Aevum – Impressions

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Listening to Impressions, the debut album from Italian gothic metallers Aevum is pure theatre, every track an adventure which at times has ears and emotions in bliss and in other moments seriously challenged and unsure. For all its undulating triumph and uncertainties though, the album is one seriously compelling proposition which persistently ignites the imagination.

The seeds of the band began with the meeting of vocalist Evelyn Moon and pianist Richard around the changing of 2007 into the following year. The first twelve months saw the release of Celestial Angels EP and the first showing of the band’s fusion of diverse sounds. Though tagged as gothic metal, Aevum transcend a multitude of styles with their creativity as proven with Impressions and its expansive diversity. Various changes in personnel came with subsequent years before a stable line-up emerged around two years ago. 2012 also saw the released of the Nova Vita EP, again as the previous offering a self-released encounter earning good attention. Last year the band signed with Wall Records for the release of acclaimed single My Vampire before the Turin quintet converged on the studio to create Impressions. Mixed and mastered by Ettore Rigotti (Disarmonia Mundi) and released via Fuel Records, the album is a tapestry of sound and shadow fuelled emotions; the exploration of opposites using a perpetual weave of startling flavours and provocative invention upon a neo-classical and gothic metal bred symphonic canvas.

As soon as the ghostly wails and electro tempting of opener Il palcoscenico della mente grasps ears, imagination and intrigue is yanked from their slumber, the brief instrumental a haunting of sinister and captivating potency. Building a portentous air through rising harmonies and symphonic seduction, the piece soon grows into an epic and imposing electronic provocation, slipping into the mellower yet still intimidatingly textured lure of Blade’s Kiss next. The second song in no time is striding with combative rhythms and shadow cloaked sonic colour, the entrancing play of Richard against the more expansive soak of synth enterprise cast by Ian magnetic. The formidable rhythmic antagonism of drummer Matt and bassist Violet are soon laying down their thick bait too as the operatic squalls of Moon pierce the landscape, joined soon after by the potent tones of Hydra. In no time it is a maelstrom of fascinating drama and unpredictable turbulence, spoken tones from Violet and rapacious growls uniting in the eventful and resourceful bluster of individual flavours. It is a challenging proposition, more vocally than musically, but one becoming more persuasive given time and attention. The electronicore and industrial elements of the song provide further transfixing and exhilarating temptation, adding to a song, which as the album, has plenty to excite and enthral but a few moments which worry personal tastes, which maybe something as varied and experimentally imaginative as this was always going to come up against.

Intermezzo is another bewitching instrumental, its melancholic flame of brass sounding keys dour but spicy bait before The Battle takes over with a sorrowful caress of piano cast melodic a0417005191_2emotion embraced by an evocative synth crafted atmosphere. Hydra adds his croon to the poetic landscape next and is almost immediately joined by the rich throated narrative of Moon. As the music is ever evolving across songs, the band presents each narrative in a web of primarily English and Italian presentation, both languages interlocking seamlessly. Bulging rhythms push the walls of the track outwards as a great vocal mix almost toys with the listener whilst the guitar of Lord Of Destruction sculpts its own gripping adventure into the engrossing soundscape. A spellbinding song which just gets better the further into its virulent thirteen minutes you go, it sets a fine plateau for the album which the classical beauty of Il lamento della ninfa cannot match but certainly adds a fresh vein of masterful exploration to the release.

The swift shadow lit kiss of Impressioni leads to the outstanding Lost Soul, an imposing and voracious roar of a track which charges through ears like an adrenaline fuelled lover equipped with an armoury of the folkish vivacity and death bred savagery and undertaking a do or die mission. It is a blistering predator of a track, every second either musically or vocally an experiment of tenacious invention and sonic experimentation. The song leaves ears and passions bruised and blissful as it forges the album’s pinnacle.

To Be or…to Be in its smouldering individual way is another track which brings new surprises with every twist and melodic swing within in its creative emprise. Irresistible classical and jazz seeded persuasions settle easily in ears just as the ruggedly melodic textures and more blackened metal essences seducing from within the bold drama. As the album, it is a track which takes a few listens to reveal its majesty but rewards relentlessly once understanding is found, much as after the dark menacing skies of the album’s instrumental title track, the mighty Monsters. Dark clouds instantly smother ears as the soaring tones of Moon scythe through their intimidating ambience, but within the tempestuous climate the band continually switch from a forceful stride to a ravenous charge unleashing a kaleidoscope of almost salacious sounds and fiery ingenuity which colours the explosive theatre of it all.

Finishing on Adieu à la scène with its music box like waltz, Impressions is not going to be for everyone and definitely needs proper attention and time given to it. Its first touch left us rigorously unsure but compelled and it was only over numerous plays that the songs and Aevum’s imagination found clarity in thoughts and emotions. There are still parts which fail to convince but for the main Impressions is a thrilling and hypnotic adventure all gothic, symphonic, and avant-garde metal fans should have a go at.

Impressions is available now via Fuel Records http://www.fuelrecords.it/?wp_releases=impressions and digitally @ http://aevumopera.bandcamp.com/album/impressions

http://www.aevumband.com/

RingMaster 11/12/2014

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Bjarm – Imminence

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Listening to Imminence, the debut album from Russian symphonic death/black metallers Bjarm, is like standing in the middle of two separate but merging dramatic climates. Walking the line between beauty and savagery, both extremes embracing each other for a tumultuous ravenous tempest, imagination and emotions are buffeted and stripped raw yet simultaneously seduced and exposed to gloriously epic and invigorating ambiences. The release is an enthralling and intimidating journey, a treacherous and at times disorientating conflict but dramatically compulsive and rewarding.

The Severodvinsk band was formed in the early months of 2009, taking its name from a territory mentioned in Norse legends and tales. The following year saw their demo Defect released, live shows, and subsequently as the next year fell changes in personnel before the band settled down to work on their first album. Self-produced, the Pavel Korotaev mixed and Tony Lindgren (Paradise Lost, Kreator) mastered album was recorded last year and has emerged as a striking and potent introduction to the impressive band.

The scene and atmosphere is imposingly set by opener Approaching of the Close, an instrumental with the charmed harmonies of angels and portentous intimidation of war. It is an epically rising portrait of the time and land Bjarm-Imminence Cover Arttheming the release, every scenic exposure caressed by orchestral beauty and dark shadows within predacious climates. Though it does not come with many surprises in its cinematic grandeur, the track grips attention ready for the opening clutches of Knowledge of Doom. Riffs rub invitingly on ears first whilst the symphonic lure of keys swirl with melodic intrigue, both swiftly joined by pungent rhythmic strikes and the throaty rapaciousness of the bass. The track expands its magnetic narrative musically with increasing washes of keys and threatening intensity whilst lyrically hoarse guttural vocals unveil the blackened premise. With siren-esque harmonies gliding overhead the track embraces and violates in equal measure for a formidable and increasingly impacting suasion. The twists do not slow, captivating female vocals laying elegant melodic hands on ears whilst intensity and provocation laps at the senses with sea like relentlessness.

It is an impressive track matched by the heavyweight presence of Ominous Dreams. Rumbles of doomy beats and brewing antagonistic air smothers ears first before keys and guitars cast a web of ill-boding enterprise. It is a strong entrance but the song really gathers pace and riveting invention with a contagiously predatory groove which emerges and the following raw rabidity which fuels a twist in vocals and the sonic toxicity expelled. The mix is insatiable in its voracious intent and merciless attraction, permeating every pore and thought as does the evolving symphonic radiance and melodically rich hues which crowd in later dripping expressive beauty. The track bewitches across its traumatic and thoroughly rewarding landscape before making way for the equally menacing and fascinating enticement of The Nine Worlds. As across the whole release, the listener is thrust into the heart of brutal intent and transfixing melodic romance, the track a battlefield for tenebrous depths and intent with golden hope and enchantment accentuated by again stunning female tones.

Fire Lord’s Torment comes next to make a strong and imagination sparking incitement but despite its skilfully crafted invention and powerfully sculpted textures fails to invite the same strength of passion and hunger for its accomplished offering as other songs, the same slip found by the instrumental title track straight after. Both tracks leave ears and thoughts alive and keen to explore more but fail to leave a lingering and deep rooted impression in their company or after, something the mouth-watering Oracle does not have a problem with. From a deliciously captivating acoustic and melodic coaxing with rising breezes of keys courted by sinew built rhythms, the song sways and immerses senses and emotions in a superbly evocative and spellbinding serenade of sound. Admittedly the caustic vocal scowls which are at odds to the seducing take time to accept but as the song continues to cast its binding spell on the emotions they become a strong texture to the siren song.

Both Secret of the Immortals and The Highest Hall keep the by now greedier appetite for the encounter well fed, the first a provocateur with thrashing swipes of riffs and rhythms aligned to a concentrated charge of intensity. It is a rolling adventure striking out from the poetically smothering melodic breath of keys which also soak the start, an emprise given greater infectious toxins by the great female vocals; something not used enough on the album, as well as unpredictable stabs and scythes of guitar imagination. The second of the two is as primal and brutal as it is rigorously compelling and masterfully incendiary, thanks again to melodies and a female croon. It is a bestial predator at times and a comforting mother’s breast in others, a torment suffocating and strangling hope tempered by the peace and security of instinctive beauty.

Imminence is closed by Tree on the Bones, a threatening and skilled fury to consume the senses but lacking that fuse to full lustful reactions, even though it creates arguably the most intricate and emotion involving proposition on the album. Bjarm has created a striking and at times startling entrance into the world of metal, with only the fact that many tracks are swiftly gone from memory and thoughts once leaving the ears. Nevertheless it is a potential loaded and thrilling incitement to suggest the Russians have a rather healthy future.

Imminence is available now @ https://itunes.apple.com/ru/album/imminence/id889323814

http://www.facebook.com/bjarmofficial

8.5/10

RingMaster 11/07/2014

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The sounds of passion: an interview with Zuberoa Aznárez of Diabulus In Musica

DiM Photoshoot by Fernando Lezaun

Photoshoot by Fernando Lezaun

The years since last album The Wanderer has seen Spanish symphonic metallers Diabulus In Musica as busy as ever whilst facing the challenge of losing and replacing two thirds of its line-up. The band’s return with new full-length Argia shows that not only have they overcome a rocky time but found a new potency and strength to their sound and presence. Written by the band founders, vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez and keyboardist Gorka Elso, the album is an immense and increasingly impressing encounter, a release which grows and explores emotions with every listen. Given the opportunity to chat with Zuberoa once again we explored the cloudy time between albums, the chance of the band calling it a day, new members and much more….

Hi Zuberoa, welcome back to the RingMaster Review

We talked to you last just after the release of the Wanderer and have the pleasure to catch up with the recent release of new album Argia. Before we talk about the release, can you bring us up to date with what has happened within and to Diabulus In Musica between releases?

It has been a very intensive period. After the release of The Wanderer we worked on a soundtrack for a book of Basque mythology (Itzalen Sua) and we played some shows to present that project. Right after this we started to write the songs for the new album and at the same time we started with rehearsals with the new members for some shows we had at that time too, so we haven’t stopped!

You mentioned new members; it is a major thing to have 3/5 of your band change, how did that impact on the band at the time and if at all on the new album?

They told us they would leave in summer and they still played a couple of shows with us. In the meanwhile we searched for the new members to play the “Itzalen Sua” show we had in January. At the beginning we weren’t sure what to do after this show, but we decided to continue with the band. After all Gorka and I are the main composers and founders of the band, so it had no sense to give up. After taking this decision the inspiration came to me and I started to write the new album. We also had some shows with the new line up in June and they turned out pretty well, so that also made us feel more confident about the future. As I said before we haven’t stopped working, so even if at first their departure was really hard for us, we soon followed our musical instinct so it finally hasn’t impacted that much. We feel more confident now about what we are able to do alone. We are very happy with the new album!

DiM Photoshoot by Fernando Lezaun 3Was there any thought of bringing Diabulus In Musica to a close because of the departures, of starting a fresh with a new project possibly?

To be honest yes… At first I tried to convince the others to stay, we even proposed to start a totally different new thing and change the name, just to stay the five of us, but they already had their own project so I don’t think it would have worked. We would have regretted it at the end, because Diabulus in Musica is like our child and we have achieved things Gorka and me would have never imagined when we started. It was our project, we were the core of it and that’s what made us understand DiM would definitely have to stay alive.

How difficult was it in finding the right people to suit, fit in with, and inspire the next twist of the journey of the band?

We always try to work with people we already know. We don’t like to do castings. DiM has always been like a family, so we preferred to work with people we know we can work with. We are lucky to live in a small but very active city musically wise, so we already had in mind some candidates. We had met Alexey (guitar player) and David (drummer) for some years, so we first thought about them. Odei (bass player) was the only one we didn’t know before, but he was a friend of Alexey, so we already had some references too. We feel we all fit very well musically and personally.

I believe some of the new members are involved in other bands, how has that worked with their addition to Diabulus In Musica?

Yes, Alexey is the leader of his own death metal band Allowance and David is the drummer of the famous Spanish band Tierra Santa, but we really wanted to work together and the schedule for the other bands was compatible with ours, so for the moment there hasn’t been any problem.

Backed to your excellent new album Argia, a release we have to say has continued to work on us and impresses more week by week. How would you say it differs and has moved on from The Wanderer?

Thank you; I’m glad that you like it! We are very happy with it. For me it has been a step forward. It is more mature and much more personal; the most personal so far, because the inspiration came from all the happenings that took place these two last years. The writing process has been also very different, because for The Wanderer we wrote a story before and then thought which kind of songs would fit on it. Everything was planned and now it has been more spontaneous. Musically I have also done what I wanted to do. Before we were five people to give opinions and now we were just two (the new members just wrote a couple of riff structures, we preferred them to focus on learning the old songs), so I have expressed just what I wanted. It’s a very varied album where almost all my musical influences are present.

Is there a theme behind Argia and has the departure of members in its emergence brought anything extra to the songs in any way? 

Yes, that’s actually the main topic on the album and three of the songs refer to our new situation as a band. “Argia” means “Light” or “clear” in Basque. This title somehow reflects how we feel now, after we had to start from scratch when the other band-members left. It was very hard at the beginning, but we both alone managed to write new songs, find new band-members and play some live shows in only one year. We saw the light in our path again and we had a clear view that we had to continue making music, just because we love it so much that we cannot live without it. On the other hand, this situation and others I’ve also experimented at the same time made me wonder about some human behaviours and made me try to understand others and myself better.

So a stronger personal element has emerged in your songs and music this time around as listening to Argia you do get that sense of intimacy and personal angst.

Absolutely. As I said it is our most personal album so far. The lyrics are directly connected to what I’ve just said. All the themes come from personal experiences and feelings. Some of them refer to our new situation, some others are more critical and the rest are much more introspective and are related to some of my spiritual believes. That’s why the album is so eclectic, because many different feelings are reflected. This album was born from a need to express so many feelings I had inside. I always say “Argia” had a therapeutic effect on me.

I am assuming with the new album the writing process was a little different to that around The Wanderer, with it just being the two of you at one point? Dim cover

Yes. The Wanderer was a planned consensus and Argia was a kind of spontaneous dictatorship (ha-ha just kidding), but it is true that I was in a kind of bubble, focused on my music and feelings. It is easy that one loses the perspective, so at the beginning we weren’t very confident. Our friend Ad Sluijer was the first to listen to the first new songs and give his opinion, he even wrote the riff structure for From The Embers, that made us recover the confidence too, because it is not the same to count on five opinions than writing alone, as I said it is difficult to find an objective point of view of your own work.

Did you find that just the process of writing songs helped give you clarity in making the decision to continue as Diabulus In Musica or did they come after you both had sorted out thoughts and feelings after the leaving of members?

We decided to go on before writing the new stuff, but I suppose that if the inspiration didn’t have come, we would have had to change our minds and stop with the band. When we saw we loved what we have done we recovered the strength to continue. Now that we have seen the reviews are so good, we are even more thrilled about the future. We will try to write the five of us from now and work as a team. We all come from different music background so I think the result of writing together can be very interesting.

In our review of The Wanderer we felt the band either went on the aggressive attack or all out melodic seduction with songs, not really merging the two between one individual encounter. Argia seems to be more willing to let the extremes share moments. Is this something you will investigate further do you feel, really entwining the two at times?

You never know how it’s going be the result when you start writing. We sometimes think we are going to follow one direction and then when we finish we realize we have done something different from what we had in mind at first, but I think this is the magic of music too, that it takes shape and grows with you, it is something alive. I’m sure our music will always be full of contrasts, because I find them necessary to express different emotions. I love musical eclecticism. I also like to conceive an album as a soundtrack that makes one travel through different sceneries, feelings, atmospheres… that’s why we use so many elements. We will follow this path and we will keep on working with extremes and exploring with new sounds, but I cannot tell how this will turn out at the end.

Our two favourite tracks on the album were Spoilt Vampire and Mechanical Ethos with ease. Can you give some background and insight to the pair?

I love those songs too. They are maybe the most experimental and more metal in this album. In fact these two songs are the only ones where the new band members have written some riffs and I think the mix with our symphonic elements worked out pretty cool, so I’m almost sure we will keep on exploring this side with the new line-up in the future.

How was the recording process with Argia, did you approach it any differently to how you created The Wanderer in the studio?

The production process was quite similar. We recorded in our home studios and the mixing and mastering was done by Jacob Hansen. We have changed only a few details regarding the acoustic instruments and choir. We doubled the voices searching for more timbres and we recorded a real wood wind section of the orchestra as well as the percussions. We wanted to introduce new colours in the music so I also recorded different flutes and the Celtic harp. I really liked the result, it sounds clear, round, bombastic…

I have to say that Argia took longer to ignite the passions than its predecessor but did do to the same depth and rich success. Obviously taste and emotions are a personal thing to discover with a release but is there anything different about the album which you could see might take longer to persuade?

Maybe, I don’t know, but it can probably be because this one has a bit more depth. Being more personal, it has our essence and it is not maybe so easy to take for everybody, but I’m surprised we have received many compliments from the listeners about the feelings it transmits, so I guess most of the listeners really caught the emotions captured in the songs of Argia.

DiM Photoshoot by Fernando Lezaun 3As with all your albums, it sees exciting guest appearances; this time the likes of vocalist Ailyn Giménez of Sirenia and Therion frontman Thomas Vikström. What was the spark to bring them into particular songs?

Yes, we were very lucky to count on them! I met Ailyn some time ago and we became friends, we even sung together live last year at MFVF. As the song where Ailyn is singing is in Spanish and both of us are from Spain, it was the best choice. Besides, we have different voices that complement each other very well, so I asked her if she would like to take part in this song. She likes a lot the band, so she immediately accepted and I was very happy to have her beautiful voice in one of our tracks!

Regarding Thomas, we needed a very special voice for this duet. I must admit that this song wrote itself. Gorka started with the verses, but he wasn’t sure. When I listened to them I could easily hear inside my mind the choruses and even the voices on them, so I continued with the song. Then I was wondering who was that male voice I could hear inside… We wanted a versatile male singer who could give to the song a “music theatre” touch, even operatic. Thomas is an amazing singer; he has actually sung a wide variety of styles from classical to metal, so he was the perfect candidate. I contacted him and sent him a rough demo of the song. I was so excited when he accepted and he told me he really liked the song and my voice! It has been such an honour for me to sing with him!

The album also sees you sing a song, Furia de Libertad, for the first time in Spanish. It is surprising in hindsight that you have not done so before so is there any reason for that and what inspired you to do so upon Argia?

You’re right. Honestly I had never thought that Spanish would sound good on Symphonic metal, but our Latin fans were asking for a song in Spanish for a long time, however, I had never found the right place to include a song in Spanish. I thought it would be nice to give a try with Argia. Actually, when I composed this song I knew this was the right one to try, as it had a Spanish flavour on it.

Can you tell us, as we are linguistically useless, about the lyrical narrative in the song?

It actually talks about the Spanish situation nowadays. The song is dedicated to all the victims of the political and economic crisis (and also crisis of values) in our country.

Last time we spoke we talked about the metal and music scene in Spain. Has it improved any over the past couple of years and is it seeing more bands of any genre emerging with stronger politically driven and anger fuelled intent over the financial and social problems which has hit every country in Europe and around the world.

I wouldn’t say it has changed at all, I think the situation is even worst… It was a bit exasperating to see no reaction from the population and more tedious to see how the government wrote new laws trying to criminalize all kind of protests. It is really a shame!! Anyway, it has been a relief to finally see we were able to break the bipartisanship in the last elections. There is still a long path ahead though…

What is next in store for and from Diabulus In Musica?

We will try to play live as much as we can to present the new album out there and then start to write the new stuff for the following release!

Once more many thanks for talking with us, it is always a pleasure.

Our pleasure! Thank you so much for your questions and the interest, we really appreciate it!

Is there a last thought you would like to leave us contemplating?

I just want to thank everyone who has supported us in some way. You know we are not living easy moments in the music industry, so your support is more important than ever! Hope to meet you all in the road one day ;)

http://diabulusinmusica.com/

Read the review of Argia @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/diabulus-in-musica-argia/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review

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Diabulus In Musica – Argia

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Spanish symphonic metallers Diabulus In Musica are poised to unleash their third album Argia this week, a release which surprisingly, considering how easily it was for its predecessor The Wanderer to achieve the same aim, took its time to win over thoughts and passions. It is hard to pinpoint why the slow uptake on what is openly a grander evolution on the might of the previous album but the release certainly raised many questions before ultimately seducing doubts and winning the imagination. There are still elements which leave a few insecurities and as a lingering persuasiveness the band’s last full-length steals a march on its successor, but there is no undoubting the eager satisfaction and pleasure brewed by Argia.

Released via Napalm Records, Argia sees band founders, vocalist Zuberoa Aznárez (ex-Dragon Lord) and keyboardist Gorka Elso (ex-Dragon Lord, ex-Meridiam ) joined by the new addition of bassist Odei Ochoa, drummer David Carrica (Tierra Santa), and guitarist Alexey Kolygin (Allowance), all three joining the 2006 formed band last year. The quintet explores deeper and richer expansive symphonic landscapes and melodically coloured scenery than the previous album whilst not neglecting the voracious metallic savagery the band is equally as accomplished at uncaging upon the senses. The voice of Aznárez as expected seduces and enchants as she takes robust flight across the songs, the release confirming her place as one of metal’s finest female vocal provocateurs, whilst the keys of Elso equally enrich the canvas crafted by the band. With the guitar skills and bass predation as well as the rhythmic thrust of songs striking, Argia is a formidable encounter. True it took its time to convince with personal tastes still not totally enamoured at times but it is hard not to declare and recommend the album as another mighty slice of melodic exploration from Diabulus In Musica.

The album opens with the atmospheric beauty of Et Resurrexit (Libera Me), an initial dark ambience lit by the glorious celestial tones of 536_DIM_CMYKAznárez. Her vocal beacon tempers the emerging shadows and imposing haunted feel of the track, that darkness eventually held in check by the additional medieval bred strings, warm flutes caresses, and the melodically hued keys. The piece though is a conflict between light and dark, those grey clouds bearing ever nearer, eventually raising their dark battalions to march across the imagination to set up an appetite for the journey to come. Closed by the harmonies of a sky bred choir the track seamlessly evolves into the instantly rapacious From The Embers, riffs and rhythms a rampant charge from its first breath. It is charged and hungry metal which is given another surge of rabid energy and incendiary intensity by the soaring vocal harmonies and expressive keys. Once Aznárez begins the narrative, the track relaxes but still keeps its snarl through the rigid riffery and growling vocal squalls of Elso. The track challenges and thrills from start to finish, the band breeding all the potency which won full submission of the emotions in the last album into a stronger and decisively enterprising bait.

The following Inner Force steps in through an electronic metal like lure next, its welcome reminding of The Browning until the vocals seize the songs for their own, operatic essences and smouldering melodic croons from Aznárez merging for a vibrant and captivating soar through the enticing yet rugged heavens of the song. As so often with Diabulus In Musica, they immerse ears and thoughts in a radiantly inciting premise which cannot fail to spark visions and tales from within the listener’s imagination.

The vast climactic embrace of Furia de Libertad comes next, its sultry land and air a heated blaze of intrigue and adventure presented by Aznárez and guest vocalist Ailyn Giménez of Sirenia. The track sweeps up the senses in its robust canter and steamy ambience to again ignite a new adventure in the mind despite the lyrics being passed over in Spanish. Its pungent humidity is in many ways matched by Maitagarri though the song is washed by gentle melody crafted winds which refresh from within the thicker orchestral atmosphere erupting throughout. With a folk lilt to the gentle stroll within the more tempestuous intent, the song makes for the compelling fusion of power and tenderness which the band is persistently so good at conjuring and presenting.

From the brief, again folk spawned Sed Diabolus, the album reaches its pinnacle through firstly Spoilt Vampire and after the less impressing Eternal Breeze, the outstanding Mechanical Ethos. The first of the three antagonistically stalks the senses from its first snarl, guitars and drums brewing up a hunger driven rabidity which the keys spear with acidic scythes of temptation. The song’s predatory intent is held in rein by the leadership of Aznárez’s voice though it finds an eager protagonist through Elso’s growls to duel with her. It is an exceptional proposition which never relents in its carnivorous intensity and warlike oppression but still lights the ears with a resourceful endeavour of melodic invention. Its triumph is matched by the third of the trio, its body again merciless in its aggression and spellbinding in its imagination, that reference to The Browning nagging away again within the torrential waspish electronic groove of the song. Truth to say that when the band stand tall with their sinews and nostrils flaring violently whilst their melodic and vocal imagination entwines around the predation, the band has us drooling most and wishing for so much more. Between the pair the classically honed and atmospherically sculpted keys and vocal led Eternal Breeze feels lost between the threatening storms but to be fair it does stand majestically away from the ravenous pack if without sparking a fire in the emotions.

The dark Encounter at Chronos’ Maze which features Therion frontman Thomas Vikström comes next and struggles to make an impact. Musically the track is as immense as any other, imposing and dramatically irresistible but the vocals fail to match the sounds. Vikström somehow and very surprisingly outshines Aznárez who seems to go missing in the match strength wise but both are left floundering by the coarse roars of Elso.

Both the elegant Indigo and the rigorous Healing regain the album’s grip on the emotions, the first a bewitching summer flight of flute and keys crafted melodies aligned to tempting vocal harmonies whilst the second stomps and surges masterfully from its opening swipe to send thoughts once more into climactic and extensively broad dramatic adventures. Completed by the short instrumental Horizons, the piece offering an evocative view of the lands ventured, Argia is a riveting journey to embrace. It does not rival The Wanderer in many ways, it and personal preferences at odds from time to time, but Argia despite needing more time is a mouthwatering encounter proving Diabulus In Musica as one of the essentials within symphonic metal.

http://diabulusinmusica.com/

8/10

RingMaster 11/04/2014

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Delain -The Human Contradiction

Delain_Group2

The release of The Human Contradiction cements a long held thought here that Dutch symphonic metallers Delain is one of if not the most exciting and refreshing band in the genre and melodic metal. The band’s fourth album is a spellbinding fire of seductive vocals, inescapable virulent hooks, and a carnivorous metallic enterprise which never dulls its impact and success no matter how many times the songs prey upon ears and passions. Their most ravenously inventive release so far, the nine track adventure shows a creatively bolder, broader, and potent Delain.

Their second release on Napalm Records, after last year’s more than decent Interlude, a release of new songs, covers, and live tracks, The Human Contradiction is a dramatic follow-up to their acclaimed and impressive third album We Are The Others of 2012. It takes the established power and imagination of the band into a new incendiary journey where every aspect from aggressive incitement to melodic painting and vocal conjuring creates a ricer canvas and palette for thoughts and emotions to paint vast evocative narratives with. Once again sculpted from the expansive songwriting of band founder and keyboardist Martijn Westerholt, singer Charlotte Wessels, and long-time musical partner Guus Eikens, the Fredrik Nordström and Henrik Udd mixed album with mastering by Grammy Award winner Ted Jensen, is arguably the band’s most complete work, bringing the darker tones and expression of their earlier albums with the sultry melodic grace and richness with was loudly hinted at on the last releases. It results in a confrontation which serenades and embraces the senses whilst chewing up the ground beneath them.

Looking at humanity’s ‘them and us syndrome’ and how it relates to those perceived as ‘different’; the ‘otherness’ first approached upon We 535_Delain_RGBAre The Others, and taking its title from the post-apocalypse trilogy Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butlers, The Human Contradiction instantly engulfs imagination and passions with its opener. Here Come The Vultures is a quite sensational welcome into the album using a simple union of the constantly impressing voice of Wessels, soothing vocal harmonies, and a music box like enticement. It is an evocative coaxing which embraces thoughts as the keys of Westerholt adds some dramatic shading before the explosion of predatory riffs from guitarist Timo Somers, the dark hearted basslines of Otto Schimmelpenninck van der Oije, and the fearsome swings of drummer Sander Zoer. The track intimidates and excites instantly, smothering the senses in an intense and towering persuasion cored by the siren tones of Wessels. Not for the last time on the album there is something familiar to the proposition, a rewarding and powerful enchantment which captures an instant allegiance from mind and heart.

From the huge passions foraging exploits and ingenuity of its predecessor, Your Body Is A Battleground presents its own suspenseful and masterfully magnetic tale. Again a gentle invitation makes way for a climactic adventure within a heady cage of composing riffs and rapacious rhythms lit by glorious horns of melodic fire. As you would expect the band and album welcomes guest contributions and the second track sees the returning vocal force of Marco Hietala (Nightwish), his voice a caustic blaze alongside the temptress tones of Wessel as the track climbs all over the senses with another exhaustingly creative narrative. Fierce and elegant, the song takes the listener on a rigorous ride, danger and majesty washing every note and syllable.

The following Stardust steps from a shadowed rhythmic heartbeat with emotive vocals cupping ears in an expressive atmosphere which at first courts the passionate angst of the lyrical call before flaring up with torrid hues of fire bred melodies and invasive intensity. The song is toxic in its drama and passion drenched suasion, and quite irresistible as is its successor My Masquerade, a hypnotic fusion of dark realms and rock pop virulence which seduces and overwhelms at every turn. The shadows provided by the bass and the noir lit ambience of the keys crowd the senses as the mystique of the emerging tale strokes the imagination, again the merger of bordering of metallic hostility and heart enlivening harmonies artistic alchemy and the venue to soaring pop bred choruses, though they too are prowled by deep dwelling vocal tones.

Tell Me, Mechanist steps up next and takes little encouragement to begin savaging ears with an excellent furnace of djent inspired rhythmic antagonism and similarly destructive riffing though as always Wessels and keys keep a rein on it all to create a masterful and compelling balance. The grievous side of the song finds a protagonist in the guest guttural intrusions of George Oosthoek (Celestial Season-vocals, Doghouse Gallows-drums), another highly successful vocal confrontation and union with Wessel explored.

In many ways the latter end of the album takes longer to win over the passions then the first though it is more down to the incredible impact the first few songs make than any failing of tracks like Sing To Me and Army Of Dolls. The first of the two sees the excellent re-appearance of Hietala in the passionate melancholic waltz of the song whilst the second expands an electro theme to its expressive premise though it is soon immersed in a not exactly solemn but certainly a sobering raw exploration. The track again captivates with ease saving its finest enticement for the electronic /vocal stomp building to a quite exceptional exotic breath before its heated finale.

The album is completed by the bewitching Lullaby and its beauteous melodic grace within a raptorial aggression and The Tragedy Of The Commons which features Alissa White-Gluz (ex- The Agonist). The track has an epic feel to its imperious shadows and dark depths which both Wessel and White-Gluz bring alive stealing the show from the rest of the band. Though lacking the same strength of previous tracks it is a fine end to a new masterpiece from Delain. For personal tastes there are few as adept and skilled at recruiting an immediate hunger and connection with their ever fluid and drama clad sounds, or as mouth-wateringly inventive and unpredictable within symphonic metal. With the outstanding The Human Contradiction the band has taken it to another contagiously unique level, and you still feel they have only begun tapping into their full potential which is just exciting.

http://www.delain.nl/

9/10

RingMaster 04/04/2014

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Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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Asa-Noir – The Fall Of The Idols

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    If you are looking for a real musical adventure then listening to The Fall Of The Idols, the new album from Finnish metallers Asa-Noir is high on the list of recommendations. Everything about the release is adventure, from its aural exploration and lyrical narrative through to its appetite inflaming flavouring and exhausting imagination. Band and album make a riveting and forcibly compelling endeavour with more distinct metal variants than flood warnings found in the UK right now. It is a glorious and seamless blending of textures and sounds into that extensive range of styles, a fusion which emerges as something mouth-wateringly invigorating, boldly exciting, and strikingly unique.

     The band found its seeds in the Finnish town of Hämeenlinna where guitarist Ville Oravala and drummer Ilkka Koivisto united their skills in 2004.Taking inspiration from the Norwegian black metal scene into their fascination with Norse mythology and Gothic horror fiction, Asa-Noir evolved and emerged with initially a heathen black metal encounter but as time passed and the band expanded, and from all accounts persistently changed, so did its sound. Now a sextet of vocalist Henri Asikainen, guitarist Kalle Hotti, bassist Antti Koivisto, and Toni Haapasaari on keys alongside Ville Oravala and Ilkka Koivisto, the magnetic metallers unleash The Fall Of The Idols, a record which given the chance will bring the band new and greater recognition you can only surmise as it seduces and voraciously toys with the passions.

     Released via WormHoleDeath Records, The Fall Of The Idols continues the band’s lyrical premise and artistic investigation based in the native European religion Asatru whilst infusing elements and visually stimulating aspects of the works of writers such as Poe and Lovecraft. Being our first meeting with Asa-Noir, how the new album differs from the band’s earlier sounds is impossible to reflect on but with a presence which can only be described as passion raising metal in all its melodically buoyant and aggressively hungry glory, The Fall Of The Idols is an enthralling and masterful provocateur which to be truthful we cannot get enough of.

     The opening instrumental Lokasenna gets it all off to a stunning start. It is an epically toned flight through an evocative and stirring desert like sultry landscape, sands of time and dusts of generations flying across thoughts whilst holding ominous and dangerous secrets. It is a rapturous start, a visually incendiary soundscape setting the listener up perfectly for the blazing tempest of the following title track. Immediately consuming the ears in a sea of symphonic and power metal rapaciousness with snarling riffs and reserved but intensive rhythms, the track takes little time in igniting thoughts and emotions. The vocals of Asikainen provide a grizzled texture to the melodically elegant keys and folkish warmth which emerges, his tones as gritty as sand but soaked in enticement rather than threat. It is a transfixing piece of malevolent but fully welcoming persuasion leaving an urgent hunger to delve even deeper into the album.

    The Cosmogonic Process follows with a more electronic and industrially honed opening, though guitars and bass are soon entwining the radiance with strict preying riffs. Not as instantly accessible as its predecessor and less intensively aggressive, the song unites dark shadows and melodic beauty in a tantalising flame of enterprise latched to dramatic textures created with open and incisive craft. There is so much going on in the song, with a similarly potent sparking of the imagination in tow, that you almost need to take a song one at a time to bask in and reflect on everything you have heard for full appreciation, but then again with a fully raging appetite from almost the first minute too impatient to wait you just have to move on and admit that to explore individual moments more that is what repeat listens are for.

    From the previous track which at times brings Canadian underground metallers The New Jacobin Club to mind, Asa-Noir open up Solitude In Silence with an orchestral piece which is again wholly cinematic though igniting a comparison to films like Love Story with its romantic air. It is just an early caress though as the track breaks into a muscular stride with an anthemically fuelled flame to its evolving melodic expedition. It once more creates a web of temptation which is impossible to resist or remove emotions and energy from, the embracing swagger and triumphant gait of the song aggressively spellbinding.

    The likes of the irrepressibly tantalising Hawthorns and the rich foreboding imaginative storm of Rise Of The Lokean continue the ever intensifying entangling of thoughts and emotions whilst Spirit Of The Unrest works its way almost insidiously into the passions with a symphonic, gothic, and slightly thrash blessed united suasion that feel like a gift with barbarous intent, a sonic Trojan Horse of sorts. Amidst these though lies the pinnacle of the album, the magnificent Naglfahr Lounge Music. It is festivity and anthem sculpted into an irresistible riling of the heart, and almost alone a reason why Asa-Noir should be sought out.

     Completed by the rigorously commanding and tempting Torn By Thorns and the closing portentous instrumental Drowning, it is impossible to validly offer anything up to temper the virtual lust we have for The Fall Of The Idols. People’s tastes and wants obviously vary but it is hard to imagine that fans of melodic metal however it comes, and the album probably employs it anyway, not finding a real feeling for and pleasure from this immense offering from Asa-Noir, a band turning metallic ‘theatrical drama’ into something to greedily devour.

https://www.facebook.com/asanoirband

10/10

RingMaster 04/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Winter Storm – Within The Frozen Design

 

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    Listening to the potent and promise soaked Within The Frozen Design, you easily get the feeling that UK symphonic metallers Winter Storm are poised to move up into a more intensive limelight. Whether this, their second album is the spring board time will tell but it is hard not to expect on a near horizon to see the band making a big contribution at the fore of the genre. The twelve track release has issues which make you query if their time is quite yet but simultaneously provides an absorbing and skilful melodic embrace which only raises and stretches a keen appetite for the band and its expressive sound.

     From the West Midlands, the quintet has earned a strong reputation and loyal following with their dark melodic metal, a sound honed through gothic shadows and symphonic atmospheres. Formed in 2008, Winter Storm were soon gripping attention live, supporting the likes of Alestorm, Sirenia, Theatres Des Vampires, To Mera, and Sarah Jezebel Deva early on before going on to share stages with the likes of Delain, Die So Fluid, The Birthday Massacre, ReVamp, The Lotus and many more. Debut album Serenity In Darkness of 2010 drew critical acclaim its way as have numerous festival appearances over recent years to cement and increase the band’s stature within British melodic metal. Now the strongly anticipated self-released Within The Frozen Design brings 2014 into a sharp focus for the band and its fans, an album if not setting raging fires undoubtedly reaffirms the creative strength and impressive potential of Winter Storm.

     As the album title, and band name come to that, suggests the tracks frequent a chilled and icily haunting realm but one clad in WS-coverbeauty and a melodic artistry which only warms. From the opening scene and drama setting intro Cold Creation, the album is soon caging ears in a rhythmic probing and brooding intensity as Wasted Feelings opens its arms. Its initial riffs seem predatory with an attitude to match the punchy rhythms barracking the senses. Equally though there is a breeze of synth colour floating over and through the aggressive touch of the track, its melodic soothing eventually tempering the snarl of the song ready for the impressive tones of vocalist Hannah Fieldhouse. Her voice is rich and tempting but with a restraint which sets her pleasingly apart from many other female fronted genre bands. The track provides an unpredictable expanse of sound and twists which without being startling in their impact only seduce the fullest attention on and satisfaction with its feisty yet elegant narrative.

     The following Shadow Weaver like its predecessor makes a forceful and rapacious entrance; riffs and rhythms a cage of antagonistic intent wrapped in more keys sculpted temptation. Dark with a gothic ambience, the song again guided by great vocals flirts with and triggers the imagination as it ventures through a rugged landscape of heavy riffs and sonic enterprise. Pretty much like the album the song is a slowly persuasive encounter but one which proves its strength and quality through deliberate attention. The same can be said of the next up Symmetric Flow, a captivating wind of melodic vocals and endeavour within a sturdy and uncompromising heavy metal frame. Again the offering is not as instant to convince as you would maybe expect or like but unveils plenty to enthuse about upon closer attention. That is one of the ‘problems’ of the album, tracks do not leap out and grip preferring a slower seduction but this comes with a need to fully extend a concentrated focus on the album to reap it’s definitely existing  rewards. It is hard to be critical though even if listeners need patience when immersing in the album.

    Afraid To Speak steps up next, gently wrapping a sultry breeze of melodic enchantment around thoughts if again without sparking any major reaction; that power is left to its successor Beneath The Mystery. The track also springs from a reserved start to open up sinew driven riffing and heavily striking rhythms within the keys designed eighties sounding gothic weave which feels seeded in the likes of Sisters Of Mercy and Play Dead by. It is a fiery encounter yet one which does not erupt or stretch its attributes as far as you expect or would like, again an accusation you can make on Within The Frozen Design as a whole.

   After the brief but decent enough instrumental Broken World, the album undulates a little but keeps the listener enthused starting with the impressive Universal Design, a track offering another accomplished and magnetic web of gothic and symphonic metal with a bite and almost antagonistic breath. It provides sizeable bait for the senses to devour eagerly before the enjoyable if underwhelming Gatekeeper shows its class. It is sandwiched between the previous track and the equally thrilling Dark Awakening, the song a heavy footed shadowed drenched beast with radiant beauty casting ripe melodic tantalising. As elsewhere the guitar craft and imagination is an irresistible lure whilst the epic tone of the track is aggressively bewitching.

     Completed by the overlong but appealing instrumental Waves Of Misery and the final slice of gothic allurement of The Frozen Siren, the album is a pleasing and enticing encounter. The cloudy production at times does the release no favours, cloaking some of the piercing strengths of instruments and voice but Winter Storm and Within The Frozen Design emerge from it with strength and quality. As mentioned earlier the album does not ignite a fire in the passions but definitely provides company which only invites the fullest satisfaction.

www.winter-storm.com

7.5/10

RingMaster 22/01/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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