Sleep of Monsters – Produces Reason

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pic: Niklas Kapanen / Nakkertton Photography

With dark beauty and compelling drama oozing from every note and syllable, Produces Reason is one of those creative emprises which almost deviously seduce ears and imagination. It is a proposition stocked to the rim with rapturous melodies and harmonies but of often within a frame of predatory rhythms and voracious intensity which intimidate as they entrance. Released by Finnish metallers Sleep of Monsters, the album is gothic rock in its most accessible and fiercely inventive incitement. Already available and greedily devoured in the band’s homeland, the album recently had its worldwide release through Svart Records and it is fair to say that already passions are submitting and appetites becoming greedy for album and its creators.

To be honest it is no surprise, Produces Reason is a riveting collection of individual dark dances united in the creative theatre cast by the Helsinki band. Equally there is maybe no shock due to Sleep of Monsters being the brainchild of ex- Babylon Whores vocalist Ike Vil. Other than his startlingly distinctive tones there is no real similarity between the two bands though, the former a raw and voracious death rock confrontation and Sleep Of Monsters a blazing seduction of melodic grandeur and tenacious gothic temptation, but experience and adventure never loses its potency. Alongside Vil, the band sees the equally skilled invention of guitarists Sami Hassinen (formerly of Blake) and Uula Korhonen, bassist Mäihä, drummer Pätkä Rantala (who played on HIM’s acclaimed debut album), and Janne Immonen on keys. It is a creative powerhouse but to that there are also The Furies, a trio of vocal sirens going under the names Hanna Wendelin, Nelli Saarikoski, and Tarja Leskinen, who soar across and spice songs with a part angelic part devilish seduction. As evidenced by the Pekka Laine (LAB, 45 Degree Woman) produced album, it is a combination blurring lines between the darkest romances and the brightest emotional consumptions in enthralling songs which have little problem igniting the imagination.

Produces Reason begins with the brief ethereal harmonic lure of Holy Holy Holy, thirty five seconds where The Furies seduce ears and thoughts into the arms of the album and the following Nihil Nihil Nihil. A mesmeric guitar sculpted melody opens up the song before the bulging sinews of rhythms and imposing riffs join its coaxing. As ears swiftly come to realise, every moment is just that in a passage of a song, a breath in a continual evolution which here sees a mellow yet fiery stroll with infectious arms surrounding the impressing tones of Vil. At its darkest twists and especially the chorus, Sisters Of Mercy come to mind and in its most charming mellower moments the song is simply fresh and spicy ingenuity. With pungent beats and the haunting harmonies of the ladies as potent as the fiery guitar endeavour and lead vocals, the track is an immense start to the release swiftly matched by Abomination Street.10689922_618393148275006_5434782575254450074_n

The third track is another unafraid to show its sinews but also explores a flavoursome eighties synth pop adventure, keys and vocals combining at numerous points to brings thoughts of Blancmange to mind. The accompanying press release describes the album as bulging with “radio-friendly” songs and as much as that term annoys, it is easy to see where they are coming from with this and its predecessor alone. Every moment is an anthemic and ridiculously catchy proposal yet not to the detriment of venomous shadows, dark places and thoughts explored as swiftly shown again by Murder She Wrote. There is a Victoriana air of danger and dankness to the opening bass resonance, the suggestiveness soon joined by the expressive tones and narrative of Vil within the emotional embrace of darkly dramatic keys. As the song expands and grows so does the tension and sinister theatre of the track, as well as noir lit adventure in the imagination. It is a glorious proposal, guitars adding mesmeric flames whilst vocals croon with depth and elegance.

The tense atmosphere of Christsonday comes next, its classic metal colouring a rich flame within the gothic breath of the song. Again, and it is fair to say it pleasingly toys with most songs, there is an eighties tinge to essences within the imposing and descriptive ambience of the track. It provides a canvas for thoughts to colour and an aural painting for ears to immerse in, before making way for the sweltering heat of Our Savage God. Striding resourcefully within a sultry climate with contagious enterprise, the track is irresistibly sensational. Think Chris Isaak and Helldorado meets Pete Wylie and equipped with one of the most ridiculously catchy and inescapable choruses possible, the track puts its head above the rest of the peaks filling the album.

Horses Of The Sun grips body and mind next, its opening tribal coaxing as shamanic as it is satanic, The Furies’ enticing aligned to an intimidating rhythmic baiting as menacing as it is hypnotic. The song evolves from here into an intensive impassioned croon with vocals and keys a prominent seduction, the track like a merger of Walker Brothers and Poets of the Fall as it unveils another beauteous aspect to the landscape of the album.

The engrossing adventure and drama of Through A Mirror Darkly is next, the song infusing Eastern mystique in a fiery melodic flight with has a loud whisper of The Mission to it. Its triumph is followed by the fascinating melodic and vocal evocation of Cobwebs Of Your Mind, another song also recalling elements of Wayne Hussey and co. It should be stated though that for all the references offered every song emerges as something unique to Sleep of Monsters, just they come with excitingly familiar whispers.

The album closes with the magnetic smouldering of Magick Without Tears, a track which ebbs and flows like waves lapping the senses, every strong wash of sound and emotions bringing thick resonance and virulent drama. Produces Reason does have an additional bonus track not on its Finnish release, the song being I Am The Night Color Me Black which continues keeping the appetite contented though it has yet to convince as successfully as the other songs on the album.

Babylon Whores was an underrated and for many an undiscovered confrontation but it is hard to imagine Sleep Of Monsters slipping under the broadest radar, especially after releasing easily one of the year’s best debuts in the transfixing shape of Produces Reason.

Produces Reason is available now via Svart Records @ http://svartrecords.com/shoppe/home/2735-sleep-of-monsters-produces-reason-cd.html

www.sleepofmonsters.com

RingMaster 05/12/2014

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The Deathtrip – Deep Drone Master

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Deep Drone Master is a fascination proposition whose tracks either has ears and emotions in rapture or certainly seriously contemplating what they have undergone and wanting more. That is how it ignited our personal reactions; at times the debut album from The Deathtrip sparking lustful ardour and in other moments simply has thoughts and emotions deliberating eagerly, with occasionally undecided results, the undeniably impressive provocations. Ultimately though the Svart Records released ravaging is an inescapable lure emerging as one of the more compelling black metal encounters heard recent times and very easy to recommend to all genre fans.

The Deathtrip goes right back to 2003, its seeds sown with British guitarist Host and his early compositions. Raw in atmosphere and sound with a badgering heart of hypnotic and repetitious structures, perfectly evidenced upon the album, Host’s sounds came to the attention of Aldrahn (Dødheimsgard /Thorns) who offered any assistance to the project, subsequently becoming the vocalist and chief lyricist. An early demo led to Snorre Ruch of Thorns showing interest in helping on a full-length album which he eventually produced. Recorded, re-recorded, and mixed over several years, with bassist Jon Wesseltoft and drummer Storm completing the line-up for the recording, Deep Drone Master finally had its worldwide unleashing via Svart a few weeks back and it is easy to feel it will be leaving lingering scars for black metal to exalt over.

The album’s Intro is a sinister cinematic incitement, danger leering from the shadows as life goes on seemingly unaware. Its portentous suggestiveness is soon lost in the tsunami of caustic riffs and battering rhythms which descend on the senses through Flag of Betrayal, their ferocity bound in spicy sonic acidity. It is fiercely alluring entrance, building further threat and fury as the distinctive tones of Aldrahn roar and brawl with ears. First listen suggested a clash between his bear like delivery and the scorched sonic and dour melodic flow of the sounds but it was a conflict soon winning thoughts and igniting tracks to greater effect. The unrelenting tempest of the track is a gripping onslaught but it is the acidic drone which most ignites the passions, a serpentine seduction which makes certain tracks elevate far above others, as shown by the next up Dynamic Underworld. As potent and impressive as its predecessor was, it instantly has ears and imagination lost in rapturous bliss as the guitar of Host winds a searing tendril of melodic causticity around the senses. Its nags ears with a glazed expression; mesmerising as it expels a monotonous seduction to irresistible effect. Around it this though the song has plenty to flirt with too, slow footed beats thumping with predatory intent as Aldrahn expels the narrative with mischief and drama whilst bass and further guitar enterprise roam with merciless persuasion. The song is exceptional; the best on the album and for personal tastes the moment the album truly taps into the psyche.

Both Sewer Heart and Cocoons seize attention with voracious onslaughts, the first almost scavenging emotions with its furnace of erosive sonic designs again bound in coarse textures and gutturally rasping vocals. Its successor is similar in many ways, its core a barbarous incessant torrent of malicious intent and creative fury but arguably even darker and hungrier than the previous aural ravishment. Both tracks have a swing to their bleak landscapes and enthralling repetition driven grooves which, without matching the pure toxic manna of Dynamic Underworld, keep imagination and emotions intrigued and hungry. Something Making Me has no problem with either, its rhythmic rampancy and sonic teasing perfectly aligned to a tangy groove which simply worms under the skin. The track is another which simply festers in dark majesty and relentless persuasion, almost insidious in its addictiveness and infectious fluidity which sees even the vocals of Aldrahn develop a bruising swagger to match the insatiable magnetism of Host’s invention.

Cosmic Verdict taps another vein of lustful submission, the unfaltering drone of its sonic grooving a venomous temptress in a maelstrom of spite, so much so that even when it relents and lets the heavier savage terrain of the song have its moment, it is still a lingering seducing that ears are impatient to have back scorching their flesh. Its tempestuous alchemy is followed by the rapacious climate of Something Growing in the Trees, the sublimely evil and deliciously toxic song a crawling beast fingering ears and psyche with salacious predation as a flavoursome southern twang veins its corrosive haunting.

From the corrosive turbulence and fury of A Foot In Each Hell, a track impressing without leaving a deep mark though it has moments which spark extra satisfaction to be fair, the album closes with Syndebukken. The final track is an evolving adventure of sonic niggling and atmospheric exploration, its body cavernous and soul Cimmerian, but as everywhere with plenty of enthralling discordant sculpted expressive under an emotionally brooding ambience.

That pretty much sums up Deep Drone Master, a nightmarish emprise which can devour the light of the soul or inflame primal cravings, very often at the same time. Despite certain aspects of the album spellbinding the passions far more than others, The Deathtrip and first album makes for one seriously exciting black metal corruption which can only be heartily recommended.

Deep Drone Master is available now via Svart Records @ http://svartrecords.com/shoppe/home/2739-the-deathtrip-deep-drone-master-cd.html

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RingMaster 05/12/2014

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The House Of Capricorn – Morning Star Rise

Photo Credit Cerulean Empire

If the horned one has a house warming party the day he moves in and consumes the world, there are plenty of candidates to provide the musical incitement; a list sure to have The House Of Capricorn near the top. The New Zealand devil rock trio release their new album Morning Star Rise this week and it is a proposition which wears the apocalypse as a smouldering seduction, a tantalising glaze to the band’s rock ‘n’ roll tapestry of doom, gothic and stoner rock. The release is a masterful protagonist for dark deeds and blackened hearts, a bewitching evocative hex sounding like the son of a satanic union between Type O Negative, Dommin, Babylon Whores, and Sisters Of Mercy. Even that description does not touch the black hearted toxicity which coats every note and syllable but it does suggest the melodic and deceptive satanic alchemy fuelling the outstanding encounter, the album radiantly inviting as its sound and intent feeds on the soul.

Formed in 2001 and hailing from Auckland, The House of Capricorn set free the self-released The Rivers And The Rain EP in 2006 as their first temptation, but it was with first album Sign Of The Cloven Hoof four years later that the band stirred real attention within a wider spotlight. It was followed the next year by In The Devil’s Days, the album reinforcing the increasingly darker explorations began with its predecessor. Now the threesome of vocalist Marko Pavlovic, guitarist Scott Blomfield, and drummer Michael Rothwell have cast their most riveting collection of satanic hymns yet for one of the most thrilling possessions of the year.

The Road to Hell is Marked makes the first enticement of ears and psyche, the track bounding in on swinging beats and a carnivorously snarling bassline entwined with an instantly engaging if acidic groove. It is a magnet for the imagination, the opening intimidation swiftly bursting into a creative punk like brawl as Pavlovic roars from within a tenaciously aggressive sonic confrontation. An element of Volbeat plays with thoughts but only as whispers behind the outstanding Pete Steele like dark harmonies the vocals grace the lyrical infestation with. Anthemic and contagious, the opener is a salacious but controlled stomp teasing with a scorching solo and that ever grumbling bass sound which enslaves appetite and emotion.

The brilliant start is matched swiftly by the fire and brimstone of In Light of Lucifer, the track stepping down a gear in attack but increasing the dosage of toxic grooves and vocal tempting. The 143228track prowls and taunts with its gait and hypnotic sounds, an imposing resonance leaking from every pore whilst the guitars cast a web of virulent hooks and grooves within the thick doom loaded smog. As the previous songs and those to follow, there is a diversity of sound and textures making up the offering but whatever the spices the song, as the album, is simply rock ‘n’ roll at its voracious best.

Our Shrouded King is another bellow of sound and demonic intent, riffs and rhythms an uncompromising confrontation tempered by the sultry temptation of grooves and expressive vocals. Hints of Misfits/Samhain flirt with thoughts as do more loudly those of Type O Negative but there is no escaping the rich and imposing tones of seventies classic metal kicking up a storm within the swamp of enterprise and incendiary emotion squalling within the track. Its invitingly corrosive maelstrom makes way for the slower predation of Ashlands, it an initially agitated intimidation which emerges as a broad and funereal examination of imagination and emotions. The track is a glorious dark seducing, a drone kissed croon in sound and voice which consumes the senses with a post punk haunting and gothic rock elegance before making its way to angst soaked expulsions of raw vocals and blacker sonic depths. The song is as meditative as it is emotionally toxic, and quite riveting.

Both The Only Star in the Sky and Ivory Crown continue the exhilarating infestation, the album remaining on its lofty plateau of persuasion with consummate ease. The first of the two has an essence of The Mission to its melodic tempting whilst rhythmically and in the growling bass lures, a tinge of early Killing Joke. Again they are mere whispers in the fascinating creative embrace of an inescapable contagion. If this is an infectious suasion its successor is primal seducing with its Sisters of Mercy like chorus and blackened glamour, though overall as the song blossoms and tempts with melodic and female harmonies inflaming ears and passions, it enthrals more like a distant cousin of The Mission’s track Severina, a plus in anyone’s book.

The hazier climate and sonic colour of Watching Angels Fall comes next, the song as magnetic strolling relentlessly or welling up with tsunami like energy for impassioned dark crescendos. Its adventurous instinct leads the listener into a noir lit plane of sonic enterprise and provocative ruffled calm at one point, an almost wrong-footing turn before re-establishing its authority with the returning tide of torrential tiffs and rhythms. A slow burner compared to others on the album but soon another peak, it is followed by the atmospheric instrumental Covenants Ark, an intriguing and thought provoking piece of stark wasteland bred ambience leading to final epic emprise Dragon of Revelations. Over nine minutes long, the track is a cavernous journey into a dark unknown and destructive malevolence but lit with the transfixing smouldering tones of Pavlovic and a reflective streaming of sonic colour from Blomfield. It is a doom drenched exploration, oppressive and enchanting simultaneously and a sublime end to an exceptional release.

Morning Star Rise is majestic, colossally gloomy and fearsome but equally captivatingly infectious and spellbinding. When the apocalypse comes The House of Capricorn will have no fears, they will riding to the fore with wide grins and instruments sound-tracking the end of days.

Morning Star Rise is available now via Svart Records on vinyl @ http://svartrecords.com/shoppe/home/2738-the-house-of-capricorn-morning-star-rise-cd.html, on CD @ http://svartrecords.com/shoppe/home/2737-the-house-of-capricorn-morning-star-rise-cd.html or digitally @ http://thehouseofcapricorn.bandcamp.com/

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RingMaster 02/12/2014

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shEver: Rituals

 

There has been some impressive doom and heavily weighted sludge driven releases this year and right up there with them is the storm of sonic destruction Rituals from Swizz metalers shEvers. The six track album is colossal, a tempest of death spawn tar thick doom aggression to consume and erode the senses.

Formed in 2003 by guitarist Jessie and original drummer Melanie, with bassist Nadine joining soon after and vocalist Alex the following year, the all girl band unleashed their first demo The Mirror in 2004 as well as playing numerous shows across Switzerland including a show with Place Of Skulls. Two years later their debut album Ocean Of Illusions was unleashed with the current line-up coming together with Sarah replacing Melanie on drums in 2007. Across the years the witches of venom have played with bands such as Jex Thoth, Esoteric, Amenra, Saturnus, Ahab, Esoteric, and Obelyskkh, successfully played many festivals, and released the well received EP, A Dialogue With The Dimensions in 2009.

The band recorded Rituals in 2011 with its CD release this year coming through Total Rust, the label having already approached the band about releasing their debut at the time though it never came to be, and Svart Records for the vinyl release. It is a consumptive assault of tempestuous sounds and oppressive shadows which envelope and smothers the senses mercilessly and constantly.  The sounds overwhelm and
constrict the air sucking its energy into the malevolent mire of intense and thick ravenous energy. It is not all death and decaying shadows though as the band infuse squealing and incendiary sonics throughout to ignite the passions fully.

The opening Ritual Of Chaos is a crawling hateful slab of metal, its haunting atmosphere spliced with intrusive insanity enforced by the excellent rabid bestial vocals of Alex. It is sinisterly tense and dramatic, the riffs towering and their crushing presence impossible to defend against, though why one would want to avoid such a compulsive and welcome violation that the band lay upon their victims is unimaginable.

The outstanding and best track on the album Delirio feasts next with its equally suffocating ambient mass and provocatively engaging melodic charms. The song is beauty in its every form, the decayed breath and deathly atmosphere as glorious as the synapse burning sonic imagination and hungry predatory basslines. As with the majority of the album everything comes at a lumbering dragging pace and intensity but the effect is a mesmeric trance inducing weave though the meditative result is of nightmares rather than splendour. The song evolves into a delicious sludge riot for its climax to again unveil the strong invention and imagination of the band.

The following tracks like the hypnotic bruising that is Je Suis Nee and the stunning Souls Colliding with its plunging disturbed soundscape simply leave one in total absorbed bliss, suffering at times but welcoming every intrusive manipulation and caustic rub. The second of this pair really is majestic, the merging of the blackest pit and strongest sun a perfectly merged clash of extremes.

Closing with the almost grunge fuelled sludgefest of (You Are) The Mirror and the punishing crawl that is  That He Na Te, the album is an immense and fully satisfying violation upon the senses. Rituals is one of the best genre releases to eat the senses this year whilst placing shEver as one of the prime doomers around.

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RingMaster 14/09/2012

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Abhorrence: Completely Vulgar

A thorough treat for death metal fans this month comes in the form of the album Completely Vulgar from Finnish band Abhorrence. Acclaimed as the true pioneers and masters of Finnish Death Metal the album sees their only releases together with live tracks and on the 2 record vinyl version of the release a rare rehearsal demo, Macabre Masquerade. It is an album which not only marks the seeds of a scene but still has a place and potency amongst the genre today, sounding surprisingly fresh and definitely with an influence still to share.

Abhorrence began in early 1989 and in its brief existence released the demo Vulgar Necrolatry, and a self titled EP, both as mentioned the heart of Completely Vulgar. Initially playing under a few names before settling on Abhorrence, the band shared stages with the likes of Xysma and Funebre and played across Finland building a reputation to stay with them long after the band split in 1990. Guitarist Tomi Koivusaari went on to play in Amorphis who themselves recorded and have often played live the Abhorrence track Vulgar Necrolatry. Though almost a fleeting moment in the history of death metal the line-up of Koivusaari , fellow guitarist Kalle Mattsson, bassist Jussi Ahlroth, drummer Kimmo Heikkinen, and vocalist Jukka Kolehmainen, laid a big piece of foundation for what was to come with their striking and powerful sounds, something this release more than provides evidence of.

Release by Svart Records it is impossible not to be overwhelmed by the tracks on Completely Vulgar, their power and inventiveness mountainous whilst the heavy and oppressive feel of the production only adding to the consuming atmosphere and intensity created. Opening with intro The Cult, the album brings forth the tracks of the EP first and immediately has the senses reeling. From the destructive sounds of Pestilential Mists with its almost tortuous melodies and abrasive grumbling bass plus a groove leaving deep scars across the ear, through the mighty pair of monstrous beasts in Holy Laws of Pain and Caught in a Vortex one is exploited and exhilarated by the creativity before them. These last two tracks really epitomize what the band was all about and even now match anything current bands have to offer. The ear piercing corruption of Disintegration of Flesh finishes off the opening violation of the senses, stepping aside for the tracks that made up the demo.

Vulgar Necrolatry, Pleasures of Putrid Flesh, and Devourer of Souls all only go to confirm the importance and influence of the band. With an even more suffocating production than on the EP the tracks seek out and consume every corner of the senses and thought with strength and impressive skill, the mugginess of the sounds adding to the oppressive violation.

The live tracks on the release are from a 30-minute live show from Turku, Finland in 1990 and easily with their raw unpolished sound pull you right into the atmosphere of the time.  The same can be said of the again openly raw cuts of the five-track rehearsal demo Macabre Masquerade which appears on the vinyl version of Completely Vulgar only. With a mini-gatefold cover and a booklet crammed full of memorabilia, lyrics and liner notes from all band members accompanying the CD whilst the limited vinyl version has an even more massive booklet and a gatefold jacket, Completely Vulgar is a real and honest treat.

If Abhorrence escaped your attention originally then now is the chance to hear and feel the beginning of a sub genre. With an atmosphere and musical prowess as heavy and aggressively consumptive as you dare ever wish for Completely Vulgar is a must investigation for all death metal fans.

RingMaster 29/05/2012

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Beastmilk – Use Your Deluge EP

As the four songs making up the Use Your Deluge EP from Finnish post punk band Beastmilk  consume  and  permeate every pore it is impossible not to be taken back to the time when their sound first was seeded and spread its icy fingers and stark shadows. Comparisons placed upon the band include the likes of early Misfits, Dead Kennedys, and Danzig but as the far too brief a release took over the ear the trip back to the sounds of bands like Joy Division and even more so Leitmotiv and Crispy Ambulance was unmissable. Whether mere coincidence or actual flavours that influenced the quartet the EP ignited distinct passions assumed lost to time, feelings resurrected with freshness of the now. Simply Use Your Deluge is outstanding.

Beastmilk was formed in 2010 by British vocalist/songwriter Mathew McNerney, better known as Kvohst. Already renowned from his work with and in bands such as Code, Void, and Dødheimsgard, he pulled in friends guitarist Goatspeed, bassist Paile, and Arino on drums for the band. According to their press release they were to bring forth music that was a mixture of various acts like The Cure, Misfits, and Dead Kennedys. This they have achieved though there are many more and maybe more prominent flavours that stands out in their sound.

Released through Svart Records and following on from acclaimed self released two song demo White Stains on Black Tape, the band and the EP unleash their self proclaimed apocalyptic post punk upon the world with a deeply intrusive and satisfying contagion. The release swamps the ear and senses with an unrelenting intensity, a shadowed energetic breath and doom coloured melodic mesmerism. From the first compulsive consuming note to the last Use Your Deluge leaves one breathless and blackened, the need to immerse even longer in the thick smog of aural mass an addiction.

The EP opens with Void Mother, the track instantly swamping the ear with a dirty atmosphere and scuzzed guitars. As the dust settles the hypnotic bass and leading rhythms seize control of the ear allowing the guitar to roughen up the senses whilst the vocals of Kvohst sway and draw attention like a cobra, smooth and magnetic but full of power and intent. The track is very Danzig like with splashes of Play Dead and drips of Type O Negative added for taste. Aggressive and attentive the track is a stunning opener soon to be eclipsed by the following glorious track.

Children of the Atom Bomb picks up the already elevated reins of the release like a possessed entity. It rampages with a sure and controlled pace whilst delving into every pore with its consumption of black melodies and exhausting atmosphere. Reminding deeply of Leitmotive and their Caress + Curse EP, the track and its successor are overwhelmingly infectious. There is simplicity in the construct of lyrics and music that makes it so easy to be part of and impossible to resist being so. Repetition when used right and with thought is irresistible, a word that perfectly covers the Use Your Deluge EP as a whole.

The equally brilliant Forever Animal stalks and paces incessantly, another song that denies escape from its devouring rhythms and cold sirenesque pull. The bass conjures up riffs which are definitely as inspirational as those the Dead Kennedys excelled in and the comparison is understandable.

The mountainous closing Red Majesty is a prowling less eager track though no less impressive. When it raises its temperature it rages like a fire to then sit back and assess the damage with melodic glee and acidic smirking hooks. It is a venomous track and the one where you feel its aggressive energy blistering every vein the most. The droned resonance of the vocals of Kvohst is immense throughout the release and especially here bring a stunning companion and contrast to the coarse and caustic sounds around him.

Use Your Deluge is a classic with the fact it is only a foursome of great songs running barely fourteen minutes the negative. The need for and exasperation at not having more is overwhelming by the end, something hopefully that will be remedied in the near future. Released as a 7” vinyl only Beastmilk has given a true must have release, arguably the first of the year and sure to be just the first of many from them.

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RingMaster 22/05/2012

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Jess And The Ancient Ones – Self Titled

It is hard to be anything other than impressed by the debut self titled album from Finnish occult rock band Jess And The Ancient Ones. It is an album of immense depth, melodic splendour, and captivating majesty. Though not a release that had an immediate infection it slowly wrapped its skilled and evocative arms around the senses to bring a deep and lingering satisfaction and warmth, whilst its darkened atmospheres and emotive climes enveloped thoughts and emotions fully. It may have taken a couple of focused exposures to be convinced initially but the persuasion was absolute and the reward immense.

Formed in 2010 by guitarists Thomas Corpse and Thomas Fiend, the band was born with the instinct and intent to explore magical realms beyond the mundane. Completed instrumentally by third guitarist Von Stroh, bassist Fast Jake, drummer Yussuf, and Abraham on keyboards, the band take inspirations from the likes of Mercyful Fate, Roky Erickson, Iron Maiden and Abba to infuse their psychedelic rock/metal sounds for fullest effect. As powerful as their sounds are it finds a distinct elevation with the stunning vocals of Jess, her presence and voice stirring up already highly charged sounds with a sure and skilled breath. With lyrics drawn from personal occult experiences of the writers, the septet from Kuopio took no time in making a name and mark for themselves with the band being signed up by Svart Records in 2011. Their debut single 13th Breath of the Zodiac was released that October and sold out quickly with anticipation for a full length offering rising eagerly.

Prayer for Death and Fire is the first conjuration to explore and incite the ear, a superbly crafted composition with smouldering melodies from the keys and guitars surrounded by riffs and rhythms to draw out the deepest lying primal energy. Within a couple of minutes of the song Jess and the bass of Fast Jake steal attention away from the other corners of the song, his riffs rumbling and scowling with a bestial growl whilst Jess from a slow opening soars the landscape of the song with power and elegance.

A strong opening immediately surpassed by the following Twilight Witchcraft. With a psychedelic folk resonance to the creative weave the track is a playful yet sinister tease upon the senses. With a Wickerman feel to it, fanciful warm sounds in flight with a venomous purpose behind their rapture, the song is a masterful dark mistress with siren tendrils wrapping firmly around the body though the excellent guitar artistry and invention pervading every second of the song.

Though only consisting of seven songs the album is vast in mass and atmosphere. Each track has an epic element to them and none more so than the twelve minute Sulfur Giants (Red King). Though the song did not capture the imagination as much as the previous two it is impossible not to be enamoured with the unpredictable expanse of the song and its emotive energy. It also did not feel anywhere near its actual length, a sure sign of the enjoyment involved.

Ghost Riders canters in next, the irresistible grumbling bass groan and flitting guitar melodies making contrasting but obvious companions. There is a familiarity to the track though without a defined source which makes it easy to fall fully into. It also carries an eagerness which is impossible to resist, every element of the song a persuasive pleasure. The keys at times surprisingly reminded of The Stranglers with the near barracuda sound of the bass certainly added an extra depth to the comparison.

The album closing on the trio of 13th Breath of the Zodiac, Devil (in G minor), and Come Crimson Death. The first is an enjoyable pacing across the senses with male vocals making a more substantial companion to Jess than elsewhere, whilst the middle one of the three is a wonderful piano led creature, with a bustling jazzy swagger to it. It is an excellent track that shows the full strength and skill of the band in ability, songwriting, and diverse thought. The final twelve minute gem from its haunting start is a vibrant blend of harmonics, caressing melodies, and provocative imagery, a fitting end to a completely impressive album.

Jess and the Ancient Ones, band and release are musical alchemy at its height and a deeply pleasing pleasure to fall within. Released on CD and vinyl this is one devilment to eagerly lay down before and worship.

RingMaster 22/05/2012

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