Access Denied: Touch Of Evil

Touch of Evil is an album which without lighting any major fires leaves a lingering and satisfying taste in the ear. Previously released in their own country of Poland last year in limited quantities, Pitch Black Records and the female-fronted Access Denied now re-release it for further afield ears to investigate and enjoy. A strong and energetic mix of classic and heavy metal, the album is an undemanding but overall pleasing burst of energy and accomplished sounds.

Forming in 2003, Access Denied has drawn good acclaim and built a strong fan base in their homeland through shows, early demos, and their debut album of 2009, The Memorial, all igniting solid interest and responses. Their original hard rock led music evolved quickly in the early days into the classic metal sounds which light up Touch of Evil; though there are times the genres still mix to great effect in songs. With an additional video for the track One Night included on the new version, the album can now introduce itself and the band with good honest sounds and energetic power to a fuller audience with its second release.

It begins with an excellent intro, the piece of music a vibrant and stirring atmosphere which without reaching epic proportions is an energetic suggestion of excitement and brewing adventurous encounters ahead. The following Messenger Of Death leaps into view on the banshee cry of vocalist Agnieszka Sulich, her squall unexpected after the premise laid by Intro. The track offers sharp crunchy riffs and expressive keys which guide and wrap respectively the fine sonic invention from the guitars of Jacek Kolankiewicz and Mateusz Krauze. It is a strong track which fails to live up to the stirring winds suggested but still leaves one contented whilst ensuring a keen need to venture further into the album is rife.

The following Suicide Mind raises the bar with its scorched melodic enterprise and slight symphonic whispers behind the charged heavy metal heart of the song. Where Sulich left a few questions with her delivery in the previous track she is controlled and powerful here so that even her sudden diversions to torturous squeals and magnetic snarls only add to her presence. Arguably she is a singer one has to warm to and certainly across Touch Of Evil she gets better and better, which the same can be said of the release itself.

Tracks like the fiery Secret Place, the outstanding Don’t Tell Me, and Violence Of Mind, grab the attention firmly and give extra invention to chew on. The first simply sizzles with energy to keep one engaged whilst the second of the trio is an enthralling confrontation of inciting guitar play, cutting riffs and predatory rhythms. The stick work of drummer  Dominik Frukacz, who is now no longer with the band, is immense, his work powerful and controlling with an invention speared intent. He is a major feature throughout every track with this his finest hour, and alongside an equally impressive bassist in Paweł Nejczew they make for a potent combination. The latter song gnaws at the senses from vocals through to the beats whilst engrossing the imagination with elements of pagan metal, the folky swagger dancing with teasing inducements within the abrasive riffs. This and Don’t Tell Me easily stand out as the best tracks and trigger the intent to keep a good watch on the band ahead, both songs the most imaginative and adventurous on the album.

Touch Of Evil is not without flaws, the too often repetitive thrusts of riffs and formula structures in certainly the earlier tracks, as well as a production which lacks spark, preventing a fiercer enthusiasm to the release and a need to constantly return to its ultimately strong sounds. Closing with the skilfully created and played title track, the album undoubtedly gives great promise for the future whilst making a worthy companion for all classic and heavy metal fans with its eventful and pleasing offerings.

RingMaster 07/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Sam Lee: The Ballad Of George Collins

The Ballad Of George Collins EP from UK singer songwriter Sam Lee is a three track delight showing exactly why his previous album Ground Of Its Own brought the artist a 2012 Barclays Mercury ‘Album Of The Year’ nomination. Consisting of three songs taken from the release, the EP is a total treat rich with the unique and innovative breath Lee has brought to folk music.

The North Londoner is a graduate of the Chelsea College of Art who went from a visual artist to being a teacher of wilderness survival skills (having been trained by Ray Mears), a part-time Burlesque dancer, and musically embarking on a unique four-year apprenticeship under the legendary, late Scottish Traveller, and balladeer, Stanley Robertson, to whom Ground of Its Own is dedicated. Researching and learning about the craft of traditional music led him to teaching and lecturing at Goldsmith’s College, Newcastle University, and the Royal College of Music. He also was the driving force behind the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winning Magpie’s Nest (now The Nest Collective) organisation, which the EP is released through, as well as many more things too numerous to mention.

The songs on the EP come from a collection of traditional material featured on his album, which Lee discovered through those years of research, songs predominantly sourced directly from English Gypsy and Irish and Scottish traveller communities. He has re-invented the old songs with his own imagination and passion but not lost their core heart and breath which makes for songs which equally and deeply intrigue, mesmerise, and enthral. The title track to the EP is a song originally collected and was adopted by the late traditional singer Bob Copper. It is quite glorious and instantly compulsive, the opening plucked strings and vocal of Lee whipping interest up into a ball of intent and compulsion. The initial atmosphere is quaint and earthy; its Celtic lilt tinged with already unexpected twists and touches. Into its eager and stirring stride a wonderful mix of irresistible cello teases, hypnotic unpredictable percussion, and delicious sounds from instruments we have probably never heard of let alone had the pleasure of their company before, caress and excite the senses. It is a sound which is easy to suggest but impossible to truly represent, a magical and ingenious piece of invention and imagination given to a truly classic song.

Lee has a voice which is raw yet mesmeric, his mix of ‘droned’ notes and warm inviting expression a distinctive pleasure which gives life to the words and world that spawn them as much as the sounds. In the following Goodbye My Darling he helps the initial soft simple sounds drift along with his narrative which has a kind of joyful swagger to its delivery, his strong yet gentle persuasion inviting strings, guitar, and more to join the eventual climatic. It is another resourceful and inspired take on tradition, musically and of its song bearing life, which without reaching the heights of the first song leaves one very contentedly immersed in its world.

On Yonders Hill completes the trio of songs, its exploration of the invincibility of the hare in folklore a pageant of reserved but heralding horns, shadowed and light soaked percussion beating a track alongside each other, and the picture drawing tones of Lee. It is a track which layers textures and feelings upon the ear to offer an emotive presence which is less instant and infectious as the other songs but as fully engaging.

The Ballad Of George Collins is wonderful as an introduction to an impressive and inspiring artist as well as the key to his album, its charm and majestic songs daring you not to move on to the full length gem, a contest you are bound to happily lose.

RingMaster 06/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright