Elisium: Becoming

This is possibly the first time you will have heard of US metalers Elisium but it certainly will not be the last as their new impressive EP Becoming begins to consume and excite the globe. Approaching their tenth year the trio from Fredericksburg, Virginia is another example of those secrets that metal and music in general always seems to hide from us for far too long. Now though with their new release things should change the EP that impressive and a statement of the quality and power of what is still to the world an emerging band.

      Becoming follows up debut album Things They Carried of 2004 and that in itself is a crime, the fact that circumstances and life in this great musical world has meant such a long wait for a successor to what was a strongly received album. Over the years the trio of brothers Nate and Kirb Compton, vocalist/guitarist and bassist respectively, and drummer Nathan “Junior” Thomas (who joined in 2009), have shared and impressed stages with the likes of Chevelle, Flaw, Days of the New, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Straight Line Stitch, and Nonpoint, as well as headlining their own successful tours throughout the US. They have been frequently compared to bands like Tool and Chevelle and it is easy to see why but Elisium on the evidence of the EP have their own distinct breath and energy which certainly sets them apart from others.

The first notable thing is how much power and sound the threesome brews up in their songs, yes on recordings it is easy to add levels and textures to build a storm of noise but the songs here are organic in their presence with a mighty core which cannot be contrived. With reliable sources saying live they are just the same it really is a formidable strength the band has. The other impressive thing is the variety the band offer within their distinct overall sound, each song unique in composition and passion to their siblings whilst easily recognisable as kin to each other.

The EP opens with an excellent intro which to be honest does not seem to have any relation to what follows but its metallic pulse and rippling industrial intensity is hypnotic and it would be great to see it turned into an actual track. First full track is Bombshells and an immediate treat for the ears and heart to be absorbed by, especially the vocals of Nate which are striking against the rasping heavy riffs and controlled rhythms. He has a smooth delivery which comes with a snarl and fully emotive edge to light up the songs within the dark coarse melodic play and prowling intimidating basslines. The song does not offer any extravagant thrills or glossy shimmers but simply strikes with an honest and blistering strength and complete with a great vocal harmony the track is an excellent starter.

The following Sleep Awhile is equally predatory though with a less insistent energy. The song is a real grower evolving with initial thoughts at yeah this is good into an intrusive and persistent pleasure. Actually with a slight contradiction the pair of songs are certainly outstanding but as the release unveils its journey they are subsequently put in their place by the closing duo of tracks which we will come to shortly.

In between the two pairs there is a surprise in the shape of a cover of Men At Work song Safety Dance. Now the song is already one which is annoying but frustratingly infectious, a track which it is hard to find many admitting to liking but all know and join in with. Elisium do a Wolverine like corruption on it and fill its veins with their type of metal to give it muscle and a darker energy to obliterate its previous camp gaiety. It is still annoyingly as a song but even more infectious and great fun in the hands of the band.

The track whether intentionally is like an interlude between the previous songs and the amazing following AVG and Surface. The first of the two initially roughs up the ear with restrained riffs before slamming hard with a heavy energy and an incendiary groove. The song is unrelenting in its bristling attitude and almost combative assault whilst retaining a mesmeric melodic grace in atmosphere and further outstanding vocals. Every note is dripping emotion but also intimidation and it is a glorious mix. The closing Surface is another fully impactful creature emotionally with a mournful beginning erupting into a fiery mix of bullying riffs and outpouring vocals. It is a beautiful track in its composing and realisation, a fully engaging and emotionally draining song.

 Becoming is deeply impressive and surely the doorway to much full acclaim for Elisium as well as mass recognition. If they carry on creating music like this it will be a given.


RingMaster 14/06/2012

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Insurgence: Under Open Skies

As highly appreciated and wonderful as it is to have bands and releases sent to The RingMaster Review from bands, labels, PR companies and the likes there is something satisfyingly different and special when by chance you come across a band often by pure luck, which ignites the heart into an enflamed satisfaction and pleasure. Such is the case with hardcore/metal band Insurgence. By pure luck a random and fortunately seen post by someone led us to the new album Under Open Skies from the Maltese band and what an impressive beast of a release it is.

Info about the band is scarce to absent online but to be honest it is all about the music and that is quality in its fullest glory. The Marsa based band consists of vocalist Cliff Falzon, guitarists Daniel Buhagiar and Gustaf Karl Cauchi, drummer Jolen Galea, and bassist /backing vocalist James Spiteri. Together they have brewed up an album in Under Open Skies which is unpredictable, persistently enterprising and continually magnetic. Superbly crafted and written the release is an ever evolving twisting mix of extreme and melodic metal unleashed through nine striking aggressive tracks. Individually the songs are as imaginatively diverse and perpetually writhing as the album, making for a release which offers something new each and every listen, its depth and expanse extensive and inventive beneath the sprawling intense consumption.

Under Open Skies opens with the brief Foreword an emerging fusion of sound which only suggests at the ingenuity ahead, its tangled web of noise and atmospheres an attention grabbing lead into the tumultuous Adam’s Eden. This track is monstrous in size and intensity. Riffs beat up on the ear building into a wall of blackened threats and barracking energy whilst the rhythms smash the senses with merciless jabs and lethal uppercuts. As the song progresses and the vocals of Falzon spew every shade of bile and venom out with the lyrics the guitars reach scorched heights to splice the senses with crystalline veined razor sharp melodic intrusions. With snatches of djent tendencies and splatters of death metal villainy, the song is immense and still a mere hint of what is to come.

The following Exchanges begins on distressed melodic play surging through eager riffs and gut borne vocals. Once in its stride electronic sonic spots light up the intensity and further reveal the thoughtful creative songwriting behind the songs. Openly infectious whilst being as menacing and belligerent as you could wish the song scrapes and caresses the ear with stirring craft and invention.

The outstanding Forked Tongue lifts things to an even greater plateau next with the featured aid of Robin Adams (Red Seas Fire). The track is staggering though that word can be used freely throughout the album. With a great steely groove which winds tighter and tighter around the ear and a perfect mix of spiteful and clean vocal harmonies the song is truly outstanding. From obliterating and numbing the senses to leaving them soaring headlong into the sun, Forked Tongue is a masterful ever shifting and revealing contagion of imagination and pure creative skill.

Great heights are scaled and left as the norm with further stunning slices of ingenuity in the likes of Bystanders with its startling electronic manipulations and destructive addictive grind, The Rise And Fall Of Nothing with its vicious piercing grooved riffs and concussive rhythms, and the caustic Where The Fault Lies, each track on the album leaving one utterly breathless whilst offering no respite except the mere seconds in between them.

With the atmospheric and emotive harsh beauty of instrumental Minor Transmission exploring and fingering every thought and feeling whilst the mountainous closer Obsidian Black rips apart an already devastated husk of a listener with barbaric drumming and crushing venomous riffs alongside lethal melodic enterprise, Under Open Skies is easily one of the finest extreme metal albums to appear in recent months, of any type of metal to be honest. Produced by Spiteri, with the vocals produced by Robin Adams, Insurgence has released one of the essential albums of the year and as it is a free download from their official website there is no excuse for not being infested by their amazing sounds.


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Shadowsphere: Inferno

Inferno the new album from Portuguese metallers Shadowsphere may not bring the most startling originality or groundbreaking ventures but it delivers some of the finest rampaging anger and intense sounds you could wish for. As aggressive and hungry as any primal explosion Shadowsphere eat up the senses with an unadulterated and consistent assault of impressively skilled unrelenting emotive melodic extreme metal. The sounds upon the album are a ravenous storm of riotous emotion and flesh withering venom brought lyrically and musically together for a full and deeply satisfying experience.

Released on their own label Sphere Music Media, Shadowsphere with Inferno are looking to finally explode from their homeland into a wider world of acclaim and recognition. There is no reason or obstacle in their way such the strength and impressive sound of the album but music has never been known to be fair as shown by the fact it has not happened before now for them and many other excellent Portuguese metal bands. Following up previous albums Death And Dreaming (2002) and Dark Lands (2004) plus the Hellbound Heart EP of 2006, Inferno sees the band arguably rediscovering or returning to their instinctive brutal edge and sound without losing the fine and thoughtful melodic craft they have nurtured and skilfully realised over the years. The release is easily the most aggressive the band has been but also the most melodically inspired and imaginative.

As soon as the opening title track, a brief intro of forceful warnings yet beckoning charm leads one straight into Within The Serpent’s Grasp the hairs on the back of the neck flare up. Riffs claw at the ear whilst a muted groove flicks its forked tongue with teasing intent persistently making one wait for the violating eruption of aggression. When it comes it is less forceful than imagined but as impactful as you could dream of with that groove expanding into a fully fledged taunt upon the senses and the riffs and rhythms in tandem pummelling every centimetre of the ear. The guitars of Luis Miguel Goulão and Ricardo Trincheiras rile up the heart with blistering insurgencies of acidic melodic fingerings and persistently draining energy whilst vocalist Paulo Gonçalves scowls and growls with every emotional and aggressive atom he can muster. It is a powerful and furious start which leaves one expecting something fulfilling ahead.

Shadowsphere do not disappoint as the likes of Sworn Enemy and Dead Behind My Eyes leave one drooling at their enterprise and sheer explosive might. The first is another rampant boiling surge of uncompromising energy the drums of Emídio Ramos openly destructive yet perfectly controlled whilst bassist João Sousa chews on the senses with predatory basslines matching any serial killer profile. For all the excellent craft and sounds it is the wonderful vocals of Patrícia Rodrigues (ThanatoSchizO) which truly ignites the song, her sirenesque voice making an irresistible light within the dark growls and overwhelming black energy. The second of the two is a bruising fury which draws one into a maelstrom of anthemic intent and incendiary attitude. Both songs leave one teetering on the edge of numbness without a safety net to rely upon.

Like a malicious hound the album gnaws on the senses through every second of its fierce existence the likes of the corruptive Bullet Train, the incendiary Firewalker, and the excellent Gehenna where the shadows of the band find a deeper core of death driven intensity to consume with, all ripping layers from senses, emotions, and synapses alike though the band does offer some respite with instrumental The Hurt Locker. The piece of music featuring keyboards from former member Davon Von Dave is a weave of beauty and enveloping atmospheres, an eye of the storm type calm within the heart of Inferno.

The album closes with the epic and raging assault of Alone At The End Of The World. The song is eight minutes of unpredictable malevolence and creative melodic variation. With both Rodrigues and Von Dave returning to bring a majesty and tenderness to temper the insatiable dark surface and compliment the fine absorbing guitar play, the song is a deeply pleasing blend of light and dark worlds.

      Inferno is an excellent album which without driving into new pastures brings its existing graze into impressive previously undiscovered levels. If Shadowsphere are not an eagerly mentioned name in the words of metal fans after this there will be no justice.


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Various: We Love Trash The Best Of The Garage Punk Hideout Vol.7

Seemingly compilation albums and certainly a series of them is a rare thing these days. In the seventies/eighties they were a common occurrence as independent labels helped new bands find a platform to be heard. Possibly with the internet the need is not as strong as it was but there is nothing more thrilling than a compilation of unknown bands to trawl within and feast upon. One of the few and best series of compilations are the Hideout Comp Series. Released on GRGPNK Records, a label created by the GaragePunk Hideout trashy rock n roll social networking site to feature its members and bands, the series of releases to date have brought some of the best, exciting and openly distinct new artists around which fall within the spheres of punk, garage rock and punk, trash, psych and psycho edged sounds in their various outfits, basically anything that is wild and rock n roll.

We Love Trash is the seventh in the series and follows in aim and quality the previous sextet of releases. Each has brought an array of diverse bands and sounds to thrill and incite further investigation of to varying degrees and the latest is no different. What is good about the releases is even if a track does not ignite any burning eagerness to hear more you still recognise and respect the promise and unique breath of each band, undoubtedly the result of the good selection process at the label.

Consisting of twenty two tracks from bands around the globe the album is a full and rewarding chunk of schizo sounds and energy in their many shades. With a random selection we will mention a few of the treats to find on the release but each and every track is an eager and perfect irrepressible bedlam of ear blistering inciting sounds.

The album opens with Blackout from German band Trash Emperors, the track setting the release off with a fine brew of scuzzed garage punk and agitated energy. Leaving the senses in an awakened state of pleasure the song makes way for the excellent Ted from Brooklyn band The Amputees. Raw punk n roll at its best the song is a catchy middle finger piece of growling contempt to stir up the heart.

Swizz garage punks The Monofones and lo-fi fuzz duo The Happy Kids keep things brewing with pleasing variation and a persistent manic air with their respective tracks Alright and Seven Are The Horns of Satan. The first is an urgent psych punk grazing of hypnotic pulses and scraping discord with a sixties air of Cradle whilst the latter is a simpering electrified surge which treats every brain cell to an electrified sonic scratch, both songs further showing the diverse and enterprising talent within the ranks of the album and the series of releases as a whole.

With such a spread of styles and levels of production different parts of the album will thrill some more than others and vice versa but We Love Trash is never less than pleasing and insistently mischievous with songs like the irrepressible Cigarette from the Austrian garage punks The Shirley MacLaines and the sonic hip swaggering My Groupie from Thee Martian Boyfriends leading the ear and heart into a welcome wicked dance.

Favourite tracks from the release for us here come in the shape of the outstanding psychotically snaring Good Night, Sleep Tight from San Diego based The Bloody Hollies, the pissed blues punk Black Garage Door from The Chrome Cranks, and the Ramones infected contagion that is Turn That TV Off from Boris The Sprinkler. The trio of songs tick all the right boxes and ignite the fiercest sparks of satisfaction but there is something for everyone on what is an excellent album you just have to go and enjoy

We Love Trash and previous releases come at a real steal of a price and can be checked out at http://garagepunk.ning.com/page/we-love-trash. Join the site, make an active contribution and the treats come at an even more impressive value.

RingMaster 14/06/2012

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Track line-up:

1. Trash Emperors -Blackout (Hamburg, Germany)
2. The Amputees- Ted(Brooklyn, NY USA)
3. The Evil Eyes – Honey Please (Toronto, ON CAN)
4. The Del Lames – Feel So Lame (Albany, CA USA)
5  The Bloody Hollies – Good Night, Sleep Tight (San Diego, CA USA)
6. The Monofones – Alright(Bern, Switzerland)
7.  The Happy Kids – Seven Are the Horns of Satan(Vienna, Austria)
8.  Die Zorros – Baby Goodbye (Bern, Switzerland)
9.  Kicks – The Defeatist Beat(Toronto, ON CAN)
10. The Gooeys – Lay Down and Die (Calgary, AL CAN)
11. The Get Wets – Beat Beat (Columbia, SC USA)
12. The Shirley MacLaines – Cigarette (Innsbruck, Austria)
13. The Chrome Cranks – Black Garage Door (Hudson, NY USA)
14.  Wild Evel & The Thrashbones – Why Can’t We Be (Vienna, Austria)
15.  Thee Martian Boyfriends – My Groupie (Brussels, Belgium)
16.  The Pulsebeats – Cynical Ride (Santander, Spain)
17.  Uzis – I Wanna Go (Kansas City, MO USA)
18.  Boris The Sprinkler – Turn That TV Off (Green Bay, WI USA)
19.  Haywire – Gone for Good (Sheboygan, WI USA)
20.  The Branded – Drive Me Outta My Mind (Malmö, Sweden)
21.  Thee Witch Hazel Martinis – What You Deserve (Fontana, CA USA)
22.  Light Bulb Alley – Pepper Spray (Montreal, QC CAN)

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