Goatwhore – Blood For The Master

It really is impossible to imagine a metal fan that will not be swept up and carried away by the impressive and powerful onslaught that is Blood For The Master , the new album from Goatwhore. The release is a brute, an insistent merciless tsunami of sound that will not be denied. Ok the album may not be strong on originality, certainly from the band’s existing catalogue, but very few bands can create intense and creative sounds as essential as Goatwhore nor deliver them as wonderfully.  Though not particularly a fan of the band nor having any negative thoughts about them, they are unquestionably respected and recognised for their presence and influence on metal since their arrival in 1997, given birth by the guitarist Sammy Duet (ex Acid Bath/Crowbar ).  Credit where credit is due and they have earned plenty across their years so far, Blood For The Master rocks like a dog after a bitch on heat. It is relentless, insatiable and will have its way.

Since forming and through various line-ups New Orleans based Goatwhore has laid down a deep mark on metal, their fused blackened death come thrash metal devastating and constantly pulling in formidable acclaim and continually increasing loyal fans. From the demo Serenades To The Tides Of Blood in 1998, through debut album Eclipse Of Ages Into Black in 2000 onto 2003 follow up Funeral Dirge For The Rotting Sun, the band drew unwavering positive responses, each release showing more of the band and their varied ideas and evolution. All powerful and brutal but brought forth with a progressively evolving sound.

The band has held misfortune by the hand more than once over the years too, the near fatal van crash that left vocalist Louis B. Falgoust II temporarily paralyzed and the band unsure of its future and the escape from the catastrophic floods of Hurricane Katrina just two examples. This has seemed to add more iron and intensity to the band’s sound as subsequent albums A Haunting Curse(2006) and Carving Out The Eyes Of God (2009) showed. New album Blood For The Master is made from the same brute force and stylish creativity and if sound wise is not a major departure from its predecessor has an even more defined authority and depth to it.

Opening up the charge and turbulent engagement of the senses ‘Collapse In Eternal Worth’ is a violent and incessant attack, with  uncompromising rhythms and riffs violating every inch of the ear and beyond.  The guitars of Duet twists nerves around their spiky fingers stretching and turning them throughout whilst Falgoust scowls and unleashes his coarse spite vocals to great effect. An impressive start soon swiped away by the even more masterful ‘When Steel and Bone Meet’. It is an unstoppable trash powered sonic train hammering on the ear, drummer Zack Simmons and bassist James Harvey fuelling the drive with eager vindictive rhythms.

This is just the start as the next duo of tracks ‘Parasitic Scriptures of the Sacred Word’ and ‘In Deathless Tradition’ hold dominion.  The first swings with a scorched groove that mesmerises as the intensity is raised even higher behind. The track is confident and arrogant in its knowledge it has you hooked and deliciously glorious because of it. Ferocious and a maul upon the senses it is the biggest highlight on the album. The second of the two is in some ways even more intense, its heart blacker and malevolent and carries another irresistible groove veined by corrosive melodic manipulations. Each track upon the album feels like a living entity, each with a distinct unstoppable corrupting mission and directive.

Tracks carry on stimulating and provoking, each laden with an artillery of venomous riffs and barbed melodic intrusions. The likes of ‘Judgement of the Bleeding Crown’, ‘An End to Nothing’, and ‘Death to the Architects of Heaven’ impressively adding to a fulfilling and satisfying menu to feast upon. This is metal as it should be, furious, hostile, and  overwhelmingly heavy. Blood For The Master is a pleasure, it may not be ground breaking but very few releases match the enjoyment it and Goatwhore give.

Blood For The Master will be released in Europe Feb 10th, UK Feb 13th, and  North America on Feb14th

RingMaster 07/02/2012

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Michael MacLennan – Wolves

Wolves from Scottish pianist and singer songwriter Michael MacLennan is a sneaky little collection of songs. First listen, maybe two and one is aware of the quality and strength of the songwriting on show and its realisation but maybe not initially bowled over by uniqueness or originality. But a couple more plays and one finds oneself completely wrapped up in the album’s warm charms, pleasured by its well crafted arrangements and absorbed by the display of infectious melodies and catchy songs.

From the secluded stark peace of Nethy Bridge, MacLennan having been playing the piano from the age of seven won a place at the Royal College of Music. Dedication and practice is obviously not a weak part of his personality either, as MacLennan obtaining and playing gigs in London 7 days a week, writing two songs a day for a year, and the obvious concentrated carefully created songs on Wolves prove. Returning to Scotland MacLennan recorded the album across 2010 to the following year as well as playing shows across his homeland. Working with many new producers making a name for themselves, he found something special in particular with Craig Ross and Garry Boyle. The trio coming together to bring something extra and defined to Wolves, their understanding and fluid collaboration giving an ease and depth to the album.

Each track within the album is understandably piano led but there is much more to songs with contributions from a varied array of fine musicians adding to the creativity, only the closing and deeply touching ballad ‘The Old Tree’ finds MacLennan and piano alone. There is a good variety to the album with the afore mentioned sombre ballad and another in the reflective title track placed alongside the vibrant likes of ‘Fall Down On Me’ and the jazz pop ‘How Come’ which comes with the same flavour of his previous EP History from 2009.

Musically the songs are undemanding but perfectly crafted with a touch and understanding that is understated allowing for MacLennan’s lyrically prowess and excellent voice to shine and engage. It is hard to say he has a distinctive voice compared to other similar artists grabbing headlines and ears but there is a natural flow and instinctive expression to his delivery that makes MacLennan preferable to listen to than most, and with songs of a shining calibre Wolves a standout album.

Personal preferences will vary to the best tracks on show within the album but there is a trio of consecutive tracks that simply mesmerise the senses on every level. First is ‘Keep A Light On’ a remembrance of desires, passion and heartache it is a stirring track that all can easily relate to. It brings a nod and smile, maybe an ache too as MacLennan reveals its tale backed by the wonderful vocals of Catherine Ward.  This is followed by the first single from the album, ‘To The Fire’. From a emotive piano and voice opening the track expands into a heartfelt statement that wraps around the senses wonderfully. The track is mesmeric,  MacLennan at his most expressive and the music the perfect  company to his piano play to wrap the listener up in a provoking yet uplifting track.

The third track is the best of all, a deeply emotive ballad that kind of builds like the title suggests. ‘Avalanche’ floats in on piano and voice once more, tugging on emotions. A subtle bass comes in as company before the song opens into a graceful and sweeping chorus. The song is beautiful, evocative and a caress upon the ear. Though it never reaches the suggested overwhelming proportions of its title the thick luxury it reaches is fully and welcomingly consuming.

The rest of the album is less assuming and at times a little lost against these tracks though all of a high quality and moments like the wonderful violin within the social/political comment of ‘State Of Affairs’ deeply satisfying. Wolves is a must for all who wish a singer songwriter with something extra. Michael MacLennan is not particularly edgy but his music has something just as powerful, heart.

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Wykked Wytch – The Ultimate Deception

With intent as devilish as the band’s name suggests comes the new album from extreme metal band Wykked Wytch. Dripping malice and unbridled intensity The Ultimate Deception is an undeniable caustic rub on the senses, its acidic melodies, threatening riffs, and badgering rhythms manipulative as they toy and tease, and overall it is one fine experience. Bringing a mix of black metal, death and thrash infused with a technical prowess and industrial like steel ,the album grabs hold before rupturing and unleashing its formidable and consuming sounds. They sound like a sinister alchemist’s invocation formed from the tattered corpses of Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir with the bones of a Djerv, Otep and Dominanz thrown in for extra spice, malevolent, nasty and entrancing. The Ultimate Deception is far from perfect but the lasting emotion at its close is to dive right back into its intimidating charms and often.

From South Florida Wykked Wytch formed in the mid 90’s with their debut album Something Wykked This Way Comes self-released in 1996. This was the starting point of keen interest and growing acclaim for the band firstly with the album being picked up for a re-release by Demolition Records in Europe, then in 2001 with the release of follow-up Angelic Vengeance. Successful European tours and further albums releases in Nefret (2004) and Memories of A Dying Whore (2008) has only enhanced and cemented the band as an intriguing and impressive proposition live and in the studio, never dull or predictable and always challenging in the best way. Current line-up for The Ultimate Deception consisting of the majestic tones and vocal ability of front woman Ipek, the stunning guitar skills of Nate Poulson, session drummer Kevin Talley, and Salvatore Lopresti on keys have unleashed a beast that takes charge of the ear to abuse and violate as it equally engages and inspires. The album is unpredictable and at times chaotic and across its length wavers in consistency but when it is peaking it is glorious and within its lows strongly satisfying.

Released via Goomba Music February 14th the album starts on a distinct high with opener ‘Birthing The Beast’ and plays as the title suggests. Coming into view with peaceful almost angelic charm the track mesmerises before black hearted tones take over. Pounding challenging riffs and punchy rhythms rage whilst Ipek shows she has lost none of her impressive range and skill. Her delivery here and throughout the album bring a jaw dropping mix of clean and serpentine vocals into a merger with bestial and venomous then going deeper into the infernal pit for guttural and virulent. With most bands a vocalist of this talent would override the sounds, prove too distracting but upon The Ultimate Deception there is no fear with the stunning guitar skill of Poulson. He guides the ear to the whole sound with incisive play, scorched melodies and beauteous balance to the harshness elsewhere, ably and impressively aided by Talley and Lopresti.

As mentioned the album ebbs and flows a little, mainly from the likes of the title track, ‘Prayer Of The Decapitated’ and ‘Abolish The Weak, very pleasing and strong songs that they are but not having the essences to sweep one up into their muscular arms and give something that lingers. That is highlighted when the tracks that really hit the mark unveil their quality alongside these great but unmemorable songs. ‘Serpents Among Us’ is easily the best track on the album, its spite and bile oozing from every pore. Poulson pummels and mesmerises throughout, his heavy riffs an incessant intrusion tempered by glorious razor sharp melodies and thoughtful creativity. Talley barges through the ear with bullying rhythms and Ipek does what she does best, give her all with more varied and irresistible vocals.

Despised Existence’ and the closing ‘Eyes Of The Vulture’ come close to matching ‘Serpents Among Us’, the first a bitter declaration that plays the senses with a force only instinct and Nature can bring, its melodic moments like being in the eye of the storm, a peace and melodic assurance waiting to be blasted apart. ‘Eyes Of The Vulture’ is a predatory monster of a track in intent and riffs, a withering hate fuelling the sound. A maelstrom of energy, sounds and emotions it picks the ear clean leaving one breathless at its departure. There is a cover of Metallica’s ‘Fade To Black’ included within the album too and if not quite up to the original Wykked Wytch have given it their own unique and agreeable touch, refusing to go the route most do of simply doing a version of.

The Ultimate Deception is an excellent album that does not quite reach its potential to be a classic, but it is easily a release that will be welcomed and played consistently, all one can ask of a record right?

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