Neuronia: Insanity Relapse EP

In the two years between their previous release and new EP Insanity Relapse, Polish metallers Neuronia have grown or rather matured into a really striking band. Their two albums before the new EP, The Winter Of My Heart (2008) and Follow The White Mouse (2010) were both strong formidable releases unleashing a thrash/melodic metal brew which grabbed the attention easily and persistently even if not offering the greatest of surprises along the way. Insanity Relapse sees the band take strides forward with a new air of unpredictability and definition to their sound. Arguably there is less emphasis on thrash to fuel their music but it is more they have developed it into a fuller compact and melodic creature with certainly no less aggression than before.

With the new EP being available as a free download on their bandcamp site it is a new marker being laid by the band, something founding member of the band and rhythm guitarist Michal ‘Misiek’ Rogala stated when he commented “’We want to open a brand new chapter in the history of our band with this material. For the first time in our band’s existence, our whole line-up was engaged not only in arranging the tracks, but also in writing.” There is definitely a fuller unity and texture to the music which maybe was lacking before and certainly a new breath to the band which takes them to a new level.

The EP hits the ground running with opener Alone In The Dark. From the off powerful riffs rush through the ear with an acute eagerness whilst the drums of Lukasz Sobczyk build a mighty and impressive rhythmic assault. The song settles slightly as the vocals of new frontman Maciej ‘Tektur’ Nawrot solidly thrusts forward gruffly delivered incisive words within the great metallic wall of energy. The track immediately ignites an enthused appetite for the continuing assault and has one fully intrigued when the song takes a detour into a fine melodic aside with the solo play of lead guitarist Rafal ‘Lewy’ Lewandowski engaging with every note, before rampaging once again to its climax.

Best track on the release comes next in the shape of 3:33. From its first notes to the last the song is an enthralling storm of punishing rhythms and challenging riffs which leaves one on the edge of their seat. With guitar play as scorched as the rim of the sun and the vocals of Nawrot at their very varied best on the release the track is immense and destined to be a favourite of a great many. The best thing about the song is you can never predict what is coming next but it does not just throw discriminate diversity at the ear, everything flows within a seamless ride of thrash/melodic rock for the greatest pleasure.

Kick The Fuckers Out and Moon Over Providence complete the quartet of songs from the Warsaw band. The first is an adrenaline powered crush of rampant riffs and combative beats matched by aggressive vocals. Again with strong variation the track enters a smoother passage of almost grunge like respite before blasting and teasing the ear with some fine classic metal invention.  To its end the song swaggers through diverse stages whilst ensuring the focus and satisfaction is kept at a high with great musical skill. The second of the two tracks is a straighter thrash metal piece with a definite Metallica lilt to its platform. Not the most inventive of the four songs it still offers a full and equal well of pleasure to dive right into without hesitation. It is just rock n roll to ignite the passions, nothing more and certainly nothing less.

Lyrically the tracks are as strong as the sounds around them and well presented by the fine vocals of Nawrot, a definite plus to the new craft the band has found. Produced by Pawel ‘Janos’ Grabowski (Antigama, Centurion, Disperse, Dianoya or Lostbone), Insanity Relapse is n excellent return for the band. The only moan that can be placed upon it is the release lacks clarity around bassist Daniel ‘Beton’ Grotkiewicz. You consistently feel his presence and get breezes of his fine ability but he is lost in the storm of noise created at times though he is a major creator of its dark intensity, to hear his lines clearly.

As mentioned the EP is a free download from the link below and there really is no excuse for not finding out for yourselves what a great and destined to be even greater band Neuronia is. What…still here?

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Makar: Funeral Genius

Guitar and piano led the new album from US band Makar (pronounced Mah-Kar) is a release which soon forms a strong engagement with the ear treating it to an open weave of thoughtful melodic imagination and easily pleasing pop sounds. Ranging from indie rock to folk pop with slithers of quirky invention, Funeral Genius makes an endearing and intriguing piece of pleasure to spend time with.

Formed 2002-03, Makar consists of New Jersey girl Andrea DeAngelis (vocalist/guitarist) and New Yorker Mark Purnell (vocals/ piano). With shows at the likes of Luna Lounge, CBGBs gallery, Knitting Factory and Pianos under their belt the pair wrote and released their eighteen song strong debut album 99 Cent Dreams in 2005. Three years in the making it won immediate and lingering acclaim across radio stations, media, and the public. 2008 saw the duo begin work on Funeral Genius another three year project, and upon its recent release the band again started being soaked in full and eager enthusiasm for its sounds which now having heard it is understandable. With the addition of Mark Nilges and drummer Dawn McGrath on the album Makar quite simply light up the air with twelve excitable songs which even if indie pop is not your preferred aural medium cannot fail to leave a warm smile inside.

The title track opens up the release with an instant sunny disposition despite the theme of the personal negativity some

Andrea DeAngelis

people carry through every day. There is a underlying eighties feel to the song and the album as a whole in that it reminds of The Passions a little but more of a more restrained but no less fun Martha and the Muffins. With a melodic eagerness and the enchanting vocals of DeAngelis playing around the great bass and the striding piano, the song is a very welcoming start to the album.

The following I Wanna Know What I Don’t Know and Belong Here continue the fun and inviting beginning. The first is a resourceful mix of indie rock and bouncing show piano with a seventies vocal flavouring, like an amalgamation of Throwing Muses and The Sundays with Middle Of The Road. It captures the imagination from the start with a familiarity and open inducement to join in and though it is not as eager as its predecessor it leaves one more than satisfied. The second of the pair continues the fine blend of piano and guitar topped by excellent the angelic vocals of DeAngelis all firmly and skilfully veined by the bass of Nilges and beats of McGrath.

Tracks like Bottle of Beauty mixes things up nicely on the release with Purnell taking the vocal lead whilst I Can’t Tell You To Stay offers a compelling bluesy groove to its flow though Nilges is the star on this particular track. The song twists and turns continually throughout to make for one of the more unpredictable and delightfully thrilling songs on the release.

Mark Purnell

There are a couple of moments where the album misses the mark though it is more down to personal preference to be fair, but In The Know  with its limited breath and banshee harmonic shrieks left more puzzlement than joy whilst the closing lo-fi raw recording of Devil In A Dream seemed like a track too far for these ears. With intelligent and compelling songs like America Where Are You and Show Me That Look In Your Eyes making up the album personal tastes make a small impact of the pleasure gained from Funeral Genius.

Though not destined to be a consistent player here it is impossible not to be impressed and fully gratified with the quality songwriting, exciting melodies, and some of the best indie pop tunes heard this year. Makar have an open invitation for all to join their party with Funeral Genius it is just up to you to go an enjoy.

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Ominós: Here It Comes EP

There is always an unrelenting stream of bands which either immediately stand out from the crowd or seed heavy suggestive thoughts that one should keep a keen close eye upon their evolution. One which certainly has a place in the latter of the two categories is US metal band Ominós. The quartet from San Francisco with their latest EP Here It Comes ignites more than passing intrigue and promise, and whilst not without flaws the release marks the band as ones to definitely watch with big open eyes.

Formed in 2010 the five piece of vocalist Justin Harris, guitarists Sultan Sawalha and Will Yoshii, bassist Kavon Kavouss, and Ryan Mason on the drums, bring a brawling blend of metal styles within their intense creative eruptions going under the name of songs. Each track ruptures the ears and senses with a blistering brew of classic and modern metal. It is hard and vicious the perfect concoction for metal and finely flavoured with an infusion of fine melodic invention and incisive grooves. The combination of all elements easily triggers a certain appetite for future releases as well as for this EP.

To be honest you have to treat Here It Comes as a demo because the production does the band no real favours though it cannot diminish their promise and creativity. The good thing about it though other than the songs is that you know when the band have the opportunity to use the best professional studios and producers, no disrespect to those involved here, there is going to be something very impressive immerging.

The release opens with Torment Me, a track which wastes no time in rearranging the synapses with thunderous rhythms and equally vindictive riffs. Rampaging through the ear with the energy of an express train and intensity of a tsunami the track scars the senses with a consistent battering and melodic play as sharp as cheese wire and as scorched as the walls of a furnace.  As it progresses the track switches and shifts patterns and pace to great success whilst always leaving intrigue and melodic lures in place for a full focus its way.

Second song Inflictors lifts things higher immediately with its excellent opening. First a melodic guitar weaves in front of the ear whilst harmonic vocals swarm around it making the song instantly and irresistibly beckoning. The band can barely last a minute though before opening the cage to their power and muscular heart unleashing predatory riffs from the bass and a just as intimidating assault from the guitars. With an insistent groove the track is a leap up from its predecessor with everything impressively instinctive and focused on annihilation.  As with the other tracks the song is not complicated but nor is it bland or without obvious thought and craft. A consistently shifting maelstrom of imaginative play and execution, the track works to its climax of destruction with flair and contagious ideas.

Best track on the EP which gets better as it goes along is Machine Gun Salute, again another song where the leading moments of the song ensure nothing but eager attention is given its way. Hypnotic riffs and catchy grooves provide the initial hook before as the title suggests, the track rages with an irritated energy and pace spattering the senses with angry vocals, intrusive stomping riffs and violent beats for the greatest effect and result. Snarling and as pissed off as a woken bear in winter the song has everything you want in a metal beast. It has muscles within its muscles and pure vengeance in its heart making it a mighty statement.

Completed by a couple of live tracks recorded at The Stork Club, the Here It Comes EP is a definite marker for a band with as much potential as they have intensity and invention in their music. It is a shame about the production but still the release is thoroughly enjoyable and only sparks strong anticipation for a planned full length release later this year. Ominós is a band on the up and with the right conditions inside and out of the studio will take some stopping.

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