet equally provocative sounds.

Released via Rising Records, Made In China is an album that connects instantly but holds a depth and thick wealth within that makes each visit a new and rewarding experience. From the opening Terrorists the band hit hard but with definition and glorious senses shuffling invention. Beefy riffs and sturdy rhythms pounce immediately to give the perfect wake up call to the immersive melodic jazz lined manipulations that follow. A continual side stepping into distinct and unique areas keeps the song a brewing challenging mesh of feisty intensity and melodic enterprises that scorch and caress equally. The result is a track that takes the essences of the likes of early Incubus, Faith No More, An Entire Legion, and Dog Fashion Disco into the politic and aggressive steel of Circus Of Dead Squirrels. The song is magnificent and one of the best so far this year, something the remainder of the album eagerly and mightily challenges persistently.

The following steely and caustic instrumental The Game destructively twists the senses inside out leaving them open for the rollercoaster of enterprise that is Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll. As if you were searching through the wavelengths on a radio of ideas the song flickers with seemingly disentangled sounds and diversions which all flow perfectly within an overall warm mellowness that still stirs up emotions continually.

Each song is thoroughly compulsive and blindsiding, the examples of the majestic and threatening Sugar, the distressed surface and effect lined Germ, to the irresistible groove metal spiced Mannequins and the wondrous rock Superstar, leaving one wondering and thrilled.  The second of these songs is mighty, a stunning track that brings its ominous atmosphere through beautifully crafted melodic beckoning and emotion poking sensibility, it is brilliant a seeming fly in the ointment but giving the opposite reward.

Every song is a conjuration of well thought out and realised imagination but also evidence of the skill and ability of the band in songwriting and its realisation. From the infectious and immense voice of Kennedy and his striking and emotive guitars, the magnetic basslines of Warr which can maraud, plunder or mesmerise with equal control and unfettered eagerness, to the beats and rhythms of Smith which takes one on intense intrusive journeys or tender beckoning strolls with pure accomplishment, the trio own the heart and soul with sure quality and innovation.

The latter part of the album is just as fulfilling and emotion teasing as the first with songs like the at times surreal and magnetic Messiah Mask, the 70’s rock spiced title track, and the imposing homeric closer Ants leaving one breathless, bedazzled, and urgently eager for more.

Made in China is staggering, an album that deserves all the acclaim it gets and more. Kyshera may not want to or do conform but there is no escaping the mass uniform of adulation that will surely come their way with the album.

RingMaster 26/04/2012

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Vinterblot – Nether Collapse

Building on the acclaim deservedly gathered from their debut EP, Italian pagan death metalers Vinterblot return with their first album Nether Collapse to confirm that initial promise and realise it as a mightier and more powerful monstrous and deeply satisfying entity. The album thunders across the senses equalling battering and gracing the ear with acidic melodies and coarse guitar intrusions all powered by intimidating unstoppable riffs. Behind the intensity there is an impressive creativity and diversity going on, at times mesmeric and always inspiring the carefully crafted melodies and expressive sounds give a real depth to each song even if there a few times one has to focus through the assault raging above them.

Formed in 2008, Vinterblot were determined to bring traditional European death metal in a merger with black metal and darker atmospheric and ambient sounds. The quintet from Bari of Phanaeus (vocals), Vandrer (guitar), Fjorgynn (guitar), Eruner (bass), and Wolf (drums) released their For Asgard EP mid 2010 to as mentioned strong response and acclaim, backed up by impressive live shows throughout Italy. Nether Collapse released via Rising Records lifts the band to the forefront of melodic death metal, its diversely spiced black sound surely the breakthrough to place Vinterblot on a multitude of extreme metal playlists.

The album starts with the stunning instrumental ‘Prelude’. Darkly acoustic the track is an expressive and visual piece of music. Its peace and melodic creativity weaves a calming atmosphere tinged with a feel of something impending. That feeling is soon found in eruption of ‘Upon A Reign Of Ashes’ which leads straight on from the opener. Concussive rhythms, antagonistic riffs and sharp guitars beat and force their relentless intent through the ear. Despite the harshness and deep intensity, the track and the album come to that, is not particularly violent upon the senses, its enormity and heavy oppression  more intimidating, unforgiving and challenging.

From here on in the album really gets into its stride with firstly the excellent ‘Council of Trees Beholder’, a track merciless in its firm grip and constantly badgering as burning melodies scorch the ear. Unsettling and persistent it weakens defences for the might of ‘Remembrance’ and the staggering ‘Howling Shadow ‘. The first of the two makes the relentlessness of its predecessors on the album seem lightweight compared to its bestial intensity. Drummer Wolf is outstanding throwing up an unbridled creative energy to keep the track’s onslaught continuous whilst bringing impressive diversity. Like a monster storm awaking the song consumes down to the last cell of its victim.

One would have made the song best on album but even its majesty has to make way for ‘Howling Shadow ‘. From first note the track stomps across the senses, its militant rhythms and battalion like groove unstoppable and thoroughly irresistible. It defies anyone not to be swept up in its call to arms anthemic sound, and even if there is not a chorus or vocal part to become one with the track engages and instigates complete compliance and participation. The vocals of Phanaeus are as formidable as the music, dragging tones from the deepest pit within him; they are venomous and dripping malevolence to infuse this and every track with a menace and foreboding in league with the intent of the sound.

Apart from another stylish and beautifully crafted instrumental in ‘Sol Invictus (Ritual Act)’ the album continues to pummel and explore with the likes of the more metal toned ‘Whispers to the Headless’ and the striking ‘As Sleipnir Rides’.

Nether Collapse is a tremendous album, it does take a little work at times but the reward is very satisfying though your tattered and bruised senses might disagree at first. Vinterblot are ready to take metal by the scruff of the neck, keep listening.

Ringmaster 09/02/2012

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