The Super Happy Fun Club – Go Fun Yourself

If upon listening to Go Fun Yourself the new album from Chicago pop rockers The Super Happy Fun Club you are not smiling broadly at some point you are either deaf or dead. Whatever your musical flavourings and poison the infectious feel good sounds of the sextet is irresistible, defying you not to tap your toes, widen those lips and even raise your own vocals tones.  There is no escaping the fact that this release is FUN and in response to the title one finds it impossible not to be an involved part of its joyful play in some degree.

The members of The Super Happy Fun Club before being a band are friends spanning fifteen years and it goes a long way to show why there is such ease and fluency across the album. Of course musical proficiency and songwriting skills are important in eth making of notable music, but to have that confident and deeply comfortable understanding between band members is a big factor in making great music, and on the evidence of the eight songs within Go Fun Yourself this band are flowing with it all. The band has plenty of experience in its ranks too with members learning their craft in an array of bands including Lucky Boys Confusion, Treaty of Paris, The Waiting Game, Logan Square, and One Life. It all combines to make The Super Happy Fun Club with their power pop/pop punk blend one hard to ignore band.

The album’s most accessible and track, though every song is so easy to become one with, ‘My Life’s A Mess (Yeah Yeah Yeah)’ starts the party atmosphere flowing. Big gang choruses, thumping riffs, glorious discordant intrusions, and copious lashes of hooks with a Fall Out Boy edge, the song is simply aural manna. Sometimes opening an album with the strongest and best song can back fire as from there on in it feels like there is a marked drop in levels. Not on Go Fun Yourself, each and every varied subsequent track delivers the goods in their different ways. A strong aspect of the album is that there is a distinct variety amongst the tracks under a pop rock umbrella. Some tracks veer into rock others towards punk but every time they grab the ear with an engaging enthusiasm that is impossible to not welcome.

The line-up of vocalist Stubhy Pandav, guitarists Brad Chagdes and Phil Kosch, bassist Jeremy Galanes, Pat Gilroy on keys, and drummer Chris Mason pull out all the stops on the release to entertain and give the listener no choice but to let their sounds in. The never feel the need to resort to cheap tricks and obvious lures to make their music stand out, instead trusting their own inspired melodies and hooks to grab attention which they invariably do and numerous times within each track. ‘Victim’ with its proud strolling bassline and great group harmonies on simple effective rock guitars keeps the essential listening going. From the following ‘London’ with a Sick Puppies flavouring, through the more emotive ‘Generation’ with a taste of Living End about it, to the vibrant and beckoning harmonious ‘Partners In Crime’ sounding how we all wish Bowling For Soup did, all tease and pleasure the ear with care and attention.

The remaining tracks complete an extremely satisfying and impressive release with a mention of ‘Billy The Entertainer’ a must. It is an immense piece of bliss combining a Living End/Undertones hypnotic lure across a length of track The Dickies would be proud of. Short and punchy it is pop punk at its best.

The Super Happy Fun Club with Go Fun Yourself has lit up music and the year with its sounds. With touches of Plain White T’s and Billy Talent to be added to the spices of previously mention bands the release has something for everyone within its own very original and unique sounds. When it receives its release on 7th November via THROOP Records make it your first adventure of the day.

RingMaster 18/09/2011 Registered & Protected


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Cryptborn – Into the Grasp of the Starving Dead

Finnish band Cryptborn began its dark ascent into music in 2010 and soon after recorded their debut EP Into the Grasp of the Starving Dead. Having seen a release in cassette form via Detest Records a few short months ago the EP has just received its full appearance via Dark Descent Records, the label the band recently joined.  Consisting of seven slabs of old school death metal the release is an eager to consume, grotesque, ungodly beast bringing forth metal of the oldest and honest kind.

The members of Cryptborn had a strong pedigree and experience before the band with American vocalist ChristButcher, bassist Jani Nupponen, and guitarist Ville Markkanen part of blackened death band Maveth together, and with the addition of second guitarist K.L. and drummer AtomosM the already instilled understanding and unity has helped in the band’s fully apparent tightness and fluidity.

    Into the Grasp of the Starving Dead brings forth many sounds and flavours that recall the likes of Grave, Entombed, and Dismember and though not exactly oozing originality, its powerful intent and dirty fetid sound will satisfy all who allow their senses to be eagerly consumed by the intrusive pernicious fingers of old school death metal. 

The EP opens with the predatory crawl of ‘A Feast for the Grave (intro)’, a suffocating and oppressive dirge that is as invasive as it is challenging. The track invitingly sets up the senses for more of the same throughout the release but with a fiercer and more aggressive power and energy causing even more damage on the remaining tracks. The likes of the decomposition of ‘Gift of Rotten Flesh’ and the devastating Swedish death metal sourced attack of the title track run riot over the ear, all testing, probing and invading with full efficiency. Despite their full out onslaughts and slightly healthier riffs and tempos, there is always the prowl of an intense sludge crawl on each track as first indicated on the opener, its bile like venom ready to pounce.

Vocalist ChristButcher is just as toxic too with his guttural delivery and rant like attack, his demonic tones hand in hand with the demonised sounds the band produce. The relentlessly driving guitars strip layers away sonically as they invade the ear and the pummelling and ever probing harsh massive riffs and hellish rhythms all combine with ChristButcher to create abrasive scathing sounds that are as much a treat as they are a violently intrusive.

The production on Into the Grasp of the Starving Dead is not the best at times it has to be said with often the drums and bass being almost lost within the wall of sound their skill and individual contributions too indistinct even though a major part of the aggressive onslaught. The clarity to really appreciate their contribution is lost in the oppressive waves of noise but despite that the EP is still very satisfying and for skill and intent it ranks highly.

Into the Grasp of the Starving Dead is a very strong release and deserves to be given solid attention by death metal fans and beyond. With the EP Cryptborn has shown they are a band to watch out for in the future as they surely make their mark on metal.

RingMaster 16/09/2011 Registered & Protected


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Rose Funeral – Gates Of Punishment

Malevolent and black heartened the new album from Cincinnati death metalers Rose Funeral is one of those releases that will do much more than get a good response upon its release. Strongly impressive, strikingly creative, and unnervingly powerful it is an immense cacophony of dark intent and violence of demonic proportions. Its destiny is to recruit new masses of followers from the shadows and to place Rose Funeral at the head of the new breed of death metal bands.

   Gates Of Punishment is the follow up to the band’s highly acclaimed Metal Blade Records debut The Resting Sonata from 2009, the eleven pulsating demonian tracks within building on its predecessor and pushing the band’s music to new heights and devastation. In the press release vocalist Ryan Gardner commented “We had the greatest time recording Gates of Punishment. It is definitely a HUGE step for Rose Funeral. I can honestly say this album just crushes any release we have done. We are looking to turn heads and drop jaws with this album. Gates of Punishment is filled with intense blasts, fast paced solos, melodic harmonies, dark chords, harsh vocals, and pissed off breakdowns. This is the sound I have been searching for with Rose Funeral, and I couldn’t be happier. All I can say is that with the guys I have in the band, it will be a huge climb in sound every album from now on.”  Going by the quality and strength of Gates Of Punishment there is one hell of a death ride ahead for us all.  

The album starts off with an instrumental intro to opening track ‘Legions Of Ruination’, as bells toll it is a portent of things to come with its ominous tones through a rain soaked effect. Once it has laid its emotive atmosphere down the track explodes into a pummelling exercise of power. The vocals of Gardner drip venom as the drums attack machine gun style, whilst the guitar of Kevin Snook drives like a cranial drill into the skull, incessantly and deeply. His melodic and sonically powerful additions though aid the intensity rather than alleviate it and it brings the whole experience up multiple notches of pleasure.

Grotesque Mutilation’ increases the damage and levels immediately after, intrusive sonically and rhythmically it is primal and evil. Bassist Julian Kersey brings riffs that stomp menacingly and though understated at times more than helps create the over whelming oppressive feel. A big factor to Rose Funeral’s is the distinct variation within tracks, riffs, tempos, crushing breakdowns  are all delivered with thoughtful attention and ability, making each turn within a track a new unexpected but invariably a very satisfying adventure, ‘Beyond The Entombed’ a prime example. Coming over initially like a Cradle of Filth influenced track it soon moves to new realms yet undiscovered by the UK band. With tense piano insertions, seek and destroy riffs and guttural vocals to grace any grave, the track is a lurking beast.

Across the album each and every track delivers originality and intense terror to please any dark soul. Varied and loaded with the darkest riffs and wickedest intentions musically and lyrically at every turn, there is nothing but contentment to be found. From the crumbling incessancy of ‘False Divine’ featuring vocals from ex Morbid Angel frontman Steve Tucker, through the clutching grasp of ‘Malignant Amour’ with another guest in the form of opera singer Kate Alexander bringing her glorious melodic voice to work against and with the direct aggression, to the albums best track ‘The Desolate Form’. The song ripples with pernicious urgency and fierce energy, if one has to go this is the kind of track to leave this realm with.

Gates Of Punishment is an epic, not in the size of the release or even the sound but in the intensity, creativity, and total enjoyment it gives. With a year of very good and strong releases in the death metal genre Rose Funeral has just raised the bar for them all.

RingMaster 16/09/2011 Registered & Protected


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The Wild Mercury Sound – Miss Frost

Age, ability and confidence of sound really do not have to be linked and one should not be that surprised when a young band sounds just as good as any veterans of experience. After saying that though there is something about The Wild Mercury Sound that, because of none of its members being beyond 19 years old, brings a small sense of awe and wonder of just how good this band could become upon hearing their debut single ‘Miss Frost’. The single is a stylish and powerful track accompanied by the equally impressive b-side ‘Itchy Skin’, two songs that do not just sound great but emotionally touch more than just the ears.

The London based band with the single to be released through Hearts & Minds Records on October 10th, have already gathered a strong acclaim for it and themselves that is growing all the time as more ears are graced by the intelligent and eager music. The quartet of Benji Compston (Vocals, Guitar), Ashley Cooper (Drums), Johnny Lillis (Guitar), and Jonny Allan (Bass) infuse the songs with loaded feelings and passion that comes from personal insight and experience that even their young years have felt.

Sitting and cradling the listener as it expels all its powerful emotions, ‘Miss Frost’ brings forth a resourceful flow of sentiment, tactile lyrics, and  freshly crafted  chords enthused within its firmly driven sounds. A song written on Christmas Day about “a bizarre relationship with an ex-girlfriend” of Compston it moves through a slow paced sorrowful start building into a rampant pleading crescendo that is as stirring as it is touching. Compston brings a vocal display tinged with suffering without sinking to pleading, his impressive delivery adding distinctly to and combining with the music to create a sound that plays with the emotions. Sensitive guitars alongside a vibrant bassline erupt into a scuzzy explosive and powerful summit to the song, reminding a little of the The Keys and resulting in a track that is more than satisfying.

Itchy Skin’ is another personal felt and led track composed about a friend who had to go through ‘cold turkey’. It’s soulful and prickly attack has an uncomfortable spine behind the melodic and again slightly distorted tones of the song giving a sense and representation of the physical aspect of the songs source. Raw and potent it strikes home firmly without going too far and bringing unease that might lose the listener. Again the likes of The Keys and The Loud are touched and at times especially with the vocal harmonies Jane’s Addiction also came to mind.

The two tracks are great examples of the skilled songwriting the band has within its abilities. Produced by Peter Miles (The King Blues, We Are The Ocean, Dry The River) the single is a mature example of a band that is destined to go far and will create life touching sounds along the way, right now it is one of the freshest and most enjoyable singles so far this year.
RingMaster 15/09/2011 Registered & Protected


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Entrails – The Tomb Awaits

With a release of the darkest intent and the relentlessness of a reanimated extinguisher of life, Swedish death metalers Entrails return with their second album hoping to and more than likely succeeding in, laying waste the next multitude of souls to fall before their monstrously intense sound. The Tomb Awaits released via Dark Descent / FDA Rekotz is an aural beast standing proud and tall side by side with the growing multitude of old school Swedish death metal bands and releases that are lurking and emerging from the dankest pits and blackest shadows currently. It shakes its targets to the core whilst gratifying them even more deeply, showing that things influenced by the past do not have to come without a vigour, potency, and an attack that is as harsh as modern times can deliver.

Though formed in 1991 and having in those early times recorded rough and in the end unacceptable demos to band founder Jimmy Lindquist, their debut release did not come until 2010 with the strongly acclaimed Tales from the Morgue album. The massive delay came down to the fact the band split up early on and did not resurrect until 2008, when they then re-recorded many of the early tracks and eventually released them as part of their debut album. Now The Tomb Awaits goes even further in satisfying their fans and the anticipation inspired from the debut as well as undoubtedly gaining an even larger and more fervent following. 

It is worth again reminding ourselves that the band began two decades past, seeing in and participating in the birth of the genre, the original sound influencing and flexing its muscular power within The Tomb Awaits. In some ways comparing them against new bands that try and often just fail in their attempt to reanimate the aspects and sounds that made Swedish death metal so powerful and inspiring is unfair, Entrails are one of the originals now simply infusing current sounds and progress to expand on their own creations and ideas.

The quartet of Jimmy Lindquist (guitars), Joakim Svensson (bass/vocals), Mathias Nilsson (guitars), and Adde Mitroulis (drums) have unleashed twelve angry and devastating tracks  on their album that make the earth tremble as they bring forth an intensity to see off the brave and make mindless wrecks of the weak. The album starts off on the instrumental melodic beauty of ‘The Tomb Awaits’, though brief it attempts to fool the senses with its glamour and siren like strains and almost succeeds until the bedlam cries of the wretched break through at its end revealing that the gates to hell are now open. ‘Unleashed Wrath’ hits hard and low to confirm the fact, the guttural strains of Svensson bringing forth venom to match the driven violence of the music. The album has taken hold and is in no mood to let go as the subsequent tracks prove.

The Tomb Awaits has an impressive intensity across its consuming bulk but the likes of the incessant senses stripping ‘Crawling Death’, the light and shadows of ‘Undead’ thrusting its evil potency and gang vehemence forth with some blazing guitar solos to illuminate the way, and the black hearted declaration of ‘End of All Existence’ with rampaging riffs, seamless tempo changes, and enough intensity to tear flesh from the bone, make the album a force not to be denied.

It is obvious upon hearing The Tomb Awaits the band have not turned over new stones or waded through fresh waters of creativity but that is the point and the appeal of the release and Entrails’ approach. The band began in and is steeped in the genesis of the genre, it is their driving force and musical breath and the reason they sound as they satisfyingly do. They may not be openly original with the likes of Entombed, Grave, and Dismember an obvious comparison, but there are few that make such powerful and striking old school metal better than they do. The Tomb Awaits may not be essential listening but only a fool will not give it a go.

RingMaster 15/09/2011 Registered & Protected


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Digital Deformation – No Signal

The new album from UK industrial electronic band Digital Deformation is no lightweight when it comes to creating sounds to not only touch the ear but to test and stretch thoughts and senses too. Challenging and dramatic the body and essence of No Signal does not seek to leave uplifted hearts and smiles once it has ravaged its listeners but rather take them on a dark, at times steely cold, and ultimately a very rewarding journey. This music is not for those who want an easy life of electronic pulses and hooks that come with ear candy ease, the experimental expansive industrial soundscapes offered are for those who want to submerge within sounds, to feel them in every pore and synapse.

Formed in January 2010 Essex based Digital Deformation is the one man project of Matt J. Powell. The two previous Digital Deformation releases, System Failure and Powertrips both received acclaim with the latter finding some good radio play and press coverage. No Signal should garner even more attention and enthusiasm as Powell has evolved his earlier sounds into an even more controlled and intensely focused affair. The diverse array of splintered song structures, exacting fusions of sonically testing sounds, and a randomness overall that is rigorous and ear catching, makes each track on the album an inventive and creative maelstrom of edgy and intriguing intrusions.

The eleven songs on No Signal carry views, statements, and warnings, some obvious and some to be interpreted individually adding that little extra to make the music even more rewarding. There is a prophetic coldness and singularity to the emotions brought forth throughout from themes spawned from a hard and bitter mechanical base and others seeping the inner sickness that permeates this world. Powell uses diverse and at times demanding and surprising sounds with skilled ingenuity to bring an atmospheric and emotive smothering that suffuses the release and those whose ears openly digest the offered sounds.  

The tracks attack and display their motives and aural visions consistently across the album, from the scathing and harsh ‘Digital Deformation’, the political and social battering of ‘Discipline Me’ , to the dark emotive ‘Divine’ veiled by distorted harmonies and throbbing pulses. The effect is formidable and demanding without ever leaving the recipient suffering needlessly.

Some tracks stand out more than most on No Signal like the senses slapping stomp of ‘’, summing up the general consensus right now it is a strikingly formidable and impressive burst of magnetized intensity. ‘Resistance Crushed’ a withering bombardment of incisive sounds and heavy beats, and the Nine Inch Nails/Global Citizen tinged commentary of ‘D.E.F.C.O.N’ show impressively strong creative songwriting and usage of layers and distinctly crafted at odds sounds. The closing majesty of ‘Salvation’ using a wonderful sampled female voiced melody to contrast the dark menacing truthful message raises the level most of all, with core felt warnings, false hope, and sparks of positivity for socially blind human moths, the track is verging on perfection and leaves the listener desperate to dive right back into the album upon its completion.

No Signal will not be for everyone though all should give it a moment of time as within its industrial corridors there is something for most waiting to be discovered. It is taxing at times, always challenging, and often aurally numbing, but these are also some of the reasons the album is so good. For those who do dip toes and more into the vast waters of industrial music, Digital Deformation should be high on their investigation list.

RingMaster 14/09/2011 Registered & Protected


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The Horde – Thy Blackened Kingdom

With an EP back in 2008 that made people take a keen interest in them, Illinois based band The Horde return with their debut album Thy Blackened Kingdom, a release containing epics tales of Viking legends, battles, and demons, all delivered in a constant barrage of thrash, speed metal with more than a splash of punk.

Having formed in 2006 and really only well known in their surrounding home area, their debut EP From Empire to Ashes took them to the attention amongst others of Stormspell Records, the result the signing with and the recording of Thy Blackened Kingdom and its triumphant recent release. Consisting of ten tracks of chest beating and sword swinging ferocity the album hits hard, fast, and with all disregard for the welfare of its listeners.

The album has a definite old school feeling across its battlefield partly achieved by, as commented by guitarist Tim Matthews “Recording in analogue helped get that old school feeling without losing any of the sonic power that is held in high regard in today’s extreme metal scene.” The aim was certainly successful but the release does not feel dated nor not earn its place in the modern folk/Viking/metal swarm of bands laying waste before them. As one listens there are numerous influences and references that spring to mind from early Venom and Celtic Frost to Turisas and the punk attack of the likes of Kvelertak. There are moments where bands like Motorhead, Maiden and Tyr raise their horns and at one point within ‘Hell Beast Of The Pale Frost’ a Metallica type itch also broke out.  
   From the moment ‘Death Foretold’ raises its muscled riffs and power, the album’s force and intent is set. A strong mix of old and new sounds the song is a satisfyingly enthused attack which barely breaks a sweat or crosses into new territories, though when it brings in a solo that is as discordant as it is fresh the track lifts to new heights. An increase in intensity and joy comes when ‘Thy Blackened Reign’ takes over. Direct and simple in sound and lyrical content, as well as in delivery it is a battle cry to inspire fear in those before it. The track’s forcefulness and simplicity works well with its punk aggression as guitars, bass and drums rampage in the ear.

The track also confirms the biggest flaw on the album that the opener suggested. The drums are throughout the release very poor, not in skill as technically James is intent on doing as much skilful harm as the music needs and gives scope for. It is their sound that is so disappointing, tinny and weakly metallic one can almost hear his mother asking for her pots and pans back for supper. Though not a perfect album this is the biggest problem with it and quite sad as it detracts from the drummer’s obvious ability. Thankfully it does not ruin the album to a majorly damaging degree as the best track and most others show.

Odin’s Blood’ is immense, a rampant anthemic declaration with resourceful guitars, a tribal bassline, group chants, and all the addictive juices you could want in a song to stir up the senses. The obvious leader amongst the tracks though two other tracks do closely rival, firstly ‘War God’ with a bass thump that was spawned in hell and a chugging riff that stomps like a thousand Viking boots over the senses, slower paced than ‘Odin’s Blood’ it has equal intensity and overwhelming power, but focused in a more singular and epic attack. The other ‘Vengeance for a King’, is a violent revengeful primal onslaught with incessant inciting riffs that devour the ears eagerly and a pulsating guitar groove that balances neatly with the emotive sonic solos strikes.

Thy Blackened Kingdom is worth your attention for these three alone but the consistency of the rest of the release makes it a very satisfying proposition. Though slightly meagre on outright originality it certainly brings more energy and pulse pumping eagerness to satiate a full blood lust need. The Horde is ready to go to war and with Thy Blackened Kingdom they have a sturdy and appealing weapon.

RingMaster 14/09/2011 Registered & Protected


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