Severenth – Reveal

UK metal band Severenth since forming in early 2007 has built a strong and continually increasing reputation and following in the UK though they still have yet to make the big break through.  It surely is only a matter of time as they create sounds which are powerful and stirring with strong invention and imaginative enterprise as shown with their excellent album Reveal. Though released last year another look at it for new comers to the Chester based quintet is definitely in order as we try to do our little bit in sharing not only a strong and impressive band but one with immense promise within their skilled hands.

Over the past few years the combination of vocalist Peet Bailey, guitarists Ste Ensall and Adam Sidor, bassist Ben Jones, and drummer Dave Roberts, has made a definite and impressive mark on UK underground metal with their 2009 debut album The Age Of Paranoia and the blitzing of stages around the UK with their cluster bombs of aggressive and sharply melodic sounds. The year of their first release saw the band also winning the Playmusic UK best unsigned metal act whilst across the years to date they have shared and lit up shows alongside the likes of Skindred, Il Nino, Kittie, Soil, Hed p.e., Bring Me The Horizon, 3 Inches of Blood, Biomechanical, Trigger The Bloodshed, and Panic Cell to name just a mere few. America buckled under their assault in 2010 where the band played the likes of Hells Kitchen and the Cedarwood Dome and last year saw Severenth hitting up and devastating Hammerfest Prestatyn, HRH Ibiza Roadtrip and Wacken Open Air. It also was the time of an even more important event in the release of Reveal, an album which shows there is a fresh wind waiting to create a storm within the metal scene in the UK.

The album opens with the thunderous track The Question to lay down its intention to ignite the senses with explosive and well crafted metal. A growling cry introduces the onslaught to be followed by sumptuous demanding riffs and ear spattering rhythms. It is the vocals though which grab the attention at first, the twin caustic and clean attack of Bailey exceptional and dripping spite drenched attitude. The song takes breathers with unexpected but outstanding melodic asides but as a whole the track is a driven and towering opener which excites deeply.

Often such a strong start finds a dip in its wake but Cover Your Mouth easily maintains the high octane start with its collective storm of riling riffs and inescapable intensity. Stalking melodic surges from the guitars fire up the air whilst the vocals offer a more overall smooth approach though plenty of the great scowling elements prowl the song too. Slightly less contagious than the first track it continues the excellence with accomplished songwriting and stature.

The following caustic predator called Taken The Fall and its equally ravenous companion In Air They Dawn rampage across and through the ear with skill and might. Both songs with a tumultuous series of oppressive rhythms and knee weakening riffs with little mercy in their intent though the near brutal combative consumption is  tempered by the stunning heated guitar solos and scorching melodic invention. Again the vocals are striking and though preference prefers the harsher and distinct delivery there is no question Bailey is adept and effective with his rounded range and style.

The best track on the album is Not Worthy, a song with classic written through its core. From an excellent opening throaty bass presence the track accompanied by instantly mesmeric melodic play, expands its arms with an electrified unveiling of its weapons before exploding into a hypnotic stomp of addiction forming grooves and battering rhythms. Further irresistible guitar play and irrepressible energy drives the track deeper into the heart and provides more evidence of a band on the verge of something special.

Two Mirrors and Born To Suffer simply leave one drooling in contentment as the album to its last note provides melodic metal in its finest form. To be extra critical there is not a remarkable uniqueness about the band yet though one can say that about plenty of the ‘giants’ to be fair, but as the album proves the band are still a distance from their full potential yet which with the great quality and sounds within Reveal, is a truly exciting prospect. Severenth will be a major force ahead, if it is sooner or later is the only question.

RingMaster 31/07/2012

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Arcana Imperia – Новые миры

There is a hotbed of metal excellence within Eastern Europe which though beginning to find a wider attention in recent times thanks to the internet as much as anything, it is still an area relatively unknown to far too many. It is a shame because some of the most innovative and impressive sounds and bands are to be found from this part of the world, of which another fine example comes in the shape of Arcana Imperia. The Russian trio are a powerful band full of invention and imagination as proven with their new album Новые миры (Novii Miri which if translations I have found are to go by means New Worlds). It shows the band make its own rules and forges its own directions within the melodic/symphonic death metal realm to leave nothing but full intrigue, pleasure and deep satisfaction in its wake.

From Moscow the band was formed in 2005 and started with a more melodic death metal sound. Despite many line-up changes the band continued to draw stronger attention and following within their country and surrounding areas with each release and live event. 2008 saw their debut album Hymns of Infinite Decay released as well as impressive live performances which included the Global East Open Air in 2009 headlined by Motorhead. The following year saw second album Better Than Now emerge to once more a great response. Another small line-up change occurred in the third quarter of 2011 following the release of the single Reality. The change brought bassist Ivan Dzyubinsky into the fold alongside guitarist Alex Arcana and vocalist Darvit. The year also marked the shift in direction seeing the band expand their melodic intent to explore more symphonic and black metal areas the result being the excellent sounds on Новые мирыas well as returning to their own language for the vocal future.

Released with the might of GlobMetal Productions behind it in a recent link up with the band, the album feels destined to find and light up further afield with its at times mesmeric and in other moments unsettling but always enthralling content. From the very first note one is drawn into the heart of the release. Opener Второе рождение (Vtoroe Rozhdenie… The Rebirth) is a stirring piano piece of controlled drama and stirring passion. It pulls in thoughts and emotions whilst inspiring a reticence to the whisper of unsettling intrigue within its beauty. That slight ominous air is soon realised with the storm of intensity which follows with Мегаломания (Megalomania). Whilst the synths offer a teasing melody to captivate within the maelstrom of power the track ruptures blood vessels with dehabilitating rhythms and ear buffering riffs. It is a raging power hungry brute with inspired variants within intent on playing with the senses.

It is a strong start which explodes with easily the best track on the album in 10 жизней (10 Zhiznei…10 Lives). The piece is a glorious piece of composing fusing mesmeric elegance and flaming spots of melody with a predatory bass presence and consuming intensity. As it progresses the guitars venture into dazzling sonic manipulations to wrong foot the senses which go into overload with the stunning wanton discord brought by the inspired strings. The track is unpredictable and ingenious, a perpetually evolving masterpiece of blistering and scorched imagination.

From its hellish triumph it is arguable whether the album manages to come close to that height again but with outstanding songs like the bulging orchestral hearted  rock driven Дом тараканов (Dom Tarakanov …House Cockroaches), a song with a contagious breath which wraps itself around the senses like a magnetic glove and the shadow prowling Все лгут! (Vse Lguti… Everybody lies!), the album is a constant flow of unique ideas and bewitching creativity. So many albums no matter their quality offer up variations and reinventions of expectations in sound but that is something one cannot lay before the feet of Arcana Imperia, the band though not always as successfully in some parts as in others bringing a continual wealth of new and provocative incursions into originality.

     Новые миры probably will still be an album which you will have to go looking for rather than it come into your view but we urge you do as it and Arcana Imperia make for a breathtaking and very gratifying time.

RingMaster 31/07/2012

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King of Asgard – …to North

Following up their acclaimed debut album Fi’mbulvintr, Swedish metalers King of Asgard return with an even more impressive and irresistible release in …to North. Once more bringing a potent blend of pagan/folk metal steeped in Norse mythology and blackened melodic death metal, the band treat the ear to sounds which at worst leave one truly satisfied and at its height fired up with hot blood surging through the veins.

The great thing about King of Asgard and …to North is that the sounds are more controlled in comparison to other similar cored bands, the music letting its craft and imagination shine and infect the senses rather than relying on flamboyant and exaggerated chest beating charges to capture the imagination. Not that the release is lacking that aspect, at times it is a musical call to arms for the passions and delivers some delicious melodic hooks to trigger a fuller contagion but it is for want of a better word restrained and a element of the great songwriting rather than the focal point.

Formed in 2008 by vocalist and guitarist Karl Beckman, the band soon expanded with the addition of drummer Karsten Larsson who had played with Beckman in the Viking metalers Mithotyn. The following year saw the recording and release of seven track demo Prince of Märings which was well received and the addition of ex-Thy Primordial bassist Jonas Albrektsson in November. The twilight weeks of 2009 also saw the band sign with Metal Blade Records who were as so many impressed by the demo. Fi’mbulvintr was recorded and released in 2010, its thirteen striking songs recorded with Andy LaRocque who returned to work with the band on …to North. The trio as they prepared for taking the album live to the world by bringing in guitarist Lars Tängmark to expand to a quartet, pulled in a growing and eager acclaim for the album and first video of the opening song Einhärjar with Rickard Moneus from the production company 1897. The beginning of this year saw the band complete the songwriting for their second album and what a mighty result they have come up with.

From a heralding intro the album ignites with the outstanding The Nine Worlds Burn, a song which paces through the ear with strength and confidence before unleashing a storm of caustically scouring vocals and thumping riffs. It plunges the senses over cliffs of towering rhythms and heartily driven energy to concoct an infectious and heart pumping intensity. The song immediately shows the album is continuing where its predecessor left off but with an evolved invention and intent. The song has the body breathless by midway but then throws in a glorious curveball with the stunning vocals of Heléne Blad, her beautiful tones sending wings of fiery elegance across the atmosphere to which the music bows with a tender understanding. Ending on the feisty attack once more it is a great start to the album and lays down the perfect foundation for songs like the following The Dispossessed to unleash their wealth of invention upon, the track a thunderous beast to back up the impressive start.

The next song Gap of Ginnungs features another guest with guitarist Jimmy Hedlund (Falconer, Supreme Majesty) adding a couple of incendiary solos. The track is a part dirge part chant joy which lays a satisfactory plateau in the album soon elevated from by Band To Reunite and the excellent Nordvegr. The first is a brewing cluster of melodic enterprise and ear rippling rhythms which has one surrendering to its class within seconds. Offering another incisive and addictive groove within the intense and growling energy, the track charges up the senses fully in preparation for further songs like Nordvegr, a controlled and bruising stomp which intrigues as much as it lights up the ear.

Plague-ridden Rebirth, a black beast of a song with its dark festering melodies and the warm positive breath of Harvest (The End), ensures a heightened climax whilst the closing instrumental title track is an evocative piece of bristling aggression and melodic wonder. They complete what is a powerful and rewarding release which steps away from similar styled bands with its craft and intelligent composition. Maybe more blood boiling charges would have been nice but really it brings no real complaints before its door and shows King of Asgard as one of the more thoughtful and keen bands out there.

Ringmaster 31/07/2012

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Blood of the Black Owl – Light the Fires

“I began to journey this sound as a conduit of personal ritual and growth, spiritually woven within this artistic expression.”

The words of Chet W. Scott, the man behind Blood of the Black Owl who release new album Light the Fires this week. There is no doubt through previous releases and into this new album that he and the project has grown and explored deeper into its premise and heart. Formed in 2004 the band has through the previous three albums been a vehicle for the spirit and exploratory instinct of Scott which has worked deeper and evolved into a startling wealth of creativity resulting in the impressive climax of Light the Fires. Acclaimed for his ritualistic musical exploration with his solo project Cycle of the Raven Talons and drone folk duo The Elemental Chrysalis, Scott brings even more of himself as well as our and the spirit of the world and the instinctive breath of everything into a remarkable aural focus. The album is possibly not the most accessible release and will work on multiple levels and to varying degrees for each individual, but it is one which makes the listener look and reflect within and most of all discover, given the time and opportunity.

Caller Of Spirits is a stunning opening, a heralding of emotions and passion through a primal ritualistic drone. Drenched in discord and dark beauty the piece resonates through every pore to ignite the deepest responses and shadows. It is hypnotic and chilling at times whilst lingering far beyond its departure and even though its thirteen minute consumption pushed personal limits a touch it sets and opens one up for what is to come with its blackened meditative intensity. It connects the inner being to the natural energy of life wonderfully and leaves a unveiled canvas within to be discovered and explored.

As the following elegantly droning Wind Eye with its reflective ambience and the gently and firmly caressing Rise And Shine lay their light and shadows over the senses one finds themselves at one with the release and drifting into thoughts and imagery instigated by the restrained yet sumptuous weaves. At times the album reminds of the recent Horseback release and though they are almost chalk and cheese aurally both transport the listener into places once dormant.

The first three tracks which remain the most impressive by the end of the album offer a more ambience driven investigation and experience whereas the remainder of the release starting with Sundrojan instil darker energies and unleash the blackest shadows to blend with the mesmeric beauty. This track is a more doom driven call with the vocals from a relatively smooth approach turning into a grizzled scraping element. The song brings a crafted mix of light and dark to lead one through the imposing aspects of its intent and theme which you can only be impressed by.

Two Ravens At The Tree Line merges the funereal presence of its predecessor with the heated breaths of the early tracks whilst the closing pair of Soil Magicians and the more death metal toned Disgust And The Horrible Realization Of Apathy opens doors to multiple energies and emotions across the whole spectrum of passions, thoughts, and the light inside.

Light the Fires whose title really does declare what the album achieves is not going to be for everyone, especially those who have no wish or patience to let it reveal its qualities and power slowly and through many visits. At times some tracks maybe stay just too long and before their end the itch to discover the next instalment of the experience becomes too intense but to change them in any way would arguably distil their effect and purpose. The release though is an imposing and enlightening pleasure from Blood Of The Black Owl which all should dip their thoughts and emotions into.

RingMaster 31/07/2012

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