Straight On Target: Pharmakos

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A seething thunderous brute of an album with raptorial tendencies and deep malicious intensity, Pharmakos the debut album from Italian deathcore metallers Straight On Target is an immense and heavily imposing release. It is also a contagious pleasure which leaves one exhausted from and basking in extreme metal at its best. Using established weaponry for the main, the album stays within already set walls but pushes their limits with compelling and irresistible sounds. It is venomous, violent, and wholly irresistible.

The quintet from Piacenza made their mark with their first EP Mediocritas in 2011, the release earning strong acclaim from fans and media alike. Creating a furnace of sound and energy recalling the likes of Aborted, The Acacia Strain, Whitechapel, and Impending Doom, the line-up of vocalist Andrea Scaglia, guitarists Giulio Castruccio and Daniele Molinari, bassist Nicolò Rossi, and drummer Federico Buzzetti, have let loose a ravenous monster of an album which surely will place the band into the awareness of a wider extreme metal audience. Released via Bakerteam Records, Pharmakos is a thrilling antagonistic confrontation which quite simply is impossible not to be sucked into and thrilled by.

Straight On Target seduces the ear first with Theta, a brief sonic abrasion with a startling ambience and menacing breath. It rubs CoverHDthe senses enough to set them on end before evolving into the rabid intensity of Ostrakon. Beginning with deeply resonating rhythms and cranky riffs the song slowly spreads its muscular arms to surround and immerse the ear intently. Once the colossal synapse chewing vocals of Scaglia enter into the midst of the brewing storm, the guitars, bass, and drums raise the temperature further and the impending assault to greater heights. The track never quite takes off in to an all-out assault though and is all the better for that, but instead leaves on a sonic acid of sound which is equally painful and inviting.

The monstrous Demonized next torments and ravishes the ear with a ferocity to scorch the hair from the skin with barbaric blast beats and debilitating rhythmic brutality at the core of its fire. There is nowhere to hide as the track scars and violates every inch of thoughts and senses whilst the body itself is treated to a furnace of aggression. Within the tempest though the band unleashes grooves and addictive melodic teasing which are quite delicious. Arguably this is the template for most of the songs on the album but it is a contagion which rewards as much as it eagerly destroys and one you just do not want to end.

The likes of the brilliant Wake the Apathetic and equally impressive Dreadful Eyes incite an insatiable need and desire for more of the unforgiving corrosion. The first of the pair has an insidious groove which emerges from time to time from within a brawling storm of riff borne intensity and rhythmic turbulence. It is again irresistible and lights up a track which already is perpetually shifting and energising the heart. The second squeals and rampages like a stampede of hellish boars, its brute force and satanic air a captivation which feeds the primal needs of all whilst igniting destructive propensity. If the release had finished right here the recommendation to check out the album would have topped the scale but with the continuing might and excellence within each and every track to come complimenting those mentioned Pharmakos is easily the first essential extreme metal album of the year.

The tribalistic Initiation which unexpectedly brings thoughts of Lord Of The Flies to the fore, the bone crushing and breath sapping He Spreads Hypocrisy, and the carnally coloured Synesthesia all continue the staggering strength and quality of the album whilst closing track Palms Leaves Readers is a final creative fit of rage and violent belligerence. It is an epic end to an epic album, a release which leaves you gleefully shell shocked.

To be over fussy there is a similarity across the release which is noticeable but to be honest unimportant within the striking impressive throat of the release and only adds to the depth of the density and intensity of Pharmakos. It is an outstanding album and marks Straight On Target as a band you should know about.

RingMaster 14/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

When We Were Wolves – The More Things Change, The More We Stay The Same EP

When We Were Wolves Promo shot

Post hardcore bands and releases came thick and fast in 2012 with the momentum seemingly going to continue into this year. There was a strong and overall impressive depth to the sounds which stepped forward if many lacked that something to set them apart from the rest. Initially that was also the thought when allowing the debut EP from Welsh band When We Were Wolves to unleash its aggression and expressive heart on the senses. That notion was soon slapped into place though especially by the ferociously impressive central core of the release. It is fair to say When We Were Wolves is still determining a unique sound of its own but certainly from the clutch of earnest and passionate tracks making up the release the Bridgend quintet have it in hand.

Formed in mid-2011, the band has built up a loyal and eager following across South Wales and into England with their explosive live shows. To date they have impressively shared stages with the likes of Bury Tomorrow, Exit Ten, Pay No Respect, Martyr Defiled and Carcer City, as well as headlining their own riotous assaults on audiences. The More Things Change, The More We Stay The Same is about to wake up the rest of the UK with intense and well thought out songs which suggest and at times proves that post hardcore can be pleasingly adventurous and contagious.

All Good People Must Come To An End is an intriguing start to the release which did leave some uncertainty in its wake. The When We Were Wolves Cover Artworkheartfelt vocals of Mitch Bock are a caustic and compelling squall over an emotive endeavour from the rest of the band. It is a brief track which asks questions and leaves thoughts open if a little undecided of whether the EP would emerge as something special or another similarly gaited encounter as from many other genre bands. The answer is soon proven to be the former as firstly Under The Water thunders into view. Big grasping riffs assault the ear with scything sonics and thumping rhythms adding their support whilst an expanse of acidic vocal cries blisters the senses. It is not exactly ground breaking but throughout prods and enthrals especially with the excellent clean vocals of Bock adding emotive weight to the inventive guitar work of Steve French and Rhod Evans. The song goes where you expect it too but still offers a riveting and fully satisfied experience through its fresh and keen encounter.

It is with the following pair of songs though that the band stakes its claim as possibly being something special in the making. This Is Where We Belong and Your Sick Fantasy are exceptional, two tracks which leave one drooling at the promise and imaginative confrontations before the senses. The first seizes the ear with predatory riffs which beckon rather than stalk and the again excellent and overwhelming rhythms of drummer Josh Baker, his demanding beats inescapable and ably supported by the hungry bass lines of Ben Taylor. As the vocals rub thoughts raw the track twists and turns into numerous asides and shadows, all inventive and ardour inciting. Each member of the band is a fiery or intimidating aspect coming together for a furnace of intensity and creativity. There are moments which are familiar in the song, as in all tracks to be honest, but When We Were Wolves deliver them and their unique imaginative moments with a relish and fire very few of the other emerging bands accomplish. The second of the two snarls and gnaws with intensity and a controlling presence which leads one into the lyrical and passionate heart of the track. It drags you willingly through dark distant corners and in the face challenges which scorch and captivate. Tough arguably lacking definition at times the song is an immense and unforgiving treat which only marks the band further as ones to watch.

The release closes with Hounds which features Continents vocalist Phil Cross. The track is another raging affair with further imagination coming through the excellent key intro and building climaxes of energy and passion throughout. It is a great mix of aggression and intrusive melodic breaths which without firing up the same flames as the previous two songs leaves one a satisfied and willing recruit to it and the band’s enterprise.

When We Were Wolves is still a band in the making but as The More Things Change, The More We Stay The Same EP shows, it is also group of young musicians who are moving in the right impressive direction.

RingMaster 14/01/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright