The RHODA MAY ‘Sessions’, out 6th January

Rhoda May Online Promo Shot
UK PROGRESSIVE NEWCOMERS RHODA MAY RELEASE STUNNING DEBUT EP!
 
Coming at you from Surrey (home to Hundred Reasons, Reuben, Vex Red, Foe and Godsized) hugely promising instrumental rock outfit ‘Rhoda May’ are primed to be the next band to nationally break. Pulling from everyone from Rush and Led Zeppelin, to Deftones and Tool, Rhoda May set loose ‘Sessions’ on Monday 6th January.
Although originally conceived during the middle part of 2012 by long time friends Will Pain (Guitar), Mark Sanger (Drums) and Andy Page (Bass), it wasn’t until this year that the band were officially spawned. Ignited by an impromptu knock on the rehearsal room door by a local venue promoter who happened to overhear the band rehearsing, the guys were instantly asked to support popular London rockers Senser. Duly obliging, the trio were swiftly spurred into action and Rhoda May were formed.
From their debut show with Senser, Rhoda May’s climb has been vastly encouraging and recent supports with Heights, Freeze The Atlantic and Three Trapped Tigers have further cemented the band’s fledging reputation. The enterprising three-some have also been working on a series of live videos with Emma Dalesman (Stagecoach, Tommy Reilly), which can be viewed here - www.rhodamay.com/video/ .
The videos were also recorded by producer Jason Wilson (We Are The Ocean, Reuben, Dinosaur Pile Up) who handled their first ‘347 sessions’; the band also recorded a later session titled ‘589 live session’. Both recordings were put down live and in their entirety. Due to the quality and the glowing early feedback for the live sessions, the band decided to release both recordings as a stand alone record. Aptly entitled ‘Sessions’, the EP is an immensely impressive collection of six absorbing cuts of modern rock. From the opening guitar scapes and twisting rhythms of ‘#3’, to the engaging post-rock bite of ‘#4”, on to the fuzzed-up melodic appeal of ‘#5’ and to the majestic groove-laden journey titled ‘#8’, the band illustrate their genuine creative craft, which displays true imagination and the nimble ability to take the listener on an engrossing musical voyage.
Rhoda May - Cover Artwork

Starsoup – Bazaar Of Wonders

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An adventure which coaxes emotions and imagination into expanding its evocative narratives, Bazaar of Wonders the debut album from Russian progressive rock band Starsoup is a richly engaging and intriguing encounter. It is a release which maybe does not ignite a burning fire in the passions but certainly leaves them smouldering with an appetite to explore enthusiastically the excellently crafted and skilfully presented songs. The album is an enticing proposition, a colourful weave of heavy metal and progressive invention merged with additional varied flavours, a mix which captivates from start to finish.

Started at the tail end of 2011, Starsoup is the studio project of vocalist/guitarist Alexey Markov (Shadow Host, Distant Sun) who has keyboardist Andrew Gryaznov (Timesquare) alongside him. Their album, which evolved around the compositional foundation of a quartet of songs written and melodically composed during Markov’s time in the band Crime Of Passion where he was the vocalist and Gryaznov played keys, took over a year to emerge as other projects and the involvement and time of guests upon the release extended its ‘birth’. With a presence and sound which sparks thoughts of a diversity of bands from the likes of Dream Theater, ArcticFlame, and Stone Sour to Rush, Fates Warning, and Avenged Sevenfold, the album is a striking declaration of strong impressive vocals and melodic exploration within a senses inciting keys sculpted grandeur.

The Moscow duo open the Sublimity Records released album with the band’s first single Angels, one of the previously mentioned coverfour songs which bred the album and as the others re-recorded and evolved for the album. With the impressive piano skills of Gryaznov making an emotive invitation, guitars and bass soon ignite the air around a firm and commanding rhythmic frame from by Alexander Vetkhov who provides drums and percussion across the whole of Bazaar of Wonders. As the strong and expressive vocals of Markov start unveiling the lyrical narrative, his delivery across the whole of the album diverse and potent, the track mixes up a power ballad like stance brewed with a feisty energy. It is a welcomingly introduction to the album and a clear portent of things to come, keys and vocals the brightest beacons within creative songwriting and striking musicianship across all aspects.

The following Ain’t No Superman confidently idles in with a jazz funk like swagger, its heat accelerated by melodic guitar flames. Into its stride the song is a more straight forward heavy rock encounter but one with a wealth of additives which keeps it unpredictable and intriguing, if less successful than its predecessor. Nevertheless there is plenty for the ears to get excited by, as also with Try. An acoustic guitar and piano resourcefulness wraps the ears before Markov fills the ballad with his fine voice backed with good harmonies. As it walks into its fullest height there like in all songs, is a fire in its belly which empowers the passionate bursts which erupt from within the melodic canvas. If aggression is the want the song, and ultimately the album are unlikely to suffice but for melodically spawned emotive adventures the release is a refreshing offering.

Both Cradle of War and Rumors of Better Life continue the ballad seeded attack, though the first of the pair from its elegant first third with a glorious flame of saxophone to its breath explodes into an intensive and muscular persuasion which constantly flirts with the passions throughout its impressive venture. Its successor is a mesmeric sunset of seductive melodies and evocative charm, a caressing wash of beauty which without enflaming emotions feeds them and thoughts skilfully.

The album’s best track Past Bites bruises the air with a fine array of sinewy riffs and crisp rhythms, a Metallica edge and essence seeping into the boisterous elements whilst again inventiveness fuels the triumph of the track and the intense hunger for its presence. It is the pinnacle of the release which makes the likes of the following The City and the Stars and Voices of the Wind seem pale in their balladry, though both again are impressively crafted. Between them though there is the excellent instrumental Bazaar, a piece of composing and realisation incendiary to imagination and emotions brought with a sonic mastery  which simply seduces from start to finish; guitar, keys, and bass exceptional provocateurs in its mystique clad temptation.

The closing trio of songs, Road to Sunset with its great sultry sax calls and anthemic vocal mixes, the heavy metal bred Perfect Loser, and the closing piano conjured instrumental Rain in the Desert ensures the album ends on an enterprising and enjoyable stance, each individual and additional lures to a fine album. As said earlier, Bazaar of Wonders does not leave fires raging in the passions but certainly makes Starsoup worthy of close attention.

https://www.facebook.com/Starsoup

7.5/10

RingMaster 08/11/2013

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Unified Past – Spots

Unified Past - Spots - by Ed Unitsky

Journeying through eleven evocative soundscapes of carefully sculpted sonic sunspots stretched over imaginative colour strewn melodic canvases, Spots the new album from US progressive rock band Unified Past is an enthralling and magnetic adventure. It is a release which leads senses and emotions by the hand into heated flights of provocative designs across triumphant landscapes, each venture a key to their and the listeners unique imaginative plays. It has to be said that personal preferences come from the metal side of progressive alchemy but Spots has little problem in lighting up the senses and emotions very successfully.

Formed in 1984by Steve Speelman ( guitars/vocals/keys) and Victor Tassone (drums), New Yorkers Unified Past has released five albums leading up to Spots over the years, each building and earning the band acclaim as well as a strong reputation in their homeland. With bassist Dave Mickleson now alongside the founding pair, the trio according to those long acquainted with the band has with this sixth album created their finest moment yet. It is hard to be dubious listening to the album and easy to see how the experience and skills of the three has honed a release which works the listener on numerous levels. The experience and pedigree of the band you can only assume is an important factor alongside the inventive heart of the band to its success; Mickleson who is also currently the bassist for Joey Belladonna’s bands Chief Big Way and Belladonna, Tassone who has recently worked on The Colin Tench Project, Andy Bradford’s Oceans 5, and John Orr Franklyn’s Reaching Ground Project, and the classically trained Speelman uniting their talents and gained know-how for something rather special with the Melodic Revolution Records released album.

A fusion of classic 70’s progressive rock with strong spices and flavours of more current melodic fires, the album opens with the eager passion and energy of Blank. From a mesmeric celestial introduction rhythms and sonic invention scramble into position before relaxing into a seventies flame of melodic rock and progressive persuasion. Keys soak the ear in a flowing ambience which lays down the platform for the guitar to twist and enflame the air with excellent thought and rich sonic hues. It is an instantly engaging mix skirted by strong mellow vocals and a rhythmic firmness veining the track. Arguably not a dramatic stealing of attention to set things off, the song nevertheless captures the imagination to seal the same fate for thoughts and emotions.

The following Deep is bred of the same seeds in many ways as its predecessor but with the sinewy bass croon and a wealth of irresistible hooks and excellent vocals from Speelman, the song winds its way into the reflective depths of thought and exploration to again engage the listener and take them on a hypnotic flame of enterprise.

The first of six instrumentals steps up next in the vibrant form of Hot. The piece is a stirring mix of progressive jazz rock which saunters along with a mischievous swagger and fun driven invention to its continually teasing presence; little touches like a slip into the classic refrains of Shortnin’ Bread and a great piano boogie like coaxing increasing the enjoyment and lure of the track. It raises the appetite further for the album which is soon rewarded with firstly Seeing and then the excellent Tough, both tracks individual temptations which evocatively stroke the ears and beyond. The first of the pair has whispers of Hawkwind and even Yes to its endeavour whilst its successor brings a sturdier metallic flair to its sultry instrumental climate, its title a potent reflection of its heart and frame.

From the sizzling embrace of Age, its breath almost folky in touch within a throaty narrative of sound lying inside a fusion best described as Rush meets Metallica with King Crimson in attendance, the album goes on a course of four instrumentals. They have a tall order to match the heights of this impressive track but the fiery weaves offered by Sun and the sweltering charm and elegance brought by Big certainly stand strong in their majestic attempts. Next up Wet does fall short though again the piece of music is a scenic descript for the imagination to submerge within whilst the short bass driven G again shows the devilry which walks within the album, its open carnality irreverent and voraciously tempting, and sure to put a smile on the face.

Spots brings a closing rising soar to the album through the passion recruiting melodic and sonic glory of The Final. Though by this point the instrumentals have admittedly stolen the show, the last song confirms the rich craft and expansive textures the band evolves throughout Spots and their songwriting. With vocals returning to bring an appealing plaintive to the unfolding musical story, the track is an absorbing pleasure bringing an enthralling experience to a lofty conclusion. Progressive metal may still be the preferred destination if given a choice but Unified Past has certainly given food for thought and a very enjoyable encounter.

http://www.unifiedpast.com/

8/10

RingMaster 18/10/2013

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Sleepers Awake – Transcension

SleepersPromo2a

With masterful potency and invigorating imagination Transcension, the new album from progressive metallers Sleepers Awake, takes senses and thoughts on a seventy minute flight through incendiary soundscapes and emotionally fuelled journeys leaving the richest captivation on ear and passions. It is mightily compelling and accomplished slab of inventive melodic fire which incites the surest pleasure and ignites a new beacon within the genre.

Formed in 2005, the Columbus, Ohio quartet of vocalist/guitarist Chris Thompson, guitarist Rob Bradley, bassist/backing vocalist Kedar Hiremath, and drummer Chris Burnsides, first made a wider impression on certainly the progressive and post-metal underground with debut album Priests Of The Fire, a release which was no stranger to acclaim with its adventurous intent and diverse flavours and textures. The self-released Transcension is no different and destined to find the same reception at the very least, and one suspects, even stronger passion fuelled acclaimed reactions with its impressive and thoroughly exhilarating evolution. The greater invention to songwriting and sound is breath-taking at times and always enthralling as tracks and album lifts the listener into a realm of torrential emotive provocation. There is also an anthemic energy to Transcension, its excited presence and voice thrusting a rich fascination of ideas, lyrical narrative, and seductive enterprise straight to the heart. It is not a perfect album but walks the rim of that plateau from start to finish, standing as one of the most thrilling albums this year.

The names of the likes of Tool, Opeth, Mastodon, even Rush have been cast over the band leading up to the album release and at times it is easy to see why especially in regard to Tool but there is much more to their sound and immediately across the opening tracks we would add the likes of Life Of Agony for the depth of emotion and dramatic structures to the songs, and Poet Of The Fall for the more instantaneous melodic temptation offered. Do not mistake this as suggesting the album is an echo of such references or from the constant mention of its melodic heart that it is a mellow or restrained beast. The album stands apart from most with ease and has a snarl and aggression which leaves you exhausted. It offers a seamless merger of glowing sonic beauty and stern merciless shadows making for a sensational exploration.

With a concept based around the tale of an augur (a priest in the classical world) and his struggle with higher forces while exploringcover the depths of existential contemplation as the venture moves through magical worlds lined with fantastic creatures and surreal imagery, Transcension opens up its experience with The Augur and takes mere moments with its first breaths of sonic guitar beckoning to draw strong attention. Soon into its charged presence with the excellent vocals of Thompson making a further deeply persuasive introduction to the unfolding lyrical emprise and mutually charismatic sounds, the track stirs up appetite and emotions with continually intriguing and evolving invention, intensity and melodic imagination a fluid shifting instruction for hunger and rapturous reactions.

The impressive start is soon built upon further by the outstanding Burdened and the equally stunning Apparitions. The first of the pair is a nine minute plus epic of melodic parades and vigorous rhythmic enticements which again never stay in a single stance for longer than necessary as it ignites visual soaked thoughts and poetic imagination. There is a loud Perfect Circle/Life Of Agony whisper across the track, especially vocally, as well as a prowling and intimidating guttural glaze found by the vocals which adds a caustic embrace ensuring the course of the song is never straight forward and safe. Arguably the track is over long for personal tastes but in saying that there is never a moment where captivation wanders or thoughts look at the hands of their impatient watch. Its successor opens on an expansive ambience with the enveloping breezes soon joined by fervent expression and zealous emotion from vocals and the melodic call of the guitars. Veining this throughout the drums and bass reveal inciting sinews for a predatory essence behind the even more Keith Caputo like tones of Thompson. It is a song of aural alchemy and such its power and craft alongside its predecessor gives the rest of the album a tall order to replicate, something it valiantly fails at such the strength of these songs.

If the album started at this point there would still be nothing but full praise and greed for the release, the likes of the rapacious Slave Within with its unexpected guttural squalling, the equally scowling Saint Condemned, and the magnetic instrumental riveting Circles Without Division, all explorations of and inducements to the ripest depths of mind and soul. The fusion of light and ferocious dark in the first two of these songs is immense whilst the crystalline sonic shimmers and melodic flames around a busy populace in the third pure temptation.

Through to its conclusion the album continues to seize and paint upon the listener’s emotional canvas, the deliciously descriptive beauty of Throat of Winter and the tempestuous Equa Mortuorum two more major landmarks in the traversing of the chronicle. Transcension is an intoxicating album which though it has its greatest strengths at the fore of its spellbinding company never slips below giving an intensely emotion and mentally arousing impact, and leaves one final slice of galvanic glory with closing track The Fulcrum to linger in its wake.

If progressive metal with true heart and sizzling imagination without any form of indulgence is on your menu than  Sleepers Awake and Transcension is a must. It is a fulfilling and invigorating piece of artistry, a must have should have for all melodic metal fans.

http://www.facebook.com/SleeperRock

8.5/10

RingMaster 17/06/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Hammers of Misfortune – 17th Street

The new album from San Francisco’s Hammers of Misfortune is not just a fine listen it goes even deeper to give a full experience that lights up the senses. The sounds within 17th Street coax, caress, and pleasure the ears as it unveils its melodic and creative glory to stimulate and bring forth powerful imagery and emotions, at times you can almost taste the world and atmosphere the band conjure with their skilled songwriting and stirring sounds such is the quality contained within the release.  The album wraps itself around the listener bringing them into its heartfelt premise, the songs within dealing with loss and endings. John Cobbett the guitarist and producer of the band expanded further when commenting “The songs each deal with this in one way or another. It could be the loss of a loved one, a relationship, a way of life, one’s home or livelihood, or one’s innocence. It could be about any number of these things at the same time”. 

The album sees the new line-up of the band with guitarist and vocalist Leila Abdul-Rauf (Saros, Vastum, Amber Asylum) and vocalist Joe Hutton (The Worship of Silence) joining band founders Cobbett and drummer Chewy Marzolo, plus long standing members Max Barnett on bass and Sigrid Sheie who adds organ, piano, vocals and flute. It has to be said that listening to the album one envisages a larger band, the songs they produce having an almost orchestral feel at times and always creating a big and expansive sound. 17th Street is not easy musically to pin down, the blends of NWOBHM, progressive, thrash, black metal and folk rock all spices in a sound that swings from hard rock through to a rock opera feel but without all the indulgence and over blown grandeur. It is wonderfully varied, rounded and most of all it is uniquely Hammers of Misfortune, though there are many bands and flavours recognisable within the songs it is all distinctively the Californians.  

Formed in the late nineties as Unholy Cadaver it was with their 2001 album The Bastard that the band changed its name to Hammers of Misfortune.  The new release is their fifth album and comes via Metal Blade Records, and evidence that the new line-up has brought more vitality to the band’s sound that is rewarding for all. The musicianship is impeccable and the ideas and their realisation impressive and completely engaging. From the opening ‘317’,which feels like an introduction to the joys ahead rather than a self contained song, the album is ablaze with light and dark alongside hope and shadows all encapsulated in striking and energising sounds.

The title track pounces next with teasing keys, taunting riffs and invigorating harmonies. The vocals of Leila Abdul-Rauf backing and combining with the great voice and delivery of Joe Hutton bring a melodic sweep to the music that it is very easy to become infatuated with. The song swoops and sways in mesmeric fashion bringing highs tinged with more ominous taints peeping from within. A stunning song equalled easily on 17th Street by the likes of ‘The Day The City Died’ a song that is large, bristling, and verging on bitter, the grand and robust riffing and rousing keys of the ramped up and brilliant ‘Romance Valley’,  and ‘Summer Tears’ with its Queen and Phantom of The Opera tinged power ballad flow.

It is ‘Grey Wednesday’ though that takes top honours on the album. With more than a touch of Rush driven with insistent riffs, shining melodies, and intense rich expression the song is a beacon, its power and light drawing one into its heart to feel and breathe the varied tones and shadows.

17th Street is a masterpiece and masterclass of stunning creativity and emotive delivery, a glorious source of heartening and disconcerting themes, words, and sounds. There are obvious touches of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden as well as those already mentioned and more, but all is mere whispers and the music wholly unique to Hammers of Misfortune. The simple fact is 17th Street is one of the most invigorating and impressive albums this year.

http://www.hammersofmisfortune.com/

RingMaster 24/10/2011

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