Actions! : South Of The Water single

Since receiving the promo for the debut single from UK power pop band Actions! the band has announced its demise due to personal commitments of its members. Despite this South Of The Water is easily worth checking out as the band bid their hello/farewell on a bit of a bang rather with two songs that displays much promise for what one suspects could have been a rather notable pop punk styled band.

The band started in the opening weeks of 2011 though bassist Mat Wilson and guitarist Ryan Stuart had played together from Year 9 in school and alongside drummer Laurence Mosley since 2008 when he jammed with their previous band. With the addition of vocalist Emily Cracknell last year Actions! became a complete and focused entity.  Taking open pop punk influences from the likes of Blink182 and Amberlin as well as the pop styling of a Jessie J and Pink the quartet has developed a sound which is tight, energetic, and eagerly accessible,  the single suggests the band were still yet to find their completely distinct sound but with rhythms that pump up the blood, guitar melodies which easily draw attention, and the excellent rich vocals of Cracknell  the band was easily one of the more interesting and promising pop driven rock bands to emerge in the UK, as successful supports slots with bands such as Inme, Skindred, Paige, and Not Advised proved.

Released May 21st, the two songs making up the single were recorded  at the beginning of the year and more than deserve firm attention  even if the band are no longer a breathing creature. The song South Of The Water opens with a slow enchantment from the appealing and impressive vocals of Cracknell with a subtle melodic guitar in company. As the emotive bass of Wilson steps into view with the firm and punchy beats of Mosley alongside, the song spreads its wings and pulls one into a vibrant blend of impassioned guitars and flavoursome guitar driven rock. It is Cracknell that lights up the song most, her delivery and great voice well formed and captivating. The song does not explode within the ear but swarms around and warms up the senses with a fine all round display of craft and intent.

The second track on the release is a more direct pop punk energised pleasure. One Minute Smile dances and beckons with simple riffs that spark and again excellent vocals which lead every aspect of the great song with an assured belief and confidence. As with the first the song does not stand atop a hill of originality but satisfies and entertains with an accomplished ease and ability which is just as full and pleasing.

With essences of Paramore as apparent as previously mentioned references the band fit alongside the likes of Me & The Mountain and Hitchcock Blonde in promise, sound, and creativity. That promise is strong and unmistakable from this their debut and departure so it is a shame we will not get to watch and hear a great band evolve into one suspects would have been something even more special.

     South Of The Water is a fine single that deserves plenty of attention and will leave many upon hearing it with disappointment that this is all we have from Actions! to enjoy.

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The DeRellas : Stick It To The Man Single

If you ever had the misguided belief that the heart and spirit of classic 1977 punk rock had dissipated and been lost over the years than stand by to be reminded and shown by the eager and mischievous new single from  UK rockers The DeRellas that it is alive and bristling to kick your butt. London based with members coming in from Brighton and Portland, The DeRellas do not take you back to the time when attitude and music raised its middle finger and stirred up more than just dust but bring it forth as if it had never laid dormant.

The two tracks that make up the Stick It To the Man single released through Dirty Water Records/Crushworld Records, badgers the heart and inspires urges of mischief with two varied songs reaped from and oozing UK and New York punk, dirty, belligerent and out for a good time any way they can. There is no pretence or attempts to be anything more than they are, just honest, irrepressible rock n roll. With a fine live reputation from playing with the likes of Hanoi Rocks and The Germs the band translate it into a rampant energy that fuels their recorded sound.

First song Stick It To The Man hijacks the ear with boisterous beats and gang chants before opening up the pace with stirring guitars and the baiting vocals of rhythms guitarist Robbie DeRella, who alongside lead guitarist Luca DeRella tease and taunt the essences with uncomplicated and sleazy melodies. It is the incessant bold rhythms of Alex Skinny DeRella alongside the moody bass of Timmy DeRella which capture and ignite the imagination with their glam rock open wantonness. Imagine Sweet or The Glitter Band in a booze addled union with The Dead Boys or The Flys and you have Stick It To The Man. The gang chants and rock n roll spine recalls the height of the great sounds heard at CBGB’s as it brings New York punk and 70’s sleaze/glam elements together to great effect.

Coupling the lead song is the excellent Go Go DeRellas, a scuzzy electrified Ramones homage/garage punk infection. A tongue in cheek instantaneous pleasure the track is simplicity at its best, easily accessible and an irresistible invitation to join in. The sound is equally powered with unrestrained rhythms and inciteful riffs that brings the original New York punks into a party blitzkrieg with Johnny Thunders, The Vibrators, and Suburban Studs.

The DeRellas wear their influences on their sleeve without an ounce of predictability or venturing into dullsville. Yes you can pick recognisable parts out and know their inspiration but it is brought with a flair and energy that sets the band as one of the most refreshing punk bands around and a band which is not only keeping the original sounds and intent alive but living and breathing it.

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Venial Sin: Sphere Of Morality

Since forming in 2008 Portuguese band Venial Sin has slowly emerged as one of the more interesting and inventive metal bands, their fusion of black/death metal with progressive rock an intriguing and stirring mix. Their new EP Sphere Of Morality marks their arrival as a real force and a band suggesting even great things ahead. The release is a compulsive and at times mesmeric melodic gem brought forth upon an intense and aggressive heavy atmosphere. It makes one work and immerse within its weighty mass to find all of its elegance and creativity but is accessible from the first introduction too, ensuring one wants to delve deeper.

Since its beginning Venial Sin has refined and brought richness to their sound, from the uncomplicated and basic first four track demo World Reset to this their new EP. Their sound has evolved and found a defined breath and pulse of its own which sets them apart from most other melodic death and black metal bands. In the EP the melodic aspects of their sound is to the fore and in many ways leads each song but never to the expense of the darkened intensity and formidable power the band demand attention with. Elements of groove metal and grind frequent the corridors of Sphere Of Morality too adding to the flavoursome and unpredictable music.

Autumn 2011 saw a line-up change with founder members Pedro Matos (guitar/vocals/ synths) and Helder Guedes (drums) bring joined by Renato Sousa (vocals), Rafael Pinto (guitar), and Gustavo Gonçalves (bass). The EP itself though was first started on by the band at the beginning of the same year with Venial Sin recording the release between January and June in the Blind & Lost Studios in Stª Marta de Penaguião, and mixed and mastered by Guilhermino Martins. The result is a collection of six songs that take one down darkened avenues of thought and invention whilst lighting the way with flames of melodies and beacons of inspired creativity.

Opening track A New Rose not so much assaults the senses but pulls them to immediate attention with stirring synths and eagerly pacing riffs. It swarms around the ear whilst softening it up with intimidating rhythms and aggressively driven guitars. The vocals of Sousa growl with a guttural depth that matches the predatory bass and heavier riffs to give a fine attack but it is when the band step into a openly melodic atmosphere and defined craft that the song lights up, especially with the caressing synths and excellent clean vocals of Sousa taking over. The band than merge these elements wonderfully keeping the senses enthused and mesmerised with intelligent enterprise, ingenuity, and craft. The song marks the territory the rest of the release frequents in their individual guises, a thoroughly impressive adventure.

The following Prepared For Battle and Novembers Fall are equally as mighty and pleasing, the first bringing a direct venomous black metal attack to blister emotions with a caustic intensity as scorched as the harsh vocals and the second enveloping the ear and beyond with a searching melodic invention from its start. Novembers Fall brings both sides of the band into a truly outstanding union, the striking almost cruel sounds and intent eager companions to the evocative and emotive progressive imagination that spreads through every pore of the song.

The stunning Real End is one of the two biggest highlights of the release, a provocative progressive piece of songwriting which inspires individual thoughts and images. Predominately a melodic electric caress the track still does not refuse the intense and imposing side of the band, lacing the music with a muscular energy. The equally immense and hypnotic Vanishing Into… leaves one breathless and fully drawn into the grand atmospheres pervading it and the whole release. With grooves which wind around the ear with a teasing grasp and middle eastern inspired melodies that sway and mesmerise with the allure of a siren, it is a glorious piece of invention.

The inventive and again deeply rewarding closing title track completes what is an outstanding EP. Sphere Of Morality is for most the first introduction to Venial Sin but will not be the last we hear or enjoy from the band. Released through Infektion Records it is one of the more impressive progressive blackened metal releases in a long time and as is the band a must investigation for all.

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