Never The Last Breath – The Price Of Diversity

From out of the blue there is a new breath of freshness and wash of vibrancy and ingenuity that will surely inspire musicians and fans alike. The EP The Price Of Diversity from Never The Last Breath is impressive and dynamic showing a band with full confidence in their sound and ability as well as songwriting. In the two years since forming the quintet from the Burton/Derby area has evolved into an instinctive and complete band with total control in all they do, The Price Of Diversity is wonderful proof of the tight and creative band they have become.

As well as the bands obvious abilities what is great about The Price Of Diversity is the unpredictability of their music. They incorporates numerous flavours and influences from pop punk, death metal, alternative, hard rock and much more, absorbing and weaving it into their own distinctive and exciting sound. Music like this is what makes waking up each morning a joy.

The eight tracks that make up The Price Of Diversity are truly impressive from beginning to end and it is surprising and in many ways sad that Never The Last Breath have not come to the notice outside of their locality before now though with this EP that is sure to change, their time is now without doubt.  

After the brief image inducing intro of ‘Chimes’ the EP erupts into thrilling life with ‘Persona’. The track is immense with a stirring deep throaty bassline veining striking incessant guitar riffs and driving drums, with the infusing of prog rock melodies, death metal grunts and shouts, and seamless pace switches the track is impressive and even more so when the wonderful voice of Lisa starts to lace the song with her energy. Her great smooth voice blends with and compliments the harder sounds and attack so well, each element showing their strength without detracting from the other showing great creativity in the songwriting, composition, and production.

This track immediately stakes a claim for best song on the release but as the EP plays it is challenged song by song especially with the likes of the excellent engaging indie pop of ‘Back Down’ with a punk heart that illuminates the track, the heavy post punk riffage laden  ‘Fading Out’, and the blended metal/pop urgency of ‘Obsideo’. All tracks show the excellent diversity the band brings to their music; no track is similar to another with each having its own style that though influenced by many spices is distinctly Never The Last Breath. The combination of Manti and Dan (guitars), MilkyBar Kid (bass), Oolay (drums) and Lisa create music that defies description and labelling, and it would be a surprise if anyone could not find something for them within this release. From punk rock, metal of varied shades to indie pop fans there is something for everyone within the tapestry of sound Never The Last Breath creates.

As mentioned every song is striving for best track of the EP and really because of the quality of all it will vary in choice from listener to listener, saying that though the obvious contenders are two versions of the same song. ‘Chick’ is a brooding absorbing mix of light and dark moving from enticing and incessant metal grooves into a dark heavy into intrusive and threatening black weave of metal. Lisa’s voice enhancing every stage of the song backed by harsh guttural growls, think early Senser/Suicide Silence and it gives vague idea. The Price Of Diversity also contains a remix of the song where the vocals with and there is an aggressive death metal male lead now backed by Lisa. From this vocals change the dynamics of the song are effective wonderfully changed bringing a death metal intensity and primal passion to an already excellent song. There is nothing to choose between either tracks both are distinct but equally excellent.

  The Price Of Diversity verges on perfection, it really is that good and impressive.  As mentioned there is no way to accurately describe the sound of Never The Last Breath to others, maybe No Doubt crossed with Iwrestledabearonce and Asking Alexander, though it still is a mere clue only. What is evident is that this EP had to be checked out by all who want something special in their music.

RingMaster 31/07/2011 Registered & Protected


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Zebrahead – Get Nice!

Since 1996 and bursting out from the Orange County punk explosion Californian based Zebrahead have brought their own sound that inspires and pleasures a mass of eager fans across seven albums, festivals and tours. Their pop punk /rapcore stands in its own spot in the genre, many bands have tried but few can rival the Zebrahead skill of bringing infectious pop-punk riffs, enormous anthemic gang choruses, and trademark dual vocal leads. The bands eighth album Get Nice! is released August 27th and across its fourteen tracks delivers more of the glorious Zebrahead sound. Boundaries are left intact and new doors remain shut from their music but as always is the case with their releases, there is a small evolution and more importantly the release is flowing with contagious and vibrant songs.

Produced by Jason Freese (Jewel, Death by Stereo and plays with veteran outfit Green Day) and mixed by Andy Carpenter (Dwarves)Get Nice! bulges with substantial hi-energy whilst bound in compulsive riffs, as well as essential anthemic chants and choruses that simple are irresistible.  

Get Nice! slams out the gate with opening track ‘Blackout’, it leaps eagerly into the ear without reservation though that is generally the norm for their songs. One does know what to expect with the band and they always deliver but in the best and most pleasing way and this song is no exemption. Here and throughout the album Ben Osmundson delivers bass lines that are darkly compulsive and distinct whilst the vocals of Ali Tabatabaee dual led  and complimented by Matty Lewis, are impossible to ignore and impossible to resist joining in with during the anthem lined choruses.

The next trio of tracks of ‘Nothing To Lose’, ‘She Don’t Wanna Rock’, and the first single from the album ‘Ricky Bobby’ all continue the fine engaging and bouncing pop punk sound. The third of the tracks  is a stirring melodic crescendo of crashing and striking guitars surrounded by excellent gang vocal harmonies and in the music, all combining to feeds the senses. The middle track of the three is certainly not the most original or inventive  Zebrahead song ever but once you slip into its siren like allure it is one of the most addictive.

Zebrahead as mentioned before do have their own sound  that stands out from nearly all other contemporaries current and past though one can find flavours that other bands have adopted or grown up with from Zebrahead. Most are mere whispers but the one band 90’s originating punk band Shelter do hold a very obvious similarity on some tracks, like again the single, the excellent ‘The Joke’s On You’, and the album’s best track and ‘Demon Days’ which closes Get Nice! Both bands share the ability to create distinct glorious hooks that makes every song eager to please the listener though the Hare Krishna hardcore punks do also bring a harder sound which Zebrahead have never really found.  The guitars of Lewis and Greg Bergdorf  all over the album are impressive and creative without ever taking over , knowing their place in the sachem of what is the band’s sound. The drums of Ed Udhus are forceful without being demanding and help lift the tracks to their envisaged destination perfectly, it is doubtful there are many bands with as tight and compact a unit sound wise as Zebrahead.

Get Nice! is truly a great album, yes there are a couple of moments where as on the title track and ‘I’m Definitely Gonna Miss You’ it feels like one is listening to just another obvious Zebrahead song but these are soon forgotten with illuminating parts like the ELO like opening to ‘This Is Gonna Hurt You Way More Than It`s Gonna Hurt Me’ and the ska punk of ‘Nudist Priest not forgetting the great humour that permeates throughout the release. Zebrahead shows that pop punk can be addictive, hard, and vital but also that it does not have to break down doors or walls, it just needs to entertain, Zebrahead are the masters at that.

RingMaster 30/07/2011 Registered & Protected


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Mike Oldfield – Incantations Deluxe Edition

Legend, innovator, a singular musical mind, and an inspiration for many are just a few of the labels that can be placed firmly upon the mantel of Mike Oldfield. Whether a fan of his music or not, he brings respect and admiration for his creative work from all. Never resting on the laurels of his seminal Tubular Bells he explored and boldly realised his ideas and musical thoughts with often surprising but generally always satisfying results.

As done with three others of his albums to date, the 1978 Incantations album has been carefully remastered by Oldfield with Mercury, to whom his Virgin catalogue moved to in 2008, their care and attention to the process obvious with the high standard and generous extras on the Incantations Deluxe Edition.

Incantations was Oldfield’s first and only studio double album, consisting of four immense emotion inspiring movements of the title track across a double album it was some of the most spiritual, ethereal, and sensual music found anywhere outside of his own creations. On the remastered Deluxe Edition we are given not only the impressive double album but also an abundance of beautiful and senses caressing musical manna in the likes of the legendary 1979 single ‘Guilty recorded in New York City at the height of the disco movement, his stirring version of the ‘William Tell Overture’, and the wonderful ‘Hiawatha’ where the voice of Oldfield’s sister Sally Oldfield is rapture over the instinctive percussion.

The music throughout Incantations and the songs within the package come from the wondrous musical ability of Mike Oldfield but also feature the great musical skills of numerous guests including David Bedford (strings & chorus), Terry Oldfield (flutes), Maddy Pryor (vocals), and The Queens College Girls Choir. It is the use and placing of such talent as much as their prowess that makes their contributions as essential to the music as it is. Whether instrumentation, voices or simply his ideas, nothing is just an addition or a piece of musical dressing, everything is integral to the ultimate destination the music takes the listener to. Certainly on the four tracks that makes up ‘Incantations’ it is a stunning emotive adventure and experience that one never forgets or can avoid feeling upon every listen. As a whole it is a great symphonic piece, grabbing the attention and feeding the heart whether during the gentle and tender quiet moments or the rockier eager phases, a pleasing landscape of ambient glory, a masterpiece of minimalism.

It is unfair to pick out parts that standout over the others as really ‘Incantations’ should be taken as a whole but the vibrant rock edge of ‘Part Three’ brings an extra kick and lift that makes listening grasp such a high plateau. Something that can also be said about the treat and closing track the previously unreleased ‘Diana – Desiderata’. It is a gloriously atmospheric track combining moody guitars and emotive choral backing, a pure jewel.

The release is a real gift of magic for all Oldfield fans but also a wonderful introduction for others not yet aware of any of the his work beyond Tubular Bells if at all.

Incantations Deluxe Edition is available now.

RingMaster 27/07/2011 Registered & Protected


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IIIrd Alternative – IIIA

Instrumental music always has the capacity to inspire images and thoughts in the listener, the best examples guiding those thoughts to certain places and events in the mind. Some like Danish progressive post-rock band IIIrd Alternative take it further with artistry and skill, their music creating soundscapes and worlds in which the listener is immersed to freely find their own visions and emotions within the immense sounds created, each with their own distinct and unique feeling and image.

Audiences across Denmark have been steadily swept away by the Aarhus quintet and their imaginative and creative sounds since 2003. Now with their debut released on their own label, Gehör earlier this year, IIIrd Alternative should see Europe being the next to submit to their musical enticement. The album consists of six tracks that span across almost an hour of musical imaginativeness that inspires and nurtures personal narratives in the listener. The band recently commented on instrumentalism with “Music for us is the most direct form of creative expression of moods with feelings and sensations for both artist and listener. IIIrd Alternative is exploring the possibilities that instrumental music offers in terms of not dictating or predefining the perception of the moods and feelings the listener should sense or feel.” They went on to say “As we do not imply in words or pictures the thoughts and mood to the listener, we have the potential to create an atmosphere where an audience can have totally different experiences from the same source of communication.”   

   That potential is realised with IIIA as a package and in the individual songs, opening track ‘Umbra’ the first proof and realisation of their comment and aim. The track is a big worldly experience, an emotive musical landscape that wraps itself around the sounds recipient. The guitars of Lars Evers, Rasmus Frisenvang, and Daniel Malling Zederkoff produce an expanse of generous and engaging sounds invoking senses to bring an inner reality to the song.

Across the six musical pieces IIIrd Alternative bring strong variety and variation so each song has its own distinct character and story to inspire. ‘Eye Against Eye’ has a darker more intense tone, the driven riffs and grinding sound almost a foreboding for the following epic sense of ‘The Great Flood’. The song is dramatic and haunting bringing a cataclysmic feel tinged with hope. The sense of chaos and tension consumes at times but is then tempered by calmer and mellow trust fuelled elements. In every track there is a dark and light feel and not once is either allowed full reign adding to the deep feelings felt when listening, each track an emotional journey whatever its length.

The mysterious and menacing ‘Dark Rift’ is a tension breeding slice of sound and the strongest on the release. The deep growling bass of Hamed Golchin matched by the firmly directing drums of Simon Meiner bring an air of possible violence and whatever the trio of guitars bring on top that air of foreboding is inescapable.

Deficit’ and ‘Æble’ complete the release and just as ably instil the same reactions in the listener as previous tracks just with their own diverse imagery to encourage but never to direct.

IIIA is a creative and powerful delight and a wonderful showing that music does not need words, imagery or hand guiding for the listener to create a tapestry to feed the imagination.

IIIA is available as a name your price download at

RingMaster 25/07/2011 Registered & Protected


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Winds Of Plague – Against The World

Metal, deathcore, hardcore, death metal, L.A. Wind Of Plague court them all making exact labelling of the band’s sound impossible. Such difficulty is a sign of a band that is always thinking and looking for new ideas or random, often both as in the case of Wind Of Plague and their new album Against The World. On the album there is an eagerness to stretch and expand their music with often surprising and intriguing ideas and directions which for the main work impressively well. There is as expected still the power, defiance and in the face aggression that previous releases have gained acclaim for in abundance.

Against The World brings simple and devastating attacks flavoured and enhanced with some inspired keys from newest member Alana Potocnik, her skills obvious throughout, and the album is a riveting amalgam of sounds underneath the Wind Of Plague canopy of power. About the album vocalist Johnny Plague  has commented “We set out with producer Matt Hyde to raise the bar for Winds Of Plague both as a band and as musicians. We put a lot of our writing focus into the energy and the structure of the songs and everything else just seemed to fall into place naturally. We really just wanted to create a fun but heavy album. We still topped every song off with over the top epic orchestral arrangements, but we brought back the more hardcore, live show elements from ‘Decimate The Weak’. Unlike the previous release this record is not a concept album, which gave me freedom as a writer. Both fans of ‘Decimate The Weak’ and ‘The Great Stone War’ will be pleased for we haven’t altered the formula or strayed from our roots, but injected them with rage and fury. This record is beautiful, ignorant and heavy.”  

The album starts off with one of the best beginnings on any album this year so far. ‘Raise The Dead’ is a cinematic and atmospheric track that is long enough to be more than a mere intro though it sets up the tone and leads wonderfully straight into ‘One For The Butcher’. The haunting keys and disturbing child chants from the opener reappear in this second track, making a death/black metal flavour at its best creating not only good sounds but emotional  responses too.

Drop The Match’ and ‘Built for War’ step up next screaming at and bludgeoning the ear with a hardcore/ deathcore middle finger up assault. On the first the keys play elegantly behind the storming intense drum attack from Art Cruz and the pillaging throbbing bass of Andrew Glover. Vocally Plague delivers his growls and force with venom, as always you know what you will get with his vocals but they never from become stale at the same time. The second of the two songs rides in on some fine teasing symphonic keys whilst the metal urgency and direct strikes from the guitars of Nick Piunno and Nick Eash come striding through. There were moments  on the track that brought bands like Mudvayne and Children of Bodom  to mind all distilled in a neat blend of vintage Biohazard and Hatebreed.  ‘Built for War’ does feature gust vocals from Jamey Jasta so a clue maybe as to one of the spices to it.

 Jasta is one of a few guests on Against The World, which include Martin Stewart (Terror) and John Mishima (ex Blood Runs Black) on ‘California’, and also Mattie Montgomery (For Today) and Drew York (Stray From The Path) elsewhere. Also notable is the appearance of wrestling legend Ultimate Warrior on the brief ‘The Warrior Code’. Musically the Japanese sounding keys are great but overall with the vocal spoken narrative  from the wrestling icon it is debateable if it works and really was just a moment of self pleasuring by the band. Good to see the ring rope shaker is still alive at least.

Tracks such as ‘Refined In The Fire’, ‘Most Hated’, and California’ all satisfy immensely and the blend of hardcore devastating ferocity and flowing melodic keyboard pleasure from Potocnik make the album intently pleasurable and very repeatable. No, Winds Of Plague will not set new trends for others and lyrically they do not exactly write words to be devoured eagerly by scholars in decades to come, but they are what they are. A strong and powerful band that eagerly fills your ears and hearts with greats sounds.

RingMaster 25/07/2011 Registered & Protected


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Powerwolf – Blood Of The Saints

Blood Of The Saints the new album from German metalers Powerwolf is not simply just another simple studio release, their fourth album on Metal Blade Records was a long and determined piece of  creativity. Recorded across multiple studios and in a 13th Century church for choir segments it is a labour of love that completely shows through over the eleven striking and infectious tracks. Their work and intensive thought in making the album work at the height of its ability is as impressive as the big power metal sounds, harmonies and choruses themselves. Guitarist Matthew Greywolf of the band commented “We’re really excited about this album. It’s been a hard piece of work, but it was so goddamn worth it. I think on Blood Of The Saints we really delivered a striking balance of mighty melodic stuff and some serious wolfish metal madness, all dressed up in some highly catchy tunes. We can hardly wait until the album is finally out and we can celebrate these tunes together with all of you. Be prepared!”
Founded by Matthew and his brother and fellow guitarist in the band Charles, Powerwolf have continued and moved on from their acclaimed previous album Bible Of The Beast with the new release bringing their blasphemous/religious/occult content inside big powerful, enveloping songs. It has to be said this Review never expected to ever be won over or write positive things about a power metal band but the fact is this album is stunning.
The album starts with the intro of ‘Agnus Dei’ leading into a trio of glorious tracks and the best three on the album. ‘Sanctified With Dynamite’ immediately bursts into big vocals, Attila Dorn in impressive full flow over rapidly jabbing drums and majestic church organ sounds from Falk Maria Schlegel. The song is incessant pulling one into its heart to join in with the chorus and feel the power, though that can be claimed of most of the tracks on Blood Of The Saints to be fair.  
We Drink Your Blood’ and ‘Murder At Midnight’ keep the quality coming, their vocal cord bursting choruses, flowing harmonic guitars and probing rhythms certain to get any warm blooded rocker fist pumping to the sky. The drumming duties after the departure of Tom Diener were taken by Roel van Helden on the album and to say he did a fine job is being unjust to his brilliant contribution to each track and especially on these two songs.
Every track of the album though is of such a high standard and it is a joyous surprise for those of us not even remotely having any affection for the genre but there is a variation and vibrancy of sounds and ideas that make it all work perfectly. After such a strong start one could expect a dip in levels after but songs like the Tyr/Dommin spiced ‘Dead Boys Don’t Cry’, the creative guitar flowing ‘Night Of The Werewolves’, and the powerful epic ‘Phantom Of The Funeral’ all show that Powerwolf know how to and do write and deliver songs that consume more than just the ear and all to a high standard.
One can see the band maybe not appeal to everyone but the creativity from the heavy rampant riffs to the symphonic glory within some tracks is undeniable and impressive. If one has a small part in their heart that can feel for big lung busting vocals, soul soaring sound, and primal gifted rhythms then Powerwolf and Blood Of The Saints is your next musical destination.

RingMaster 23/07/2011 Registered & Protected


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DC4 – Electric Ministry

It is fair to say that many hard rock bands and releases are generally predictable, not necessarily bad, just that you know what you are going to get before a note is played and there is often no distinction from one band to another who are effectively and sometimes satisfyingly reproducing the same set sound of the genre. Unless a real fan of hard rock it can be off putting from checking out bands and their music, but it is bands like DC4 who make sure nothing should be taken for granted and shows that there is some strong and intriguing blood pumping through the heart of the genre.
The L.A. rockers show with new album Electric Ministry on Metal Blade Records that the time between their previous release Explode and this has not been a barren time ideas wise, Electric Ministry being a breeze of hard rock sounds infused with strong and vibrant metal riffs and tones. Consisting of the brothers Duncan, vocalist/guitarist Jeff (Armored Saint, Odin), Matt on bass, and drummer Shawn (Odin) plus Rowan Robertson (ex-Dio) on guitar, DC4 have produced an album that shows at its best why rock fuels the day for so many.  
Electric Ministry begins on the short instrumental burst of melodic energy ‘Wrecktory’ setting up an edge for the title track to ride in upon. With driving hard riffs and a deep throbbing bassline ‘Electric Ministry’ delivers strong effective rock ‘ n’ roll, Jeff’s vocals punctuating the track purposely and strongly with his classic rock vocals. This is a good blend that features throughout the whole album, the classic and hard rock styling from his vocals and band harmonies as well as some delicious rock guitar play all combining with some direct and dark aggressive riffs that would not seem out of place on a Spineshank or Sick Puppies album.
Two of the best three tracks on the release are the sexed up wonderful ‘filth’ of ‘XXX’, a riot of aggressive loin fire that is as infectious as the subject matter for any respectable rock star is itself, and ‘Rock God’ with the best combination of body throbbing induced bass and drum rhythms heard this year, pounding behind some guitar and melodies that point to a Alice in Chains/ Stone Temple Pilot feel and touch. Matt’s bass is imperial and alone would make the song something special but everyone is at their pinnacle making the track irresistible. The third glorious track comes later in the shape of the dark, venomous ‘Sociopath’, again rippling with wickedly devious riffs and intensity. Though many of the tracks are right there supporting with great sounds and quality such as ’25 To Life’ and ‘People’ another great bass driven track , both having a good John Bush era Anthrax flavour to them, ‘Sociopath’ and the other duo of tracks take Electric Ministry to a much higher level.
One of the strong positives about Electric Ministry is its strength in bringing the hard rock and metal elements together to appeal to both set of fans. Possibly tracks like ‘The Ballad Of Rock And Roll’ and ‘Glitter Girl’ might not work for those not into the hard rock sound particularly but with eight other great tracks that surely will it is not an issue and with the great rock flavourings, vocals and guitar sounds on the heavier riff laden songs pleasing traditional rock fans this is a all win album for all.
Electric Ministry has the quality hand of Bill Metoyer guiding it and it is hard to imagine anyone anywhere that could have made it sound any better or have the understanding of what the band wants as well as him. Production is crisp allowing each member to excel and be heard in perfect tandem with each other. DC4 have shown that hard rock does not have to be a replica of what came before and mirror everyone else currently and with Electric Ministry given essential listening for many other rock favouring ears.

RingMaster 23/07/2011 Registered & Protected


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