Velvet Star: All Or Nothing

If All Or Nothing the new EP from UK rockers Velvet Star is like for us your first introduction to the band then hold tight for one high energy heart bursting ride of pure rock n roll. It is an adrenaline rush to leave one breathless and exhilarated. Whether the release offers anything openly new is arguable but it really does not matter when the songs making up the EP are so deeply satisfying and invigorating.

The quartet from Yorkshire began in 2007 with brothers Danny (vocals) and Corey(bass) Jones. The following years saw plenty of line-up changes as well as their well received debut album In The Face Of Vanity through Rocksector Records. Featuring on the cover CD of Classic Rock as well as playing across the UK alongside the likes of Faster Pussycat, The Treatment, Star Rats, GUN, and Vains of Jenna to name a few, has also marked the rise of the band to date, something the new release will surely take to greater places.

Spring of this year saw another change with the addition of guitarists Mewsy (Ex SilverJet) and Robbie G (Ex Slash Vegas) to the band alongside the brothers and drummer Ginna, as Velvet Star set in motion the beginning of All or Nothing. Recorded alongside Matt Elliss (Black Spiders), the EP finds the band returning bigger, mightier, and with an increased determination and passion, the songs themselves the open proof.

The release opens the riotous fun with Bring It On, a thumping attitude driven feast of snarling bass riffs and scything guitar strikes. An immediate bruising friend to take on all comers, the track has the pulse racing and militancy flaring from its combative energy and fiery melodic guitar streaks of sound. With muscles bulging and chest fully extended, the infectious rampage just ignites the passions in a storm of insatiable and rewarding pure rock n roll, something the very best releases always manage to do.

From such an impressive and triumphant start things actually get even better, the release finding elevated plateaus track after track. The following Crash & Burn is a greedy heavy footed gem, a blistering stomp sounding like a mix of Buckcherry, Dope, and Marilyn Mansion wrapped in a healthy piece of Trucker Diablo aggressive energy.  It has a slower swagger than the opener but a scorching groove which captivates the imagination with wanton ease. If listening to the time bomb of contagion your toes, feet, limbs, and heart are not in motion with its stroll… then call the paramedics, you may be at deaths door, such its irresistible lure.

It is hard to find any flaw with the songs or release, nor the inventive songwriting and skilled delivery, other than there is only four songs, greed taking over as the EP boils the senses persistently. Glad You’ve Gone is a great blues soaked slab of rock majesty, the over catchy chorus and magnificent guitar work from Mewsy and Robbie G manna from rock heaven whilst the vocals just glow and the rhythms seize and lift passions higher .

The closing Overrated without doubt takes top honours, the punk n roll rampage an unstoppable juggernaut of feisty intent and breathtaking energy. Impossibly infectious, the track takes full control of voice and body let alone passion as it refuses to leave until you are joining in with its unbridled enthusiasm and siren heart. Midway through a totally unexpected break into a quite quirky moment which one would expect from a Faith No More, bursts free. It appears from nowhere and departs just as simply but works wonderfully as the mischief of the band leaves a final wink.

All Or Nothing is simply brilliant and Velvet Star one of the great new pleasures for The RingMaster Review this year, make them one of yours too is our only advice.

RingMaster 25/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Fates Upon Us: Self Titled EP

In a year of what seems like a flood of emerging metalcore type bands, to truly standout from the masses a release needs to be exceptional and instantly inventive. Whether the debut self titled EP from Yorkshire band Fates Upon Us is such a release is debatable but the five track EP certainly marks the band as one full of obvious promise and refreshing imagination. The finding of their distinct voice is an assumption you can only see the band fulfilling ahead whilst their first release certainly elevates them enough within the ranks of similarly fuelled bands, to make them ones to watch closely.

Formed in August of last year, the Sheffield quintet took no time in finding a keenly receptive local audience to their live performances and sounds, a repeating occurrence as they slowly ventured out into the whole county and beyond. Good success in heats of the Corporation Battle Of The Bands competition has followed their strong beginning as well as a UK tour with Gold Skies Ahead. With comparisons to the likes of Asking Alexandria, A Day To Remember, and Bullet For My Valentine placed upon them, the band now unleash their debut release with a destined national awareness and fervour on their horizon.

Don’t Hate The Player, Hate The Game starts off the storm with resonating and intimidating riffs matched by towering rhythms and oppressive intensity. It is not a ferocious entrance but one which ensures instant focus in its direction. The vocals of Danny Costello send squalls of vehemence across the landscape of the song  whilst the guitars of Carl Tyler and Danny Hattersley fire flames of accomplished sonics and blistering melodic shards upon the senses. As a scowling predator the track is excellent but does suffer a little with the inclusion of clean vocals and an accompanying dip in intensity. It is not enough to unsettle the track but hindsight, after the others songs have stated their claim and disrupted the air, does offer a little surprise as to why certainly the vocals do not work as strongly as elsewhere where the cleaner tones are easily as impressive as the growling consumptions.

Nevertheless it is a  great start which is immediately elevated with the full steam stomp of Have Fun Storming The Castle, a track as unbridled in its passion and energy as it is in rifling the ear with sharp riffs and contagious ideas. The vocals are spot on in both extremes of delivery to put previous slight wrongs in context whilst the rhythms of Carl Jackson thump and barrack the ear with little restraint or mercy. As mentioned earlier whether the track is distinct enough like the release as a whole to garner the full praise it maybe deserves is arguable but as a feisty companion it leaves one wanting very little more.

The third track If Cats Had Opposable Thumbs brings another flaw, this time in its production levels which are too low so the track sounds like it is playing from a room away. It is a shame as the track itself is great but the drop does override the enjoyment somewhat. The track itself is a brawling confrontation merged with expressive melodic imagination and stirring energies. By this point though that similarity to other bands is strong, Fates Upon Us offer plenty to suggest their future sound will see them rise from the pack. The immersive mellow and enveloping weaves from keys and vocals sink seamlessly into the harsher heart of the song to show skilled craft and thoughtful endeavour to the songwriting, not something which can always be applied to other bands.

Back at full levels, Boys, We’ve Struck Gold is an instant winner, its expressive warm gentle initial tones erupting into a furnace of demanding yet rewarding aggressive and inventive ventures. The track barges one to the ground, leaving you a bruised victim to its intense anger but just as easily and passionately stretches out revitalising and reassuring melodic hands to steady and expand the heart to its imagination. Arguably for really the first time bassist Danny O’Keefe can step from the aural shadows to show his hunter skills as well as the continual depth he brings all songs. It is another exciting and captivating track offering great futures.

Closing with the relatively straight forward Hobo With A Shotgun, the EP is one which is impossible to lose in the pack whilst still within its stirring ranks.. Fates Upon Us though inspire expectations of great promise and a clear escape in the future to set them well apart from the throng.

RingMaster 25/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Hundred Days: Mission Exodus

Though individually classic rock and heavy metal extinguishes more fires than they spark up for us here and together make for a blend which has difficulty inspiring any real enthusiasm, the new album from UK rockers Hundred Days has to be put down as an exception. Mission Exodus is not a release win any major honours in our personal preferences but does leave a rather satisfied and unexpected enjoyment in its wake. The band merge the two mentioned genres in their own stirring at times raw yet expansive design to create songs which leave in varying degrees a firmly positive mark.

The seeds of the band began back in 2002 with the beginning of X-teller, the group containing the three members of Hundred Days. Releasing two albums and a duo of EPs to good acclaim as well as multiple tours, the band split in 2006. After a year off guitarist/vocalist Stuart Curtin, bassist Simon Evans, and drummer Ryan Leese emerged with new sounds and a new name. Debut album How a War is Won the following year set up strong responses which the following Rise EP of 2009 easily built upon. Tours across the UK and festival appearances plus the supporting of Hugh Cornwall has lifted their profile continually and with Mission Exodus, the next step in their marked evolution, things look set to really accelerate for the Yeovil trio. Despite personal prejudices a few meetings with the album won over most doubts and reminded what great rock music was all about.

Mission Exodus is themed by the premise of “A near future where the world is split and on the brink of self-destruction, reliving the last months of the lives and experiences of people of the world and half the population leave Earth to find a new home”. The band brings an epic feel to their sound which permeates some tracks and in others the band offers a smaller more precise presence making for a very pleasing mix.

The title track roars into life off of a sci-fi intro to set the album off in impressive style.  Heated guitars light up the air as the classic metal styled vocals of Curtin forge a path for the unfolding tale. Into its stride and spreading atmosphere, the grand scale of the journey envelops the ear through orchestral borne weaves. It is when the tight and incendiary groove breaks free though that the song really takes a firm grip, its infectious lure the platform for excellent guitar play and vocal flourishes to charge the senses.

The impressive start is followed by the equally powerful and fiery Taste Of Convenience. It is fair to say no song crashes into uncharted territories but as here the recognisable soundscape is delivered with undeniable skilled craft and eager passion leaving one thrilled. The track rampages with sturdy rhythms and bulging basslines for an immediate compulsion which the driving riffs and inventive melodic shards only accentuate.

The bluesy What We Do and the emotively charged Burn in Hell continue the attention grabbing might of the release, though neither quite matches the opening pair ultimately. That is soon remedied by arguably the best track on the release in Suicide Joe. There is punk/thrash energy to its breath which easily fires up the imagination whilst its adrenaline and again well crafted body ensures a constantly enthralling companion.

The album contains two covers which unfortunately are two songs that have never found anything other than negativity here, Power Of Love and Live & Let Die. Both tracks are well delivered and interpreted by the band, the latter a strong live cut, but both only go to remind why the tracks were disliked originally. They feel like fillers to be honest which is a shame as the album is so full and rounded without and did not really need them. For fans of the songs though it is an extra accomplished treat.

To rival for best song there is the wonderful Whatever Happened to You, a delicious blues/jazz track with a swagger and unreserved contagion to match its cheeky joy. Lyrically it is as mischievous as its brief musical stay and leaves one grinning contentedly.

Released through Rogue Rock Records, Mission Exodus is a great release which will make an enterprising and impressive addition to the playlists of any heavy rock fan, a must investigate.

RingMaster 25/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Welcome Matt: The Panhandle Years

If like for us The Welcome Matt is a new name despite being around for many years and having numerous studio releases, the new album The Panhandle Years is a must investigation, especially if melodic yet feisty guitar indie rock is like an aural beacon for your senses. Consisting of eighteen tracks taken from the seven albums released by the band, it is a compilation to light up the appetite and fire up the heart, and an instant and not to be denied invitation to check out the releases spawning the songs making this album so enjoyable.

The Welcome Matt is the solo project of San Francisco based musician Matt Langlois, something which on the evidence of the compilation has been the source of rather impressive rock pop songs for quite a time. From 2009 to last year, Langlois spent all his concentration and time with the musical project, Members Of Sound. This involved releasing a new song every month for two years and resulted in two major CD releases from his work with an array of Bay Area musicians and producers. During that period Langlois also played around 200 gigs and made a video with singer/songwriter Megan Slankard. His bio says “My main objective was to maintain a creative state for a sustained period of time while chronicling the musician’s journey as I’ve seen it and known it.” As that statement and the songs on The Panhandle Years show he is an artist who puts his all physically and mentally into his music, the craft and emotive energy of songs an obvious clarity.

The album opens with the latest single Karma, a song which from its rhythmic teasing and mellow caresses takes no time in capturing the imagination. The vocals harmonies lead the infectious chorus and stride of the song whilst the heated sonics of the guitar leave trails across the surface of the song like the rays of the sun. It is a wonderful piece of rock pop and an instant long term love affair for the heart such the delicious enterprise and beauty.

Without knowledge of the chronology to the tracks and their placing it has to be said the high quality and consistent irresistibility is immense  across the tracks showing that Langlois has never been short on writing impressively imaginative songs and bringing them to the ear with great craft and invention.  The likes of the dizzying I Will, with its shuffling stroll and melodic guitar flames, and the Kinks spiced On My Way a song which is just glorious in its rich melodic textures and mesmeric charm, just ignite stronger passion for the release, each irresistible pieces of well defined and stylish rock n roll.

The Panhandle Years also has a strong diversity across its songs which is as absorbing as the vibrant sounds they carry, songs like the Bolanesque What Are We Gonna Do, the excellent and quirky 12 Stone Toddler sounding Longing with its magnetic hooks, and the country folk/Brit pop fusion Into Your Own, as well as the rock driven Tremorland with its excellent raw  surface, all leaving one basking in full pleasure from  very individual stances.

It is also fair to say every track is a delight, a stirring slice of thrilling and senses charging joy but some certainly stand tall alongside Karma, On My Way, and Longing as the biggest triumphs. There is the brilliant Obstacle Ground, a storming and electric enticement with discord twanging guitars and swaggering bass lines to the fore and sounding like something akin to early Squeeze, as well as In San Francisco (Wake Me Up) with its lush melodies and big hearted energy to leave one soaked in imaginative elegance and contagious might. Arguably the greatest song on the album is Sing Something, though that choice changes from listen to listen to be fair. The track just bursts with energising textures and compulsive grooves, with the only result being adoration in its direction. It is a flawless pop song , insatiably catchy whilst full of unpredictable invention to leave one enthralled and inspired.

The Welcome Matt is a band all melodic rock and indie pop fans need to know about and The Panhandle Years easily the perfect introduction.

RingMaster 25/10/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright