Zebras: Self Titled


Though it came out midway through 2012 the self-titled album from sonic manipulators Zebras quite simply is an album you need to know about and hear. If like us you are just becoming aware of the band  then see this as the key to infernal rapture and if you already know the magnificence of the release than sit there nodding knowingly as we drool all over this review of one of the mightiest releases of last year.

Formed in 2007, the band from Madison consists of guitarist and vocalist Vincent Presley and synth player Lacey Smith as well as across its years featuring a mix of drummers. Musically the band is wonderfully indescribable merging the insidious aspects of punk, noise rock, post punk, doom, and industrial to name a few spices to their unique sonic infestation. Following on from their EP Parasitic Clones Under The Strong Arm Of The Robotic Machine, the new album is a two sided beast which consists of tracks recorded in 2011 on first side Impending Doom, with drummer Shane Hochstetler of Milwaukee band Call Me Lighting, and on the The Fate of a World Plagued By Soulless Shits side, tracks recorded in 2009 with Shawn Pierce on drums. The release is a breath taking collection of songs which shows the move in sound across the two years covered by the band and the giver of the richest rewards and pleasure.

The first quintet of tracks are those recorded in 2011 and are opened by the towering presence of The Dying Sea. Opening with coverthunderous beats and caustic guitar rubs the song is a brooding doomy weight loaded with the insidious tones of Presley. It is a venomous bruising encounter with a sludge thick energy which sucks the wind from the lungs and hope from the senses before later flailing the carcass with serpentine sonic lashings.

The stunning start is soon left in the wake of Mighty Bayonet, a snarling ravenous rampage of bulbous rhythms, harsh corrosive electronics, and psyche twisting riffs and guitar abrasion. It is a sprawling acidic aural licking with the vocals, a perpetual psychotic mix of Jello Biafra and Russell Toomey of Innercity Pirates/My Red Cell, a malevolent siren within the brief incessant furnace of intensity. In contrast the following Queeny Gloom Doom is a doom provoked arctic wrap of post punk discord bringing elements of Joy Division and Xmal Deutschland into the antagonistic dance of Alien Sex Fiend or Sex Gang Children. As compelling as it is exhausting the song is a darkly shadowed crawl over the senses and emotions with a deviant sexual whisper to its intimidating breath.

A Turd By Any Other Name and Black Cancer close off the first part of the release, both ingenious brawls of sonic intrusion and imaginative violence. The first is a tower of again greedy energy which rages like a hungry fire across the ear whilst the keys of Smith shoot flares of sonic irreverence and flesh spearing melodic weaponry out from within the engrossing wall of heavy aural malice. The other is a punk soaked slice of infection, a ferocious distorted mix of Dead Kennedys, Buzzcocks, and The Pixies which leaves a drooling grin on face and heart, though to be fair all the tracks on the album do achieve that with ease.

Stepping back a little in the evolution of the band the remaining sextet of songs are those from two years before the previous ones, not that you would know it in regard to quality and excellence. As soon as the best track on the release Field-Noise sets off its sonic alarm and the rampant thumping rhythms assault the ear the strongest rapture is fully engaged. Early Killing Joke fused with Mad Capsule Markets, The Melvins, and again Alien Sex Fiend, is the best way to describe the genius at play here, a moment of sheer brilliance and the best song heard in a long time.

Things are just as stunning through the songs Diablo Bianco with its blood thirsty rhythms and scattergun riffs, The Dirty Dice and its viral melodic wantonness and its devilishly discordant hooks, and Tension. The third of these is an acidulous burn of spiky vocals and sonics within a bedlamic presence of manic invention and sinister energy, oh and quite brilliant. The now entrenched treacherously seductive splendour is continued by the equally sensational Wiener Kids and the closing glory of The Serpent & The Pig, the former a riotous ball of mischief which incorporates all the goodness of Pere Ubu, early XTC, and Cardiacs in a twisted embrace and the latter an invidious bitch slap of bedlamic invention and tribal instinctiveness through the thoughts of one wicked set of minds.

It is the stunning end to a sensational album and one can only drool over what will come next from the band. Zebras have grabbed album of the year honours for 2012 with ease and the hearts of The Ringmaster Review.

Find out why by listening to future podcasts of The Bone Orchard.



RingMaster 03/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright


Guardians: Self Titled

Guardians Promo Shot

With the release of their self-titled mini-album, North West rock band Guardians has staked a strong persuasion in looking at them as strong candidates as the next big thing in British alternative rock. The seven track release is an impressive and thrilling release which captivates from start to finish whilst offering infectious melodic flourishes over highly energetic engagements and powerfully striking rock n roll throughout. A treat for the ear, senses, and heart, Guardians is a deeply pleasing encounter to help set British rock music off in the new year in fine style.

From Wallasey in Merseyside, the band formed in 2006 when the members were still at school. Since then they have moved from playing biker clubs at the age of 14 to sharing stages with the likes of Status Quo, The Blackout, The Automatic, and Twenty Twenty, as well as headlining the HUB Festival and finding strong media exposure. The new album is the next step in their increasing rise to wider recognition and one suspect the key to a big year for the band ahead.

After an intro track which makes for a warm melodic welcome the release starts with earnest with An Enemy Of My Enemy. Guardians Cover ArtworkImmediately a heavy senses skirting bass grabs attention alongside firm beats and feisty riffs. As the great vocals of lead guitarist Brad Doné step into view, his and the rhythm guitar of Craig Henderson initially step back before joining up for a catchy and enjoyable chorus section. Into its stride the track is an accomplished and engaging song if slightly underwhelming after reading the comparisons to the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Foo Fighters, and Lost Prophets for the band. It is an enjoyable start though and soon things take an elevated step with the following surge of tracks.

New World Order steps up next with beats bulging and slashing riffs before expanding into a full riot of sound and energy. The vocals of Doné find a coarser edge to their delivery which is fitting within the track and when the rest of the band add their vocals talents the reference to Lost Prophets is like a banner in the sky of the song. For these ears the Welsh band is the closest comparison throughout the release but without stealing from the originality of Guardians and their distinct sound. The bass of Sean McMinn-Davies and drums of Mike Priest again are exceptional within the storm of passionate and intense sound, and the song arguably the biggest of many highlights on the EP.

The rich heart and melodic wash of Follow Your Heart next makes for a captivating companion, a song which took its time to share all of its riches before emerging as an irresistible anthemic joy forged through contagious riffs and hooks alongside kisses of warm keys and emotive grandeur. At this point in the EP no more convincing of band and release is needed to ensure an enthused affection but just to make sure the deliciously grooved dance floor incitement offered by Make It Out Alive sparks further acclaim and ardour the way of the release.

After the short dramatic and emotive instrumental Interlude, the album closes with the mighty Red Eyes. Again heavily Lost Prophets tinged yet distinctively Guardians, the track is an immense slab of metallic sinew and expressive might which is as compelling as it is diverse and imaginative. Unpredictable but fluid in its passage, the song is the perfect parting for a fantastic release and the confirmed placing of the band as an emerging creative force.

Do yourself a big favour and check out Guardians now, though one suspects it will not be long before you will find their impressive sounds and presence everywhere you turn in the world of UK rock anyway.


RingMaster 03/01/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Immension: Self Titled EP

Immension - Promo Shot

For some reason there seems to be a bit of negativity going round towards the debut self-titled EP from UK melodic metal band Immension, not that it has been a slating upon the release but an apparent to our minds anyway misguided lack of appreciation of what is on offer from the Sheffield quartet. Now certainly the release does not forge new avenues for metal or unleash a storm of originality but at the same time it makes for a satisfying and reasonably thrilling encounter for the ear. For their introduction it has to be said the EP is an impressive enough slab of creativity offering plenty of promise for the band in the future and enjoyment right now.

The main accusation towards Immension is their closeness in sound to Bullet For My Valentine on the release, something you cannot dispute but is hardly a bad thing when mixed with a brewing independence of sound from the band though that is arguably not as realised on the record as you would wish. Nevertheless accomplished in musicianship, thoughtful in structure, and stirring in intensity there are more things right than ‘wrong’ with their introduction to the world.

Formed by vocalist/guitarist Jake Kearsley and lead guitarist Tim Dolan from jamming together five years ago, the band reached a stable line-up with the addition of bassist Hasan Ahmed and drummer Jonni Sowter. From there the band played a torrent of shows stretching from London to Leeds building a fine reputation and loyal fan base along the way. The EP is the first twist of the key to wider recognition and something which certainly amongst metal listeners if not the media seemingly, will stir up plenty more interest their way.

The release opens with the emerging power of Shadow Of Yourself, a track which initially stands tall with flaring riffs and rhythmsImmension Front Cover speared by sonic dazzling wrapping around its bulk. Soon it erupts into a charging fury of pummelling beats and scything barbed hooks and hungry riffs. It is not exactly formula stuff but using tested structures skilfully and to great effect. It is with the clean vocals of Kearsley that one is initially a little taken aback. Expecting the scowling squalls of malice and menace most bands employ the clean delivery is a refreshing variation with growling spite the additive rather than the other way round. Thoughts of In Flames and Avenged Sevenfold emerge from the muscular presence of the track as well as the previously mentioned band of course to make the song a familiar friend for the ear and an enterprising experience for thoughts and senses.

Like the opener the following Lost & Forgotten offers plenty of asides and unexpected ideas amongst the overall bluster of riffs and intense rhythmic assaults, the second song elevating things to a stronger aggressive level. The track is a raging tempest of spite and passion with again the dual vocal attack, and especially the sung vocals, quite compelling. Overall the song is treading the harsher territory of a Killswitch Engage or As I Lay Dying musically and is the best track and the biggest instigator of real promise from the band on the release.

The slowly brooding In Vain closes things off with a more adventurous gait than before on the EP. The initial mellow tones of atmosphere and vocals is a warm caress against the heated sonic play of the guitars, the infectious chorus merging it all into a brief fire with commanding drums to frame their flames. Soon it is another charged frenzy of energy and aggression which switches between full flame to simmer with seamless craft and ease. It is a song which takes time to make its persuasion but emerges as a dramatic and intelligent song, and again another showing the scope and promise of the band in songwriting and its realisation in the future.

Immension has arrived with an EP which deserves attention: it is not going to ignite the biggest ardour within most but certainly will be a pleasing and gratifying companion during its presence.


RingMaster 03/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Haut&Court.: La vie

Haut & Court

If you have not yet discovered French destructors Haut&Court. then read on to learn about your first essential purchase of 2013. Formed only in June of last year with this their debut EP being unleashed in the closing weeks of the 2012, the trio from Strasbourg has announced themselves with a quite incredible and irresistible onslaught of sonic intensity driven magnificence. It is wonderfully raw and unpolished, a cancerous corruption which uses your testicles, real and imaginary, as a malevolence drawing punch ball and the senses as passion soaked whipping boys. For a debut from a band arguably still learning their craft and way around their sound it is one of the most promising and rewarding releases in a long time.

Consisting of vocalist Arnaud, guitarist Bernard, and drummer Ravind, the band has fused the essences of grind, mathcore, crust, and hardcore to name a few of the flames which heat their sound to create a sonic furnace which is tagged as mathcrust. Whatever title you wish to give it, the music is a compulsive and invigorating abrasion which just sparks rapturous reactions. Describing the release as a mix of Dillinger Escape Plan, Pig Destroyer, Kabul Golf Club, Kunz, and Extreme Noise Terror is a mere hint but the best we can do for this unique and inspiring confrontation.

Let It Burst sets to upon the ear and beyond first with its sonic squalling, corrosive breath, and vicious growling vocals. Mixing up1102917326-1 its pace and pressure throughout, the song is either gnawing away at the synapses with tight insidious manipulation or pummelling with a tempest borne energy and might. The track in hindsight is the mere appetizer for the violent imagination to follow but is still an impressive and stirring opening for the release.

The raw almost suffocating edge to the production only adds to the strength of the EP, which has its pinnacle across the remaining rages of sound. Krokodil is a sensational infestation of serpentine guitar licks, crushing rhythms, and enveloping erosive energy. The soft undergroove of the song is a sirenesque beckoning from within the scything sonics and ravenous presence of vocals, intent, and simply the song itself, all merging to consume the senses.

The excellence of the song is exceeded by the following This Genesis, a track which is like a rabid beast playing with its victim, twisting, slapping, and slicing it into a bloodied whimpering husk. It is a staggering riot of invention and sound which sucks the breath away and turns thoughts and emotions to a quivering mess. We all know the term noise annoys but here noise is an orgasmic pleasure which is continued with the almighty bruising depths of Colision. Like a tsunami of sound the track overwhelms and snakes into every corner of the psyche and heart. It is a giant brawl of rhythmic malice, guitar mayhem, and vocal spite which triggers every positive acclaim possible especially with its squirrelling hornet nest of sonic nastiness.

La Vie is completed by the aural swipe Life, an avalanche lasting less time than it takes to grab a breath and the final triumph Wasted Time For Wasted Minds. The ingenuity of the EP continues into this last slab of brilliance, its vindictive presence crawling into the deepest corners as it lies on the ear with a richly ominous weight. It is a brutal swamp of intensity to perfectly end a release for which only the highest acclaim can be offered.

With La Vie being just the first introduction for Haut&Court. it is frightening of just how immense the band could become and very exciting. Released as a name your price purchase this is the only way to start your imaginative noise driven 2013.


RingMaster 03/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

WetMoss: Self Titled EP

Wet Moss

If you are looking for some fresh psychedelic rock caresses to spark up your day then you could do far worse than checking out Swiss quarter WetMoss. Having just released their self-titled debut, the young band from Baden is a promising and imaginative collection of like-minded musicians who explore their musical vision as fully as they realise it with exploratory and inventive sounds. The EP is not a release which explodes upon the senses to thrust them into another state of mind but one which caresses and coaxes with melodic elegance and sonic teasing whilst guiding thoughts and emotions to a warmer expansive place.

The bio for the band states it was in 2010 that the band escaped the winter locked in with their instruments to create long jam sessions until the realisation of taking it all public was the next step. The band name came about at the same time when ‘while rushing out one of us slipped and landed with his face into something muddy. He then turned his head and said: “F***ing Moss, why does this sh*t have to be so wet?”’ Gigs followed before venturing into the studio to record their first release. At the time of its release WetMoss also supported US band Sleepy Sun the show marking another step in their adventure alongside one of their favourite bands. The EP is an accomplished and inventive release which will find a ready home with fans of psychedelic rock whilst finding further welcomes with many melodic rock fans. If like us a bruising and destructive lilt to your sound is a preference the band has a muscular and intense aspect to their sound which offers much to find satisfaction from.

After the atmospheric instrumental Introduction which is like an aural dawning sunrise, chilled yet welcoming, the release 4167166274-1stretches its arms with Empty Hands. A gentle strummed stroking of the ear leads one into the charming presence of the song; the sultry guitar wines a delicious heated dazzle amongst the mellow caressing vocals of bassist Pierfrancesco Monteleone and acoustic kisses which make for the strongest compelling persuasion. Guitarists Tobias Stich and Stephan Ryf, with his additional rewarding keys, help thoughts drift off into emotive avenues though it is the combination of all which seals the ticket for the impassioned journey of the song.

From the great start the release steps into the more unpredictable world of Arms Of The Universe. Starting with a pulsating bass prowl from Monteleone and tender rhythmic taps from drummer Mike Schweigler the song reveals a snarl lyrically and vocally to match a raise in temperature and energy. Like the first it is a slowly strolling piece of songwriting which invites interpretation alongside its open intent whilst continually sparking flames of sizzling guitar play and sending sonic shards of melodic spearing through its skies. At times more from the vocals than anything there is an Arctic Monkeys spited whisper shouting out which offers something different to an already open show of variation on the release.

Both Hidden Signs and Revolution bring further diversity to the EP within the enveloping warm soak of progressive and psychedelic breath. The first is a smouldering wash of passion and expressive touches which is mesmeric before evolving into a more generous energetic stomp which gives voice to the heart and affections. It is a superbly crafted song which captivates from start to finish with equal effect across its whole shifting presence brought by the constant impressive musicianship. The second of the two is a fiery piece which takes one back further to the seventies whilst holding a likeness to band such as The Brimstone Days now. Once more the band mixes things up to continually intrigue and delight and offer something for most tastes and preferences within their aural remit.

Closing song Lines though admittedly not finding the same enthused acceptance as previous songs is still a track which gives evidence of the skill and invention of the band. A slow burning weave of sound which is a progressive trip all of its own, it is a tightly sculpted yet organic flow of ideas and music which will please core fans of psychedelic rock anywhere even if lacking the spark to thrill as the songs on the rest of the EP.

WetMoss is a promising and inventive band which uses the strengths of its chosen genre to great and appealing effect, their EP a definite investigation for all psychedelic and progressive rock fans.



RingMaster 03/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright