Devilman: Self Titled

Beauty comes in many forms and shapes, it can be gently unassuming ,strikingly up front or in the case of the self titled album from noise abusers Devilman it can just be plain destructive. Actually what they create defies beauty but is just as compelling and magnetic as any seductive vision or touch. Consisting of eight nasty merciless tracks, the album is stunning, a corrosive infection which leaves you struggling for sanity whilst basking in a pool of blood from its ferocious sonic confrontation. Bringing the devastating industrial sonic violation of The Devilzwork in to a union with the inventive towering sounds of Morkobot spiced by the insane bedlam of Melt Banana, plus plenty of dub ingenuity to unsettled any balance which might try to settle in, Devilman creates sounds and experiences which are unique and unrelenting, and quite irresistible.

Devilman is the weapon of mass delirium from a trio of London-based Japanese musicians. Shigeru Ishihara on bass heads the noise terrorists ably aided by the savage drum programming and dub control of Gorgonn Amanita of Dokkebi Q and the psychotic squalls of vocal manipulation of Taigen Kawabe from the band Bo Ningen. Following their recent introduction to the world through the track Bakan Q and its Hiroo Tanaka aka Inumikaku directed accompanying short film, the band and album treats the passions to a fury of unbridled invention and violence. Released through Small But Hard Recordings, the album is glorious, the reason pain and pleasure was invented.

The previously mentioned track opens up the synapse twisting sonic impregnation, it alone easily bearing an unadulterated passion for its ingenious corruption. Sometimes you immediately know when something is right for ear and heart and this is one of those times. Right away there are the babbling bedlamic vocal squalls of Kawabe accosting the ear, his unintelligible but textured manic mischief the cause of the Melt Banana comparison earlier though even they would struggle to find the same delirious asylum destined might. Thumping beats duel with and punctuate the vocal storm and blistering ambience brewed and finally unleashed. As it expands the drums and rhythms just swell in sound and effect whilst the harmonic whispers temper the slowly stomping and ravenous energy of the track. It is a storm of abuse but holding a restraint and mercy which is less willing to appear elsewhere on the album.

From the staggering start Elephant Dub steps forward to offer a settled rhythmic and weighty presence, its insistence incessant and intense though again not an unbridled greedy assault. It is a constant thumping upon the senses which resonates like a jackhammer and as it passes over to the following 21 Seiki Dub an audible sigh is impossible to squash, not that the new piece of inspiring enterprise is going to let one off the hook. It simply replaces the massive rhythms of its predecessor with its own threatening rhythmic abuse just in a different tone. The track is masterful, a bewitching mix of aggressive rhythms and sonic majesty, if anyone says there are no true melodies within the album this track is the proof to the contrary. It is an intriguing and imaginative piece which evokes visions and sucks the senses into a maelstrom of energies.

The emotive dark wave  chills of Ross with its haunted organ ambience does not quite match the tracks around it but makes for a provocative track all the same whilst Noise Step is an industrial abrasion without any melodic sonic lubricate to sooth the generated bruising. Harsh and unforgiving the track scorches with every note, if they can be accused of being such, whilst burning up the atmosphere to suffocate any chance of a reprieve from its suffocating splendour.

The unique and welcome vocals of Kawabe return firstly with the excellent 93, a track which is like being violated by a whole steel works, and Nirvana Dub whose only intent is to see how much innovative caustic vehemence you can endure, not that a limit is in place and there is a safety word to escape with. It has to be said that as great as every track truly is, when Kawabe adds his maelstrom of vocal sounds a song finds another immense personality to add to an already existing wealth of facets.

After the creeping industrial teasing of Tunnel Dub the album sets free its biggest act of devastation in the brutal Last Black Emperor.  The track chews up the senses from start to finish, its deeply drilling sonics churning up flesh and feelings, its static acid burning every hope of relief and respite within its opening seconds. It is a banshee squall which leaves mush in its wake if you never suffered from tinnitus before will surely induce its onset.

If noise annoys then give Devilman a wide berth though you will be missing out on one of the real highlights of the year, simply an outstanding album from a quite exhilarating band.

RingMaster 05/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Khoma: All Erodes

Consisting of previously unreleased songs written between 2002 and 2012, many tracks which did not make the final cuts of previous albums, All Erodes from Swedish band Khoma is surprisingly strong. It is probably fair to say that with many other bands bringing together songs which did not make it the first time around would mean a decent enough album but one which still feels like a collection of tracks not making the grade. All Erodes certainly does not, the tracks within impressive and well worthy of proper exposure. The strength of the release knowing the background to the songs was admittedly unexpected and validating easily a statement from Khoma guitarist Johannes Persson, “We’ve recorded a lot of material for every record that we have had to leave out or didn’t have time to finalize… but we really like all these songs and wanted to do something with them… the idea is that ‘All Erodes’ – spanning songs from all three stages – will sum up and close this part of Khoma’s history”.

Formed in Umeå in 2003, the band did not take long to instigate strong attention and acclaim their way with a sound which blended the local hardcore scene to an emotive atmospheric pop breath.  Consisting of several members of Cult of Luna, The Perishers and The Deportees, their debut album Tsunami in 2004 sparked great interest and sold out quickly. Signing with Roadrunner Records the following year, 2006 saw second album The Second Wave repeat and expand on that response with the band being acclaimed at home and across Europe. Their sound was and is intense and emotionally enveloping, its persuasion making their live performances either in intimate surroundings or from a festival stage powerful and a pull for further great responses from media and fans.

The band then disappeared from view in all aspects; the band just concentrated on writing from late 2007 until their re-emergence in 2009. Signing with Selective Notes, the Anders Fridéns (In Flames) label, they released the mighty A Final Storm album, a release which earned nominations and awards as well as garnering their strongest acclaim yet. Released through Pelagic Records, All Erodes is like an epilogue to what came before, a drawing of all threads into a final statement before turning to the next ‘book’ in their musical journey as a band.

All Erodes spreads through the senses, thoughts, and emotions like a charged whisper borne from a mix of Deftones, Radiohead, and Muse. That is a little simplistic to the diverse breath and invention of the music but gives an idea of the creative flavour at impressive work. The heavy overwhelming ambiences within the songs are deliberate and deeply expressive, their open yet intimate touch and textures equally hypnotic and disturbing. The opening track In Ruins sets the tone, its melancholic piano and vocal start a cold but enchanting lure into the release. Vocalist Jan Jämte with his plaintive tones pulls thoughts into an emotive depth as much as the music, the combination with the guitars of Persson and keys of Fredrik Kihlberg weaving their sonic tapestry as well, simply mesmeric.

It is a powerful start matched and built upon by the muscular slabs of oppressive emotion in Just Another Host and Dead Seas. The first is from a Deftones sphere, the brooding tension and solid intensity a crawling expanse to evoke passion whilst the second is a cold whisper but again just alluring. Floating through its sonic salt makes for a stark and invasive union but as fully rewarding as it is openly erosive upon the senses.

As it plays out its thoughts and emotive soundscapes, the album does not feel like tracks meant for different releases over a decade. It is a seamless flow through to the end, each track seemingly borne from and in connection with its predecessor. The pinnacles of the release come with Give It Meaning and Winter Came Upon Us, both offering another aspect to the sound and ‘story’. The first is a bristling sturdy confrontation, the wonderful grizzled bass stroll and sharp guitar strokes offering slight intimidation beside the ever soothing yet pained vocals. It is a monster of a song in depth, expanse, and intensity easily matched by the corrosive yet melodically beautiful touch of the other. Both songs are majestic and pulsating and must have only missed out on the albums they were originally written for by a hairs breath.

Disregarding the closing track All Like Serpents, All Erodes is an excellent release, well worth an hour and more of any ones time. The final song is an electronic remix of a track from A Final Storm and a song which really has no place on the album other than as a filler. Though decent enough it is to be honest soulless against the original and the other tracks on this album. It does not deplete the strong and impressive presence of the album though, and at the end thoughts are only of a release which is a mighty way to end a chapter for Khoma and the key to new and greater landscapes of sound and emotion.

RingMaster 05/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Fontanelle: Vitamin F

To be honest our knowledge of Jazz starts at the letter ‘J’ and ends on the second ‘Z’, but we know what we like and that without doubt includes Vitamin F, the new album from returning Portland jazz rock fusionists Fontanelle. Almost ten years after their previous release the band returns with an album which captures the imagination and ignites the passions, its wonderfully crafted and magnetic charms irresistible to any who find themselves tingling from inventive investigations of jazz, rock, and progressive imagination.

Released by Southern Lord, Vitamin F sees the return of founders guitarist Rex Ritter and keyboardist Andy Brown with Mat Morgan, Borg Norm, Brian Foote and Paul Dickow completing the line-up. Also featuring guest appearances from Gentry Densley (Eagle Twin), Steve Moore (Earth, sunn 0))), Hans Teuber, Eric Walton (Skerik), Jef Brown (Jackie-O MF) and Dave Carter, the album is a master class in funky swagger and passion, jazz improv and emotive craft, and energetic rock adventure. It leaves one deep in thought and pleasure whilst sending the appetite for more into lustful realms.

The release opens with the throaty pulses and smouldering caresses of Watermelon Hands, the track immediately a simmering wash of enterprise and intrigue. With relaxed yet keen rhythms and cosmic whispering the track stretches out with brewing horns and inciteful guitar play. The imagination is enslaved within the first minute, the passions soon after as the track floats and wraps itself around the senses and clouds the mind with warm yet challenging ideas. As the melancholic trumpet adds to the already shadowed ambience of the piece you find yourself drifting through darkened alleyways of emotion and veering towards oppressive drama. At the same time though it is so refreshing and invigorating, light and dark urging each on to do their worst and revelling in the confrontation, quite magical.

The following track The Adjacent Possible emerges as the favourite, its enticing and suggestive unflustered pace and tones teasing with intent and ambience whilst further shadows soak the hypnotic light of the melodic enchantment and horns. The build of tension is perpetual but never forced, weaves of relaxed caresses and soothing whispers entwined with the sturdier and sinister surges which keep everything magnetically elevated. The track is genius, a sonic narrative which inspires a myriad of tales. As it plays there are times it feels like the soundtrack to a soul drifting through fifties noir wrapped solitude and another time in its company may evoke sixties America lost in its own exuberant bubble but cowering before supposed external sinister forces beyond its borders. Each listen offers a new episode to imagine and immerse within.

The likes of the psychedelic lit title track with its extra-terrestrial rhythmic patterns (like the soundtrack to an adult version of seventies UK TV show Space 1999) and Traumaturge, a relatively gentle song but soaked in imaginative fiery passion and craft, take the listener into further exploratory pleasures. Both leave an acidic but contagious tang on the ear whilst the sensational and quite merciless When The Fire Hits The Forest just chains the by now bewitched heart with a blaze of blistering guitar, piano, and horn teasing. The track evolves like a shape shifting adulteress, the ever evolving discovery of unpredictable and complex wantonness a mighty discovery and treat for the ear and beyond.

Closing with the expressive and dramatic expanse of Ataxia and the more reserved flames of Reassimilated, the album is a thrill which just keeps giving. Immense on the first outing and more and more impressive and revealing on every subsequent sonic stroll in its company, Vitamin F is a classic with Fontanelle showing that the time away and involved with the individual projects of its members has only elevated the creative might and imagination of the band.

RingMaster 05/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Secret: Angus Dei

If the thought of being smothered with the most obese intensity possible whilst being ravaged by a carnal pit of sonic hateful vehemence has got the appetite going then Angus Dei the new album from Italian extreme metallers The Secret is a release for you. Destructive and vengeful the album is an unrelenting brutal assault of black metal, blackened hardcore, crust punk and blistering grind. It is merciless, a rampant beast of passion and rage borne of the blackest emotions and intent. It leaves ears ringing, senses cowering, and thoughts in turmoil, but enjoyment surging as fully as the crushing sounds.

Formed in 2003, The Secret made a mark from the start, their debut album Luce the initial attention grabber followed and built upon by Disintoxication and Solve Et Coagula. Fourth album Agnus Dei finds the Trieste quartet at its strongest yet and most violent. From the opening title track through to the final onslaught of Seven Billion Graves the album is a storm of sonic hunger and caustic malevolence, an impending cataclysm realised by its final act.

The track Agnus Dei sets the tone, its godly ‘words’ consumed by a sonic acid, the track eroding and melting the senses. The vocals of Marco Coslovich scowl and spit bile alongside the equally venomous rub from the guitar of Michael Bertoldini. With the drums of Tommaso Corte pummelling life from any previously unaffected part of the body and the bass of Lorenzo Gulminelli gnawing away vigorously at the open wounds, the track sets the scene and frame for the upcoming pit spawn malice.

The tracks come thick and fast and in varied explosives lengths, the likes of May God Damn All Of Us and Violent Infection barely around long enough to threaten the clock but with a ferocity to melt bone and extinguish hope to match the longer standing tsunamis of intensity such as Geometric Power and Post Mortem Nihil Est. The rich and tumultuous fusion of hardcore and black metal across all is thrilling, admittedly there is an initial surface similarity to the tempest offered but the brave delving beneath will discover skilled grooves and twisting discord which are impressive and invigorating.

The vicious Daily Lies alongside Vermin Of Dust with its groove magnetism and the caustic sonic lime pit that is Obscure Dogma are the pinnacles of a perpetually rewarding and satisfying onslaught. Imaginative and diversely creative maybe is not the description one would lay at the feet of Angus Dei upon the first combative engagement but given the time to come to terms with the decimation in progress there is no denying the inventive craft and invention underlying the sea of venomous atrocity.

The Secret has unleashed in Agnus Dei an album which takes no prisoners but leaves an impressive depth of pleasure and satisfaction which is undeniable. Produced by Kurt Ballou (Converge), it may be painful at times with a threat which many will crumble before but the album is without doubt extreme metal at its most imposing, primitive, and best.

RingMaster 05/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright