3 – The Ghost You Gave Me

This review starts off with a mystery, a question that is deeply concerning within the dark corners and hidden depths of The RR, and that is how a band as impressive and creative as 3 has until now escaped our once thought vigilant ears. Thankfully the release of the band’s sixth album The Ghost You Gave Me has amended this oversight with a deeply penetrating and stunning collection of progressive rock/metal tracks that revel in enticing and engaging the ear and beyond with their kaleidoscope of melodies, intricacies, and sounds.

The New York based quartet has already caught the attention , well elsewhere, and established their dynamic credentials for making music that is expressive, inspired and restrained progressively, and melodic with bristling veins of intensity, making the biggest mark with their 2007 album The End Is Begun. The album was sandwiched between tours with Porcupine Tree in spring 2007 and with the Scorpions in 2008, followed by the Progressive Nation Tour with Between the Buried and Me, Opeth, and Dream Theater. With each show 3 left audiences, which at times were initially sceptical, baying for more something The Ghost You Gave Me released via Metal Blade Records will repeat with their fans ears. The album is one that as soon as it ends it is impossible to resist taking its journey repeatedly. 

   3’s sound is a mesmeric blend of alternative and progressive rock delivered through waves of expansive melodies and harmonies combined in soundscapes that are felt as well as heard. The Ghost You Gave Me is rife and alive with this inventive and unique mixture, every song never failing to find a connection with their beckoning and absorbing sounds. They invite and take the listener into their depths to bask in the waves of senses caressing sound. Within this well of calm and touching joy there are also steely and darker ribs of metal that often peep out or in others stride into full view adding to the satisfying and impressive variation the band have to their music.

The album starts on the brief but glorious acoustic melodic passion of ‘Sirenum Scopuli to bring in the glittering majesty of ‘React’. The song sweeps up the listener into its loving harmonious arms as it leaps eagerly and longingly into the ear. It is one of those tracks that know you love it before you do and has an instant ‘recognition’. By its end the addictive chorus that is just one step away from a sing-a-long moment has lifted feelings and lightened the day. It is a fine pop rock sound, just one aspect of the band’s writing that they can more than efficiently bring forth and a style later repeated with ‘Afterglow’. During these tracks the band reminds of bands like Sick Puppies with their addict making hooks and choruses but with a more involved construction to their journeys.

The voice of guitarist Joey Eppard is immense throughout the album bringing harmonies and soothing sounds equal to the music, his soft and absorbingly clean vocals spreading out within each song to raise the emotive feel from start to finish. Fellow guitarist Billy Riker alongside Eppard, unveil within the album thoughtful and unpredictable displays and ideas that never dip in to the expected or ordinary, nor do they go too far the other way and go down the slippery progressive road of over indulgence or cleverness without substance. Their play lies perfectly between simple and over worked becoming a perfect complement to the vocals with instinctive harmonies.

The bass of Daniel Grimsland and especially the tremendous drums from Chris Gartmann bring a strong power and from Gartmann often a beat and attack that is as hypnotic as it is controlled aggression. He is unrelenting without over powering the sounds around and makes a pulse to the album that registers deeper than the ear as in the excellent title track. In the highly charged ‘The Ghost You Gave MeGartmann incessantly probes the ear with persuasive energy and dynamics whilst the rest of the band explore with equally animated majesty.

Each track is irresistible and hard not to mention in depth but with the title track two others take the album to even greater heights. The first ‘It’s Alive’ is a perfect creation from the union of muscular metal based riffs and soaring harmonies musically and vocally. The blend of Eppard’s and at times an added female voice is heaven sent and for that alone the song is staggering. The track plays its progressive hand in an At The Drive In type way but with more grace and poise and is the best track on the album. ‘Numberscompletes the threesome of excessive quality, its riveting gentle pulse never relenting behind explosive riffs and driven guitars, another triumph to devour.

There have already been many candidates for album of the year and with The Ghost You Gave Me there is another extremely strong contender, the album is without doubt one of the year’s classics, and the relief 3 has come into view here a gift to be thankful for.

RingMaster 06/10/2011

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Aliases – Safer Than Reality

No doubt people will want to label and tag Aliases and all one can do is wish them luck because the Manchester quintet wonderfully step outside of any genre you want to lay at their door with a sound that is as distinct and impressive as the day is long. Call them a metal band because that is primarily what they are but with their own unique and expansive musical corner. There are a few bands that contain elements that make Aliases so impressive and some that tread a similar path without having the originality, but none spring to mind that are taking metal down the exciting and inventive avenue that this band is.

The band began in 2010 with the creative union of ex SikTh guitarist Graham “Pin” Pinney, guitarist Leah Woodward, vocalist Jay Berast, plus drummer Darren Pugh and bassist Joe Heaton. Both ex-Veils. The band immediately started work on their debut EP releasing in the interim a rough demo of ‘We Should Never Have Met’ in July this year. Met with a strongly positive response it led the band to be invited to play the prestigious Euroblast Festival in Cologne, Germany. August saw the release of Safer Than Reality via Basick Records, a label bringing more than their fair share of impressive and unique metal to the world and with this and the Circles album, two of the best releases anywhere.

The EP consists of eight varied and stunning tracks and when we say varied we mean within the songs themselves as much as the whole EP. The tracks are a riveting and intriguing array of ideas, sounds and attacks that fluctuate, resonate, and explode in a colossal portrait of expressive noise and music creation. Amongst the eight tracks there are two brief instrumentals which are delivered with emotive passion and are much more than simple momentary relief between the maelstrom of experimental and incisive sounds.  

What’s Left For Us’ opens up the EP hitting hard with djent scything guitars that explore and probe the senses over a rampaging rhythm attack from Pugh and Heaton. Vocals are a gruff growl mixed with clean, an at odds harmony that works perfectly, Berast as forceful and controlled as the exploration from Pinney and Woodward. The thing about Aliases that this first track brings and is repeated throughout the release is at times a track plays as if it is two or three separate songs playing at the same time. Not the best way to describe it but the discordant pieces that are integrated into the flow of the song are stunning and inspired.

The ‘Reality Of Beliefs’ takes over with eager fingers from the guitars dramatic play searching within the ear over a cleaner rock vocal with scrapings of growls and soulful flows. This was the one track that brought similarities with another band other than the obvious SikTh connection. The band’s rock/metal leaning and again instinctive creativity comes as easy as they do from UK band Tricore and though their sounds could not be more apart in many ways the construction and seamless meld of directions within the song is a skill that they both impressively have.

The best tracks on Safer Than Reality are the titanic ‘We Never Should Have Met’ and ‘All That Glitters Is Gold’. The first is an addictive and imposing eager clash of frantic sounds and impressive ideas. It rumbles incessantly behind a strong groove that sweetens the senses as the drums give them a firm and intrusive work over. The second of the two songs brings again the distinct sound where melodies and instruments play at extreme odds to others and the vocals, to create a track as triumphant as it is majestic. Many bands try to use discordance and the majority successfully but it is hard to think of one that does it to the extreme and brilliance that Aliases do. In an already brilliant EP these moments are a highlight of the highest level.

To know more about the EP simple go and listen, there is so much more and within the EP that we have barely covered. Safer Than Reality if not already should be on your to listen list and Aliases in your ears constantly.

RingMaster 06/10/2011

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