Thunderkraft: Totentanz

With their sound tagged as Industrial Folk Death Black Metal, quite a mouthful as you can see, the new album from Ukrainian metalers Thunderkraft has a lot to live up to and maybe some doubt to dispel as well from such a broad labelling. The proof is though with their magnificent new album Totentanz, the band more than fills the requirements of such a wide scope of sound.  The album is mesmeric and downright glorious, as well as unpredictable, wonderfully surprising, and in many ways self centred. The band knows what it wants and where they wish to go with their sound, and it is that surety and determination plus the fact that the music and ideas are simply stunning, that makes the album such an impressive release.

Thunderkraft came to be in 2001, the band built on the desire to blend the members love of death metal and Ukrainian folklore with a black metal flavouring. Active and well respected on the live scene the band released their debut album The Banner Of Victory in 2005 to a strong acclaim. Despite this the band hit a lull and during that time revisited their approach and music. Totentanz sees them returning with a new electronic aspect to their music wrapped in sweeping symphonic moods and elements all meshed with their existing thunderous sound. The result is an experimental and adventurous deviation to their previous creativity which is thoroughly satisfying and inspiring.

The album opens on a fanfare and chest beating charge veined by an intimidating riff taken straight out of ‘Walk’ from Pantera. That sound can be borrowed, stolen as many times as it likes and it can never lose its power as shown here on Настане Час [A Time Will Come]. The song explodes into crashing guitars, combative rhythms, and wanton symphonic keys, the folk majesty of the song courting the senses with a fine grace beneath the thunderous intensity surrounding it. The song as an opener is an instant wakeup call and invitation to the rest of the album which gets better and better from there on in.

With lyrics in either Ukrainian, Russian or German, the explorations of “mankind’s relation to the past, ideas of greatness and boundless possibilities of the human spirit, and the strength of will and character”, and the problems he has with them are lost to us of limited language skills but with music that veers from pulsating to ferocious stopping at every station in between there is never an issue, the emotion unleashed and instigated within all consuming and deeply pleasing. The mighty Totentanz [Dance of The Dead] explores the electronic side of the bands new sound deliciously merging the aggression with a vibrant hypnotic drive, the song infectious with stirring keys from Ann in tow with the pillaging riffs of guitarist Alafern and bassist Sigurd, the duo conspiring together with mischief and high intensity. The song leaves one breathless, its energy and imagination swarming through the ear like a melodic tsunami.

With songs like the stomp fest Свiт Майбутнього [The Future World] and the triumphant Навстречу Новой Заре [Towards A New Dawn] bringing light and dark together in a perfect bewitching union, Thunderkraft never lessen their grip on the ear and beyond. Alafern’s vocals growl and pace tracks as menacingly as the striking rhythms of drummer Munruthel and the intimidating riffs that spine each song. This gives the release a muscle that demands and receives full attention to allow the melodic ingenuity and provocative ideas to dazzle and tease, whilst the added likes of the flute and violins alongside the industrial synth sounds venture into untested grounds with the ultimate of success.

The album is so diverse and varied it takes more than a couple of plays to fully discover all of its corners. This is epitomized by the best song on Totentanz where the band seem to throw everything into its creative well to produce a song which should not work but does to the highest level. Смятая Повесть [A Crumpled Story] is a blackened manipulation, its scorched groove winding around the senses squeezing tightly as strings tempt and taunt the ear. Metallic beats harkens the songs grand design with riffs incessantly poking, keys venturing into the cosmos, and jazz and brass interloping to great effect. The song is a visual play for the mind, its carnival mischief and eager violations an exhilarating stimulus for thoughts and the heart.

Totentanz is simply excellent and a feast to delve into constantly. With a sound that can be best described as the likes of Dominanz and Rammstein whisked into frenzy with the likes of Turisas and P&H, Thunderkraft have returned and emerged as an important new breath for multiple genres.

RingMaster 13/03/2012

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Skarlett Riot: Villain

If you have not come across UK rock band Skarlett Riot yet that will soon change with the release of their new EP Villain on March 19th. Bristling with formidable sounds, confrontational attitude, and a bearing of its fangs, the release is mighty; a deeply gratifying feast of heavy and explosive riffs fuelled by instinctive melodies and barely controlled energy. Villain stomps all over the senses and then goes back to give them another kicking after reviving them with its invigorating charm and infectious sounds.

Formed in 2010 Skarlett Riot has already garnered fine praise and acclaim for their live shows and debut EP. Their sharing of stages with the likes of Taking Dawn, Crashdiet, Glamour of the Kill, Black Spiders, Forever Never, Deaf Havana, and Francesqa and recent successful appearance at the Tramlines Festival set them as a band to watch something Villain strongly confirms. With a sound that takes the essences of the likes of Paramore and Halestorm and twists them into a stylish rod of melodic prowess to fuse with the bands aggressive and intense rock n roll, the band are about to make a powerful statement with the EP, an affirmation and declaration of intent and power from one of the best emerging UK bands.

The release goes for the jugular from the off, the opener doing exactly what its title says Party Hard. The song walks into rather than storms the ear, its nicely crafted and free flowing guitars from Danny and Skarlett stroking and badgering the senses eagerly. The vocals of Skarlett are impressive, her commanding and quarrelsome delivery perfectly riding the tremendous pummelling of Lukes drums and the belligerent bass lines of Tom. The song gains momentum as it progresses to set a strong start to the release.

Read My Lips soon takes things further though, with pulsating riffs that dazzle as the bass plunders the ear with menace. The song is an easy infection for the ear, an defiant anthemic muscular track that marks the band down for much greater things ahead. The songs hooks are irrepressible and its heart captivating, a great song that sets a high bench mark for the rest of the EP.

Luckily it is up to it with You’re The Enemy and Villain more than capable of keeping the wave of intensity and irresistible engagement going. The first is a guitar delight; a darker and more venomous track the riffs are challenging and the solo creates sparks from its wonderful scorching of the ear as it explodes. Villain rivals Read My Lips for best track on the release with the grumbling bass from Tom prowling around the striking drums and incisive guitars deliciously. As on every song Skarletts vocals rage with a passion and controlled attitude that takes the music into other complimentary avenues to its mighty intensity. If there was a dispute you would put your money on her, she steers the thunderous sound the band creates skilfully, the quartet as a whole masterful in merging the brawly sound to their melodic artistry.

Villain is a great release that all rock fans need to check out. Skarlett Riot are as mentioned emerging as one of the finest new rock ‘n’ roll bands in the UK, this EP suggests maybe the best.

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Ringmaster 13/03/2012

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StayOkay!: Disperse

Just a couple of months ago an EP from Irish rock band StayOkay! grabbed not only our attention but a great many others with its strong vibrant melodies and heartfelt emotions. The band debut EP Time To Grow deeply impressed and inspired an anticipation and belief of greater things to come from the band. Well it has not taken long for the Dublin quartet to provide further proof and add more force to the thought that the band will surely be going places and soon. Their new EP Disperse is immense, an openly obvious progress and confirmation on what came before. It is rare to really get excited by a release alone but it is impossible to deny that their new three track release is deeply exhilarating.

Formed in 2009 StayOkay! has made their homeland the playground for their passionate and emotive sounds, and the time taken to hone their music and ideas proven to have been an intelligent and inspired decision as each release is unveiled. Both EPs have shown a measured craft to their songwriting and a controlled but organic invention to their delivery. Disperse flows with this, each song wonderfully and instinctively formed to share the band and its heart and passion to its recipient but also inviting them to bring their own feelings and lives into the union. Perfection is never an achievable height but Disperse sure tries its very best to touch it with its fingertips.

The title track opens up the pleasure, its eagerness to bring you into its arms as infectious as the consuming melodies and powerful sentiment. The passionate chorus is anthemic, all the bands passions shouting a declaration at once and throughout Tim Chadwick simply impresses and confirms what a great vocalist he is. Driven by the firm and commanding rhythms of drummer Kevin OShea the song confidently entertains the senses with potent riffs from bassist Alan Ferns and incisive and instructive guitars from Irtiza Malik, his play guiding the song along intelligent avenues to compliment the artistry and skill shown by his band mates. The track is stunning and easily the best song from the band to date.

From such a high there has to be a drop in intensity but as Little Voice shows not in quality. The song is a less forceful s but just as potent in emotion and drive. From vocals to the fiery heart of the music the track connects deeply and with a impassioned hold that leads one down into their own feelings. The song might not have the dramatic and dynamic energy of Disperse but it hits just as deeply and powerfully.

The release is completed by a the acoustic Homebird which again gives the strongest evidence to the  fine voice and delivery of Chadwick. It also shows StayOkay! as a band with more options to their songwriting and ability yet to be unleashed upon our eager ears. Motives is an outstanding release that everyone should at least check out and as it is currently free to download @ http://www.musicglue.com/stayokay  there really is no excuse not to give your hearts a real treat.

RingMaster 13/03/2012

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The Electric Modern: Motives EP

The new EP from UK indie rock band The Electric Modern is one of those rare breeds of releases that plays like it is quite familiar, a returning friend but actually does not sound like anyone else either. It has a newness and freshness that for a first introduction to the band is a pleasing and remarkable thing. The three track Motives EP puts a welcoming arm around the shoulders as it pleasures the ear with fluid and flowing melodies, emotive lyrics and vocals, plus an energy that is wholly vibrant. Whether it carries any ‘life changing’ songs or sounds is debateable but it certainly dazzles with music that brings a warmth to the day.

Formed in 2008, The Electric Modern has gradually built up a strong name with their live shows and self titled debut album of last year. Since a line-up change in the spring of 2011, the band now consisting of Dean Canty (vocals/guitar), Adam Sullivan (guitar/synth/vocals), Henry Marsden (Bass) and Jon Mytom-Hart (Drums), has found a new focus and direction to their sound. Motives is the first evidence of this new design so to speak from the Hertfordshire quartet and it has to be said without knowing what came before the release, it is a very enjoyable and promising EP.

The release opens with Let’s Get Away, a song which starts with soaring vocals and a slightly subdued feel. That is until the band explodes into eager beats and warm guitar strikes whilst the bass of Marsden confidently walks through the graceful keys and impressive vocals of Canty. The song lies in its own melodic sun at times, basking in the glow before raising the energy to bundle forth once more with an eagerness and intent to excite the senses.

It is a strong start soon eclipsed by the excellent Time To Reflect. With a video imminent for the track this is the lead song that should ensure a strong wave of interest their way; though as a whole the EP will instigate that just as easily. The track carries a sharp melody throughout that reminds of The Cure, and in many ways Canty also brings a vocal style not too far removed from Robert Smith emotively. The song is infectious, the swarming graceful synths of Sullivan weaving between the incisive guitars and the firm rhythms of Mytom-Hart and Marsden. You know the song is good when it is still playing with and appearing in the head minutes to hours later.

Too Much To Ignore completes the release just as agreeably. Another easy to digest and mesmeric tune as its predecessor and if there is only one gripe it is that it sounds very similar to Time To Reflect at times. Despite that the song is joyfully vibrant and as with all the three tracks offers an anthemic invitation which is impossible to refuse.

The Electric Modern is on the start of a journey which will take them to higher places without doubt. Motives right now does not venture into startlingly new plains for indie rock as such but more than provides the suggestion that the band will at some point. The release is very satisfying offering a feel and energy that lights up the song within the senses and heart, why not go wake yourself up with Motives too.

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RingMaster 13/03/2012

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