Era Hex – New Aeon EP

One of the brightest flames in European industrial metal in the past couple of years has come in the muscular shape of German band Diehard. They easily marked themselves as a band destined to have a say on the future of the genre with their album When Illusions Gone, an acclaimed release whose tracks found eager attention and airplay with the likes of The Reputation Radio Show. Comprising of Alexander Morte (Vocals/guitar) and Vic Torys (keys) the band has been quiet over recent months though Morte is always a perpetually creating storm as shown by the recent release of the debut EP from his excellent electrocore project Red Code: Revolution. The reason for the apparent step back into the shadows for the band has now come to light with the outstanding and impressive New Aeon EP from Era Hex.

Era Hex is the evolution of Diehard. It is not a band spawn from the ashes of its predecessor as Diehard did not die but the natural and impressive progression. Morte and Torys return with a heightened brew of their dark industrial sound, a fresh corrupting blend of death metal and electronic blood distilled in a symphonic air. The music still has that sharp consuming industrial air but it has grown and matured into its own unique hungry entity and one has to say it is something rather special as declared by New Aeon. Whilst still Diehard the duo added drummer Sascha ‘Quazar’ Pratnekar (ex-Deathronation, Necropsy) to their ranks and it was as the trio started writing songs and the realization that something new was emerging that the band changed their name to Era Hex.  Soon after the threesome became four when bassist Jochen (Svarta Faran) was recruited and the band found its whole.

The EP is made up of three hungry and stirring tracks rippling with invention and imagination without losing the power and intensity they are known for. The music it has to be said is strikingly elevated in quality to what came before and it was pretty mighty then. The opening track Era Hex gives immediate proof to that thought with its twisting crisp striding riffs bursting through the ear off of an initial atmospheric symphonic air. The production is cleaner than previous releases from the older incarnation of the band which allows the adventurous electronic aspects to erupt and light up the death march of intensity and blackened guitar work much more and to great effect. Vocally the delivery is a mix of death and black metal interplay full of malevolence from the darkest heart and is at times contrasted magnificently by the symphonic caresses from the voice of Torys. The overall effect is a song which leaves one enthralled and eager for more.

Off to a great start the release soon backs it up with the manipulative and sinister title track. With the vocals brewing a storm of spite and venom within a weave of warm synth conjuration the song intrigues the senses with incendiary sonics and waspish riffs which squeeze the synapses tighter and tighter as they prey upon the ear. The song evolves throughout adding more and more textures to its weight including a mesmeric Eastern flavouring to its blackened and scorched melodic breath whilst the intensity lies heavier and more firmly upon the senses.

The release is completed by Till The End, its herald on epic sounding chimes the lead into a majestic melodic atmosphere speared with predatory riffs and hypnotic intrusive rhythms from Pratnekar. As the track crawls permeates every corner it infiltrates the ear with scurrying sonics which whip skin and synapses with relish to bring an extra persistent and niggling treat within the corruption of malevolence. The song is the best of the trio as well as the most experimental though all stretch and explore with imagination their boundaries and hearts.

The New Aeon EP is not only the welcome return of artists which previously excited and gave some important moments for the ear to enjoy but also the beginning of something even more powerful and special. Given the evidence of the release it equally feels like Era Hex is ready to emerge from their previous respected standing to become a new force in European metal.

RingMaster 11/07/2012

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Corroosion: Dirt Awareness

Like the effect of sand in a wind tunnel notched up to the maximum, the new album from Italian deathcore band Corroosion is as abrasive and lethal as their name gives hint to. It is a nasty and destructive piece of work, a sonic blistering without mercy or respect. It is also corruptively magnificent. Dirt Awareness is not the easiest of listens or probably not the most appealing for some at times but stare it right in the eyes and it is becomes one of the more rewarding albums to assault the senses this year and has the makings of an insatiable addiction.

From Turin, Corroosion emerged from the ashes of Hekatomb in 2005. Consisting of vocalist AnD, guitarists Sentenza and Lino, bassist Marco, and Dave on drums, the band made their first mark with their 2008 demo Maze Of Human Deprivation. Relentless gigging followed as well as the six track EP Two Steps Before The Vein, the band all the time creating attention grabbing strokes with their storm of extreme metal leading them to sharing stages with bands such as The Acacia Strain, Deicide, Neaera, Annotations of an Autopsy, Knights of the Abyss, and Slowmotion Apocalypse. Mid 2009 and the band signed with Rising Records and set to work on their debut album Punish The Mind with producer Alan Douches (Killswitch Engage, Emmure, Carnifex, The Acacia Strain, Cannibal Corpse),which was released the following year. 2011 saw the band destroy stages alongside the likes of The Ghost Inside, Bleed From Within, Suffokate, Trigger The Bloodshed, For The Fallen Dreams, before working on their second album. Produced by Fredrik Nordstrom (At The Gates, Job For a Cowboy, Bring Me The Horizon, Dimmu Borgir, In Flames) and released again on Rising on July 23rd, the album is a titanic treat of invention, imagination and outright violence.

The album creeps up on the ear with the opening to Awareness as echoes of war emerge from the sinister whispers to be replaced by the intrusive windings of guitar grooves and flesh grating vocals. At full stretch the track badgers the senses with crisp punchy rhythms and bruising riffs through an attack which seems tempered, as if the band is simply teasing and taunting its victims. The intensity though is oppressive throughout and heightened in the climaxing storm of scowled group vocals, rigid beats, and manipulative guitars, and the song itself the intimidating beginning and appetizer for the annihilation ahead.

The crushing and quite brilliant track The Loser Slave flies for the jugular within seconds of its appearance, air flaying riffs and grinding grooves to open up the deepest sores laying siege upon the senses. The song evolves into a raging stomp of sounds and bestial borne vocals with a ravenous hunger not to be denied. It is pure malevolence brought with the surest ferocity but dive beyond the surface and there is a continual evolution of invention and sound going on which makes every rampage a new offering. It is this which has the band standing out over other similar bands and makes Dirt Awareness far more than a great album.

More impressive brutality comes in the form of the greedily consuming and relentlessly raging Crimes Of Fathers Times with its dehabilitating diversity of riffs and rhythms skewered with a cruelly niggling groove and the stunning Polarity, both further scarring on the ear and scrambling of synapses with sharp twisting manipulations. The second of the two is a maelstrom of hellacious energy and sounds which use their notes like kinder to spark an inferno of fury and creative excellence to bring one to their knees.

The release is simply one continual high quality and imaginative brute with just the intensity and the caustic covering uniformal. The songs twist and turn within their skins, tempo disruptions, unexpected breakdowns, and perfect unpredictability raging in the eye of every storm such as in further triumphs like Collective Humiliation, Falena, and Repulsion, though every track deserves a mention such the depth of excellence.

The suspicion is Corroosion is still an unknown most have yet to discover but with Dirt Awareness the days of that secret is numbered with the band surely on the verge of deserved major attention.

RingMaster 11/07/2012

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Matthew P: Long Straight Lines

Suffolk boy Matthew P is an artist whose work most know without realising, well certainly one of his tunes unless TV is a non starter for you. He is the guy behind the song She Began To Dance now more commonly known as Girl On The Platform and the only decent thing about the advert. There is much more to the singer songwriter though which his debut album Long Straight Lines more than proves. It is a release which though it does not fire up the heart to heights of adoration is impossible not to like. Some tracks find a fuller welcome than others but as whole the album is an enjoyable stroll through the warm personal heart and imagination of its creator and a soundtrack to a warm caressing summer we in the UK can only dream of right now.

Matt is steadily and consistently building a strong reputation as a song writer, his two EPs Swimming and The Breakfast of 2010 and 2011 respectively as well as writing songs with the likes of Joel Pott (Athlete), Iain Archer (Snow Patrol) and the Hoosiers, all drawing increasing acclaim and appetite for his eclectic creativity as has his successful sharing of stages on tour with people like Reef and  Stereophonics. Long Straight Lines is the next step and it is hard to imagine anything other than an eagerness flying its way upon release July 23rd through YDNA Records.

The album offers up twelve varied songs which move through folk and acoustic to full pop infectiousness. There is something for everyone on the release which though not all tracks might connect as deeply as others ensures plenty of uplifting fun and persistent pleasure. The opening song On Top is a low key introduction which to be honest fails to cause much excitement though it is a decent enough song with a rawness which  give a nice organic breath to its air. It is when the title track and just released single bursts in straight after that the album ignites a much more eagerness. The song opens with a melodic lure which reminds a little of The Cure with its beckoning melodic hook and vocal harmonies. It then proceeds to thrill and caress the ear with vocals and an uncomplicated yet refreshing sound fuelled by energetic  warmth and an enthused intent to give a good time.

From this point the release simply strolls through the ear with confidence and a heated presence which is hard to turn away. The likes of the keen and lively piano led Hey Lady, the acoustic Little You Little Me, and the delightful Long Way Home, weave pleasing atmospheres for the senses to bask in even if they do not quite match the irresistible delights brought by songs like Feet On The Ground and Without The Sun. These both songs find a vibrant and fulfilling element to soundtrack thoughts of sandy beaches and sizzling climes, especially the latter of the two with its anthemic nature.

The biggest suns on the album though come in the shape of Gilly and I Miss You to leave the rest of the album in the shade in comparison. The first is a feisty piece of pulsating pop, its body familiar yet escaping recognition. Impossibly catchy and insatiably joyful the song is unforgettable and a companion to the ear long after its departure. It is another track with a full band involvement which personal taste in regard to the music of Matt prefers. The second of the pair opens with an Elvis Costello like piano lead, its melodic essence near siren like. Another additively infectious song it takes no time in inducing voice and feet to join its party to emerge as the best song on the album and like its predecessor teases way after it takes its leave.

Long Straight Lines is an album which simply lifts emotions even if it may escape being a perpetual favourite and makes for a  pleasing partner whenever it is given the chance. It also introduces Matthew P as one of the more interesting and welcome songwriters in the UK right now, his music engaging and satisfying without following what seem to be emerging rules in the current body of solo artists which make them so similar. They could learn a lot from this man and his endearing release.

RingMaster 11/07/2012

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Late Night Fiction: Polar

Polar the new EP from UK melodic post hardcore band Late Night Fiction is one of those slow burners which needs a little extra time to unveil and expose its excellence. From receiving an initial appreciative nod without truly understanding its intent the release evolves into a stirring and perpetually intriguing gem. To be honest it never quite manages to ignite any ferocious or lingering fires within but is without doubt one of the more interesting and appetising releases of the genre and UK rock in general this year.

Late Night Fiction formed in 2007 as an acoustic duo of vocalist guitarist Phill Morris and guitarist James Thompson. Their need and desire for a heavier sound led to the addition in 2009 of bassist Reece Britton and ex-Alison Angus drummer Josh Meredith. Drawing on influences like Biffy Clyro, Yourcodenameis:milo, Hell is for Heroes and Brand New, the Hull based quartet released their debut EP Hands & Numbers the same year to strong responses. Shows with the likes of Grammatics and the Xcerts followed as well as sessions for BBC Introducing and their first single Horsefight. Since then the band has gone from strength to strength with this year alone already seeing the band playing alongside Twin Atlantic, , Dinosaur Pile Up, Flood of Red, run, WALK!, and Sucioperro. It has also seen Nat Lawson taking over with the sticks though Meredith is the man building the impressive song frameworks on the EP.

Released on their own Grey Man Records, Polar does not take too long into first song Black Watch to show that beneath the aggressive and high charged melodic scorching the band is not interested in merely making tidy, unassuming, and predictable music. This ensures songs which are at times volatile and insistently dynamic but also adventurous and continually surprising. The opener alone marks the songwriting as thoughtful yet unafraid to venture beyond its expected borders, something refreshing certainly in a genre which seemingly is veering towards wearing predictability as a uniform. The song ruptures the air with its first notes through striking and hungry guitars alongside openly earnest clean and shouting vocals. As the track surges with twisting switches from thrashing almost venomous intent to restrained melodic elegance which has its seeds in the acoustic intricacies from the roots of the band, it is a refreshing journey which leaps and gently strolls alternatively and persistently across the senses. It does not  get the blood surging through veins and the heart running fast but it certainly has one engrossed and grinning with delight.

The outstanding Exits, Pursued By A Bear steps into view next upon delicious atmospheric guitar weaves, their gait warming the air even with the exposure of coarse vocal grimaces within the otherwise smooth emotive delivery. As the song spreads its arms the bass of Britton virtually swaggers within the brewing ambience generated whilst Meredith leaves one on the verge of punch drunk with his powerful jabbing beats. Another exercise in musical adventure punctuated with explosions of incendiary energy and burning melodic intrusions, the song is a masterful piece leaving one deeply satisfied and with a desperate need to dive right back in to its heart to discover more of its textures and veiled invention.

The excellent and expressive instrumental Smashy “Smashy Beast” Beast is just the band laying out their musical ability and vision to wonderful effect, the dramatic and highly tensioned heart of the song much more than a mere interlude between the other tracks.

     Dialetics and Relax Please complete the line-up of songs to equal and impressive success. The first is more restrained than the other tracks but has a rawness to rile up emotions just as effectively adding further variation and imagination to the songwriting whilst the latter is a seven minute encapsulation of what the band is about, its presence an inciteful and compulsive exploration of their limits. Though arguably the least accessible song it has the most depth and imaginative canvas for thoughts and emotions to play with on the EP. It also has a melodic hook at times which shouts out Altered Images, but  do not let that put you off.

Polar is an exceptional release which just requires some fuller attention before it truly shows its qualities. The rewards though are very satisfying and with the album Ethics scheduled for late 2012, Late Night Fiction is a band to watch very carefully.

RingMaster 11/07/2012

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