The Great Sabatini: Matterhorn

The new EP from Canadian grind metalers The Great Sabatini leaves a dirty big permanent indentation on the senses and psyche that is as welcome as it is destructive and intrusive. Matterhorn is no release to get your quick fix of infectious and undemanding pleasures from for it is a crippling, desensitising, and cruel intrusion that is far more rewarding and extensively satisfying. The EP leaves one grasping for a safety point, a ledge to use for some resemblance of security but the  eight tracks that make up the release only whip  away the balance and sure footing time and time again. It is not an easy listen but it deeply exhilarating and worth every single violation it delights in swamping its recipients with.

Formed in 2007 the Montreal quartet of Steve, Sean, Rob, and Joey (Sabatini) create sounds that have found themselves drenched in or pulled from the combined might of grindcore, math metal, sludge, noise rock, and progressive metal. They then twist them into a precise yet seemingly chaotic and openly oppressive dehabilitating corruption or as they call it and themselves, “swamp trench arithmetic.” Their first year saw the release of their debut EP Burning Wilderness and plenty of shows plus a coast to coast Canadian tour the following year, early evidence of the band work ethic. First album Sad Parade of Yesterdays arrived late 2009 supported by a North America tour, the band all the while picking up a formidable underground following and acclaim. Over the past years they have supported the likes of Coliseum, Today is the Day, Fuck the Facts, Threat Signal, Psyopus, and Bionic gaining further momentum if not yet the breakthrough their sounds deserve. The 7” single Napoleon Sodomite of last year accompanied what is an insatiable gigging regime the band seems to have but it is with Matterhorn that one feels they might at last find their deserved place in the attention and thoughts of the bigger musical world to stand nearer to the likes of Unsane, Today Is The Day, Botch and Converge.

Released through No List Records, Matterhorn attaches itself to the ear with rumbling riffs and a predatory bass in the opening City Limits. Soon it sidesteps in pace and tone into a caustic and intimidating questioning of the senses. It is a thick and muggy assault that takes its time like a jabbing boxer, finding the weak spot and bruising it with a towering intensity and seismically sonic probing. The vocals are coarse and intrusive to combine with the not so much brutal but heavily demanding sounds.

Zacios follows with again an opening fingering and teasing of the already inflicted wounds. Once inside it quickens its energy with concussive rhythms and a groove that winds tighter and tighter around its victim. It is raw with the baritone bass licking its lips as it prowls the song and the guitars cutting through with direct and intrusive melodic acidity. Nothing is clear cut in sound or intent with everything coated in feedback and filth dripping distortion but nor is it impossible to hear and enjoy the individual elements that make up the tsunami of intensity, the production perfectly appreciative and understanding of the sound.

The band throws one off kilter a little with Invisible Door, or rather lulls one into a sense of relief with its ambient soothing and beautiful yet disturbed atmosphere. With an emotive piano leading the way with estranged sampled voices and a marvellous distressed sax in the background the song takes one to a back street world, a place of shadows which then suddenly lurch out from the brilliant Null And Void. The song is the highlight of the release, muscular, threatening and opposingly vibrant, the track a persistent aggressor that leaves a breathless and grinning wasted wreck in its wake.

The closing duo of songs Wagons and Sad Parade of Yesterdays finish things up just as impressively. The first introduces itself with an ethnic like beckoning before expanding into a scorched mesh of incisively cutting guitars and overwhelming impactful energy. The closing ten minute Sad Parade of Yesterdays is the most impressive if not the favourite on Matterhorn. The track reflects the EP title in its massive heights of quality and invention from the band. The most progressive and stirringly open song it brings all the impressive elements of the band to a full and breathtaking journey.

Matterhorn is accompanied by free digital release The Royal We EP produced by Topon Das of Fuck the Facts which offers more of the same excellent and challenging sounds. The Great Sabatini takes your senses and thoughts to leave them floundering, whimpering and enthralled not to mention deeply satisfied.

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Void of Kings: If Ever Hades Spoke

If Ever Hades Spoke from metalcore/melodic death metal band Void Of Kings is another release that managed to so far escape a review since it was sent through to us but we always get there in the end which is good as the EP is a rather tasty little beast that grabs attention with its intense demanding sounds whilst showing the band as one with much promise.

The band was formed in 2010 and has shared stages with the likes of Impending Doom, Becoming the Archetype, Periphery as well as taking part in the 2011 Thrash and Burn tour, already in their short but impressive life. If Ever Hades Spoke is the debut from the band which since its release has marked them as ones to definitely watch out for.

The release opens with Unseen and takes no time in ripping a deep fissure upon the senses. Immediately one is drawn to the fine and well crafted guitar work from Dan Maloney and Grant Rizzi, both creating sharp melodic intrusions that are as inviting as the heavily intense riffs they also bring are destructive. The bass of Chris Cheney balances the acidic expressive play alongside him with a prowling bestial presence whilst the drums of Jake Livingston puncture the song with controlled and punishing energetic rhythms. Raging and scowling throughout is vocalist Brian Behm who adds a vehemence and aggression all of his own to proceedings.

The EP flexes and twists the same way throughout as it starts with a merciless intensity and strong intelligent melodic invention. The balance between the two extremes the band offer is a spot on and each song is brought with deliberate thought and imagination. The likes of the intensive Crossing The Acheron, The Power And The Glory with excellent growling bass work from Cheney, and the mighty and seditious The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, all violate and enthral with equal depth.

The highly aggressive and intrusive Bleach The Flag is the highlight on the release though it is closely rivalled by The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. The track assaults the senses with a determined and defined intensity to empower the lyrics within their caustic abrasive delivery and occasional clean spoken asides. It finishes off a powerful and strong release perfectly, the band showing they can be as aggressive and equally creative as most of the other emerging bands in the genre.

The release suffers somewhat from the raw and uncomplimentary production but taken as a demo and with all the obvious positives within one still finds plenty to enthuse about and anticipate from the band in the future. If there was one other comment to offer it would be to suggest some diversity is needed within the vocals of Behm. Great though they are after a while they do grate a touch to distract from the sounds and fine lyrics he is offering up. It would not need much just a slight mixing up maybe and it is possibly worth noting the best song is the one he does do that even if it is only a little.

Void Of Kings is on the start of a journey with If Ever Hades Spoke the first marker, one that indicates they are a band that might grow into something quite special. We will certainly be keeping a close attention on them.

RingMaster 21/04/2012 Registered & Protected

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Thirdsphere: Fire

The latest EP from Portuguese metalers Thirdsphere was one that we meant to take a look at a few weeks ago but it slipped by attention until now but better late than never especially with a release that shows a band with much promise and already strong ability. Fire is not without flaws and room for further improvement for a continuing firm progress but it does set the band as one to watch closely suggesting a potential to be a big addition to metal in the future.

Formed in February 2007 as a trio growing to a quintet the following year, the band has drawn attention and respect in the underground metal scene across Portugal and Spain from their live shows and first demo This Is A Thirdsphere CD in 2009. Fire is the follow up consisting of five strong and well crafted songs, showing the line-up of vocalist Nuno Cardoso, guitarists Joao Goncalves and Luke Felgueira, plus bassist Francisco Beato, and Francisco Carrico on drums, as a unit that knows how to write music that takes and deserves attention.

The EP opens with the piano led brief intro/track of Awakening The Soul, a piece that sets a peaceful place to start with the sound of happy playing children bringing a safe calm. This leads straight into Awakening The Dormant with its commanding drums and beckoning guitars. Within seconds the track erupts into a rampaging and potent mix of expressive melodic guitars, grumbling pulsating basslines and rhythms that lead one deeper into its depths and on to the excellent growls and caustic vocals of Cardoso. The mix is direct whilst meshing all elements of the band with a sure care and skill. As the song progresses the guitar play is razor sharp and clean, openly well crafted without going overboard and bringing a great balance to the harsh venomous vocals. At this point though the one and only real flaw with the EP and music becomes apparent, the clean vocals of Cardoso. The production contributes a little to this but unfortunately his smooth style is not a patch on his aggressive coarse delivery. Though not overtly bad the clean delivery just does not lie well within or feel an acceptable part of the songs, the singer not always in control or finding the notes he tries for.

The formidable From Ashes We Rise takes over next, the band continuing their very satisfying blends of metal/metalcore with veins of classic metal guitar creativity to be followed with equal quality by the stirring Soul Confined, both songs eagerly feeding the senses with intense riffs, attentive combative rhythms and an  energy that sweeps one up instantly. This is definitely a great band in the making and a release that is not far away from being very impressive but it is held back by the vocal dilemma. Actually there are only two options that make sense and would take the band up many levels from an already strong position.  Either fuel their music solely on the excellent harsh delivery of Cardoso or bring in a sixth member to take on the clean duties.

Take Fire as simply a step in the evolution of Thirdsphere and take into account all its many impressive elements and one can see a band that is going places with some fine tuning and reassessment in one area. It has to be said the EP despite the criticism is still very enjoyable with its song Awakening The Dormant finding many repeat plays. Keep an eye and ear on Thirdsphere they could one day be the next big metal thing from their homeland.

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