Wiht: The Harrowing of the North

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    Wiht was a UK band who built a formidable reputation for their impressive epic and evocative instrumentals but last March the Leeds trio called it a day much to the upset of a great many. Now the band through Devouter Records gets a deserved final farewell with the release of their final album The Harrowing of the North digitally and on coloured vinyl. Previously available in 2011 the re-release features an additional track to leave one lasting mark from one of Britain’s best underground experimental talents.

The band began in March 2009 and in their three years created a stirring and inciting blend of doom, stoner, and psychedelic rock which was rich and colourful in ambience and heavy and expressive in intensity. Together bassist Joe Hall, guitarist Chris Wayper, and drummer Rick Contini, explored and turned the widest array of aural colours into a unique and compelling canvas of descriptive sounds and emotive richness. It was driven by storming riffs which were as instinctive as breathing but as imaginative as life and rhythms which caged the senses with skill and power before rewarding them with their own hypnotic and creative slavery. The Harrowing of the North is the perfect last word with its three songs encapsulating everything which made the band so highly thought of, if also igniting a sadness they are no longer here to further their boundaries and vision. Across their years the band sparked a growing fan base with impressive performances supporting artists like Brant Bjork and the Bros, Yob, Corrosion of Conformity, Humanfly, Khuda, Dopefight, A Forest of Stars and Conan, and made their final appearance at Desertfest 2012, playing alongside Corrosion of Conformity, Orange Goblin, Ancestors and Black Cobra to name a few. With one song still unreleased, Devouter has stepped forward to give it a fitting introduction within the re-release of their excellent last album.

Thirty three minutes in length, the first two tracks which made up the original album are themed by William the Conqueror and his Front cover 1400subjugation of the North of England in the 11th century. The title track opens up its vast story in a slowly emerging presence with sonic teasing and a brewing intensity shaped by a singularly seductive guitar. The track scores the Norman raids and massacring of the Yorkshire people and their land and once in full vision the piece almost meanders into its first of eight movements bringing the events to emotive life. Leading one comfortingly with tender guitar caresses against the sense of an impending challenge from the drums, it feels like the lull before the storm, a misguided confident peace about to be shaken out of its restive complacency. The stoner riffs and psychedelic massaging now energising the senses equally and skilfully ignites thoughts and emotions whilst looking at the music outside of its themed context, the track is a sensational passage of styles and imagination which seamlessly has the passions and senses twisting and dancing to the ingenious and continually evolving aural painting.

Second track Orderic Vitalis is a grouchy encounter which is dedicated to the named outspoken chronicler in the title who stood loyal to his king but was outraged at his cruelty and condemned him in his writings. The piece conjures and moves through shadows set by the again compelling bass imagination of Hall, whilst the guitar of Wayper lights the way through the heavy oppressive dark tones with a sculpted elegance. It is a wholly mesmeric track which paints its own imagery for individual interpretation but with evident awareness of the emotions being instilled in the listener through the sensational sounds. It is at times overbearing and always intimidating but equally has a strength and determination to refuse full submission to the impending darkness whispering loudly throughout.

The final and brand new track End Of The Reign finds its place easily alongside the other two, its haunting ethereal piano kissed entrance dripping with a morose ambience. The track then evolves into a muscular giant with rampant yet restrained rhythms from the perpetually impressive Contini and a sonic gnawing of the ear from the fiery guitar narrative. Again the bass brings a daunting depth to the piece and with every element combined track and album easily sets the band apart from the rest and leaves one immersed in the near furnace like heat of irresistible enterprise.

The Harrowing of the North is simply outstanding and with the new track the perfect and greatest way to wave farewell to With.

http://www.facebook.com/wihtleeds

RingMaster 04/02/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Nolentia: May the Hand that Holds the Match that will Set this World on Fire be Blessed Above All

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    Is it possible to enjoy an album like May the Hand that Holds the Match that will Set this World on Fire be Blessed Above All when it is such an abrasive and destructive endurance to suffer? Quite simply yes though it took time to make its final persuasion though it might just be it wore down the defences and forced a submission. Either way by its completion the new album from French agiteurs Nolentia leaves one infernally violated but rewardingly spent.

Released through Kaotoxin Records, May the Hand… is a furnace of seventeen unbridled grindcore annihilations. Fusing a mix of grind, hardcore, doom, crust, and sonic blistering, Nolentia rip the senses into whining victims whilst simultaneously burning synapses with a venomous acid which eats away until only mental sushi is left.  As you can imagine the band which formed in 2007, is not an encounter which holds back on unleashing pain and a merciless form of intensity which permanently brands, but at times it is also a tempest with the most compelling and bewitching of grooves and imagination submerged within the full on abuse. From their first demo Sell Your Soul to Grind’n’Roll! of 2008, the band found themselves sharing stages with the likes of The Arson Project, Benighted, Dagoba, Disgorge, Imply In All, Inhume, Knut, Sylvester Staline, Textures, and more. The following year brought their debut album …One Loud Noise and It’s Gone, a release which put them on the horizon of a great many with its unpredictable squalling sounds. During the next years the Toulouse trio successfully left Brutal Grind Assault 2011 buckling under their storm with bands such as General Surgery, Maruta, and Wormrot, playing alongside bands like Atara, Exhumed, Magrudergrind, Mass Grave and Rotten Sound, and late last year the signing with Kaotoxin.

Their second album is an intense and dark monster which either invades and consumes with the predatory instinct of an exhausting 760137001720_TOX017_Nolentia_artwork_1400x1400_300malevolent swamp or just chews up and spits out the listener in a violent brawl of sonic outrage, often combining the two as with opener The Boiling Frog Principle a track which prowls with a malice which explodes into sheer nasty turbulence. As throughout the album, the bass in first song is a deliciously intimidating and bruising spoke in the wheel of sanity, its insidious breath as corrosive and threatening as the sonic discord fervour which slashes with sabre like accuracy on the ear elsewhere.

Songs like A Lament for the Road Kill and Xie Xie continue the pleasing unrelenting heavy ache in sound and effect with a varied yet uniformal sonic profanation, though they do not spark any lasting addiction to be honest. That is soon offered by the soon to revel highlights of the album starting with Too Far Gone, a song which actually recedes in its aggressive stance to unleash hypnotic rhythms and a strangely seductive melodic wooing within the persistent heavy grazing. The album as it progresses gets better and more appealing, its mid waypoint where the convincing is won in the favour of the release, brought on by tracks like the mighty caustic barracking of Wright. The song is a magnetic assault with twists in attack, pace, and invention to leave one equally intrigued and compelled as they are left smarting under its demanding assault.

Throughout the bass is a thrilling aggressor and in The Ticking of the Clock, a brutal hunger upon the ear which drives the destruction of the song deeper than ever. The dual vocals rip through flesh across every song on the album, their two levels of extremes a perfect ravishment against the equally devouring sounds and here they find their nastiest pinnacle. Gasoline and All About, the best track on the release, leave their own distinct sonic rape on the senses with the latter stealing top honours through its stalking gait and teasing sonic flamed groove which spears the thunderous ruptures which explode within the delicious inflexible grind.

May the Hand… is certainly not an album for everyone, as quite simply it is a release which either hurts or pleasures; for those who truly connect with its grindcore might though it satisfyingly does both. If the likes of Pig Destroyer, Brutal Truth, and Napalm Death hit a chord than Nolentia definitely needs an investigation, they convinced us…eventually.

http://www.facebook.com/NolentiaNoise

7/10

RingMaster 04/02/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Julian Cope: St Julian

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    Musically many great things have spawn from the city of Liverpool with some obviously making major impacts on the direction and life of music. One giant moment is often overlooked or under- appreciated though and that is the formation and subsequent demise of Crucial Three. The punk rock band was a swift breath in the history of UK music which left without posing any footprint in the dirt of rock or a live note explored in its six weeks of existence. What it did do was make the first step for three important figures to ignite their creative imagination. From its brief life came forth singer Ian McCulloch obviously to be famed with Echo & the Bunnymen, guitarist Pete Wylie who went on to make equally impressive sounds and flavours through the varied guises of Wah and his solo work, and the ‘genius’ Julian Cope. The future Teardrop Explodes frontman maybe a flawed genius but lyrically and musically deserves to be placed within those realms. Equally there will be as many who will offer the other extreme of opinion on the ‘eccentric’ artist but for those he ignites the passions of he is one of the true greats.

The re-release of his St Julian album in a deluxe edition triggers all the rapture and pleasure which was rife around the man at the time and through those heady Teardrop Explodes days of the late seventies. Bringing forth arguably his finest moment as a solo artist certainly commercially, complete with a second disc of B-sides and re-mixes which graced the singles from the album, the release is a potent reminder of the often puzzling but always dramatic imagination and intriguing talent of a man who turned pop rock into an art form, even if often it was not seemingly appreciated sadly.

From those fleeting moments at the very start Cope formed UH? and A Shallow Madness with McCulloch which led to a permanent rift and antagonistic relationship between the two when Cope sacked the latter from the group, and also Nova Mob with Wylie, all again short lived bands. 1978 saw the formation of The Teardrop Explodes with drummer Gary Dwyer, organist Paul Simpson and guitarist Mick Finkler. Cope was the principal songwriter and bassist with a vocal delivery which was as magnetic as it was striking. Two impressive albums and a clutch of acclaimed singles, including Reward which achieved their highest chart entry of 6, followed as did instability in line-up as well as an indulgence in drugs. Cope himself verged on teen idol from the enterprising and successful debut album Kilimanjaro but the band failed to replicate the same triumph with the darker and more expansive Wilder and after a failure to make a third album and a disastrous tour, they split in 1982. The following year Cope began working on his first solo album World Shut Your Mouth, a release which left fans satisfied but failed to spark great positivity from elsewhere though it contained songs which generally held the pop spark of the Teardrops releases whilst being something which seemed to expose personal depths and the struggles of Cope whilst attempting to clean himself up. The 1984 record failed to sell with any strong purpose as did its successor Fried which arrived six months later. It offered a rawer side of his creativity and something new but repeated the lack lustre performance of his first in drawing appreciation and sales outside of his core fan base. Its failure led to Cope being dropped by Mercury Records who had released both albums.

With a new manager Cally Callomon encouraging his final clean-up and a new image and attitude, Cope signed with Island Records UMG_CD_BOOK_SADDLE_JUL00.qxtand released in 1986 St Julian. With a line-up of guitarist Donald Ross Skinner, drummer Chris Whitten ( ex-The Waterboys), and bassist James Eller (ex- Teardrop Explodes) beside him, Cope emerged with a ‘rock god’ persona though even at the time there seemed a delicious tongue in cheek mischief to it all. The songs within the album were big hearted encounters with bulging rhythms, insatiable hooks, and a drama which was compelling. It is one of the classic pop records of the era and anyone who begs to differ should indulge in the rampaging energy and swagger of World Shut Your Mouth, the sultry and compelling elegance of Planet Ride, and the belligerent rock track Pulsar with its Stranglers like snarl all over again. Singles like the fiery Spacehopper, a track which was borne out of writing sessions with Ian McCulloch years earlier, and the pulsating Trampoline, as the album as a whole, stood tall and above the majority of the other now termed classic eighties pop tracks of the time without puzzlingly retaining the retrospective and deserved grand acclaim the rivals bask in.

In hindsight surveying the mass of work from the man since and his apparent and exploratory ‘drive’ to go against the grain and stretch the underground pleasures of sound and creativity, as well as the B-side tracks which supported the singles from St Julian, one wonders if Cope was truly comfortable in this period though with songs rich in his always dramatic and evocative lyrics and sounds which invigorate and thrill with intelligence and instinctive contagiousness, you could never tell. The second disc at times supports the thought with songs like the Celt folk rock voiced Disaster, the mesmeric Almost Beautiful with its ambient majesty , and the dirge toned post punk challenge Warwick The Kingmaker delving into other provocative areas of Cope’s songwriting and invention. A mention for the brilliant cover of the Pere Ubu track Non-Alignment Pact has to be made, the song a classic already given an equally towering breath from Cope to have the passions sparking.

The years and releases since has seen Cope rightfully not compromising in his artistic vision and invention whilst keeping to the shadows to produce music which has ebbed and flowed in stature but is always riveting. Real success has eluded him musically though one senses he is not bothered and is more at ease with his creative powers than in those earlier times. He has also carved out a big and probably more recognition soaked career as a writer of underground music critique/ exploration and on the wide investigative scope of Archaeology and antiquarianism. St Julian is his finest moment for a great many and as the tracks swoop like gods to rile up and split open the heart into rapture it is hard to disagree.

http://www.headheritage.co.uk/

10/10

RingMaster 04/02/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright