Pharaoh – Bury The Light

Pharaoh seem to be one of those bands that either click with you or not. If they do it is an unbridled affinity and if they do not it merely brings a shrug of the shoulders as to why their sound has such an effect on others. To be fair even if their power metal does not appeal one can appreciate the fine aspects to the band and understand how it sweeps others up into a keen response. With classic rock/metal and power metal not finding a home in these ears the band were on a hiding to nothing in this review but it has to be said that at times Bury The Light, their new album did pull a firm attention as often as it lost a grip on the biased ear. It certainly did not have us trawling sites to grab their previous releases but nor was listening to the album as venomous as one expected within these unwelcoming tastes.

Formed around 1997 it was with debut album After the Fire in 2003 that Pharaoh came to the attention with their sound steeped in the seeds of classic heavy metal. The focus they received was firm and ever growing especially with the release of its follow up in 2006, The Longest Night. They had earned a strong underground following at this point which spread with the release in 2008 of third album Be Gone. The marked maturity in sound and songwriting took them to more and more attention pushing them forward on a further wave of focus. With Bury The Light and its continuation of the groundwork laid by its predecessor it is sure to bring them to the gaze and notice of many more soon to be eager fans.

That is if you like this genre of music of course. Bury The Light is nicely varied within the genre but low on external influences to spice and diversify it further. For power metal fans this is not an issue and it is hard to imagine many who will not enjoy and acclaim the music and songs within the album. The quartet of vocalist Tim Aymar, guitarist Matt Johnsen, bassist Chris Kerns, and drummer Chris Black, are a skilled group of musicians who certainly are strong on songwriting and how to bring forth their ideas. Bury The Light is a vibrant release using their obvious love of metal from the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Saxon to inspire their own sound. Though it does nothing for these ears it is impossible to dismiss the craft and honesty which veins each and every song.

There are moments which bring one up abruptly, times where the album snatches full attention from the ear. The intriguing Castles In The Sky is one example where the electronic touches make use of the element of surprise nicely, and in the expansive The Year Of The Blizzard the band explore ballad and enthused rock n roll with a skilled hand and intelligent vision. The song actually is very well composed and though there was a wish they dwelled on the slower elements more it works very well. With the impressive beefy riffs and dynamic melodies of The Spider’s Thread and the teasing forceful might of Cry the album often leapt out with a firm eagerness.

There is hard to find any real flaws with the album, the production is quite raw but that actually gives a darker edge to the energy which works well. Though not a style and delivery that works here, anyone with a love of classic metal and enthused power metal will find more than enough to excite their ears. Pharaoh create music with an energy and melodic certainty that is sure to ignite the hearts of old traditional metal fans everywhere.

RingMaster 09/03/2012

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Spawn of Possession – Incurso

Having heard impressive things about Swedish technical death metal band Spawn Of Possession there was an added intrigue about the eagerness that accompanied the venture into the new album from the band, Incurso. One can read a never ending flow of words in praise but it is only when the sound and creativity hits you that you understand the height or depth of a band or their release. Nothing indicated the stunning and immense power, uniqueness, and pure imagination that were to unfold as Incurso laid its wizard spawn artistry and ingenuity upon the ear. First listen has one staggering under the sheer weight of diversity and inventiveness not to mention the all consuming intensity, but given further attention and shared experiences the album becomes part of everything, as potent as breathing and as lingering as death.

       Incurso is the third album from the band and their debut on Relapse Records. The five year wait has been long for their fans to endure and an unpredictable time for the band with multiple line-up changes sine predecessor Noctambulant. Last year saw the combined might of guitarists Jonas Bryssling ( last remaining band founder) and Christian Müenzner (Obscura, Ex-Necrophagist, Ex-Defeated Sanity), bassist Erlend Caspersen (Deeds Of Flesh, ex-Blood Red Throne), drummer Henrik Schönström (Unmoored, ex-Torchbearer), and former drummer Dennis Röndum who moved to fronting the band with his inspired vocals, emerging and together conjuring and album which not only sets the senses aflame but manipulates and toys with them like maniacal puppeteers.

It really is hard to describe the majesty and incredible technical skill as well as the pure organic feel the band creates on the album. Incurso is a release that hits you instantly but also takes time unveiling all of its qualities and deeply rooted additive grip. Whether listening to it for the third or thirteenth time something new finds its way into the ear bringing each listen a surprising and new experience taken with a close hearted friend. Repeating dreams or nightmares offer something new with each venture into your sleeping state, Incurso does the same bringing new shadows and light with malicious twists each and every time it fingers your senses and consciousness.

The release opens with instrumental Abodement, a piece which is for them relatively straight forward but opens up the ear with a skilled musical weaning before taking one into the maelstrom of intrusive delights ahead. Where Angels Go Demons Follow takes no time getting down to business, its guitars slicing through the ear with crafty intricate skill and maximum venom whilst the slightly reserved rhythms rather than blast its victim wears them down with incessant niggling. The bass plunders the nerves with intimidating riffs whilst Röndum spews out his intent and words with the blackest malevolence. Combined they pilfer the senses of feeling until they lie numb and shell shocked under the intense testing. This is only the second track; you can imagine how one feels as the closing threat of Apparition takes its leave.

As songs like The Evangelist, a track which spatters the ear with intensive rhythms and provocative riffs whilst meandering through scorched diversity, and Deus Avertat rupture and expel a sonic beauty and devastation upon every corner of the mind and body, the album just grows in greatness and more power. The second of these two songs courts the mind with acidic intrusions whilst leaving it with bruised contusions from its unrelenting complex and sophisticated senses blowing conjurations. From beginning to end the album ignites and fires up so many emotions and thoughts to match its vast cacophony of ingenious creativity, songs like Servitude Of Souls and No Light Spared as triumphant as those already mentioned.

Imagine the likes of Obscura, Gorod, Uneven Structure, and Meshuggah boiled down to a puree and then added to something distinctly different and you get Spawn Of Possession. Incurso is a monstrous beast, and as it annihilates and blisters the senses with its technical brutality and sophisticated creativity it takes them into new realms and pleasures, lighting them up and eager for more and more of its violations. The album hits hard and fast inviting you to spend more and more time in its devious arms, but the delights it gives when you succumb are beyond measure, try it!

RingMaster 09/03/2012

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Our Innocence Lost – Like A Complete Unknown

From Manchester, UK rockers Our Innocence Lost is a band with a difference. They robustly incite and flare up the senses like many other quality bands but surrounding their heavy forceful riffs and direct and far reaching melodies there is a passion and personality to their sounds which few other bands can bring as readily and consummately as the North West quartet. The music comes from beyond the heart, the band putting their soul into the eagerly absorbing creations they produce. Their new and second album Like A Complete Unknown is the perfect proof of their natural and organic use of this heartfelt emotion. It is taken and blended into an infectious melodic rock sound that never stands still, forever provocative and always trying new diverse ideas.

Formed in 2006 Our Innocence Lost has taken the UK by storm up and down its length as well as venturing over into the United States to great effect. Critical acclaim surrounded the band with the release of their debut album Facts Called Fiction via Sideout Records of Japan in 2008, the country alerted to a fine emerging rock band which was emphasised and built upon by a 36 date UK tour with American band Darling Waste and sharing stages with the likes of Voodoo 6, Glamour Of The Kill, Jody Has A Hitlist, Dear Superstar, Reckless Love, My Passion and Kiros over the past two years. Written and recorded during 2011 at Patron Studios with producer Elliot Middleton, Our Innocence Lost has unleashed in Like A Complete Unknown, an album which takes you to its heart instantly. It is a strong successor to their debut and more importantly an impressive continuation of the bands maturity and songwriting ability.

The album offers a heady blend of songs spawn from the flavoursome mix of alternative rock and post hardcore sounds that have evolved over the past years.  From the opening Worthless it attacks with a surety of a band confident in its path and skilled in its ability to get there. With sturdy riffs and attitude soaked vocals from James Holman the song plunders the ear with a defiance and strength which is impossible to resist. The guitar of Tom Crane is inventive as it leans on the senses with a striking melodic energy ably supported by the stirring bass of Steve Taylor and drummer Johnathan Kendrick, who constantly demands attention with his muscular beats.

One of the things that has grown within the band in the recent years is the harsher side of their sound, the post hardcore intensity raised to form a tight contrast and companion to the melodic prowess the band possesses. Holman growls and expresses a caustic malevolence at times which is an opposite extreme to his excellent clean vocals. It works impressively with the band using both spectrums seamlessly and always at the moments a song needs it.  Shout It Out is a perfect example. It is a song which engages the ear through mesmeric melodies and calm emotion but then removes the safety net with harsh interventions that stir things up wonderfully, expressing the lyrical turmoil to great effect. The song has led many people in eager anticipation for this new album, finding repeated airplay with the likes of The Reputation Introduces Radio Show. The song also raised expectations for the future which have been answered and surpassed with Like A Complete Unknown.

The songs come thick and fast in power and emotive creativity. The likes of the excellent End Of Time with a glorious bass led mid section where the band unleash their ability to out rock any band metal or other, the impressively diverse monster How Soon We All Forget, a song which easily combines a towering intensity and hard riffs with caressing smooth melodies, and the metal guided hard rock glory of Thank You take the album to distinct heights. It is a thoroughly consistent album too, from the more urgent strikes from songs like Breathe Deep and Over And Over to the inventive and exploratory sounds of the power ballad like Damaged Goods and Last Goodbye, the album never fails to bring a deep satisfaction and pleasure.

It is hard to pick any holes in the release apart from maybe an initial similarity which runs seemingly across it. Close attention shows that it is not so and there is a deep wealth of sound and variety within its walls but that initial impression does deceive quite strongly. Like A Complete Unknown is an excellent album from one of the very best emerging rock bands in the UK, do yourself a favour by taking a listen.

http://www.ourinnocencelost.com

Ringmaster 09/03/2012