Decaying times and self-evidence: an interview with Ade Mulgrew of Darkest Era

DE Ade Mulgrew

The recent release of their new album Severance showed that Northern Ireland metallers Darkest Era has not only evolved as a band with a new flush of blood to its line-up but also pushed their potent sound into new emotively fired and imaginatively compelling proposition. Providing another exploration of the band’s Celtic infused heavy metal in a greater voraciously flavoured and intensive proposition, band and album reinforces the stature and impact of the developing force whilst thrusting Darkest Era upon a new dramatic plateau. Taking the chance to find out more we took some of guitarist Ade Mulgrew’s precious time to talk about Severance, the difficult time around its creation, inspirations and much more…

Hi Ade and thank you for taking time out to talk with us.

Please tell us about the beginnings of Darkest Era and the inspirations or spark to forming the band.

We formed the band while still in school, about 17 years old. Myself and Krum had played together in cover bands, but wanted to form a metal band. We started playing some covers by Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest…but soon we were writing our own songs. The inspiration was, as ever, just to be in a metal band; to write songs and express ourselves. The same reason we do it now.

Was the Celtic influence in your songwriting and music an immediate flavour to your ideas?

It was, yes. The first song we ever wrote came about after I was noodling on a particular riff in ¾, not even thinking about it and Sarah added a guitar harmony. It happened to have a distinct Celtic vibe which we really liked and things just went from there. We didn’t really think about it so much…it just happened to transpire that way and the kind of Celtic atmosphere in our music isn’t contrived really, it’s just how we write.

Where did the Celtic inspiration come from, other metal/rock bands exploring that vein of sound or from a more traditional influence?

I guess you tend to take influence from things around you so growing up in Ireland obviously there is a rich heritage of folk music. We were already to an extent influenced by the folk rock band Horslips, and also the kind of sound on Thin Lizzy’s material. Something about this kind of vibe just came naturally to us. We’re a heavy metal band though at the end of the day and it’s those influences that were the most prevalent and the most important to us.

Initially called Nemesis, why the change to Darkest Era as a band name?

Things started to pick up for us and get quite serious rather early on, so we needed a name that wasn’t taken by 100 other bands. Our sound had started to take shape and we wanted something to reflect this. Candlemass were originally called Nemesis for example and changed their name for the same reasons.

It is fair to say that the second of two EPs opened up a new spotlight on the band and led to signing with Metal Blade Records. Is there something you can point to or say which specifically pulled the trigger to that recognition?

I don’t think so, apart from we are at the right place at the right time. You need a little luck to get noticed sometimes and the fact that we have the Thin Lizzy influence helped a lot as Brian Slagel is a massive Thin Lizzy fan. The band had a bit of buzz going from the demos which helped but I would say to be honest that we were a wild card signing for Metal Blade. We were the first of a few bands brought to their attention by Alan Averill of Primordial, but were an unknown entity by and large. I guess it was a testament to the quality of our demos that Slagel was impressed enough to offer us a deal.

With the label, The Last Caress Of Light, your debut album was unleashed in 2011 to great acclaim and reactions. How did that impact on the band and its emergence beyond having your first full-length out? DE

Joining a label like Metal Blade meant there was a lot of press surrounding the album; we were definitely exposed to a wider audience than we had been before. We had reviews in tons of printed magazines, websites and ads in the right places – so it was a big step up in terms of the amount of people paying attention to us. However the band was still quite pro-active in pushing itself using its own resources. But simply having an album out at last meant we could then go on tours, play festivals and so on so it was a big milestone, as it would be for any band.

Can we turn to new album Severance now; it feels like the band has found a new depth and potency to songwriting and sound, tapped into a stronger vein of invention…

Yes I would agree with you. A lot of it is simply down to maturing as people and as songwriters. The band is on a creative journey, we had no intention of writing the first album over again. We always want to push ourselves and move forward artistically, and on this record we had a much, much stronger idea of what we wanted to do and how to bring our own identity to the fore. It’s also a little darker and more aggressive, which is probably down to the circumstances surrounding the band at the time of writing. It was a fist clenched, teeth bared, back to the wall kind of scenario…

How do you see the evolution in your sound from not only early days but from the first album and Severance?

As I said it is a darker, heavier and generally a lot more focussed. We create a certain sweeping melancholy with our sound but we wanted to bring this into a much more focused heavy metal framework this time around. We cut the fat and went straight for the throats of the listener. We have a lot of different influences in the band, individually and collectively, and we fine-tuned this to bring more of our own identity to the mix and I really think we succeeded. People are having a hard time figuring out what to call us, but the reviews are very positive so that speaks volumes to us.

Did you take a determined or particular course with the new album or let it organically unfold in the writing and recording?

Myself, Sarah and Krum sat down after coming back from one of our tours and talked about what we wanted to do with the album, and we agreed on very general ideas which I said above, for example a general trimming of the fat in our sound. But at the same time things we written in such a short space of time that we didn’t really have time to stop along the way and think too much about things. There was definitely a significant element of letting things unfold naturally. You kind of just have to trust yourself that you have the songs somewhere inside you, and go with your instincts. Too much thinking can hinder creativity, I find.

So how long did the album take to make?

We wrote the album in about 10 weeks, during a very intense period of writing where the band was pretty much falling apart. We then entered the studio almost straight after, and recorded the album in 16 days. We were still writing quite a bit in the studio, although we had the songs more or less there. There was a lot of lyric writing, tweaking arrangements, vocal melodies and so on in the studio. It was intense also but a different kind of intense. Lisa went home after she recorded her drums but the rest of us knuckled down and worked together to push it over the line. The 10 weeks writing, in comparison, was quite bleak and isolated for me at times as I was shouldering the task of getting most of the ideas off the ground.

You were touring heavily leading up to Severance, it must have been less easy to sit down and write songs, certainly in comparison to the creation of its predecessor?

Yes absolutely, as the cliché goes you have your entire life to write your first album, and with album 2 suddenly there is pressure. Even more so when it’s difficult to put time aside to write. To be honest we gave ourselves a deadline because we knew that otherwise we would never get round to making the album. Things will always get in the way, especially when you aren’t playing music as your job, so we said ok this is the date, let’s just do it. We did not foresee the line-up instability however, which definitely made things a lot more difficult. We did two pretty big tours in 2012, and in the middle of it all we were trying to keep the band from falling apart…So yeah, very difficult circumstances to try and write an album in.

de coverYou mentioned there that the band had line-up issues before the album, how big an effect did that gave its making if at all?

As above really…We had no permanent bassist in place, and Lisa was in the process of leaving the band. Things were often at boiling point during some of the writing sessions, and as I mentioned Lisa went home when her drum parts were done so there was a serious atmosphere. Things could easily have fallen apart but we had far too much determination and belief in the band to let it crumble.

How does the writing process work within the band generally and specifically this time around with Severance?

Generally the songs start with myself or Sarah; we’ll have a guitar part, or perhaps a few riffs and ideas put together and we go from there. We’ll normally have a fair idea of where the song is going before bringing to the rest of the band and there it changes shape, gets arranged, pulled apart and the guys add their parts and ideas. Occasionally someone will noodle on a riff in rehearsal and we’ll jam it out over and over and work it into a song, but there was very little opportunity for this on Severance. Mostly it was stuff that I had come up with, and I would send it to Sarah and Krum and we would exchange thoughts and ideas. I did a lot of home demos on this album as I had to have the bones of songs ready quite quickly so the guys knew where I was coming form. Sarah probably had more material on this album than the debut as well; particularly Blood, Sand and Stone. We’ve always had kind of a songwriting partnership but it really came to fruition on this record.

There is a passion and freshness to the album which obviously was not affected by the stronger pressure of getting songs ready for its recording?

I think the passion that people pick up on with this record is a result of the stormy emotional climate that I mentioned earlier, and an unwavering iron will to make a really killer metal record regardless of the circumstances. Some people crack under pressure but it has always been something that I have thrived under, thankfully.

How about in the studio, how did that pan out and did you learn lessons with the first to help with the recording of Severance?

We had a fair bit of studio experience with our previous EP’s and demos, but I guess after doing our first album we knew exactly how the recording of an LP worked and prepared us somewhat. This time around we had a better idea of how to get the sounds we wanted for the album. Drum sound and guitar tone were something we wanted to shift around a little compared to the first album, and I think we’ve done that. We stripped the guitars back to just one rhythm track each for myself and Sarah, as opposed to the double tracking on the first record and I think that’s helped give the album a darker and grittier tone overall. You can really hear the bite of the guitars on this one.

Give the readers some idea of the themes behind the album and particular songs.

Decay of all things physical and metaphysical, Cormac McCarthy-esque post-apocalyptic dystopia, the unstoppable force of time hauling us further to the ground, and the philosophical concept of Solipsism.

Severance is released through Cruz del Sur Music, a label with a great pedigree and a striking array of releases especially over the past year or so. How did that link-up come about?

I’d been a fan of Cruz Del Sur for many years, since I first discovered Slough Feg and started trading CD’s with Matt from Pharaoh. Enrico was aware of our stuff and when it came to searching for a new label they were an obvious choice really. As you say they have an absolutely killer back catalogue so we’re in very good company.

It is a home more fitting for Darkest Era you feel?

Yes I think so, with Metal Blade we got totally lost in their roster and the sort of stuff we’re doing is never going to be a priority for them really unless it’s selling 30,000 copies or whatever. Maybe 25 years ago things would have been different but the days of a label nurturing artists and helping them grow into worldwide forces over the course of 2 or 3 albums are sadly gone. There just isn’t enough pie to go around anymore.

From the outside watching the intensive work you guys put in with shows and tours we wonder if there has been time to reflect on the journey of the band so far, if so thoughts at this point in time? DE2

Not really, we’re constantly looking forward and are a very ambitious band. We have many milestones we’ve yet to reach and don’t feel like stopping to smell the flowers until we’ve achieved a lot more. The band is entering a new phase now I guess; we’ve done our first album, did our first big tours and festivals and come through the line-up changes that often occur when a band starts to step up through the gears. Now we have our second album, a steady line-up and are looking to the next touring cycle and writing album 3 so I think the best we have to offer is still ahead of us.

Talking of shows, we can assume Darkest Era will be supporting Severance intensively around Europe and elsewhere in the months ahead?

Yes we have our first headlining tour of the UK starting this September, hopefully Europe in the spring and who knows after that. Touring and playing to as many people as possible is our number one priority right now.

Did you have any particular aims or hopes for the band starting out and if so have they been realised or replaced with new intentions?

We’ve always wanted to push the band as far as it can go from day one, but first and foremost we aim to write albums that satisfy our creative needs and that people will enjoy and get something out of. We’re on course so far I think.

Thanks again for chatting with us, is there anything you wish to add?

Metal or death!

And lastly give five of the most important releases in your record collection which you could never be without?

Iron Maiden – Powerslave

Queensryche – Operation Mindcrime

Judas Priest – Painkiller

AC/DC – High Voltage

Fields of the Nephilim – Elizium

 

I should point out though these 5 albums will change each time I am asked! :)

http://www.darkestera.net

Read the review of Severance @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/darkest-era-severance/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 15/07/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

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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!!

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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

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Slough Feg – Digital Resistance

slough-feg

    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

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

http://www.audioburger.com

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

GCG_1

    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

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

http://www.audioburger.com

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