Love Stricken Demise: Psychotrip EP

Not many can turn their noses up at some dirty explosive and honest rock sounds, something you get with relish from US rockers Love Stricken Demise. Their debut EP Psychotrip is a wonderful insatiable bruise of rock n roll, colourful and insistent. Consisting of four songs which ignite an overspill of adrenaline, the release leaves one fully gratified and eager for more.

The background to the Texan quartet is as full and multi hued as their sounds. The band was started in 2011 by guitarist and vocalist Billy Blair, a musician who from fronting shock rock band Surgeon General in the early years of this century with whom he shared stages with bands such as KISS, Poison, Sammy Hagar, David Lee Roth and Cinderella, played bass for Earshot in 2008. The years in between also saw him in the likes of Mother Truckin Skull Diggers, White Collar Ghetto, and Messer. Over the past decade he ventured into acting appearing in films Mongolian Death Worm, Jonah Hex and Machete. With the intent to form a new band Blair turned to a drummer he worked with in the past in Rico (Mother Truckin Skull Diggers, White Collar Ghetto, Spearing Britney, EKG, Mind Gallery and KRADL).

Next the pair brought in vocalist Nikki McKibbin, a singer they had worked with previously. Her musical career saw her fronting groups like Downside, Rivithead and Mother Truckin Skulldiggers and most recently Wicked Attraction as well as releasing solo material, but a fame of a sorts came her way on the first season of American Idol and subsequent appearances on Fear Factor, Celebrity Rehab and Sober House,

The band was completed with the addition of bassist Holly Wood, a lady who apart from playing guitar for the past decade, switching to bass for Love Stricken Demise, is a master of ceremonies and hair stylist who not only preens the locks of Blair but has managed the hair of the Bush family. Arguably a larger than life canvas behind the band but no one should think of dismissing the quality and sincerity of their sounds.

Produced by Sterling Winfield the EP shows the strength and high level of the music immediately with the excellent title track. It is a song as infectious and hungry as a flea on a dog. Feisty riffs first stand tall barracking the ear before making room for the sharp melodic hooks of Blair. The rhythms of Rico are commanding and jab with an aggressive control to frame the song but it is the bass of Wood which ignites most adoration. Her sounds stalk and pace the track with a deep throaty growl like a wolf just waiting to pounce, her heavy presence making the perfect balance to the heated strokes and play on Blair. Once the vocals of McKibbin fire up the atmosphere everything is in place for the aural party, her delivery and voice impressively strong and varied, offering a snarl to the words and contempt to the heart of the track.

Celebrity High follows to keep the great start going. A track about and borne from the battle McKibbin herself had with drugs, alcohol and her subsequent recovery, the song is straight from the heart, its passion and emotion pouring through. The personal intensity makes for a potent and inciteful piece of muscular punk/hard rock and takes the song deep into thought and feelings.

This Life stirs and winds its way to attention with firstly sparking melodic guitar play and then a following addictive groove which wraps itself around an even deeper ravenous growl from Wood and sharper destructive power from Rico. The track is a tempered crawl though there is no restraint to its aggression and directness. A track born to soundtrack the most seductive pole dance possible, well certainly the music, the song is a teasing weave of contagion which lingers long after it burns its last flaming chord.

The release is completed by the stomping combative Love And Hate, the song storming across the senses with a barbed intent as it unleashes its passions and fiery breath. The track also powerfully shows a further expanse to the sound and creativity of the band. Love Stricken Demise here and throughout the EP, reminds of Boston punk metal band Mongrel, the voice of McKibbin very similar to that of Jessica Sierra which is wholly a good thing. Left on a real high by the track, the only moan is it is all over so soon immediately instigating an impatience for much more, and soon.

The Psychotrip EP is the best kind of rock n roll and Love Stricken Demise just what rock music needs, something on the cusp of being dangerous, fully inspiring, and brought with open honesty.

RingMaster 17/08/2012

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Cultfinder: Black Thrashing Terror EP

Released as a limited run on 7″ vinyl through Eldritch Lunar Miasma Records, the three track EP Black Thrashing Terror from UK black metalers Cultfinder is a raw and venomous festering upon the ear. It is nasty, intrusive, and scrambles across the senses like a swarm of plague ridden vermin, but most of all it a compulsion intrusion which is very satisfying.

The band consists of a trio of blackened hearts from Farnborough in the UK, in the guises of vocalist and guitarist Rob Belial, bassist Necroskull, and drummer Wilbeherit. Formed in 2010, the trio released a self titled demo on cassette last year, the first introduction for a few to their old school black metal thrash sounds. Fronted by a Mark Riddick artwork clad cover, the release welcomes one into its black depths with a cavernous atmosphere littered with rasping verbal scrawls within the start of the title track. In moments a striding expanse of dawning guitar scorches the atmosphere, its sharp melodic surges restrained yet with a searing air upon the ear. Slow beats join the fray until the song explodes into a wanton rampage of crippling rhythms, suffocating riffs and serpentine vocals of sheer vehemence. The breath of the song is heavily oppressive even with its rampant assault and smothers any light within song and senses with craft. The groove of the song is more than beckoning and though one could not say the track is infectious there is certainly a pull which ensures departure is not permissible until it has delivered its last spit of venom.

The opening guitar blistering on Archangel Burial has a punk feel which really does not stray too far away throughout the subsequent sprawling fetid thrash tempest. The production on the release is at times muddy and arguably shows up more on this track, though it also adds to the oppressive consumption so no real complaints, the rawness and primal sound only adding to the experience. Like in the opener the vocals are caustic and scarring but with a give which allows the lyrical malevolence to come through. Barely three minutes long is the track an expulsion of everything evil and everything good in the creative arsenal of the trio, the best track on the release.

Witching Curse completes the intense violation with a shifting and inventive corruption. With elements of stoner metal hitching a ride on the brooding malice and pernicious storm, the track is a ferocious and corrosive onslaught. The rasping vocals are as abrasive as the sounds and makes for a track which is the best kind of vile and again wholly impressive.

Though generally old school black metal and to a lesser extent thrash does not grab our imagination as strongly as more hybrid deviations, Black Thrashing Terror is an impressive and thoroughly enjoyable release. It will be interesting to see how Cultfinder evolve ahead; for sure there will be many of us paying close attention.

RingMaster 17/08/2012
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Latvian Radio: Kill The Static

Kill The Static is a vibrant and infectious slice of power pop/rock from US band Latvian Radio. Their third album, the release offers twelve songs triggered according to its sleeve, by the complexities of the human condition. The album is a light but substantial array of sounds and ideas which easily find a home within the ear and makes for a frequent and welcome companion.

The seeds of the band go back to the solo work of vocalist and guitarist Patric Westoo. After releasing three albums he teamed up with long time friends in multi instrumentalist Kim Monday, guitarist Mark Poole (63 Eyes and Phantom Six), and Brian Porterfield (Cheap Truckers Speed), the quartet becoming The B-Sides in 2002. Their album Troubleshooting the following year met with strong responses to its short crisp punk and rock fired songs. For their second release the band decided on a change of name and became Latvian Radio. The line-up changed and evolved but the releases only increased the acclaim and attention upon the band. 2006 saw the release of Happiness Above A Hardwood Floor with Seven Layers Of Self Defense coming three years later, both drawing strong coverage and exposure in media and radio play as well as comparisons to the likes of Elvis Costello & the Attractions, the Replacements, Brendan Benson, Big Star, early REM, and the Decemberists.

Released via Belpid Records from Sweden, the new album is a continuation and expanse on its predecessors, the songs an insight into the psyche of prolific songwriter Westoo drenched in waves of melodic enterprise and dense energies. The title track opens things up and is a fully infectious and irresistible pleasure which grips the heart instantly with its jangly guitars and warm caressing vocals. Keys swarm with a heated elegance around the enthused core of the song adding to the expressive pop melodies and enchantment. One can see why people issue comparisons to artists like Costello when describing the music of Latvian Radio though this song reminded more distinctly of Martha and the Muffins in context of its melodic touch and buoyant keys.

The following Cigarettes & Soda has a Kinks lilt to its summery and inviting pop sounds and already shows the strong and impressive array of diversity within the sonic and melodic umbrella of incisive imagination the band are noted for. The likes of Sons & Daughters with its air lighting crystalline kisses, and the feistier power pop charge of Dead Weight continue the wide menu of sounds and invention giving pleasure all the while.

Again bringing another unique aural dish to savour, So, You Want To Make Me Believe takes the listener on a ride through surf pop, its layers of warm touches  siren like amongst the lapping waves. As the album settles further into the ear with the horn veined Out Of Your Mind and the blues gait of Inwood Park playing before closed eyes, one can almost drift off into a world of sun and glowing multicoloured skies.

The album is a fine example of power pop at its very best, intelligent and well crafted by musicians at the height of their imagination and creativity. If warm climes and golden melodies are your kind of distraction then Latvian Radio is definitely the soundtrack you need.

RingMaster 17/08/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Copperfox: From The Den EP

Soaked in beauty and emotion, the From The Den EP from US band Copperfox, is a release which opens doors to imagination and passion with impactful charm. The duo of Rory Mohon and Lisa Garcia, who make up the band, create and weave an atmosphere of seduction upon the senses to leave one drenched in warmth and heart sourced evocation.

There is little background at hand about the band from Portland, Oregon, but from the release it is clear to see in their twelve months or so since forming, the pair has honed their sound and craft into a thoughtful and imaginative conjuration of distinct expression and tender sounds for the fullest effect. The four tracks which make up From The Den are glorious enveloping creations which deeply immerse the listener in ambience and emotion. Their touch is gentle but full, a mesmerism which lingers long after their final wave of notes. Mohon and Garcia blend a provocative mix of alternative indie pop with a smell of country and scent of folk, it is a sweetly infectious result which stirs rather than riles thoughts and emotions but pulls a strong response nevertheless.

The release opens with the wonderful James, a track which offers an eloquence and caress rarely heard. The story within is brought with an initial country lilt which evolves into a shadowed electro pop kiss. The vocals of Garcia are an instant enchantment whose grip tightens the more words and sounds slip from her lips. Her vocals seduce and stroke the ear with the agitated melodics of guitar and keys providing a crisp backdrop of sound. The song has a pervading shadow in its background, though the heated sounds invite reaction rather than being in any way forceful, always offering a respectful stroke upon the senses. Over the release there is a slight sinister edge to the sounds of Mohon which keep the shadows in play though on the outside of things. It is a striking and inventive introduction to Copperfox let alone the EP, which ignites a connection long into the future.

The following Lover lights its skies with emotive guitar play and the delicious soaring vocals of Garcia once again. It burns with beacon like brilliance against the darker atmosphere which is evoked throughout the song. Touching and heartfelt, the track dances on the ear with a pleading intensity whilst walking the edge of sorrow. Again like the opener it offers a delicate and bewitching arm around the shoulders but as with all the songs there is an undeniable strength.

The release is completed by the chilled and crisp sounds of We Know with its resourceful melodic fires and Be Careful, a track with a refined breath and haunting distressed air. Both in diverse ways twist and stretch with deep feelings and thick emotion, the first with a pop eagerness and the latter within a mist of biting shadows and thoughts.

The four songs show the depth and expanse in imagination, songwriting, and its realisation which only impresses more and more they are allowed to grace the ear. The music takes one on journeys which are intimate and as mentioned stay within far past their last whisper has drifted into the distance.

Copperfox are working on their following EP as you read and after From the Den, the anticipation could not be any stronger.

RingMaster 17/08/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Faceless: Autotheism

The first thought listening to Autotheism, the new and third album from tech death metalers The Faceless, is that the band must have great memories to play the ever shifting rapid fire torrent and maelstrom of sounds and ideas which comprise the songs on the album. It is a perpetually evolving seemingly restless storm of intensity, energy, and imagination. The Faceless has always been unprepared to stick to expectations and push their boundaries but now they have unleashed a whole horde of inventive demons.  The album is schizophrenic that is fair to say but with all aspects and identities in full control of their ingenuity and direction. The Faceless has returned to shock, surprise, intrigue and most of all impress.

With their 2006 debut Akeldama, the band stood apart from other technical death metal bands whilst its successor Planetary Duality two years later, took the band to higher plateaus and respect as they pushed their boundaries far beyond their introduction. Autotheism takes an even bigger leap forward as The Faceless emerges after four years with new rampant progressive and melodic endeavour to their sound. It is still as brutal and corruptive as ever but now is locked in a maniacal storm of progressive enterprise or insanity. Since the last album the band has under gone changes with departures and subsequent new members in the form of vocalist Geoffrey Ficco, guitarist Wes Hauch, and bassist Evan Brewer joining drummer Lyle Cooper and guitarist/vocalist Michael Keene.

Released through Sumerian Records the album immediately grabs attention with the introduction to first track Create, the cinematic and building climactic atmosphere leading into the heart of the song with power and compulsive intrigue. The track is the first part of an overall piece called Autotheist Movement and as it spreads its arms immediately hits with the first surprise. The clean and it has to be said impressive vocals of Keene which heat the air with expressive tones. He is prowled around by the hungry guttural growls of Ficco for a great contrast and union, the music complimenting with a predatory stalking through riffs and energy within a slow burning melodic flame. The track is unexpected bringing a sound which the likes of Tool or Deftones would not turn their nose up at and with an underlying menacing snarl to keep things on an edge. Long time fans of the band will possibly be split on the new directions within the album but already the opener offers even in its relatively straight forward guise something wholly unexpected yet impressive.

The track has an abrupt end but before you can think about a breath Emancipate explodes its venomous presence forcibly into the ear. Nightmarish and with a breath dripping hellish ambience the track crawls and festers within black corners and malevolent shadows before fusing in intricate progressive surges and melodic distractions. Once more the bile spewing growls of Ficco swap with the vocals of Keene this time backed by female vocals, they have not so much a duelling companionship but an exchange of extreme whispers. The guitar of Keene leave scorch marks across the sky of the song whilst Hauch blisters flesh with riffs as dehabilitating as the intensity spawn all backed by tight muscular rhythms from Brewer and Cooper.

Autotheist Movement is completed by Deconsecrate, a song which finds the equivalent of Mike Patton in an incestuous barbed bed with 6:33, Textures, and Between the Buried and Me. The track surges through death metal and progressive invention to jazz manipulations and metalcore fingering, the senses a playground for the consistently shifting and twisting imagination at large. The track caresses and serenades, but equally cripples and molests with barbaric force, something the whole album can be accused of and acclaimed for.

The likes of the stunning Accelerated Evolution and The Eidolon Reality, a track which sears itself into the ear with a sonic branding which leaves one breathless, throw further towering and aggressive turmoil upon the senses, majestic and vicious in equal measure and for the fullest satisfaction. As each song confronts more and more deviations of sound and ideas are unleashed to make every visit new and incendiary to the emotions. This vast diversity emerges with one negative aspect; the creativity within songs never allows a breath or real digestion of the immense sounds and invention at large so that no song leaves a clear impression of its shape and body. Yes certain elements stick like the metallic incision and orchestral synth weaves of Ten Billion for example or the melodic dark grace of In Solitude, but in hindsight it is hard to recollect complete individual identities. It is strange as the album is outstanding and every element only inspires full pleasure and satisfaction but within the unbridled tempest it is where everything stays.

    Autotheism is an excellent album which the term technical progressive death metal hardly covers. The Los Angeles based quintet has set a new bar for others to contemplate let alone emulate with an album sure to split views, then again The Faceless are probably used to that.

RingMaster 17/08/2012

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