Turning on the future: an interview with Mike Scalzi of Slough Feg

Mike Scalzi

As numerous impressive releases find them drenched in acclaim already this year, the outstanding Digital Resistance from Slough Feg stands on the frontline as one of the more imaginatively incendiary and virulently contagious adventures. Stretching and pushing their unique blend of Celtic folk and traditional metal with an array of additional potent flavours for  release which triggers a new thirst for the band’s sounds past and present, Slough Feg show themselves to be a force which continues to evolve and impress adding something special to the world of metal. Seizing on the opportunity and pleasure to delve deeper into the band and new album with vocalist/guitarist Mike Scalzi, we explore Digital Resistance, home town prejudices, technology and humanity, Slainé and much more…

Hi Mike and many thanks for sparing time to talk with us.

Before we get to your new album Digital Resistance can we ask about the band name… it comes from the Slainé story strip in UK comic 2000 A.D., a publication I have boxes of around the office I must admit. You are comic geeks or just this one character captured the imagination?

I was never really that into comic books—- except when I was pretty young and into Marvel stuff. The Slainé comics I just came across kind of by mistake and liked the “Warp-spasm” idea a lot, and thought it would be cool to write heavy metal songs about that. They came out with a 2000 AD hard-cover book recently featuring all the old cover art from the original Slainé comics and allowed me to write some of the liner notes—– really great. I was really happy about that.

As mentioned you have just released your new album, Digital Resistance, a release which marks a new strength of adventure in the band’s sound?

This is more of a statement than a question. But, here’s what I think:

We’ve done concept albums and albums that were taken to be concept albums that were not. This one I would have to say, is a concept album in the sense that the Beatles Sgt. Pepper is a concept album— it has somewhat of a consistent lyrical theme that runs through several of the songs, but not every song— it is not a concept album in the sense that our Traveller album is. I used to like technology, and still do in a poetic/literary sense, but the reality of it is becoming quite frightening. This theme then expanded to the role of technology in human evolution, etc. I am a teacher, and I watch students’ mindsets changing on a yearly basis—let’s just say I can’t say they are becoming noticeably smarter, with the advent of all this technology at their fingertips.

Did you musically have any clear intention with the direction of Digital Resistance or has it been primarily an organic coveremergence of ideas?

It’s just whatever we felt like writing at the time, no real preconceived ideas. Whatever inspires us at the moment is what we write. I tried to accomplish some different types of sounds on this album— some organ, some more rock songs, some more traditional, simple songs as well.

Your sound seems to be tagged as a merger of Celtic folk and traditional metal, something the new release certainly supports but there is plenty more flavours working away from within suggesting that if not inspirations your own personal tastes in music are potently wide and varied. How would you describe Digital Resistance to newcomers to really nail its presence?

I don’t know if I can. When someone asks me what the band sounds like, that is someone who has never heard it before, I say it sounds like Maiden, but older, with more traditional music influences, even stuff from Broadway musicals. I just write songs, and listen to different types of music, not just metal. In fact I don’t listen to too much metal these days— more traditional songs, like Frank Sinatra, and older rock stuff like the Beatles and Yes and even the Police, lately. These influences find their way into the music.

At times the album sparked up thoughts of bands such as Horslips as well as Thin Lizzy, Helldorado, and Hammers of Misfortune as additional loud whispers in an overall unique sound and adventure. Are there specific inspirations which have actually flavoured your invention over the years would you say?

Well, the stuff I mentioned above. Horslips was an influence at one point for sure; we covered Dergid Doom from their Tain album on Hardworlder. But that’s the only Horslips album I’m familiar with.

As you referred to earlier lyrically Digital Resistance looks at technology and how it impacts on all aspects of life, can you expand on its theme and how personally you have seen that ‘invasion’ coming into your lives?

Some of the songs are interconnected just because they have the same theme—resisting technology, or at least what it’s doing to the human mind— making it lazy and ‘flabby’. Some of the songs though are not about this— they are just about growing up and becoming middle-aged in a world you do not understand. Very simple—- many people go through this— especially today when musicians in particular don’t want to grow up— they want things to stay the way they were when they were younger— when you get older  you tend to think the world is getting older, or dying with you. It’s hard to accept the changing world. I am no exception. I don’t understand what’s going on in the mind of most Americans, it scares me. SO I write songs about it, like Warrior’s Dusk and Magic Hooligan.

Society is leaning on and allowing technology to infiltrate their daily lives more and more, how long do you see it before cyber implants and upgrades become as common place as tattoos and breast enlargements?

No long at all. That’s some of what the record is about. It’s not going to be long before the cell-phones are not outside of our bodies anymore— now people’s eyes are glued to them. Soon they won’t have to stare at them; they’ll already be in their brains!!

..and until the species becomes ‘stupid’ as machines make our decisions for us?

It’s already happening.

Back to the album, how have you approached Digital Resistance in its creation and recording which was different from previous releases?

Not really any different. It’s the same basic songwriting and recording process.

SFHow does the songwriting play out generally within Slough Feg?

Usually I write guitar or now organ parts at home, and then bring them down to the band to see if they sound good with everyone playing their own parts. I let the other guys do whatever they want to do over my riffs– unless it doesn’t sound right and then we all throw in our 2 cents. Generally we agree on what sounds good. Songwriting is really mostly editing. Coming up with the parts and melodies is not the hard part—- ask any songwriter– it’s putting it all together that is challenging— making it all sound like a song.

Having numerous albums under your belts, does each new adventure become easier to immerse within and bring to fruition or are there always new questions and obstacles to engage in which each journey into the studio?

Usually the latter… It is actually becoming very difficult trying to find a new way to do things, so that things continue to sound ‘fresh”. I always worry about putting something out that sounds just like the last thing we did— bands should be more concerned with this, because how many albums have you heard that sound just like the last one the same band put out? Bands need to try to break new ground, but they are often scared to do this because they may lose their audience. But I think they run a higher risk of losing their audience by doing the same thing over and over again.

How has that processed change most dramatically for you over the years?

It was not different than any other album, other than the fact that I used some organ on this one, but really it was just the same.  The songs were written with the band in the rehearsal space just like our other albums- etc. And the singing took forever because my voice is getting old and decrepit, and was never really suited for metal in the first place. I have a crooners voice, or if I’d worked at it a little maybe a choir voice, but not a high pitched metal voice– but I love metal, so I try to sing like Freddy Mercury and fail- and end up sounding like Neil Diamond on steroids. What can I say?

Pretty much the process remains the same—and I’m not actually that happy about it—I write guitar riffs, or now sometimes piano parts, and then bring them to the band and we work out arrangements, transitions, etc. But honestly, after a while that gets a little old, I’d like to do it a little different in the future— maybe if we had more money we could go into the studio and write a lot of the stuff in there and get a more spontaneous feeling for the record— we did some of that on Twilight of the Idols and some really interesting songs came out of that approach. But that takes a lot of time, which means money that we don’t really have right now.

I have noticed in previous interviews you are a band which looks back at your older releases and are quite honest in what worked and just as openly did not work. How soon after a release does hindsight lead you to these observations, when does the cold light of day sink in?

It usually happens in waves. I get pretty critical of the album right after we’re done with it, and then later on after listening to it a bunch I start to like it. But then I start to get critical again in a few months and after a few months I decide I don’t like the record. Then later after a year or so I start to like it again!!!!! It drives me insane!!!

Digital Resistance is released through Metal Blade Records, how did that union come about?

They asked us to do an album with them and we said ‘yes’, that simple. We negotiated a contract and went with it. What do we have to lose?

Mike you are a philosophy teacher, and I was wondering is there a comparison or similarity between that profession and music itself for you, in its content and presentation especially?

Yes. It’s almost exactly the same lecturing in front of kids and performing music in front of them. You have to use gimmicks to sf2keep them interested, and you have to write out content that is interesting and valuable. Doing a philosophy lecture is just like playing a metal show. It has to have peaks and valleys, heavy parts and light parts, a good intro and outro—– you have to keep them engaged just the same!!!

Slough Feg and its sound is not a typical San Francisco band I suspect, how have you fitted in your hometown’s scene over the years?

They hated us for the first 10 years. Hated us, in fact I think we stayed together just to spite everyone here. This was during the 90′s when everyone hated metal, and they hated us a lot. It wasn’t until the late 90′s and early 2000′s that people started to appreciate us. We don’t fit in here, never have. But now we have fans here and it’s cool, but I think we do better in a lot of other places.

What is next and across 2014 from Slough Feg?

A European tour in late May/early June, a couple of local shows and then in July shows in the Midwest– Chicago!! We did a movie soundtrack recently, and a few other projects. Just the same stuff——writing music, recording and playing rock and roll!!!!!!!

Thank you again for sharing time with us.

Thanks!!

https://www.facebook.com/sloughfegofficial

https://twitter.com/slough_feg

Read the review of Digital Resistance @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/slough-feg-digital-resistance/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 05/03/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Slough Feg – Digital Resistance

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    More an acquaintance in name than sound in the ears here at The RR, Slough Feg has been a presence tempting attention over recent years but never quite drawing it their way. That has now certainly changed with the band’s new album Digital Resistance; the release an irresistible charge of rock and metal which has triggered our thirst to truly investigate previous encounters leading up to this latest triumph. With songs taking a look at technology’s effect on society and life, the Metal Blade Records released album again explores Slough Fegs’s unique blend of Celtic Folk and Traditional Metal with magnetic potency. There is admittedly a constant familiarity to the sounds which rather than disappoints simply coaxes out a greater appetite for the propositions, but holding an energy and adventure which easily fires up the imagination and emotions, the album is one virulently contagious endeavour.

    With a name derived from a character in ancient Irish mythology brought to life via UK comic 2000AD, the Central Pennsylvania hailing and since San Francisco based Slough Feg has consistently lit up the metal world since certainly their debut self-titled album of 1996. Under the moniker The Lord Weird Slough Feg at first, until 2005 when they shortened the name for fourth album Atavism, the band continued to evolve their sound and reputation with albums such as Hardworlder in 2007 and Ape Uprising! two years later. It is easy to suspect that the band has never been a towering enticement for every metallic taste, ours alone finding excuses or distractions to never really immerse in their undoubted excellently crafted and passionate sounds, but as the successor to the acclaimed 2010 album The Animal Spirits rampages with incendiary might in the passions, you realise it was to our certain loss.

     Recorded with Justin Weis, who co-produced the release with vocalist/guitarist Mike Scalzi, Digital Resistance immediately SloughFeg-Digital Resistancestirs up thoughts and excitement with opener Analogue Avengers / Bertrand Russell’s Sex Den. Instantly the impressive vocals of Scalzi are invading the ears alongside imagination tempting keys and guitar speared by energy inciting rhythms. It is a romping temptation which within seconds brings thoughts of Horslips to the fore though with a more subtle Celtic wrap to its thrilling invitation. The song continues to run with the senses until seamlessly slipping into a slower emotive embrace which grips just as enthrallingly, keys and guitars crafting a melodic web to wrap the rich rhythmic bait. It is a riveting and exciting start soon elevated with the fiery dynamics of the title track. Once again, and to be honest within every track, the rhythmic patterns, skill, and temptation provided by drummer Harry Cantwell is scintillating with a virulence for the passions which is immeasurable  and alongside the darker throaty tones of bass from Adrian Maestas, the pair provide the strongest exploratory heartbeat and shadows to drive the persuasion of songs. The track itself weaves around the imagination with a rich fascination sculpted by the guitars of Scalzi and Angelo Tringali, their sonic and melodic designs seductively clasping the lyrical and vocal narrative.

    The outstanding start to the album continues with the excellent Habeas Corpsus, its opening sultry Western climate around an imposing rhythmic provocation drawing thoughts to imagine dust filled climes and black dressed undertakers waiting for their next gunslinger sparked job. The melodramatic intensity to the song brings a mix of Helldorado meets Hammers of Misfortune to thoughts whilst the almost smothering production to the song, especially around the vocals, just intensifies the thick breath of the solemn scenery.

     Both the Thin Lizzy-esque Magic Hooligan with again a healthy dose of a rawer Horslips adding to its irrepressible bait and Ghastly Appendage with its delicious gothic theatre, keep the passions raging with greed and pleasure whilst the heavy metal/hard rock merger of Laser Enforcer brings another lick of the lips around an eager appetite even if with not quite the same intense reactions found elsewhere on the album. As always though even when songs slip a little below the early pace and level the quite dazzling rhythmic alchemy of Cantwell steals an ardour its way whilst bassist Maestas, most notably in the third of this trio, unleashes a presence and snarl to his invention which instinctively stirs up a pleasure to stand tall alongside the satisfaction cast by the guitars and vocals.

    The Price Is Nice is another striking highlight of the album, the song pushing recognisable yet indefinable lures and hooks in its stalking presence as Scalzi deliver words with his excellent dusty almost growling tones. As with many songs either rhythmically or in riffery, there is an ensnaring repetition to the song which in other’s hands may seem limiting but from Slough Feg only increases the creative mesh to get caught up in. The following Curriculum Vitae is the same, a pulsating unrelenting torrent of rhythmic pressuring often a singular surge of intent but as magnetic as the sun. The song as its successor The Luddite, does not impact on and raise the emotions as potently and forcibly as previous tracks, though neither do the pair leave satisfaction and fun lacking a square meal, but there just is not the fuse to the imagination and passions as offered from the rest of the album even if musical craft and invention is as undeniable as ever.

   The closing Warrior’s Dusk unveils another Western twang to the guitars to intrigue thoughts within an otherwise full bodied presence with medieval folk adventure and melodic flames all brewed in a heavy metal vat. It is a fine finish to an excellent album, one which maybe was unexpected due to our poor attention to the band previously but a release providing one of the most enjoyable and easy to recommend albums this year so far.

https://twitter.com/slough_feg

9/10

RingMaster 18/02/2014

 

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Emperor Chung – Self Titled

Emperor Chung Online Promo Shot

If their self-titled debut album is a sign of things to come, UK rock band Emperor Chung is going to be one impressive and incendiary proposition for British rock music. The eleven track release is a riveting introduction to a band which has been causing quite a stir with their fresh and diverse sound. It is an album which does miss the opportunity to be an instant classic but as a reservoir of promise and the seed of expectations of big things to come, it is a striking and potent triumph.

Coming from Ilkeston in Derbyshire and formed in late 2011, Emperor Chung has taken little time in making their mark locally and further afield with a sound which has drawn comparisons to those such as Queen, Thin Lizzy, Coheed & Cambria, and Alter Bridge in various ways. Consisting of vocalist Martin Jackson, guitarists Danny Beardsley (formerly of Isolysis) and Richard Shaw (also of NG26), bassist Dan Hayes, and drummer Eddie Hodgkinson (formerly Eight Idle Hands), all bringing strong experience from their previous exploits, Emperor Chung has been on a rapid and impressive rise which their album is sure to accelerate. Their performance at Download earlier this year set the country’s rock scene on full alert, which the album creatively reinforces and with appearances at the YNOT festival with The Darkness, Macmillanfest with Tesseract, and numerous other shows taking the year into the next you can only feel their ascent is picking up speed.

The wintery scene to the start of I Vow This Day brings in instant drama and menace which has thoughts licking their lips, especially whenEmperor Chung Cover Artwork a tight inviting groove from the guitar beckons. The impressive vocals of Jackson soon make their appealing mark also and when the chorus with Beardsley adding his strong tones moves over for an even greater lure to that original groove, the track has full eager attention. From there it does not exactly hold its grip but with good sonic displays and feisty rhythms perpetually nagging the ear, it is a pleasing if not striking start to the album.

The following To Bring Justice and Downpour soon raise levels as the band and release begins to stretch their creativity and adventure. The first is a smouldering heat of strong vocals and melodic imagination which from its stirring opening flexing of sinews and emotive intensity evolves into a tantalising weave of progressive rock and evocative colour crafted by the guitars and veined by the throaty call of the bass and the snarling riffs. It is the first pinnacle of the album and does makes its predecessor look a little pale. The classic rock sculpted build of its successor provides a muscular and equally warm sonic blaze. The track creates a contagious web around the ears but as a few times on the album just does not take that final step or bite to secure a lingering slavery of the passion; nevertheless the song as the album is a richly appetising encounter which leaves satisfaction full.

The album is themed by a story of an Emperor Penguin, Chico Chung who is hunting down the members of the Chinese zodiac who murdered his father. It sounds a little Kung Fu Panda like taken out of context but the wrap of the bands enterprise, which starts with the outstanding artwork around the album to the lyrical fun and craft not forgetting gripping sounds, brings the premise successfully within the potent persuasion of tracks, like the next up My Next Foe and Pyramid. Both tracks in their individual landscapes paint an evocative progressive/melodic narrative which explores the imagination, and though neither grips the plateaus of some of the other songs they leave a brewing hunger in their wake for more, which the likes of No Mercy and the band’s first single The Bloodline supply with accomplished craft and inventive temptation. The first of these two has a familiarity to it and often reminds of Coheed & Cambria whilst the second offers a slowly building melodic caress from guitars and vocals which takes little time to seduce attention and thoughts. It is an obvious lead into the album for newcomers if not the best track on the release.

That honour belongs to Our Weaknesses, a scintillating track which from its intriguing guitar mystique at the start soon expels a technically teasing and invigorating fire of intensity and invention which reminds of Tesseract though across the enthralling song and not for the first time on the album, there is also a strong breeze of Manic Street Preachers coating its irresistible flames. It is the best thing on the album by far, which considering the strength of all songs gives an idea of its majesty, guitars carving out an addictive entrapment which the great rhythmic predation and snarling vocals stalk and ignite further.

The impressive Victory’s Calling and the mouth-watering Apex bring the album towards an intensely enjoyable close leaving Free At Least and its melodic yet rapacious suasion to conclude a thoroughly thrilling and impressive release. As impressive as it is you do feel there is an element of a lost opportunity with not enough songs fulfilling their open potential but with all drenched in unmistakable and infectious promise it is only a matter of time before Emperor Chung do create a ‘classic’ you feel. For now their debut is a wholly enterprising and hunger sufficing treat from a band destined to major things.

http://emperorchung.com/

https://www.facebook.com/TheEmperorChung

8.5/10

RingMaster 14/10/2013

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EMPEROR CHUNG video single The Bloodline, out now!‏

Emperor Chung Online Promo Shot

EMPEROR CHUNG’s NEW VIDEO SINGLE TAKEN FROM UPCOMING DEBUT ALBUM AVAILABLE NOW!

 
Taking from the givings of past rock masters such as Queen and Thin Lizzy fused with modern classics such as Coheed & Cambria, Alter Bridge, Derbyshire five-some Emperor Chung are here to run rampant through the UK scene.
With a sound that boasts captivating vocals lines with infectious grooves and thunderous riffery separated by delectable dual-lead melodies, Emperor Chung are quickly making friends and have already garnered support from Scuzz TV and Team Rock Radio, as well as recently wooing crowds at this year’s Download Festival.
Hailing from Ilkeston in Derbyshire, and born at the tail end of 2011, all members of Emperor Chung previously served their time doing the rounds throughout the local scene. It wasn’t until they collectively formed Emperor Chung, that everything really started to click for the talented quintet. Intense gigging and rehearsals soon followed, and by the end of the year, the band had enough quality material to record their debut album.
The ascending crew recently played the YNOT festival with The Darkness, Macmillanfest with Tesseract and have more dates lined up throughout the UK this Autumn; along with having recently released their self-titled album and with the release of their spanking new video ‘The Bloodline’, the unstoppable are poised to break, and with support building for the band with Rocksound, Classic Rock, Powerplay and Scuzz TV, this year is sure to be a colossal one for this rising rocksters!
 

Gypsy Chief Goliath – New Machines of the Night

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    Whether smouldering incandescently on the senses or burning them with blazes of blues soaked melodic rapaciousness, New Machines of the Night is one furnace of an album, a rigorous force which seizes senses and passions taking them on a goliath ride of heavyweight rock and metal fusion. Building on from their acclaimed debut, Canadians Gypsy Chief Goliath explore imagination and heart with ten slabs of scintillating and bruising rock ‘n’ roll. Classed as a stoner metal band, the Ontario sextet bring so much more to their presence and sound, the new album a magnetic fury of southern and classic rock with stoner and blues rock additives as well as melodic and heavy metal predation. It is a distinct and singular temptation to Gypsy Chief Goliath and in the Pitch Black Records released New Machines of the Night, a triumph at its invigorating potent best.

With songs sculpted by the three guitar assault and enterprise of Al the Yeti Bones, Dave Ljubanovich, and Sean Hamilton, the album is an adventurous and twisting flame of scorching invention and irresistible intrigue. Driven by the rhythmic framing and coring of drummer Adam Saitti and bassist Sean De Faria it is equally impacting with their enslaving spine of commanding persuasion and when you add the outstanding vocals of Al the Yeti Bones, who whether growling or offering a cleaner suasion coats the songs in an extra blaze of passion and energy to compliment the already fierce potency of the songs, the result is one of the best albums of this year. It does not end there though as with the harmonica sultriness of Brodie Stevenson teases the ear and boiling extra ardour, New Machines of the Night becomes an ever greater release combining themes of despair and dark shadows in a presentation which at times finds a feel good factor which has body and soul on their feet with jubilation.

The album stomps in with almost intimidation as opener Uneasy Kings raps the ear with measured beats and sonic spears of guitar cover_600x600strikes, a beckoning which wraps teasingly around the ear inviting thoughts and imagination into its seductive embrace. With the throaty predacious charm of the bass the platform for the excellent vocals to parade the narrative, the track is soon a shady yet dazzling companion, grooves and a sure swagger leading submission by the hand through scenery of Pantera like provocation within a vintage Thin Lizzy bred temptation. It is a striking start and the portent of things to come, certainly with that Lynott and co lilt coming to plenty of the offerings and an overwhelming perpetual contagious presence unveiled.

The following Are you Pulling Through also takes little time in gripping the ear and emotions, its starting stroll of feisty riffs and thumping rhythms aligned to a sirenesque call from the harmonica It soon evolves into an addiction causing growl of downtuned intensive bass and guitar which forges a dark stoner Down like ravishment with doom whispers and melodic acts of delicious discord. Easily continuing the impressive stance and power of the album with the blues furnace of Dirt Meets Rust matching the early heights with its blues swamp of enterprise and adventure the album is already in control of attention and appetite. With a fuller clean delivery to the vocals merged perfectly into his scowling gruffness, Al grabs as much of the attention as the fire spawned sounds. Thoughts of Bad Company make glimpses within the earlier part of the song though its heavier Sabbath suggesting latter portion shows the rich craft and diversity within the songwriting and album.

Busting the Avenue is another impossibly infectious bait of magnetic acidic invention, guitars conjuring a web of unpredictability and smouldering enticement which with the sinews of the rhythms and carnal snarl of the bass swings in comparisons from Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity to Motorhead. From one pinnacle the album provides another, and it’s loftiest in the brilliant wonderfully persuasive form of St. Covens Tavern. The song is glorious, immediately whisking feet and passion on a mesmeric dance of again Thin Lizzy seeped imagination. But it is only a teaser as riffs suddenly show their carnivorous side, barbarous tones springing infectiously from their strings whilst the rhythms equally harden their stance. It is when the folk metal like taunting enters with a whisper of Gaelic folk reminding of Horslips that the track becomes rock manna. It is rapture breeding raptor of a song, a treat which preys on all the weaknesses of the passions to feed all their wants in a multi-flavour insatiable metallic waltz. Not only best song on New Machines of the Night, it is one of those treasures which takes classic status.

The sizzling melodic pyre that is Got no Soul makes a strong rival with its southern blues coating of the ears, harmonica and keys aural alchemy within the cast of guitar and bass passion whilst both Secret Liaison and White Owl provide a slower sultriness from their heady blues angst and incendiary spicery, the second of the pair stretching into wider southern and hard rock endeavours. Though they arguably fall below the previous charge of songs they are borne of an invention and heart bred intensity which is at its height on the album within these two compelling snares.

Completed by the grizzled heavy metal breathing Slow Leak and the riveting Fought for Death with its again esuriently charged riffs stalking the senses for rhythms and vocals to play upon, New Machines of the Night is a magnificent release which leaves thoughts and senses ignited in a mix of adoration and greedy hunger for more. Gypsy Chief Goliath create an enthralling blend of rock and metal which is unafraid to stretch its limits and coax out startling fresh spices whilst offering something almost familiar to consume, certainly it is a treat with easy access and the fullest rewards. Heavy rock album of the year? Definitely the band has crafted a powerful contender.

https://www.facebook.com/GypsyChiefGoliath

9/10

RingMaster 09/10/2013

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EMPEROR CHUNG debut album out Monday 14th October‏

Emperor Chung Online Promo Shot

EMPEROR CHUNG DEBUT ALBUM NATIONALLY UNLEASHED!

 
Taking from the givings of past rock masters such as Queen and Thin Lizzy fused with modern classics such as Coheed & Cambria, Alter Bridge, Derbyshire five-some Emperor Chung are here to run rampant through the UK scene.
 
With a sound that boasts captivating vocals lines with infectious grooves and thunderous riffery separated by delectable dual-lead melodies, Emperor Chung are quickly making friends and have already garnered support from Scuzz TV and Team Rock Radio, as well as recently wooing crowds at this year’s Download Festival. The ascending quintet are also set to play the YNOT festival with The Darkness, Macmillanfest with Tesseract and more dates throughout the UK this Autumn and with the national launch of their self-titled album, out Monday 14th October, the band’s climb is infinite.
Hailing from Ilkeston in Derbyshire, and born at the tail end of 2011, all members of Emperor Chung previously served their time doing the rounds throughout the local scene. It wasn’t until they collectively formed Emperor Chung, that everything really started to click for the talented quintet. Intense gigging and rehearsals soon followed, and by the end of the year, the band had enough quality material to record their debut album. The rock crew will now release their debut self titled album this Autumn to a national audience, and it’s a real belter.
The record boots off with an explosive opener in the shape of ‘I Vow This Day’; already marked as a future single, the track is a powerful slab of alluring modern heavy rock that aptly opens proceedings. Next up, ‘To Bring Justice’ pitches Martin Jackson’s impressive vocal gymnastics against the dual-lead guitar melodies of Danny Beardsley and Richard Shaw. As the album moves on, the punchy riff assault of ‘My Next Foe’ showcases the band’s stout rhythm section as tub thumper Eddie Hodgkinson and Dan Hayes bond tightly, providing a colossal basis for the track’s soaring chorus to really shine. The weaving vigor and gritty ‘Pyramid’ is next, and it comes over you like an earth-shattering tidal wave. Their debut single ‘The Bloodline’ truly displays the band’s songwriting dexterity with its shifting dynamics and layered guitar lines that glide effortlessly with a killer refrain. While ‘Our Weaknesses’ takes the album forward with gargantuan riffs and luscious melodies, before ‘Free At Last’ closes the record with its captivating cadence and infectious refrain. From start to finish, Emperor Chung have crafted a truly engaging record that is enterprising, dynamic and jam-packed with killer hooks!
 Emperor Chung Cover Artwork
 

Trucker Diablo – Songs of Iron

truckerDiablo

If The Devil Rhythm, the debut album from Northern Ireland rockers Trucker Diablo set your passions racing, than hold onto your gear sticks as the juggernaut has returned with second album Songs of Iron. Cut from the same template and loaded with the same high grade fuel of rock ‘n’ roll as its predecessor, the new fourteen track release burns another riveting expanse of intensive rubber on to the road The Devil Rhythm left ablaze for another irresistible contagious fury of rebellious rock.

Since forming in 2008, Trucker Diablo has been on an accelerated rise, the band consisting of four friends who united to unleash music they have a full passion for whilst employing experiences gained in the ranks of Joyrider and TILTED to full potency, making deep lingering marks by the day. It was not long after starting that the band was reaping acclaim and support with their live performances, the likes of Ricky Warwick, Ginger Wildheart, Joe Elliot, Damon Johnson, and Cormac Neeson endorsing their rising presence. Supporting and playing alongside bands such as Foo Fighters, Terrorvision, Anthrax, and Thin Lizzy in shows and festival as well as their own intensive touring has only reinforced their stature with The Devil Rhythm marking another impressive statement in their ascent last year.

Released through Ripple Music, Songs of Iron explodes from its very first second never letting up through to its final sizzling lick of300energy. Red Light On opens up the brawl with heated riffs and concussive beats beckoning the ear around the snarling temptation offered with intimidating power by bassist Glenn Harrison. It is an immediate hook to the senses and lays an inviting canvas for the impressive vocals spread and shared between guitarists Tom Harte and Simon Haddock. Thumping rhythms and big boned riffs seize the air with strong craft and energy to taking the listener on a contagious and commanding ride, a charge which makes no demands but incites a full involvement with its muscular intent. With melodies and barbed hooks, not forgetting the scintillating solo, as striking as the rippling sinews framing them the song is a pleasing start soon surpassed by the excellent Year Of The Truck.

From the first note the song gnaws in the ear with savage rapacious hunger, the riffs iron clad and as intrusive as any Meshuggah or Mastodon could conjure and lying somewhere in between the two in voice, ensnaring the passions with intensive persuasion whilst the drums of Terry Crawford cage all with crisp and potent invention. It is again the bass growl of Harrison which seals the ardour in tight, one of the highlights of the last album just as riveting and viciously seductive this time around in nothing but impressive attributes offered by all members on  Songs of Iron. Virulently anthemic and catchy, the track launches an irresistible call on voice and limbs for a full involvement and contribution towards its gasoline burn up, though all the songs have that power in varying degrees.

The southern rock toned stance of passion and enterprise, The Rebel steps up next to leave further irresistible inducement working on the passions. Loud whispers of ZZ Top and Black Label Society add their rich vapours to the track and single from the release, a song which with ease accelerates the heart rate, and beyond safety levels one suspects such its epidemic call. It is a staggering start to the album which is continued now into the heart of the release through the likes of Drive, the outstanding Not So Superstar and its dirty brew of scorching rock ‘n’ roll, and the melodic hard rock honed The Streets Run Red, whilst others such as the muscle bruising Lie to Me and the emotive ballad Maybe You’re the One bring further variety and depth forward. Admittedly not all the tracks ignite the same heights of passion as others but there is never a moment where satisfaction is left half-filled or the stirring skill and invention of the band not openly there to be hailed.

Further especially enriching highlights come through the crushing Bulldozer, where again that bass rips the senses to tattered remnants of their former self aided by corrosively greedy riffs and rhythms whilst the anthem bearing chorus and group harmonies light a melodic fire to sear the wounds, When’s it Gonna Rain with its seriously chunky riffs and southern heat, and best track on the album Shame On You. The last of these three has a swagger which like it’s delicious grooves is an addiction of toxic suasion, its lure permanent and deeply entrenched in thought and heart by its end, the delicious addiction cast by devil spawn riffs and rabid rhythms wrapped in a sonic furnace.

Completed by the excellent I Want To Party With You, a song giving you exactly what it desires, Songs of Iron is an exceptional slab of rock ‘n’ roll, all songs mentioned and left for your discovery pure adrenaline raising pleasure. There is no boundary breaking going on here just riotous rampage within what is one of the most exhilarating albums this year so far, and that is more than good enough for us.

https://www.facebook.com/TRUCKERDIABLO

9/10

RingMaster 14/05/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Corsair – Ghosts of Proxima Centauri

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This week sees the re-release of Ghosts of Proxima Centauri from progressive rock /melodic metallers Corsair through Shadow Kingdom Records who released their acclaimed self-titled album of earlier in the year. The six track EP first made its well-received appearance in 2011 and makes a nice accompaniment to their current album. For those new to the band and also existing fans it is an enterprising and appetizing look into the band leading up to the recent release.

Their second independently released record before signing up with Shadow Kingdom, Ghosts of Proxima Centauri has a majority of the elements which went into their excellent album showing the evolution was in full swing within their inventive songwriting and imagination. More as the promo for the release says ‘laid back’ than its successor, the EP still has the tools and intent to rock the passions into action as well as exploring expansive progressive expression. If someone new to the band, the record also makes a fully convincing persuasion to check out their following album, its sounds and kaleidoscope of textures igniting ones would imagine an urgent appetite to do so.

The opening instrumental Wolfrider is a pleasing and inviting start to the EP, its fiery breath and provocative sinews a strong base for the expressive melodic and sonic colouring of guitarists Paul Sebring and Marie Landragin. It is not a track to ignite the passions but certainly makes a very decent lead into the following Warrior Woman, especially with its blazing climax. The second track is a thrilling ride of intensive riffs and incendiary melodic teasing with a groove which lights up the senses. The vocals of the guitarists with bassist Jordan Brunk adding his part are decent enough though the production leaves them less impressive than they should be, but it not really an issue to be honest such the quality of the song and those to follow. Many have placed references to the likes of Thin Lizzy and Hawkwind upon the band and certainly on this track and whole release it is hard to offer many alternatives. It is classic rock from the seventies with a bite which leaves an addictive taste to its thrilling encounter and a contagious lingering temptation.

Burnish The Blades offers a slightly less forceful stance but still with an energy and intent which vigorously dances with the ear whilst dazzling it through adventurous descriptive flames from the guitar framed by the excellent rhythmic craft of drummer Aaron Lipscombe. The blues expression of the solos envelope the imagination with a pleasing burning touch whilst the song itself without reaching the peak of its predecessor is a riveting companion as is Centurion, another thought drawing landscape of creativity and colourful invention. The track adds deep character to the narrative of the guitars as they help the vocals cast the fantasy fuelled tale leaving a definite greed for more even if again it lacks the virulence of Warrior Woman.

The closing pair of Orca and Eyes of the Gods completes an impressive release which certainly deserves its second chance to grab wider awareness. The first of the pair has a wonderful additive of female vocals, their sirenesque lure into the rampant and excited groove of the song and its virulent rhythms sensational whilst the song itself and its ever twisting and bewitching invention seals the deals for the passions as it stands to the fore of the release as its best moment. The closing track which features the excellent emotive violin of Gabe Cooper, though one feels it could have been even more potent with a better feel to its heart within the production as with the vocals throughout, is a riveting heated sunset to the album, its air rich in sonic colour and creative veining to inspire and conspire with thoughts and emotions.

Ghosts of Proxima Centauri impressed on its first release and still does even knowing what immense quality followed its wake. Whether discovering Corsair through the album or this EP both are releases all progressive and melodic rock/metal fans should and need to walk the outstanding lands of.

http://www.skykrakken.com/

8/10

RingMaster 02/05/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Barnyard Stompers: The Way-Gone, Wild and Rockin’ Sounds of …

Barnyard stompers

    We have always had a tendency here, more a mission to be honest, to stay away from barn dances but that resistance could be seriously challenged if such events offered up the same riveting heart igniting sounds which make the Barnyard Stompers album, The Way-Gone, Wild and Rockin’ Sounds of … such a magnificent dance of devilment and fun. The release is a storm of diverse and insatiably mischievous songs which leave no rockabilly, cowpunk, and country blues stone unturned and equally ensure there is no passion or form of musical seduction untouched.

Barnyard Stompers consists of Casey Miller (guitar, vocals, kazoo) and Megan Go-Go Wise (percussion and backing vocals), two musicians who over the years have brought invigorating sounds in such bands as The Hillbilly Hellcats, The Bop Kings, Vibes on Velvet, The Kozmik Kowboyz, and Buckwild. In their new venture of around a year old, the pair fuses a mix of outlaw country, Texas stomp, blues, and rockabilly into their own distinct romp of irresistibility, self-tagged as backwoods twang. Since forming the band has played in excess of one hundred shows and performed before audiences within over fourteen states as well as releasing this riotous treat, so obviously they are a duo that is unrelenting in their work ethic and desire to thrill their fans, something the album does with dirty ease.

The album instantly brawls with the senses and heart through the opening intro Let’s Go Stompers, a short call to arms for Record Coverpassions and feet through a raw and unbridled energy. From its raucous challenge the following Devil On My Shoulder lays a smouldering bluesy arm around the shoulders and serenades the ear with guitar mystique before steeping into an invigorating rockabilly stomp of firm beats, eager guitar, and inviting vocals veined with sonic flames which shimmer in the heat of the song. Across its stroll the song darkens its shadows with vocal effects and a sinister glaze to its compelling charge. It is a mighty full start to the album as it holds court over the passions steps forward as one of the major highlights, of which there are many, upon the release,.

Bad Tattoo offers up a character drenched narrative wrapped in a Waylon Jennings/The Reverend Horton Heat like glaze to further the set in satisfaction but is soon overwhelmed by the delicious blues croon of Love Long Gone, a song which plays like the love child of Elvis track That’s All Right and Say Mama from Gene Vincent. It has a familiarity about it which only endears and is brought with a craft and passion which leaves the listener mutually involved. Across the album many artists and flavours are provoked thought wise as with next up If You Want Me, a Buddy Holly/Carl Perkins spiced gem, though none settle into a recognisable stance due to the invention and devilry of the band and the songwriting.

Consisting of seventeen prime slices of varied temptation the album is a bumper crop of pleasure from start to finish which arguably in a release of this size is unexpected but wholly welcomed. Other notable moments of extended satisfaction comes in the more eclectic songs such as the version of traditional Irish song, Whiskey In The Jar, made most notable from the Thin Lizzy take on it. As with a later song on the album, Danny Boy Stomp, the Denver pair delivers the tracks with a caustic allure which is best described as Dropkick Murphys meets The Pogues, and a gravelly treat it is.

Songs such as the high octane dusty road cruiser Got Me A Trailer and the excellent garage rockabilly horror Nazi Zombies spark further riots of lustful passion for their unpolished instinctive rock n roll, whilst ’59 Black Cadillac is simply the highway to tarmac ardour with its smoking riffs and rumble strip rhythms. Other personal favourite moments where the album finds additional areas of pleasure to molest come with what can only be called mariachi ska in the song Rudeboy On The Highway, where the kazoo of Miller is impish upon the quite sizzling vaunt, and the Mexican punk fiesta El Carretero, not forgetting also the equally punk coated Question.

Every second and note of The Way-Gone, Wild and Rockin’ Sounds of … is the instigator to a hunger for much more from release and band, something which will be answered when the band release their follow-up album later this year. It is a stomp with no demands but to have fun, something which is as mentioned before is criminally easy.

www.barnyardstompers.com

8/10

RingMaster 01/03/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Mike Doughty: The Flip Is Another Honey

Mike Doughty

    Though admittedly ours was a late introduction to the solo mastery of former Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty it has brewed a heightened excitement every time something new emerges from the unique talent. His previous albums, Yes And Also Yes and live extravaganza The Question Jar Show only went to increase anticipation for any future releases as well as probably expectations of those unveilings. The Flip Is Another Honey is the new album from the Brooklyn master of the unpredictable and inspirational, a release which admittedly we had whispers of doubt about before entering its intriguing content. Of course to even question this man and his ideas even in merely glancing thoughts was plain stupidity as the album of cover songs which one assumes have inspired him in some way or simply ignited his own personal passions, is quite sensational.

Released via Snack Bar/Hornblow Recordings, The Flip Is Another Honey, this wonderful title taken from a 1956 review in Variety in regard to the Jerry Lee Lewis release Crazy Arms and meaning “the b-side is also really good”, consists of tracks reinterpreted by Doughty in his own inimitable style. Some are ‘straight’ versions in his unique way whilst others have been teased and seduced by the imagination of the man into little irresistible jewels which ripple with mischief, invention, and inspired vision. It is fair to say despite the ardour brewed by his previous albums the pure joy and impressiveness of this album was unexpected from looking at the chosen songs, so we hang our heads in shame at not having faith as The Flip Is Another Honey is just wonderful.

Apart from the version of Randy Newman song God’s Song (That’s Why I Love Mankind), the brief instrumental  slice of flipStephen Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns, and an irrepressible take of Guys and Dolls song Sit Down, You’re Rocking the Boat by Frank Loesser with a great havoc ending, all three having the assistance of long time collaborators pianist “Cashmere” Dan Chen and cellist Andrew “Scrap” Livingston, every sound on the album is played by Doughty starting with the irresistible opener Sunshine. Sampling the voice of John Denver throughout the track sees Doughty rapping verses in between, his grizzled baritone narrative entwining deliciously with the harmonies of the songs author. It is an inspired interpretation which is as riveting as it is provocative, and at all moments a respectful homage to the original song.

The bulging sinews of Jimmy Bell, a blues song originally written by Cat Iron with Doughty basing his version on the 15 60 75 the Numbers Band recording, is a pulsating heavy boned rampant beat feast of a song. The track consumes the senses with a compelling potency and vibrant breath which openly shows the blues influences which have cast their inspiration over his previous work.

Take Me Home, Country Roads is a straight forward version of the Denver classic and features the distinct vocal caresses of Rosanne Cash alongside Doughty. To be honest from an already in place dislike of the song the album for one of only a couple of times does not moves the passions something the following Cheap Trick song Southern Girls manages with ease. Again it is a relatively true version to the original which ticks all the boxes and with the smouldering intensity and resonance which weaves across much of the album is a track to hungrily engage with.

To avoid drooling over every subsequent track on the album further personal highlights come firstly with Tightrope. It is a song which Doughty builds around a chorus by The Stone Roses, his raps adding infectious flesh to the addictive chorus as does the fascinating entrancement by the keys. Then there is Running Back a great version of a less known Thin Lizzy track and Reach Out another Cheap Trick track which was originally from the Heavy Metal Motion Picture Soundtrack. Both songs just lead the senses and emotions into a fuller rapture with their uncomplicated but stylishly sculpted presences, the second of the two stunningly merging into acoustic tease Higher State of Consciousness, the Josh Wink techno anthem.

The pinnacle of the album is Doughty’s version of the Camille song Ta Douleur. Sung in French the song is a thrilling seduction with eager tempo and a delicious discord soaked piano wantonness to infect and send the listener into fiery ardour. The greatest triumph in an album of continual peaks, the song is ingenuity at its best.

With further impressive covers of tracks from Doveman, Red House Painters, and Low, The Flip Is Another Honey is an engrossing slice of invention and musical passion from a man who is never lacking either trait in his own work. The fact that for us he has turned songs which previously left no telling imprint on the emotions into passion driven favourites tells all about the album and Mike Doughty.

http://www.mikedoughty.com

9/10

RingMaster 23/02/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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