Arrayan Path: Ira Imperium

Though strictly not a brand new release, having coming out last November, Ira Imperium from Arrayan  Path is simply too good to let pass by without sharing its mighty and addictive creativity. Released on Pitch Black Records the album is an irresistible collection of epic sounding yet grounded songs that fire up the emotions and have one rocking and rolling to the infectious power metal sounds that eagerly burst from each and every track.

The album is the third from the Cyprus band and the follow-up to the acclaimed 2010 release Terra Incognita which was nominated for IMPALA’s European Independent Album of the Year Award. Formed in 1997 by singer/songwriter Nicholas Leptos with help from his brother Socrates and guitarist Clement Fung, the band released two demos Return to Troy and Osiris in 1999 and 2000 respectively. Their debut album Road to Macedonia emerged in 2004 through Greek label Steel Gallery Records gaining the band solid interest for their fine musical craft and sound. There was a six-year hiatus until 2010 and Terra Incognita with the band returning with a more defined and adventurous sound. Ira Imperium takes things further to place Arrayan Path to the fore of their genre and with deserved luck into the attention of the world .

Alongside vocalist Nicholas Leptos  on the album there is again his brother Socrates with fellow guitarist Alexis Kleidaras, bassist Vagelis Maranis, drummer Stefan Dittrich, and George Kallis on keyboards. Together they have produced a release with songs that hits the spot relentlessly and accurately each and every time. Power metal is not the most elaborate genre technically but at its best it is one of the most anthemic and captivating experiences in rock music and Arrayan Path  here are the best. From the moment the atmospheric epic  dawning of opening song Dies Irae spreads around and through the ear the sense of triumph and unreserved grandeur is unmissable. With a cinematic flow the song breaks from this graceful start into a feisty and eager track with galloping riffs and punchy rhythms. Once the guitars swagger and tease with melodic skill and Nicholas Leptos  starts his impressive and expressive vocal delivery one is eagerly swept up in the proud and monumental flow.

An excellent start instantly raised by the following tracks. The rampant and enthusiastic Gnosis of Prometheus crusades across the senses with magnificent craft and an irresistible triumphant march. The vocals and guitar grab the spotlight throughout but the bass and drums form a stirring spine that allows the flourishes and anthemic glory to ride the ear with style and unreserved imperial power. The title track featuring  the legendary Tony Martin (ex-Black Sabbath) continues the fine display of heavy rock guitar work and expressive enthralling grand melodies. Again the song strides purposely as it excites and satisfies with an honest and undemanding demeanour.

Each track from those mentioned to the likes of the heart pounding Katherine of Aragon with the wonderful additional vocals from Natalie Kyprianou, the dramatic 77 Days ’til Doomsday, and the tempestuous Amenophis delivers nothing less than stirring and captivating aural heroics. Every song deserves a mention their quality that good but the two biggest highlights will end the review.

Kiss of Kali blends in ethnic sounds to bring a song full of vibrant eastern promise. The song offers  synthesized sitars and grand gallantry tied in with remarkable invention and inspirational melodies. Again a song that leaves energy restraint at home it is well crafted and cultured, a glorious track almost equalled by Emir of the Faithful. Middle Eastern melodies and sounds once more make a notable essence in the story of the struggle of Algerian Emir ‘Abd al-Qādir against French colonialism. From the chorus to the strident riffs and plaintive melodies the song is thoroughly pleasing.

Ira Imperium is simply glorious, a cathartic wonder for the heart and for one who is not generally a fan of power metal  Arrayan Path and their album has emerged as a surprising and complete pleasure.

RingMaster 17/04/2012

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Interview with AJ Reeves of Ourfamous Dead

By Gavin McQuarrie

The past year has seen many bands emerge to grab firm attention and distinct acclaim for their sound. One such band that has easily garnered praise is UK electro rockers Ourfamous Dead. Their debut single and the following I Am Human EP brought them impressively into hungry ears and the eager focus of a great many, something their  forthcoming new single Claws at the Door should easily increase. We had the chance to let fly at band founder, songwriter, and vocalist AJ Reeves with questions to find out more about the band and their music.

Hi Guys, many thanks for chatting to us.

First of all can you introduce the band?

Hi there, the live band consists of Simon Green on Bass and Vocals, Robin Speight on Drums and vocals, Rich Jennings on guitar and vocals, Callum Knight on guitar and myself (AJ Reeves) on vocals.

How long has Ourfamous Dead been going and how did it all start?

Ourfamous Dead is coming up to 3 years. It started with myself writing and recording songs in my bedroom then taking it to a live situation with a live band. We then took to the local scene. Since then I relocated to Leeds to take everything to a larger audience.

Is the band your first musical endeavours?

I suppose it isn’t really, I’ve played classical piano since I was around 6 years old and I’ve played in a few small local bands prior to Ourfamous Dead.

The band name makes one think of people who have gained more fame and acclaim after their demise, but what is the story behind the name?

It passed the two week test. The worst thing about a band is creating a band name. Basically I figured if you write it down and come back to it at a later date, if it doesn’t suck as much as the others then it’s the one.

Your music is quite distinct combining elements of punk, hardcore and electronica. What are the major influences that have helped you arrive at your finished sound?

Firstly I wouldn’t say this is our finished sound. There’s going to be a lot on the album that’s different from anything we’ve done before in terms of sound and arrangement. What’s led to the sound of the work that’s out there at the moment primarily is a mix of the stuff I was listening to at the time. I was trying to establish the band and gain a fanbase so I guess I was trying to fit in with a specific music genre or scene. I don’t regret that but it is not the way I want the band to continue.

You sit between and link the likes of Enter Shikari, Silent Descent and The Browning whilst offering a punk infused energy to set you apart. How do you see yourselves though?

It is strange, by the time I’ve recorded a song I’m usually sick of it so looking back in retrospect is pretty difficult. At the moment I would just say we’re different. Especially if you come to a live gig. We’re currently only playing 3 of the songs we’ve released. The rest are new and completely different but still very much us.

You are about to release your new single Claws At The Door, a formidably excellent song. Tell us about the song and its background.

Basically this song is around 2 years old. I wrote it first as a piece of music with no lyrics, so primarily it had no meaning at all and it was only a “thing”. The band then learnt the music and we began playing it live and I would just make up lyrics for it at each gig. As the lyrics developed it became more apparent it was about the duality of man. And that is essentially what it is. I only finished the lyrics for the song when I was stood in the vocal booth laying down the vocals. That’s your OFD fact of the day.

How has your music evolved since your debut promo a year ago through to this new release?

A heck of a lot. I am human was written almost three years ago (claws at the door isn’t too far behind that either) and I’ve already had a lot of material for the album and beyond. I basically wanted to test the water with I am Human to gauge the response it received. I was pretty happy even though I view the EP as being somewhat immature. I felt the need to write songs that were aimed at a specific genre. I looked at popular bands at the time and aimed to write songs that they could have written. It is not exactly what I wanted to do but I figured it would build an audience. Now I am writing stuff that people aren’t ready for and I’m slowly breaking that sound into our music. The debut album will be a transitional album. What comes after that will define us. or so I feel.

How are your songs constructed from seed to the finished result?

I often come up with the music first. Lyrics are definitely last.

Your outstanding EP I Am Human took you to the awareness and acclaim of many new fans and the media such as magazines like Rocksound. Obviously all bands hope this will be the case with each release but did it exceed your hopes the response you got?

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much from it. Id chosen those four songs with diversity in mind. A kind of showcase of the different routes the band could take. As I said earlier I was testing the water with it. I have so much material written and nothing properly released so I just drew a line under it and thought we needed to start somewhere. At the same time I didn’t want to select some of the newer material. Who wants to ride the fastest rollercoaster at the theme park first? the rest will seem substandard after that. That’s exactly what I did with I am Human.

Live you have shared stages with the likes of The Blackout, Funeral For A Friend and Gallows, which shows the varied styles you can easily sit alongside. Is there a certain crowd other than your own fans of course that take to your music over others?

I’m not entirely sure. We definitely don’t go down well in Castleford. We accidentally played a gig there some time ago and the people In attendance didn’t know what was going on. We played four songs, nearly got into a fight and left.

As you mentioned earlier there is an album in the works. Is there a date for its release yet?

As of yet, no. I don’t want to put a date on it because I don’t want to release anything sub standard again. Even though a lot of the songs are there, they are still being crafted. That as well as funding. I don’t want anything to leave that isn’t industry standard. To get that standard isn’t cheap and funding a band as a student is difficult. Even between the five of us  is still tough and we’ve done a lot recently. We just bought a van for the tour and the video single package was done too. At the moment we are waiting to see where we are after the tour to see when we can commit to a date.

What treats and new things will we find within album walls?

Less hardcore influence, darker synths and percussion, same accessibility.

You are about to start a UK tour with The Sun Explodes, another favourite here. It should be one explosive and thrilling series of shows. The anticipation for you must be high?

Indeed, we actually played our first gig the other night, it was great. The final night is pretty close to my home town (and is TSE’s home town) so it should be busy. I am looking forward to seeing some old faces and of course the TSE lads are awesome guys.

You have a reputation for lively and high intensity gigs; this is the arena you really enjoy as a band?

It is indeed. Its great writing music to go together in the studio but afterward we have to re map everything so it works live. It is an exciting prospect bringing all the songs to a live audience and we really love doing it!

In a time where more and more show promoters only put on bands who guarantee fan attendees, how have you found it to this point trying to play to more and more people?

It is an uphill struggle, constantly. 90 percent of promoters don’t care if you’re the best underground unsigned band in the world. They would rather have a covers band play if it meant  50 ticket sales than support real music. Everything is a popularity contest these days. “Tag your band on here and get all your chummy mates to “like” us and your post. The band who gets 10000000 likes (and get people looking at our Facebook page) can play.”

It is backwards. We hate spamming shit everywhere because we know people get sick of it. We therefore have to do things the hard way. The old fashioned way. Get out there, play your music, get a real following. Your music speaks for itself that way.

Most promoters don’t even promote anymore. The amount of people who say “yeah you can play, how many ticket sales?”. We’ve done a few of these before and the promoter hasn’t done anything. One of them literally just left the bands to it. No posters, no advertisement, nothing apart from a Facebook status half an hour before the gig. The two bands that played did all the promoting, brought their fans through and made the promoter his money.

How do you feel about the internet and its wider base for music, something that brings great positives and equally large negatives?

Yes basically the internet has given the modern musician a medium for getting their name and music out there. In that respect it is great, its free. The other side of the coin is, it is now nearly impossible to make money out of your product, your music. People can get your music for free one way or another and CDs are pretty much obsolete. If you can’t stay ahead of the game and think of other ways to keep people interested, you are always going to fall behind. Basically the good and the bad cancel each other out in my opinion. We embrace the good but don’t rely on it. We still do things the way bands always have before the internet. This was good old fashioned hard work. Get out there constantly gigging, getting our heads down out in the cold flyering etc….

After the tour and working on the album, do you have more in store for the rest of the year?

More gigs, more records, possibly another music video.

And hopes?

Some funding would be nice, as would someone to back us. Someone in the industry who believes in what we’re doing.

Again thank you for taking time to talk with us and good luck with the tour and single.

Would you like to end with any last words for your growing army of fans?

Thanks for the continued support!

Read the I Am Human EP review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/ourfamous-dead-i-am-human/

And the Claws At The Door review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/ourfamous-dead-claws-at-the-door/

The Ringmaster Review 17/04/2012

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Shturm: Karmaruna

If you are looking for some music to ignite emotions and the pulse rate then you can do far worse than checking out the new album from Russian blackened death metalers Shturm. Impressive on ideas and diversity and even stronger in their delivery the band have unleashed in Karmaruna an album that rages and rampages through the ear but with a defined craft and a wealth of refined thought.

Formed in 2003 the band has evolved through many line-up changes and a shift of direction from a formidable but raw and rough black metal band into a mightily creative and tight unit bringing multiple flavours and skills to their distinct and challenging sound. After the demo Shape of Chaos in their first year Shturm released their debut album Fresh Christian Meat in 2004. Without support the release had limited circulation and attention but still opened many ears up with its promising harsh sounds. The line-up of the band changed often through the years and by 2006 only guitarist/vocalist Adar remained from the founding members. The band also contained by this point fellow guitarist/vocalist Omuth and the pair took this year to reconsider and redefine the sound of the band bringing in a technical death metal vein that added a new brutal edge to their music. Lyrically too, the music took a new influence in the form of atmosphere and inspiration taken from ethnic music, the heritage of Maya and the nations of Oceania, and thoughts and ideas rooted in the wisdom and grandeur of the old ones.  By 2011 the stable addition of drummer Petreno and bassist Kane completed the current line-up and the new album Karmaruna was completed and eventually released via Darknagar Records in March of this year.

     Karmaruna is a refreshing release that though steeped in black/death metal has a fully flavoursome invention and energy that captivates from the start. The Krasnodar based quartet make every second on the album count whether in violating the senses with harsh and venomous intense riffs and aggression or by whipping them up into a very satisfied excitable state with searching melodic asides and imaginative classic metal toned guitar play that never allows predictability to show its face. There is so much going on that it takes numerous listens to feel the full depth of the release and even then subsequent plays still offers up a little something new.

After opening on the striking and provocative brief track/intro Wounds On My Hands the album erupts into a full rampage with Solitude Beside. The song immediately winds itself around the senses with a tight imposing groove and tumbling unpredictable rhythms. Like controlled chaos the track punctures the ear with a vigorously direct and unpredictable pace, its muscular intent capturing full submission within the first eventful and impressive minute. The vocals emerge in a combination of coarse growls, screamed venom, and a triumphant clean delivery which works wonderfully to match the also continuingly switching energy and sounds. The song is rock n metal at its best and the beginning of an imposing and thoroughly rewarding ride.

From here on in the album commands the senses, taking them on a heady ride of peaks with some heights loftier than others. The likes of My Life With Angel and its eager acute meandering creativity, the stunning consuming Eagles Above Tibet with its sirenesque ethnically fuelled beginning, and the harsh and emotive Bloodsimple like To Kapylavasta, all create soundscapes and sonically powered eager masses to immerse within to be pummelled and enflamed with unrelenting riffs and destructive rhythms.

The third of the just mentioned tracks along with Solitude Beside are the best tracks on the album but closely rivalled by songs such as the crushing and defiant In Us, the blistering invasive Remember Thy Name, and the stunning closing instrumental of Metal Music Artefact, the song ending the album with final proof of the excellent skill and songwriting craft of the band.

Karmaruna brings a heavy pressure and muscular mass from first note to last but within that there is the most inspiring and insightful creativity and imaginative display of sounds and ideas to ensure every moment is a feast of varied metal. Shturm may be classed as death metal but there is plenty for all metal fans whatever their preferred point of entry to deeply enjoy.

RingMaster 17/04/2012

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Silent Descent: Mind Games

The debut album Duplicity from trance metal band Silent Descent had fans and media alike enthusing and drowning it in critical acclaim to set the band as one of the rising forces in UK metal. Now they return with their follow-up album Mind Games and it is fair to say the septet from Dartford has set the bar even higher. The album bristles with intense energy whilst pulsating through dazzling and mesmeric sounds that envelope and sends the senses into welcome spasms of rapture. It is immense and continued evidence of the gripping further promise of the band.

Silent Descent formed in 2006 and set about forging their love of Scandinavian melodic death metal with trance elements to create a unique and compelling sound. They soon established themselves as an impressive new force with Duplicity two years later alongside being declared ‘Top Unsigned Band’ by KERRANG! Radio.  Since then they raised their stock with stunning live shows whilst sharing stages with the likes of Skindred and Alestorm as well as earning strong acclaim from their appearances at the Bloodstock Festival 2008 and the Download Festivals of 2009 and 2010.

Mind Games is a powerful release that feasts upon the senses with deliberate intent to consume and agitate, its blend of  heart thumping aggressive intensity and bewitching yet intrusive electronic manipulations and soundscapes a full and greedy experience that one cannot resist diving deeply within. From the opening synth led instrumental Overture there is an instant siren pull, the brain mesmerised by the expansive sounds though aware that soon a violation is going to crash the peace. Psychotic Euphoric is that intrusion, an intensive examination of the ear as it burns the flesh through thunderous rhythms and scorched guitars from Tom Callahan and Jaco Oxley. As a balm the flowing warm synths of Paul Hurrell caress the damage as do the clean vocals alongside Tom Watling who just as impressively punctures the ear drum with his bile encrusted growls.  The blend is perfect between the glittering trance sounds and melodic metal directness. The band brings Pendulum into an In Flames mix and then twists it upside down into their openly unique concoction.

The title track raises the temperature further. Its groove playing the emotions like a conjuror whilst the drums of Jerry Sadowski cane the ear skilfully and with perfect control. The dark immense riffs fuse a compelling union with the escalating work of Hurrell and Kipster with his DJ/Samples invention, but it is the heavy handed malicious tones that make the track as powerful and irresistible as it is.

Bricks is the first track where bassist Jimmy Huang is more distinct, his menacing prowling riffs bringing a depth and sinister essence behind the flowing smooth melodic majesty of the vocals and keys whilst the black metal scrawling vocals of Watling again is instinctively and eagerly challenging. Four tracks in and there is a certainty brewing  that the album is going to continue to deliver to its every end the high quality and consistency so far. The excellent imaginative Coke Stars and probably the most inventive song on the album, the emotive and explorative electro expanse of Devoid, plus the provocative immense Sober Thoughts soon provide the evidence,  holding  on to and improving the great heights and invention already reached.

Mixed by Pontus Hjelm (Dead By April) and on some tracks by hard dance DJ Technikal, plus featuring vocals from Sarah Jezebel Deva, Mind Games is a deeply enjoyable and impressive album. To be fair at times the distinction between songs is not as defined as one would have hoped, there being a similarity that invades the creativity but as the songs are of such quality it is just been picky to be honest. The craft and thought in the music as well as the realisation is stunning.  Silent Descent certainly lead the way in UK trance metal, the album pushing its boundaries with possibly only The Browning and their brutal merciless take on the genre being a step ahead across the globe right now. Go grab Mind Games you need its infiltrating splendour in your lives

RingMaster 17/04/2012

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