Rex Shachath: Sepulchral Torment

Though it is great to see genres evolving as bands stretch their boundaries it is just as appetising and satisfying to hear the old school sounds continued with style and heart. This is just what Northern Ireland death metalers Rex Shachath do with their debut mini album Sepulchral Torment. It is a release which is neck deep in the depths and passion of old school death metal but ignites them with their own energy and skilled presence to bring arguably one of the freshest and enjoyable genre releases this year.

The band was formed in the closing weeks of 2011 by vocalist Dave Connolly who approached Overoth guitarist Andrew Pennington about starting new death metal band. The pair soon became a quintet as drummer Jay Rogers also from Overoth along with bassist Eddie West and guitarist Jonathan Francis from defunct old school death metal band Sadisture, joined the ranks. The band entered the studio earlier this year to record Sepulchral Torment, which had its release on September 7th via Hostile Media, with the live debut of the band occurring the same time when they shared the stage with UK D-Beat Death metal masters The Rotted and grind quartet The Obscene Machine. With a tour booked for late September through October which will see Rex Shachath touching the likes of the Scottish highlands, Wales and London, and the release of the mini album, there would not be an element of surprise with the great impressive quality of the release, if they are immediately marked for great things by all.

The title track immediately tells you all you need to know about the band: brutal, accomplished, and driven to make the best sounds possible with as much aggression and inventive passion. The song storms through the ear from the first note with sheer hunger and determination to leave knees buckling in its wake. With surging riffs and combative rhythms the track brings submission its way before unleashing a consumptive intensity and acute melodic breath to shadow the excellent growling guttural presence of Connolly. Generally if there is an issue to be had with death metal bands it lies within the vocals more often than not but not here. As malicious and rabid as you could wish, Connolly still retains clarity to allow the lyrics to express their own venomous intent.

It is a very impressive start with great heated guitar work which is easily matched by the next track Follow The Bastard Prophet. The track too surges with a greedy enthusiasm which instigates a hypnotic pull from the first breath, the guitars of Pennington and Francis twisting and winding around the ear with magnetic skill whilst the bass and drums of West and Rogers bring a cold predatory presence which marks all songs. Though the tracks are at times as brutal and callous as you could wish one has to say they do carry sonic warmth to their enterprise to add depth and imagination.

Blind From Birth and Seven Serpents continue the immense pleasure the release has already offered up, the swarming malevolence of the first a sneaky assault behind the scorched guitar work and rasping guttural groans and squalls of the vocals whilst the second just rampages across the bruising already brought to bear by the whole release to this point, its hornet groove a grinding rub over the senses.

As the excellent Statues Of Death brings the release to a close there are only impressive thoughts and emotions evoked towards the release. Arguably the production could have been a little livelier but the quality of the songs ensures it does not remove any of their shine in what is overall a mighty introduction from the band and a benchmark for other new bands to aspire to. Remember the name Rex Shachath as it will be one heard more and more in the years ahead.

RingMaster 08/09/2012

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Need To Breathe: The Reckoning

It is fair to say that even if US rock band Need To Breathe does not send your senses into raptures or even enthused passion, they are a band one can easily appreciate in regard to their qualities and skilled craft. The same can be said about their fourth album The Reckoning, a release full of excellently crafted and delivered songs brought with passion and heart dealt energy. We cannot say the release left us excited and soaked in any lingering presence due to personal tastes but it certainly was a decent listen throughout with its southern rock invention and in a couple of moments a more than satisfying companion.

     The Reckoning gets its UK release September 10th and seems sure to follow the great success it had back home upon its arrival last November. The South Carolina quartet has already made a mark through their previous releases and hearty rock sounds, which bring essences of the newer Kings of Leon music and Mumford & Sons into their own climactic stadium rock sounds. Just off of a six month tour of the US, the foursome of brothers Bear and Bo Rinehart (vocals, guitar, piano and guitar, backing vocals respectively), Seth Bolt (bass, backing vocals), and Joe Stillwell (drums, backing vocals), follow up their acclaimed previous album of 2009 The Outsiders, with fourteen big boned sky filling songs which persistently drip with soulful and emotive imagination. Yes for us the style does not light raging fires but for those loving the earthy American drama of a Springsteen and arguably Tom Petty as well as those previously mentioned Need To Breathe and The Reckoning will have their ardour sparking greedily.

Easily the best track on the album opens things up and it is a song which instantly captivates. From its initial dulled melody and emotive vocals Oohs And Ahhs has the ear in close attendance and mesmerised, but when the chorus breaks loose to sizzle upon the senses passions, for arguably the only time on the album, go soaring. In to its stride the track is a hearty forceful rock song to leave anyone breathless and caught up in the moment. Midway in the song take a brief respite before rekindling its energy and building up to a fiery crescendo which has grins breaking out everywhere. The mischievous track then repeats the event though this time the stride towards the flaming ending is tinged with stirring brass and discord driven keys. It is simply a stunning track which the album for personal tastes fails to repeat again.

The following White Fences and Drive All Night stretch their melodic wings to bring expressive depths to their soulful breaths, both finding an energy and tension which evokes thoughts and feelings. The songs of Need To Breathe are not necessarily faith driven but do bring a moral touch to their strong lyrical content though importantly it can also be interpreted into the lives of all.

Songs like Slumber, Maybe They’re On To Us, and Wanted Man, as well as the title track, all wrap around the heart with rousing and in their individual gaits, stomping anthemic majesty. As we said at the start there is no missing the quality and accomplished invention of the band let alone their ability to wring every emotion and passion out of every note and line, and for those receptive to their Americana/Southern rock songs it is hard to imagine anything other than deep pleasure gained from The Reckoning.

The other big highlight for us came with the newest single Keep Your Eyes Open, a song which takes inspirational and stirring sounds and songwriting to their fullest expansive heights. You can argue how original the song is with nothing openly surprising going on but it is hard to recall any rock song which has sparked the heart into reflective and eager life as potently.

If Southern rock/Americana is your brew to hungrily feast upon than The Reckoning will leave you full to the brim, and to be honest even if it is not your preference, the album and Need To Breathe is still worth an hour of your time to be sure.

RingMaster 08/09/2012

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Kasket: August Fades EP

The August Fades EP from Kasket is a mesmeric three track piece of soundscape and ambient beauty. It does not seemingly pick on particular specifics for its pieces of music but draws on and explores the essences of things to fire them with his distinct imagination. Eclectic of sound and ideas, the songs within the release ignite thoughts and personal imagination whilst providing a soundtrack to inspired individual thoughts and visions of the listener. The release is magnetic without being wholly infectious and impactful without being forceful, simply engaging pieces of intelligent and inventive composing brought with skill and vision.

Kasket, or Charlie Baldwin as his parents named him, is a 22-year-old Brighton based musician who uses and explores electronic music as texture to his ambient compositions, his approach unafraid to bring a raw presence alongside captivating melodic touches and whispers. From a musical family, his father a world renowned jazz guitarist and mother and brother also playing instruments skilfully, his early career saw him playing drums alongside such R&B/Jazz luminaries as Geno Washington and Ralph Salmins as well as with Gary Husband, Mo Foster and David Hentschel. All the while he was writing his own music, exploring and evolving it until he found the sound he was happy with.  His first release came with diaMind records in the shape of the well received Torn Letters EP, to be followed with the equally successful 4her EP via Screwloose Records. August Fades is the next step as his music moves forward and is released by the legendary Apollo Records on September 10th.

The three tracks which make up the EP are all impressive but the opener Fallen steals the show. It starts off like a percussive mix of wind chimes and water features all with an oriental lilt to immediately captivate and send the mind into new avenues. Baldwin loves to fuse electronic energies with live percussion and drums, sounds he has found, and synth woven beauty. This track is the perfect example of what his intent musically is and how successful he is at its realisation. The song swarms and envelopes from ear to heart taking in thoughts and emotions. It transports one to an elegant and mystical world which has a familiar and warm heart ensuring an almost siren like kiss upon the senses with a vibrant and lively endeavour. With vocoder spawn vocals the song pulsates and vibrates with a heated shimmer and enthralling gait to leave one full immersed within its striking world.

The following Mia feels dulled in comparison to and alongside the opener but taken alone is an emotive and provocative R&B laced piece of music. With a cinematic flavour which could see it guide any teen angst/emotional and reflective movie scene, the song again lights up thoughts and ideas, the release as a whole the instigator of stories rather than a narrative.

The closing title track opens with an industrial presence which from initially feeling like it would take a cold and maybe apocalyptic avenue emerges as another heated piece of electronic caressing. Its touch is ruffled and presence edgy but it is soaked in hope and warmth to steer the shadows away from the core of the song, banishing them to its limits and expressive atmospheres. Like the opener it is a more potent instigator of feelings but still has to bow to the might of the opening song.

August Fades is an impressive release which plays beyond the ear to involve and employ all the senses and thoughts available. It is imagination at its most compulsive and captivating whilst Kasket is a composer and artist one only wants to hear a lot more from, and surely we will.

RingMaster 08/09/2012

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