Three Hour Ceasefire: Cry Havoc

Inspired by death and thrash metal from the late eighties and early nineties, Irish metalers Three Hour Ceasefire have fused those sounds into an impressive powerful entity of their own as proven with their debut EP Cry Havoc. The release does not venture into the creation of new and rigorous realms to play within but instead has revitalised and stretched existing and influential essences with their own invention into a thoroughly compelling and exciting outcome.

Formed in 2008, the quartet from Limerick has emerged through line-up changes to become one of the more formidable and promising bands in the Irish metal scene. They have been compared to a mix of Sepultura and Entombed, something which is as accurate a description as any, though there is a distinctive breath permeating the sound which sets the band apart. Arguably the band do not stand aside of others as widely as one feels they are destined to as they evolve further, but within the at times familiar feel there is a fresh and pulsating heart of invention emerging.

As the six tracks within Cry Havoc rampage upon the senses there is a strength and defiance to the sound and intensity which reflects and comes from, as their bio states, seeing and being directly affected by the decline of the industrial and building trade across not only Ireland but their hometown. The release, through Savour Your Scene Records, is definitely a confrontational and provocative slice of fury and one which enflames the senses from first track to last.

The EP is opened by the spiralling spite of Time Of The Empty Throne, a song which soaks the ear with malevolence like an insatiable tempest. Its energy is a slow invading storm which corrupts each and every pore whilst being speared by sharp guitar play and riotous riffs. Its heart is unrelenting, an insistent burrowing sonic presence providing a malicious canvas for the guttural expulsions and destructive rhythms. More than a mere intro it effectively does draw one into the eye of the storm, the following excellence of Behold, Rejoice.

The track is a rolling thunder of inciteful riffs and barracking rhythms enclosed in a heavy oppressive intensity. The song twists within its umbrella weight to keep the senses unsettled but deeply occupied whilst the melodic grind and shadowed flourishes capture the imagination unerringly.

As the next track Trial Of Wounds continues the eager and irresistible blackened contamination the one and only criticism towards the release is taking shape. The track itself is another shifting animal of unpredictable ideas and striking imagination, a song which does not quite leave one open mouthed with originality but ignites every spark within for a satisfied raging fire. As it departs after another mere two minutes that one thing which inspires a moan is wild, the tracks are so damn short. Normally not something which bothers but the pleasure given by the songs makes it a real disappointment when their final notes scarper so soon.

When Prophecy Fails is a song which does stay much longer within the ear but actually does not have the same deep infection as found in the other songs, though the length has no bearing. It is a strong and combative track with vision and expertise rife within its heavy walls, the guitars alternately a melodic stroke and caustic rub whilst again vocally the ear is given an abrasive dose of raw throat expulsions, but it does not manage to trigger anything more than good appreciation.

The remaining tracks Trench Knife and Fall Under Foot return to the high grade quality, the first and best track on the Cry Havoc, a festering bruise full of aural colour and sonic addiction. The thrash air of the band is present in every song but is unleashed for a full throated rage across this and the closer. The track bleeds into Fall Under Foot to allow no time to take a breath before the final rampage of creative violence and annihilatory abuse wages invention upon the ear. It is a masterful and thrilling end to an equally impressive debut and sets Three Hour Ceasefire up as one of the bands to watch very closely.

Though one cannot say Cry Havoc is the best debut to emerge this year it certainly is one of the most promising and pleasing, and gives evidence that Three Hour Ceasefire has the armoury to become a very important band for metal.

RingMaster 27/08/2012

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Milestones: Entropy

Raw, abrasive, and deliberately confrontational, Irish post hardcore band Milestones is already well on the way to making a dent not only in their homeland but further afield, something their new release can only reinforce. Their new EP Entropy is an impressive swipe of aural brutality, one bruising bully to endure but be fully rewarded by. It leaves one clutching a support under its onslaught but full of complete satisfaction from its violent presence.

The quintet from Dublin rose from the ashes of Out of Nowhere in April 2011. With the band name came the Blood demo, a three track release which marked the new direction and set in motion the growing attention and power the band has since triggered. Two tracks The Boats and Gone With The Wind followed, each pulling further acclaim, whilst the band consistently destroyed stages alongside the likes of US band Bury Your Dead, Betrayal and Stick Around. Entropy is evidence of the band growing quickly and finding a depth to their music within songs of sheer towering intensity and undeniable quality. Released as a limited tape cassette via Savour Your Scene Records, just 100 units available, and as a download, the six track release is one to rupture senses and fry thoughts whilst igniting both into action just as equally.

Still Organs scrapes raw from its opening graze upon the ear and is soon probing the wound with a fury of tumultuous riffs and spiteful vocals. The delivery of Peter Kealy, backed by Jack Marmion and Rafino Murphy, simply crushing notes into being with plaintive cries and earnest shouts to match the inciteful guitar play of the other pair. The track is barely in excess of a minute but is a corruptive and stirring beast.

The following Premonitions carries the great start to even more intense heights. Again vocals and guitars strip flesh with their caustic might whilst the drums of Keith Davis rifle and plunder the ear with strong challenging beats and the bass of Keith Fish is a predatory stalker within the sonic violence. Again short, the song is an impact which leaves lingering marks to satisfy all with its extreme musical vehemence.

Needing an extra focus to delve beneath the surface acid, the EP is a varied and intelligent piece of songwriting. It is not an easy listen at times admittedly, and probably too harsh for some, but given time it unveils some of the freshest and more invigorating music to emerge in post hardcore for a long time. The outstanding Old Hands and arguably even better Graveside, leave the air sizzling as their venom is squeezed out through confronting rhythms and incendiary melodic enterprise all brought within a tight sonic whipping. There is a definite punk vein pulsating throughout, especially in the second of these two songs, which adds to the temper and cantankerous attitude of the music and rubs that little bit harder on its target.

Entropy ends with the riveting manipulative tones of Pound OF Flesh, a track which takes a different though no less intense journey than before and the brawling nasty Ladders. The second is a concussive blistering which takes its time to emerge out of an initial chaotic storm to evolve into an infectious and compulsive weave of emotion and expressive rock.

Influences for the band come from the likes of Comeback kid, Defeater, Everytime I Die, and Lower than Atlantis, and to that elements of bands like Gallows and Ghost Of A Thousand also emerge as the EP plays. Milestones has a distinct energy and sound which with Entropy sure to recruit more and more wasted contented ears, pretty much means there will be no stopping them.

RingMaster 27/08/2012

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Krampus: Survival of the Fittest

2011 was the year Italian folk metalers Krampus announced their presence with two impressive and promising EPs, this year they have set themselves at the fore of the genre with their debut album Survival of the Fittest. Eight strong, the band has built on their early promise with a release which is refreshing and vibrant whilst being unafraid to be adventurous and eclectic without pushing itself outside the set walls of folk metal. It is a powerful and thoughtful album which growls like a bear at times and in others serenades like a burning sunset for a varied and absorbing adventure.

As mentioned the 2009 formed band first drew attention with the release of their debut EP Shadows of Our Times in March of last year. Alongside their shows it drew a strong view in their direction, but it was with the following Kronos’ Heritage EP that summer that the band really ignited the imagination and acclaim for their creative invention. With major festival appearances also under their belt this looks like the moment things truly accelerate for Krampus.

The album follows on from the earlier releases with the octet expanding and exploring their aggressive and melodic sound. The use of traditional instruments like flutes, whistles, violins, and the Irish Bouzouki is mesmeric whilst the driving powerful riffs and combative intensity enflames the appetite giving extra thrust to the forceful themes of humanity and social issues within the modern world. The opening Arise (The Day Of Reckoning) brings a gentle and shimmering intro to proceedings which builds with a fanfare of energy to annouce the first full track Beast Within. It starts off with a raucous eagerness and electro rampancy before lighting the sesnses with its folk weaponry. The vocals of frontman Filippo are grizzled and venomous, offering a riled spite across the near brutal assault. The melodic invention though tempers things to make for a bruising and compelling feast for the ear which is unsettling yet full of heated infection.

The following Unspoken continues the elevated energies whilst sending one onto the wrong foot initially with impressive but unexpected clean vocals from Filippo. This adds a surprising and different aspect to the sound and continues the Krampus skill of standing aside of most other bands without diminishing their core intent. Once the vocal mix of harsh and smooth settle within the ear it is an appealing and thrilling addition across the album.

Tracks like Rebirth with its Celtic breath and the frenetic Aftermath grab the senses for a full and enthused feast of melodic invention within a powerful intrusion. To be honest the songs and their structures are not experimental or remarkably different from othe bands, the likes of Korpiklaani and Amorphis to name two similarly armed, but there is something different and engaging to Krampus which is almost indefineable but certainly enchants and stirs the spirit more. The guitars rage with every atom they can muster whilst the keys consume and stimulate the senses with an irresistible and heated embrace. Combined with the insatiable rhythms and magnetic violin, whistles, and flutes etc, it only ignites the strongest fires.

The highlight of the album comes with The Dance Of Lies, a track which flirts wantonly with the ear whilst bullying the senses with spiteful bass lines and badgering rhythms. The heart of the song is melodic though and offers a feast of cute and inspired colourful flourishing sounds which only leave warmth and addition in their wake.

With furthersongs like Shadows Of Our Time and Tears Of Stone continuing to bring the fullest pleasure, the album is a dynamic slab of folk metal brought with imagination and invention. Krampus still feel like a band evolving which only inspires an even greater anticipation ahead for what the Italians will unleash, but right now Survival of the Fittest is a release bringing the beginning  of another dimension to folk metal.

RingMaster 27/08/2012

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