Vertigo Steps: Surface Light

The new album from Vertigo Steps is a release that immerses itself deeply inside you as you fall within its own thick expansive atmosphere and close enveloping sounds. Surface Light forges and instigates a full union and experience that leaves the senses empowered and alive whilst searching for a deep breath with which to fall under the mesmeric towering sounds again. The album is an enterprising and formidable release which brings essences of rock, metal, and progressive rock into a compulsive sky of melancholic atmospheres and warm emotive clouds that stir and incite the emotions.

Surface Light is the third album from the Portuguese / Finnish project which was formed predominantly as a studio project in 2007 by Bruno A. (Arcane Wisdom). The project grew with Finn Niko Mankinen (ex Misery Inc.) joining to give a core duo to the band whilst they also brought in guests for recordings. A debut self titled album in 2008 drew strong attention and praise with comparisons of Katatonia and Green Carnation passed upon the music it brought forward. This was followed by equally acclaimed second album The Melancholy Hour in 2010 which again saw not only more guests alongside the duo to realise the songs but returning producer Daniel Cardoso, a man who is involved with so many impressive releases everywhere you turn, to add again brings his impressive production touch and drums skills to Surface Light.

The new album once more involves guest vocalists to bring a depth and firm variety to the songs plus Cardoso with drums and bass as well as production. For Surface Light the band has called on the striking talents of Jan Transit (In The Woods…,Transit), Patrik Karlsson (This Haven), Stein R Sordal (Green Carnation, Sordal) and Sophie (Ugarit), alongside the excellent tones of Mankinen. The combinations are majestic and enhance and flavor each song as deeply as the thoughtfully crafted music that surrounds them.

The album opens with the dark but warm Vertigo Dawn, an instrumental with soaring vocal harmonies and a desolate breath that works itself in far beyond the ear as it leads in the outstanding The Hollow. The band immediately pulls one directly into its heart as a web of voices and evocative sounds touch thoughts as they wrap themselves gently but firmly around its recipient. A melancholic ambience pervades the body alongside the stirring guitar creativity and provocative additional female vocals. It is a large yet intimate sound and one which lingers long after its final emotive note, though taking the album as a whole each song is never long in being replaced by equally impactful and full songs.

The following Silent Bliss is a vibrant and energetic track which lifts the emotions with stirring eager riffs and melodies but keeps it always personal with insightful and impassioned quiet moments of calm and restraint. The song reminds of latter Comsat Angels though it is not obvious exactly why to be honest but the atmosphere and infectiousness of the emotions invoke the comparison. As the album progresses the diversity of the album is more than apparent within its thirteen affecting compositions.

The album as a whole brings a kind of undefined theme or feeling at least with each and every luxurious yet saddened song. It is a wonderful blend of vibrancy and warmth which enthralls and uplifts whilst stemming from a darkened heart wrapped in sorrow and under a dimmed light. The wonderful Tonight I Died, Tomorrow I’ll Live with its post rock/gothic tension, the excellent melodic rock Helsinki, and the impassioned Someone (Like You) with a melody that would suit any Bond film, all burn with a heavy yet glowing heart that makes the listen a complete and deep event.

With further delights in the rousing Zeppelin On Fire, the impressive and best track Schadenfreude, a song that has a life and world all of its own, and the closing The Porcupine Dilemma which feels like a conclusion pulling all before it into a final immense release of passion, the album is a tremendous example of songwriting. It is a statement of far reaching atmospheres brought from the melding of heavy and stirring sounds with emotive and ardent dark to light feelings by the band. Released via Ethereal Sound Works, Surface Light and Vertigo Steps is manna for any who revel in the likes of Katatonia, Green Carnation, Porcupine Tree, Opeth, and Anathema or basically intense melodic and passional music.

RingMaster 26/04/2012

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Demon Lung: Pareidolia

As the final plundering heavy note of the Pareidolia EP from Las Vegas doom metal band Demon Lung left the ear in silence there was a ringing, a stark feel of emptiness, and an overpowering need to feel the consumptive mass of the release again. That is the sign of something formidable and rather pleasing that has just violated the flesh, mind, and senses. It is fair to say that the four track EP is not throbbing with anything startlingly new or blatantly original but there is something deeply mesmeric and openly hypnotic about it that makes it one of the more satisfying debuts to emerge so far this year in any genre.

Formed in 2010 the female fronted outfit consisting of vocalist Shanda Fredrick, bassist Patrick Warren , drummer Jeremy Brenton and guitarist Phil Burns (both ex-Dunwich) took no time in making a mark and creating attention with their doom metal inspired by the likes of Candlemass, Black Sabbath, and Coven and infused with horror imagery and lyrics. Upon its formation the band immediately demoed over 20 songs four of which make up the EP, and from their debut gig in March 2011 set themselves as the top doom act in the Las Vegas scene. Their sharing of stages with doom heavyweights like High on Fire, Jucifer, and Pentagram has only gone to cement and raise their stock, something that Pareidolia can only further accelerate.

The release swarms all over the senses from its opening notes, its prowling lumbering mass veined with some ear catching melodic asides and acidic creativity which do not leap out of the oppressive swamp of sound but spark within the hefty mass. The vocals of Fredrick are very impressive, heavily influenced by her idol Jinx Dawson of Coven she has a captivation and siren like charm which pulls one eagerly into the sprawling sludge of riffs and sound. Her style actually brings thoughts and spicery of L7 and early Siouxsie & The Banshees to the songs to bring a distinct and intriguing element that is new and different to other same genre bands.

      Lament Code opens up the EP and immediately catches the ear with acute and winding grooves that can only inspire closer attention. The riffs chug with an honest directness and craft which leads one further into the black depths of the song and to the waiting mesmeric vocals of Fredrick. She is like the alluring witch of old horror films, her vocals swaying, teasing, and casting a spell on the ear, her sirenesque charms masking the evil within. The song is a strong introduction to the EP and an instant indicator that Demon Lung is a band to watch very closely ahead.

Second song Sour Ground is a more reserved song which explores a melodic and slightly progressive path with elements of the likes of Blood Ceremony tinting the creative twists within the song. The track though not as infectious as the first engages with a different imaginative feel that shows the band are already thoughtful in their songwriting whilst offering immense promise for far greater things in the future.

The release is completed by Death Mask and the title track. The first is another that crawls and lurches with a hungry and persistent menace without ever going for the throat. The riffs gnaw and scrape emotions whilst the vocals taunt with a confidence and knowledge of the power they hold over the crumbling senses before them. Again there is nothing openly new being brought forward but it is thoroughly fascinating and near irresistible. The closing Pareidolia finishes up as the opener started by numbing responses and emotions with deliberate and venomous plodding violation. The song is the best on the release a consumption that one openly welcomes. The track brought thoughts of 80’s German band X-Mal Deutschland, another non metal band which shows the flavoursome feel to the music.

The production on the EP is not the most complimentary to the sound, the power of the drums has been distilled to being just there and no more whilst there is also an overall mugginess which blurs the naturally thick texture of the music, but nothing a better production cannot remedy. The fact is Pareidolia is a great release, a very strong debut, and Demon Lung a definite emerging force.

http://demonlung.bandcamp.com

RingMaster 26/04/2012

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Kyshera: Made In China

Let us not beat around the bush about it, the new album from South Wales band Kyshera is simply exceptional, a kaleidoscope and maelstrom of ideas, invention and intrusive imagination that provokes as strongly as it thrills. Made in China leaves one on a lofty high whilst deep in thought with its startling and captivating sounds, challenging intent, and unique ingenuity.

     Kyshera (pronounced K-eye-she-ra) are a trio who refuse to conform in life and musically without that becoming a uniform in itself, they are in their words “anything that is otherwise indefinable”. This makes for a release that is completely unpredictable and deeply diverse but without falling into indulgences or a disconnected mass of invention. The album and songs have a seamless flow which at times wrong foots and leaves one open mouthed but still fully engages and makes one part of the schizophrenic soundscape. Following up their debut album Paradigm, vocalist/guitarist James Kennedy, bassist Matt Warr, and drummer Phil Smith, have created a masterpiece of ingenuity that takes one through a multiverse of thought, complex and simple ideas, and music that stirs up and inspires fully. They and their lyrics are deeply political which challenge personally, socially, and confront, all brought with accessible yet equally provocative sounds.

Released via Rising Records, Made In China is an album that connects instantly but holds a depth and thick wealth within that makes each visit a new and rewarding experience. From the opening Terrorists the band hit hard but with definition and glorious senses shuffling invention. Beefy riffs and sturdy rhythms pounce immediately to give the perfect wake up call to the immersive melodic jazz lined manipulations that follow. A continual side stepping into distinct and unique areas keeps the song a brewing challenging mesh of feisty intensity and melodic enterprises that scorch and caress equally. The result is a track that takes the essences of the likes of early Incubus, Faith No More, An Entire Legion, and Dog Fashion Disco into the politic and aggressive steel of Circus Of Dead Squirrels. The song is magnificent and one of the best so far this year, something the remainder of the album eagerly and mightily challenges persistently.

The following steely and caustic instrumental The Game destructively twists the senses inside out leaving them open for the rollercoaster of enterprise that is Sex & Drugs & Rock ‘n’ Roll. As if you were searching through the wavelengths on a radio of ideas the song flickers with seemingly disentangled sounds and diversions which all flow perfectly within an overall warm mellowness that still stirs up emotions continually.

Each song is thoroughly compulsive and blindsiding, the examples of the majestic and threatening Sugar, the distressed surface and effect lined Germ, to the irresistible groove metal spiced Mannequins and the wondrous rock Superstar, leaving one wondering and thrilled.  The second of these songs is mighty, a stunning track that brings its ominous atmosphere through beautifully crafted melodic beckoning and emotion poking sensibility, it is brilliant a seeming fly in the ointment but giving the opposite reward.

Every song is a conjuration of well thought out and realised imagination but also evidence of the skill and ability of the band in songwriting and its realisation. From the infectious and immense voice of Kennedy and his striking and emotive guitars, the magnetic basslines of Warr which can maraud, plunder or mesmerise with equal control and unfettered eagerness, to the beats and rhythms of Smith which takes one on intense intrusive journeys or tender beckoning strolls with pure accomplishment, the trio own the heart and soul with sure quality and innovation.

The latter part of the album is just as fulfilling and emotion teasing as the first with songs like the at times surreal and magnetic Messiah Mask, the 70’s rock spiced title track, and the imposing homeric closer Ants leaving one breathless, bedazzled, and urgently eager for more.

Made in China is staggering, an album that deserves all the acclaim it gets and more. Kyshera may not want to or do conform but there is no escaping the mass uniform of adulation that will surely come their way with the album.

RingMaster 26/04/2012

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Interview with Matt Sheedy of iBURN

Immediately we heard it the new EP from Irish alternative metal band iBURN has us at The Ringmaster Review drooling and shouting its merits to all and sundry. Already fans of the band from their debut EP of last year, the new release Where It Begins with its fresh, aggressive and infectious melodic interaction alongside adrenaline fuelled intensity shows iBURN has emerged as one of the most striking and inventive bands in European metal. We had the pleasure of having vocalist Matt Sheedy from the band to tell us more about the release and the band.

Hi Matt welcome to The Ringmaster Review and many thanks for talking with us.

First question is…… is it iBurn, IBURN, or iBurN, we ask as we have seen it written all ways haha.

Haha…I don’t think we know either! I reckon it’s iBURN and before you say it, yes I know there’s a whiff of  plagiarism there but sadly we haven’t been sued by a certain American multinational corporation, I don’t even know if I like the name of the band but how ever written or whatever name it could have been it’s the music that matters to us.

photo Michael Wall

Please introduce the band members and how did you all meet?

Well myself (vocals) and Dave (guitar) did a mini tour with Dagoba a few years back  we were in different bands at the time and just found out we were into the same music and eventually we got this band together, Mark (guitars) was a good friend of Dave’s so he got him in and he tore it up so he got the job,  we have had a couple of different bassists along the way that had to leave the band but Shelley (bass) stepped in and secured that spot and we know her  through Mark and as for  the human drum machine Marek he jammed with Dave a good few years ago and his skills were remembered so we had to have him in the band.

How long has the band been going?

Since June 2008.

What were the inspirations and influences that brought the band into being?

To be honest we were into heavy shit! I just left a Hardcore Metal band and Dave just left a Death Metal band, so if you listen carefully you’ll always hear those two elements somewhere in the music, but  I think on top of that we really loved bands like Deftones, Tool, Slipknot, Pantera…ya know bands that bring power, groove and a big sound!

You have just released your brilliant new EP Where It Begins which we will get on to properly shortly, but since then the line-up has changed to the one listed above. Is this one of those things that bands, which have to fight and claw their way to attention in the world of music today and usually for a very long time, have to deal with more and more as frustrations and maybe disillusionment affect members?

Well the internet is the music hub for so many young bands to get their music out to the world and how and where it trends isn’t going to pay the bills so for some I guess it can be an uphill struggle in that respect but that’s only for those who want things too quickly… you have to realise it’s always been that way for bands but you share a vision and try to see how far you go with the band, I think the main reasons for a member becoming  frustrated or disillusioned are the same as they have always been…artistic differences and big ego’s!

As an emerging band you know there now is going to be a struggle and many walls you come up against on the journey for the band, how do you keep your enthusiasm and determination going? There must be times where it makes one think is it work it?

Yeah that’s gonna happen, that’s just life in general but we love music and playing live and that’s not gonna change.

You are from Dublin and surrounding areas, which seems from the outside to be enjoying a vibrant metal/rock scene right now. Is this how you find it being in the middle?

I wouldn’t say vibrant. It can come and go in waves.

We and a great many others discovered you with your great self titled EP of last year but with Where It Begins the band has really grown with a maturity and fully evolved sound. How do you feel the band has grown between the two releases?

Well we rushed the first EP, we got the band together in June ’08 and had to have the album written and recorded by August ’08, so the band has changed a lot in that time, these days we’re challenging each other a lot more and everyone is writing music that just keeps getting better.

As mentioned there are multiple frustrations for bands in trying to reach audiences, finding opportunities to play etc, how easy or hard is this to turn into a positive energy and force to add to the music?

It’s Easy.

Where It Begins contains seven intense, fresh, and aggressive tracks that hit hard and deeply. What do you hope most of all people get from the release?

Whatever they want, there’s many layers.

Is there anything particular about the release that brings you the most satisfaction and excitement?

Positive Energy.

Where It Begins is distinctly varied in sound and creative structure to songs; you have really worked with thought and intent to make the release the best of iBURN?

Nope, never any intention to our songs, we just play what we like.

How long has it taken from first song to now to make the release?

Too long! We wrote and recorded it in just a few months but due to a few stumbling blocks the release date got pushed back several times.

 Tell us about the inspiration to some of the powerful and instinctive slices of metal on the release?

Again we just went with riffs and vocals we like, never much focus on where it’s coming from or what inspired it.

What fuels and inspires your lyrics predominantly?

Truth.

Are there a lot of personal experiences that come into the lyrics?

Yes.

How does the songwriting start and work within iBURN?

There’s no one way we write songs.

Do your songs continue to evolve until the final recorded result or do you seal their form before going into the studio?

Right to the end, that’s what you pay a producer for, it’s always good to have someone with a good ear who could spot something that needs to be changed for whatever reason.

The production on Where It Begins is especially understanding to the creativity and persistently changing sounds and ideas within the songs. Who handled that on the EP?

Charles ‘Kallaghan’ Massabo produced both iBURN EP’s, he’s on top of his game and not afraid to try different ideas in most genres.

What comes next for iBURN?

It’s all about playing shows at the moment but we will always be working on new ideas and working towards something bigger and better.

Are we looking at a possible album this year or do you find mini album/EPs a better way to release new material?

Not this year, when you’re a new band you’re better off with an EP to see what the feedback is like.

Once more thank you for talking with us.

Would you like to end with a message for your current fans and who will become such after hearing your new release?

Hope to see you out on the road!

Download the Where It Begins EP for free @ http://www.reverbnation.com/iburnmusic

Read the Where It Begins EP review@ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/iburn-where-it-begins-ep/

The Ringmaster Review 26/04/2012

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