Red Enemy – What We Are Contained In Is What We Are

Like a pneumatic drill the new EP from Irish metalers Red Enemy hits hard. Imposing and formidable it lays waste to ears, senses and any other parts it can infiltrate and violate. With a relentless intent and intensity the five track release once it explodes into action 10th October in the UK should confirm the falsehood in and removal of the unofficial tagline of Red Enemy being “Ireland’s best kept secret”, as after the quality of their previous debut EP Outsiders and now their follow up What We Are Contained In Is What We Are the band will surely be on the lips and in the ears of an ever increasing multitude of fans in the UK and beyond, as well as coming under an avalanche of critical praise.

Forming in 2008 the Dublin based quintet has firmly established themselves within Irish metal, building an ardent and strong fan base for their crushing mix of metalcore, hardcore and technical metal. They are a band that cannot be pigeonholed, their mighty sound bringing in flavours from various sources that compliment and complete their vision of loud and forceful metal. Shows with the likes of Canada’s Despised Icon, Australians Parkway Drive, and the UK talents of Attack! Attack! and Tesseract amongst others has given notice of and established the bands reputation for, an impressive live power and skill. Now with What We Are Contained In Is What We Are that fact has been passed to their recorded sound as well.  

The EP explodes into action with ‘Where We Call Home’. The track is a brutal surge of riveting and incisive riffs, pummelling drums, and guttural growls that go beyond primal at times. As well as being the perfect opener to the EP it is probably the best track too though all songs attack with and bring an equal skill, threatening intensity, and driven passion and desire. The band is sure in their intent and confident in their ability to deliver and the opener is the proof that Red Enemy are primed to make deep inroads into the hearts of metal fans. The pulsating throbbing bass of Jay Doyle and the incessant and intrusive drumming of Daniel Lang make the track essential alone but with the added bite of vocalist Kevin Letford stretching his bile lined delivery to the limit the song is a marker for the band that will make more and more take notice.

Betrayal’ is another savage attack on the senses and strongly brought forth, but despite its power, more devastating riffs, and notable creativity it is less memorable placed between the striking opener and the third song ‘Prodigal Son’. Having declared ‘Where We Call Home’ the best track on the EP ‘Prodigal Son’ is equally as impressive and shows the strength of the release already. It stand tall with ominously imposing drums supporting yet more essential riffing and an enthused sludge tinged attack. This is then tempered and enhanced by a lighter melodic guitar grind groove showing whether with determined destruction or thoughtful coaxing of the senses, guitarists Robert Powderly and Conor Dockery are impressive and accomplished.

Of course aggression is favoured predominantly as the last two tracks ‘No One Will Remember Our Names’ and ‘Wolves’ show to fine effect. The first brings an incessant and controlled intrusion that is irresistible and with a sparse almost discordant melodic play mixed in, the track treats the ear to a varied and flowing assault. ‘Wolves’ returns to an all out ferocious face melting assault, smashing down walls of any fragile sanity, eating away with riffs and energy that makes the word ‘intense’ lightweight.

What We Are Contained In Is What We Are is as impressive as it is powerful and announces Red Enemy as a real and strong force within Irish and European metal.

RingMaster 29/09/2011

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The Duel – All Aboard The Crazy Train

Steeped in 70’s punk and 80’s new wave, the new album from London Punk Rockers The Duel is a glorious nostalgic trip and modern interpretation of all that made original UK punk the reason some found music as something more than just for the ear. The band and their third album All Aboard The Crazy Train ripple with reminders and influences of an array of essential bands turning them into their own stirring sound. There is a wealth of ‘punk’ bands around now but there are not many that proudly hark back to a time that set so much in motion like The Duel who use it as fuel for their own vibrant and honest music. For an album that song by song has essences of so many from the past the release is one of the freshest and encouraging this year.

The Duel began in 2001, a duo of vocalist Tara Rex and keyboardist / bassist Andy Theirum. Finding their feet and sound before expanding the line-up the band’s first gig was supporting the Dead Kennedys. Since then they have played with the legendary might of the likes of UK Subs, The Slits, Buzzcocks, Sham 69, The Vibrators, and Angelic Upstarts to name just a few. Their first two albums, the 2007 debut Let’s Finish What We Started and its 2009 follow-up Childish Behavior took them into a bigger and wider national spotlight fan and media wise and now with the release of All Aboard The Crazy Train through FFR UK on 28th November, the anticipation of further strong acclaim is surely to be realized.   

Though soaked in a marinade of old school punk/new wave The Duel have fused it into their own electro/cyber punk/rock  pot of sounds combining instinctively bold vibrant riffs, direct and sharp attacks and vocals with melodic and resourceful hooks and synth/keyboard weaves. Combined it makes for songs that are inventive, easily accessible and pulsating. Each track carry the true punk ethos of challenging boundaries and being oneself, loaded in self expression and DIY truth it is an example and reminder to all current punk bands about the real meaning of what they claim to be.

The title track opens up All Aboard The Crazy Train to immediately lay down what the band is all about. The track bristles with a firm drum beat from Pumpy, whilst the keyboards of Thierum soar nonchalantly throughout the song. The vocals from Tara Rez coated in effect, ring with a deliberate disdain adding to the tracks moody feel. Though a mid pace stroll it sneaks up and by its end one realizes it has its hooks deep inside and has taken over the ear, that is until the energetic and slightly discordant punk attack of ‘Singing N Dancing’ takes over. Pulsating with the bass of Chris McDougall and a rock guitar ending from Thanos Oscar Pap it plays like an X-Ray Spex/P.I.L. merger and Rez herself sounding like the vocal offspring of John Lydon and Siouxsie Sioux.

The following songs all play and satisfy immensely like the Horrorpops/The Creepshow sounding ‘Empty Highway’ and the emotive and in many ways surprising ‘Loneliness’. When the big bass thumping and vibrant pop punk of ‘I’m On To You’ takes the stage though things go up a level and continues until the end of the album. Addictive and bouncy with again a Horrorpops feel, it enthusiastically entices and beckons with its blatant hook and melodies. The ska vibed Clash like ‘Freeway’ with Rez sounding a little like Penetration’s Pauline Murray, the Generation X punk ease within ‘Blaze Of Fury’, and the TV Smith/ Adverts flavoured ‘We The People’ with a mesmeric pulse beat ,all feed the senses eagerly and wonderfully.

The album contains 16 great songs and those mentioned and not, all deliver and please with equal quality, the album is a joy but two tracks have to be mentioned. Firstly ‘Not Found Behind A Gun’, a song that hungrily and openly displays its fine attributes to reel in the heart. Its sound is very Psychedelic Furs and Rez herself seemingly takes on some of Richard Butler’s vocal style, a wonderful track that despite its skill is eclipsed by the best song on the album ‘The Way London Used To Be’. A pulsating union of The Clash, Ruts and Transplants, it rings with a hypnotic hook and bass stomp alongside the keys of Thierum which dance engagingly. The song builds into a big sounding and pumped climax; with its anthemic hand and social commentary it epitomizes the band and their fine sound.

All Aboard The Crazy Train is simply excellent and the more one hears the more one sinks into its glory and bathes in its simple magnificence. As the penultimate track declares “Get ready for the sounds of liberation…” that is just what The Duel and their album bring.

RingMaster29/09/201

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Harpoon – Deception Among Birds

Chicago metalers Harpoon have already garnered strong and high praise with their 2009 debut full length album Double Gnarly /Triple Suicide and the split releases with noise/drone/metal duo, Locrian (2009) and The Muzzler (2010), but with their new release Deception Among Birds the band have moved forward into levels that are staggering and glorious. The album to be released October 25th via Seventh Rule Recordings is a monument to creativity and thoughtful songwriting, as well as an instinctive beast of power, intensity and melodic meanderings. It challenges, leaves a striking mark, and firmly pleasures the senses in equal measure.

The trio of Toney Vast-Binder (vocals), D.J. Barraca (bass), and Dean Costello (guitar, drum programming) have combined to unleash eight tracks of fearsome power and imaginative ingenuity. Crossing through grindcore, hardcore, punk and numerous other spices, Deception Among Birds is a potent and rampant collision on the senses, hitting directly with the intent of shaking up the safety and security of the listener. Engineered by Andy Nelson, who also did their debut album, Deception Among Birds is a maelstrom of ideas and sounds careering around the ears with wanton eagerness and determination to bring something new and distinct.  

The album opens in the same way it ends, with controlled chaos. The blistering opener ‘To The Tall Trees‘ and the senses tripping discordant closer ‘Deception Among Birds‘ both challenge and stretch the boundaries of instant appeal whilst at the same time bringing the strongest essence of addiction within their journeys. Though the two tracks have a similar testing composition the closing song is a sure footed piece of disruptions and diversions blending in many tastes and edges within a forceful intensity and melodic spine. The opener in contrast has a more ordered direction. Starting on a sure hardcore base it soon whirls through varied imposing flavours and wells of sound. With an ascending consumption it reaches a plateau of ominous calm before reaching an eventual atmospheric and beckoning intolerance.

Each track on Deception Among Birds is a remarkable and welcome interloper on the senses, from the semi drone of the harsh and melodic ‘Prequel To A Lifetime Of Disappointment’, through the stalking predatory rampage of ‘Phlegm‘ a track that ebbs and flows in attack without losing a decibel of threatening intensity, to the immense instinctively primal heights of ‘Troglodyte’s Delight’, the album pummels and bashes the pleasure receptors wonderfully. The more the album is played the more the deeper delights reveal themselves which increases the enjoyment each time, the wealth of engaging and formidable elements unveiled for great satisfaction.

Two tracks stand out amongst the array of great songs with an even greater vibrancy to tease and feast on any addictive tendencies. ‘The Cut Of His Jib‘ is a battering burst of licks and incessant riffs with an attack to fire up any hardcore or punk heart. It drives directly and venomously with great static melodic vocals alongside frantic shouts and growls. The other song is ‘Shit Wizard‘, another hardcore/punk flavoured display with a strolling grind groove as a spine. The song is like a lure on a hook and has to be the one to entice the most newcomers to this impressive album.
Deception Among Birds is exceptional and refreshing amidst an abundance of what admittedly have been some great releases this year. This album though has something extra that is not exactly easy to define but there is a sense and air of innovation and freshness to it not heard often elsewhere. From Vast-Binder’s vocals, the impressive and manipulating guitars of Costello, to the bold and dark bass lines of Barraca, the trio have made a release that makes ‘essential listening’ a term tinged with underestimation. Harpoon is back and music has gone up a level.

RingMaster 29/09/2011

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