Rayne: The New Enlightenment

Sixteen years is a fair time to wait for a debut album from a band to say the least but when it sounds as good as The New Enlightenment from British alternative rockers Rayne, the wait for fans will have been more than worth it. It is a release which just pulsates with quality and craft, making one wonder how it has taken so long for us, like so many others, to have come across the great sounds of the band. The album has been out a few months as you read this but is worthy of a look for all those yet to discover the melodic and imaginative presence of the Sunderland trio.

Since forming all those years ago whilst at school, vocalist and bassist Ben Potts, guitarist and keyboardist Adam Dagg, and drummer Steven Naisbet, have certainly made their mark on the UK underground scene. Four times they have been Battle of the Bands winners at a national level, come runner up at the 02 Live & Unsigned final out of 10,000 bands, and been awarded an ‘outstanding contribution to music’ award from a national music organisation after a public vote. Rayne has also raised approaching £20,000 for numerous charities across the years and with their impressive album and the luck all bands need, one feels a wider recognition is coming soon for the band.

The band is constantly compared to the likes of Muse, U2, and Coldplay, and it is hard to disagreed, but they offer other essences which point at the likes of Mind Museum, Doves, and Incubus, though they are all breezes in the original melodic wind of Rayne. The songs are nicely varied but come with an epic air, whether brooding or ignited for a full expansive breath, which wraps warmly around the ear and offers an infectious involvement for the senses.

The expressive grace of the title track opens up the album, its building energy and lively contact a notable introduction and entrance into the album. The following Raise The Alarm then steps forward with fiery riffs and firm rhythms to grab attention before resting slightly for the golden weaves of the keys which drove the first track to return and glow within the skies of the song alongside the strong impressive vocals of Potts. It is a potent brew of rich melodies and emotive heart vocally and musically which captures the imagination.

The excellent mix of sinewy riffs and teasing harmonies of The Ground Floor raises levels next, its inventive blend of incendiary guitars and smouldering harmonies against effected vocals and stirring rhythms an impacting brisk encounter to lick the lips over. It has a rawer more intense presence which marks the beginning of an unveiling of diversity to band and songwriting, soon emphasized by the emotive My Final Plea with its impassioned expression and tender keys. The song holds its shadows close whilst lighting its path with slivers of melodic caresses and heated charm, evolving into a blaze of fervid guitar play at its climax.

Consisting of fifteen inventive and superbly crafted songs the album is a constant pleasure with its greatest heights coming in the irresistible Twisted Flame, the heaviest song on the release with its forceful riffs and prowling energy even in the mellower melodic moments, the equally compelling track The Impossible Story, and My Desperation. The second of the three has a classic rock gait to its excellent body of inventive sounds whilst the last is another passional feast of heart and what feels like personal relevance to the band such the potent delivery and expression.

The classic rock seeded sounds return in Hero Soldier and the closing Springsteen like Against The Natural Order for satisfying and enjoyable results though neither song manages to match some of the other tracks mentioned but again they show the accomplished variety of the album. They are certainly despite their strengths found wanting up against the best track on the album, Compel To Be Pure.  Starting with sound bites discussing mental illness over an impacting emotional piano, the track erupts into a punchy slice of rock with fervent guitars and thumping rhythms. It moves into an exquisite mix of the still inciting piano, acute lyrics, and challenging vocals before thrilling further with feistier rhythms and sizzling guitars combining to offer an anthemic treat in exchange for a defined ardour its way.

The New Enlightenment is a tremendous album which all rock fans should take the opportunity to explore and immerse within, its triumphant sounds and large textures an inspiring joy. One can only hope it does not take Rayne so long to follow it up.


RingMaster 27/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Geist: Der Ungeist

If you ever wondered what hell with its tortuous landscape and ravenous touch was going to be like then Der Ungeist (meaning The Demon), the new album from Israeli project Geist, might be one of the most representative and closest windows to its soul. The release is a destructive violation of pure black metal, a record which shows no mercy or restraint in the corruption of light and hope. It envelopes the madness of man and its existence to expel it back in a vitriolic sonic embrace which is as corrosive and debilitating as any acid rain tempest. It is also thoroughly compelling and once into its insidious depths becomes almost mesmeric, though whether that is down to the wearing down of defences and sanity or its undoubtedly skilled content still leaves one unsure.

Geist is the solo project of Ratimus (Bartholomeus Night and Mocous Scrotum), and Der Ungeist his debut album. The release is influenced by early black metal and within its seven venomous engagements is open with these inspirations and seeds. The artist has created an organic album dealing with the aforementioned bedlamic and insane breath of man by recording the songs live and leaving them  as they were borne, their honest lo-fi intent a scurrilous abrasion to texturize further the twisted and tortuous heart and layers of the release. It is not an easy listen and for some will not hold the rewards which others will reap within its dirty mechanical sounds but if extreme metal and especially core black metal is the devastation you seek, then the album is a must investigation.

Released through Israeli-based Totalrust Music, the album immediately wreaks havoc upon the senses with opener Mord, its initial atmospheric presence no indication of the intrusive engagement to follow. The track soon tells you all you need to know about Der Ungeist though, the sonic scarring from the invidious guitar embrace and ear splitting rhythms unrelenting for the main. When the track does step back the vocals just find a stronger poison to splash across the alluring guitar ‘caresses’. At times the word raw does not do the piece, or album to be honest, justice but within the spiteful assault there is a contagious ‘groove’ which is firmly persuasive whilst the evolving journey of the song and its perpetually challenging expanse is verging on riveting.

Von Blut and Der Wald both continue the ruinous confrontation, the torturous and desperate vocal squalls acid within the emerging blistered melodic enterprise and addictive grooves, especially in the first of the pair. It is a weirdly infectious proposition beneath the annihilatory surface which again ensures a compulsion to let it and the album do their worst. The second of the two is a slow crawling death lined slab of sonic toxin, an erosive brutality reeking of passion and distress, and again near on irresistible. Both songs outshine the opener and further in to the album you go the stronger it gets. It is still an unforgiving rage and a deeply uncomfortable listen but it leaves one enthralled nonetheless.

The best track is Northern Pride, a synapse scorching malefaction which sizzles with imagination and ever twisting invention within the again sonic attrition. By its end you release just how painful it has been, ears and senses ringing, but it also transfixes those same victims with a spiteful and pleasing imagination and accomplished craft.

Maybe some post production on the album would have brought out the certain craft and creativity within the storm better but you can only appreciate and understand the intent of artist and album whilst in its unhinged company. The album is a good release for any extreme metal fan to take a punt on though the reason why you find yourself engaged with it will not necessarily be from the way you expected before going into its hellish heart.


RingMaster 27/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Finsterforst: Rastlos

As impressive and epic as the land which inspires the Black Forest borne band and their music, Rastlos the fourth full length release from Germans Finsterforst, is a formidable and inspiring soundscape of passion and overwhelming atmosphere. It is a beautifully crafted journey of imaginative sounds and emotive heart brought through pagan metal sounds with blackened winds. It is a full and intrusive confrontation which transports thoughts and emotions into a world of melancholic folklore and expansive ambiences for an equally intensive experience. Rastlos is aural poetry, its masterful invention and craft forming a canvas for visions and adventure.

Finsterforst was formed in 2004 by Tobias Weinreich (bass), Sebastian Scherrer (keyboards), and Simon Schillinger (guitar), the band using the early months to concentrate on creating songs without being able to perform them live without a full line-up. The following year saw accordion player Johannes Joseph join in May with rhythm guitarist David Schuldis following in the October and with this fuller line-up they recorded the well received 3 track EP Wiege der Finsternis in March 2006. This moment could be said to be when things truly took off for the band especially with the addition of drummer Cornelius Heck later the same which enabled the sextet to make their live debut. The release in 2007 of debut album Weltenkraft elevated the standing and acclaim surrounding the band further with its follow-up …zum Tode hin two years later raising the bar of recognition even further.  2010 saw a compilation of their early releases appear as the album Urwerk  as well as the addition of vocalist Oliver Berlin, who’s burning striking tones impressively bring their own spite and ravishment within the textual might of Rastlos.  The Napalm Records released album without doubt takes Finsterforst to another and greater level whilst inspiring the feeling that it is just the beginning of even greater things from the band.

Barring two brief atmospheric breaths in the nature spawn instrumentals Am Scheideweg and Rast, every track is a vast experience and encounter of their own, all bridging aural grandeur and inciting emotion through inspiring travels lasting a minimum of ten minutes to in the case of the closer Flammenrausch, an extensive twenty minutes or so. This makes the album an exhaustive encounter without it over staying its welcome thanks to the compulsive intensity and quite mesmeric melodic beauty on display all driven by a dawning of majestic soundscapes and nature linked lives. It is also a release which though songs do work alone is much more rewarding as a whole, the immersion into its rich and enthralling plains not to mention moods, a sensational exhilaration.

The releases opens and ends with the same sound, a horse drawn carriage on cobbled streets drawing us into the realm ahead and taking us away at the finale. It is a mere enticement within the thick ambience to welcome the grasping intensity and caustic sounds of opener Nichts als Asche.  Its initial presence is harsh and venomous, a corrosive welcome before the riffs stand tall to line the emerging immense scope of the track by bringing extra beckoning depths to their presence without losing their intimidating force alongside the unforgiving rhythms. The vocals are a scurrilous abrasion tempered by the delicious accordion weaves and melodic orchestral like caresses.  It makes for a precise yet fluid brew of shadows and light in an erosive and invigorating union.

The following Fremd holds the bruising sinews of riffs and rhythms in place but unveils a wider glorious melodic welcome to sweep before them. It is not long before the song explores its forceful shadows and unleashes senses scarring energy and intensive harsh sounds to move forward ahead of the mesmeric lures. As with its predecessor the track proceeds to merge both magnificently; neither dominating the other whilst finding their own perfect place to shine and rampage within the insidious feeling tempest.

With the likes of the outstanding Stirbt Zuletzt, the best song on the album, and Ein Lichtschein, the release just gets better and better. The first of the pair finds vocalist Berlin adopt a cleaner delivery for the main and for personal tastes it is a more impressive aspect than his also impressive rasping outrages elsewhere. With the horns, varied strings, and a melodic heralding incorporating music and voices, the song offers a stunning passage into its passionate core. The second returns the black metal serpentine touch whilst exploring titan like resplendence in sound and landscape, evoking the feeling of the walls of a forest bearing down in vision as much as the giant sounds do in force and imagination.

With the previously mentioned monumental Flammenrausch sending senses and thoughts into rapture with its lasting mammoth expanse, the album arguably is at its strongest in the latter part, but as whole there is no question that Rastlos is one of the best folk/pagan metal releases this year.



RingMaster 27/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

9MM: Volle Kraft Voraus

   Volle Kraft Voraus (Full Speed Ahead), the new album from German bruisers 9MM, is one of those raucous riots you just want to get involved in. Though not an album to offer anything particularly new, the release just bruises and pleases with mischievous intent and accomplished invention. It is an uncomplicated slab of unbridled rock n roll driven by a bolshie fusion of hard rock, heavy metal, thrash, and punk rock, a mixture which just lights up the senses and leaves a well of enjoyment behind.

The band is constantly compared to the likes of Running Wild and Tankard, which is accurate enough but throughout Volle Kraft Voraus the band pushes added flavours into the brew bringing thoughts of Municipal Waste, Wednesday 13, and Beastie Boys to name just a few. It all adds for an album which feeds multiple tastes whilst staying within its adrenaline charged battering. At times it ignites the fullest rapture whilst in other moments incites a full but less ardour led satisfaction, yet from start to finish the album does nothing but then leave an invigorated pleasure behind.

Released through Napalm Records, the album wonderfully antagonises the ear from first note on starting with opener Geh mir aus den Augen and its Sex Pistols tinted beginning. With melodic enterprise wrapping the storming riffs and chest beating vocals, the track parties with feisty attitude and intentions upon the senses. The punk n roll blend eagerly stomps and ignites the passions leading to the only real problem of the album, every song presented in German leaving us language limited rioters unable to fully join in the impossibly infectious encounter.

The equally testosterone raging Jetzt feiern wir mit Freunden follows to keep the intensity of fun and energy at tempest levels, guitars and bass seizing the heart with inciting riffs and delicious melodic craft whilst the rhythms rally the emotions into action to join the drunken entourage masking as a song. Like its predecessor the punky song is an impossible to resist encounter triggering all the joy only the best filth lined rock n roll can and setting the release off at a high level of sound and enjoyment.

There is good variation across the album as shown with the thrashy title track, the classic metal toned Libertad o muerte with its slight pagan/power metal breath, and the heavy metal feast that is Mainstream. The last of these three still has that element of punk to its heart which captivates as much as the crafted diversity unveiled on the song and whole release.  Arguably these tracks and others do not quite reach the heights and passion pulling strengths of the opening pair but still leave one grinning in pleasure and gratitude. There are songs which do easily rival those earlier songs, starting firstly with the insatiable Dem Freund die Hand – Dem Feind die Stirn with its enticing drums and Suicidal Tendencies like group harmonies. It is a contagion which grabs hold and invites as much participation as is possible, a bar room bash with no holds barred.

Further pinnacles come with the excellent heart thumping blowout Im Namen des Herrn, and arguably the album’s greatest moments in the shape of the closing trio of songs. First up there is Popstars 2015, the song another irrepressible call to arms seemingly against something, swiftly followed by the outstanding Ich will hier raus. This rocking encounter is a dirty brew of gritty riffs, snarling vocals, and the ever delicious bestial growling of the bass which is a real treat throughout the album alongside equally impressive guitar and drum creativity. The band saves the best to last with the mighty Prosit, a track which is like a returning old friend, everything about the song familiar but brought with a stronger and addict forming craft. From the resonating rhythms to the snarling bass and the flames of guitar, not forgetting the gang chants, the song is one undemanding wholly rewarding honest celebration.

Lyrically the songs are said to address uncomfortable truths and issues though it was impossible to verify from our verbal limitations but it really is not an issue when the sounds and experience is as thrilling and explosive as on Volle Kraft Voraus. The album is the perfect metal party album, something new but with a familiarity which only adds and endears to the passion and heart of the event; with its great quality though 9MM ensures it is also a release which finds a welcome place at anytime and anywhere. The only possible suggestion is to go and enjoy.



RingMaster 27/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright