Ursa Major: Old Bones

ursa major

    An up and coming melodic post-hardcore band, Ursa Major easily justifies the buzz around them with the release of their album Old Bones. Whilst a release which suggests there is still plenty of scope for the band to explore as they  fully find a distinct voice in the genre, the album is an enterprising and aggressive encounter which leaves a strong depth of satisfaction behind.

The Shepperton quintet with their imposing blend of metal and hardcore veined by skilfully sculpted melodic fire has earned strong reputation for their debut EP and live performances alongside the likes of Brotherhood Of The Lake, Golden Tanks, Our People Vs Yours, Terakai, I’ll Stay In Memphis, and Despite My Deepest Fear as well as at festivals such as Redfest. Their sound is flush with many vigorous flavours honed into an inciting and rampaging confrontation rife with compelling and incendiary rewards. Old Bones is the likely trigger to a wider awareness for the band and one suspects the first prominent step in their emergences as a force within the UK scene.

Out of the decent enough brief instrumental introduction Birth, a track which leads with craft and appetite into what is to follow, 601359_10151342907371234_1539527106_nBlack Lights instantly grabs potent attention and intrigue with crisp sinewy rhythms, a tight provocative groove, and the brawling coarse scowls of Elliott Fletcher. It is an impressive start with the rhythms of drummer Dan Mundy rigidly gripping the ear so the guitars of Richard Woods and Grant Marsh can unleash their sonic flames and ravenous riffs. It is the clean vocals of Fletcher though which elevate song and release in to something a little special from the rest of the similarly fuelled bands around, and alongside an open imagination and invention to the sound and songwriting, it makes for an impressive and thrilling introduction to the band.

The following ravage of passion The Two Hundred, is a captivation of melodic fire and carnal riffs. The bass of Phil Nicholls offers a resonance which prowls the senses within the again caustic embrace of the track and ill-tempered vocals. As the first song the clean vocals shine and the equal sharing of vocal extremes is certainly a highlight of song and album, their potency as vibrant as the earnest and intelligently crafted sounds. Lyrically songs are dark and demanding, intrusive companions to bring an intense union to the exhausting element of their sound and none more so than the excellent Dead Eyes. The track gnaws at the senses with grinding riffs and exhausting rhythms creating an instant submission before its power whilst rewarding endurance with rewards of again an exceptional mix of vocals and emotive heat. Primarily a metalcore gaited slice of sonic blistering, the song alone sets the band up as ones to watch very closely and within the release is the biggest highlight of many.

Through current single Fist Of The Fleet, Ursa Major scrape and burn the already in place wounds but then soothes them with immense vocal harmonies and elegant melodies. As evocative as it is harassingly brazen, the track is another powerful and thrilling bruise upon the passions to strengthen the already brewed respect and eagerness towards the band.

Though the album slips below its high standards with the arguably formula Anchored and Clipped Wings, two accomplished and pleasingly inventive and smartly-shaped songs which simply fail to spark the responses of previous songs or step far enough away from efforts by other bands, Old Bones ends on a high with In Death, a final brutal self-reflection dripping emotion and creative energy.

Old Bones is a rich and contagious release where vocals and musical imagination stands out. Ursa Major is on a certain rise and as one suspects they are only scratching the surface of their invention and ideas the future is exciting for them and us.



RingMaster 15/03/2013

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Tombstone Highway: Ruralizer


    Ruralizer is one of those unexpected gems which come out of nowhere awareness wise, to thrill and invigorate the emotions and ear. Unleashed by Italian band Tombstone Highway, the album is an immensely satisfying encounter of stoner rock, blues, and southern rock all soaked in the sinews of doom metal. Refreshing in its imaginative use of existing formulas within the above genres all captivatingly transformed into something distinct to the band, the Agonia Records released album leaves an insatiable appetite for much more from and strong passion for Tombstone Highway.

The band comprises of duo H.M Outlaw (vocals, guitars, banjo) and Emilio Sobacchi (drums), and has its beginnings back in 1999 with the pair inspired by the likes of Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, traditional Root Blues, and Bluegrass emerging as Leaf Season Death. Employing the heavy shadows of low-tuned guitars and bass to their ideas, the band failed to take off through the lack finding additional members to create their invention. The duo moved into other bands soon after but then 2006 saw them join up again and begin writing new material, with bassist Mike B. of Viscera brought in to the line-up.  Debut EP Padus River Graveyard Blues followed the next year and received strong responses to its limited release. Another hiatus for the band followed with Mike B. leaving but in 2011 the Piacenza pair united again to write and record their first album, the mighty creation Ruralizer.

The album combines the heaviness of a Corrosion of Conformity and Down to the southern fires of Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top TH_coverbefore immerses them in the heavy metal power of Black Sabbath. It is an inspirational result which is soaked in the rural and folklore essences of its homeland to further ignite the flames of all its other fires of sound. Outlaw and Sobacchi also brought in additional musicians in the shape of Mario Percudani (HungryHeart), one of the very best rock guitarists in Italy, guitarist Razor SK (Forgotten Tomb), and Paolo Apollo Negri whose Hammond keys bring another flavoursome persuasion to the album.

Opening track Old Blood is a sensational invitation to the album, the weighty lure of the riffs and basslines veined by irresistible banjo teases to immediate intrigue and please. The track strolls through the ear with purpose and a sure hunger which with ease demands eager attention whilst leaving a depth of pleasure which is immeasurable. The guitars carved a place in the passions with skill and enterprise whilst the rhythms without unleashing their full venom cage it all with craft and intensity.

From the startling beginning the album piles on the thrills with firstly Acid Overlord, a track with grooves as addictively sour and sharp as you could wish within its snarling insatiable presence, the sweltering Graveyard Blues which has whispers of Soundgarden within its Orange Goblin coated furnace, and the outstanding Hellfire Rodeo. The last of the trio is a virulently infectious romp with riffs and sonic taunting causing an epidemic of ardour within the emotions. As in all songs vocally Outlaw has a dust coated growl which ignites the whisky fumes of the music into another hot wind of satisfying enterprise, the union of all aspects within the band and songwriting forging something new and inspiring within a familiar context.

The title track employs that irrepressible banjo sound again within more searing sonic mastery, its swagger and muscular gait an imposing yet deeply stimulating instigator to feet and passions. Up to this point every track ignites the fullest hunger for their contents and the same can be said for Bite The Dust (and bleed) and At The Bitter End though both despite their quality and energy fail to quite match up to what came before. The two songs do not quite find that something to step forward into their own unique spotlight but nevertheless cannot be offered any real negatives.

Completed by a strong and inviting cover of the Mountain track Mississippi Queen and the excellent closing inventive maul of the ear Hangman’s Friend, Tombstone Highway has brought the world an album which is rock at its most rousing and bracing. If references mentioned above work for you than Old Bones is a real awaiting treat.



RingMaster 15/03/2013

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Karma Zero: Architecture of a Lie

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    Though it takes its prime breath from death core Architecture of a Lie, the debut album from French metallers Karma Zero has plenty of corrosive additives to place it apart from the majority of emerging bands within the genre. The release is a rabid and destructive brute of an album with senses ravaging and intrusive violence its prime directive but throughout it teases and seduces with an imaginative and passionate invention which you cannot fail to fall before. Whether it just wears one down into submission or manipulates with devious hidden alchemy the album and band eventually and certainly gained an exhausted and ardour driven recruit to their intent.

Formed in 2008 the band from Nantes brings a feverish blend of metal, metalcore, and electro to its deathcore heart, a sound which has seen the band earned strong support and responses in their homeland. Their self-titled EP in 2009 marked the band as  a promising rising force, that feeling soon supported by their performances alongside the likes of Madball, Shining, and The Arrs as well as successful festival spots at events such as Hellfest Metal Corner and Motocultor. Recording their first album with Stéphane Buriez (Loudblast) in 2011, Karma Zero is primed to explode into a much wider receptive recognition with its recent release via Ultimhate Records.

The title track sparks things off by immediately pounces on the ear with bone snapping beats and ravenous riffs completed by Karma Zero-Architecure of a Lie-2012-COVERequally predatory vocals. It is an assault which sets you back on your heels to then draw you straight in to its grasp with a maelstrom of sonic textures and a hunger driven intensity. The brawling vocal attack which shifts from a duo to a three prong attack is outstanding but initially distracts from the musical creativity going on beneath its snarl. Into its stride though the track opens up its arms to allow every element to takes its potent place in the course of the song and enriches the senses with a wealth of aggressive variety.

As the following Next Time and No Answers state their individual declarations the album continues to offer a magnetic lure and oppressive malevolence brought through strong musicianship and invention. The two songs do not quite light up the fires within as much as the first but still easily impress even if they arguably are two tracks which bring a more expected genre stance before the ear. The album is not one to rest on its laurels though and the further into its savagery it goes the stronger its imagination and greed to explore increases with songs like Frozen Angel and the outstanding Hidden Law stretching their boundaries and ingenuity with compelling creativity. The first of the pair transfixes the ear with militant riffs but bewitches with an emotive electronic ambience that leaves thoughts drifting into their own interpretation of the narrative. Finely crafted in its moments of reflection musically and dangerously nasty with all weaponry cascading upon the senses in other times, the track is a major highlight of the release soon surpassed by its successor. Hidden Law expels its deepest guttural spite to crawl all over the fierce sonic flames and uncompromising rhythms, its rapacious malice a unique delicious poison for the ear and insidious nectar for the passions.

Through the likes of the voracious Grown Up and the flesh scorching Ghosts the band leave further welcome scars whilst bringing one last elevated triumph with Snake, the most experimental and track on the album. As unfriendly as it is contagious, the song is a magnet for the passions with its riveting expanse of flavours, styles, and character.

Architecture Of A Lie is a decisive and inciting introduction to a band which one senses is heading towards making a strong mark for itself in European metal. Watch out Karma Zero is coming to feed upon your weaknesses.



RingMaster 15/03/2013

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KomaH: Between Vice And Virtue

   Komah - Press Pix

     If you are looking for something brazenly unique and innovative then Between Vice And Virtue the latest album from Belgian metallers KomaH will not exactly suffice your appetite but for insatiable groove veined hunger driven metal there are few better. Aggressive, powerful, and unrelenting, the ten track beast simply leaves no passion untouched or lifeless with its predatory voracious sounds.

Formed in 2007, the quintet of vocalist Leny Andrieux, guitarists Luigi Chiarelli and Greg Discenza, bassist Nicholas Brynin, and Jonas Sanders on drums, soon sparked enthused attention their way with debut album Straight Line, released in 2009. It was an album which took no prisoners but against the towering intent of Between Vice and Virtue confirms how strong and accomplished the band has become. Recorded with Charles Deschutter and produced by Luigi Chiarelli, the album also features guest appearances by Pro-Pain vocalist Gary Meskil and guitarist Adam Phillips on the track The King of Raptors.

The Brussels band takes mere seconds in seducing the ear, a serpentine groove squeezing tighter and tighter as it introduces openerKomaH cover The Birth. Once settled into its pattern of attack riffs carve their rich touch into the senses whilst rhythms scrambled synapses with their urgent and crippling punches. The coarse scowls of Andrieux squall within the devious web of grooves which entrance continually within the tempest of annihilatory intensity, and though the song switches its tact to tease and wrong foot it all goes to bring overwhelming pleasure to the listener. As mentioned there is nothing particularly new going on but you would be stretched to find too many songs or releases better or as irresistible in the area KomaH rampage.

      One After The Other and Breaking Horns continue the strong start even if with a less impacting presence than the terrific first song. Both tracks though are not content in sitting back and simply chewing on the ear with skilled violence, the band easily able to do so and keep the listener riveting for sure, but as in every song there are shifts in gait and direction which are imaginative and seamlessly crafted. A Humbling Experience is the perfect example, the song from its emotive piano start with the gravelly tones of Andrieux adding a coarse glaze to the melodic lure thrusting forth heavyweight carnivorous riffs and acidic grooves to devour with glees as spite drips off every note and syllable. It is a continually impacting song which brings a wealth of raw energy and breath taking persistence through creative and unpredictable craft.

The King of Raptors adds more devastation to the battleground raging welcomingly inside the senses and thoughts, its intensity gnawing with rabid eagerness whilst melodic sonic enterprise picks the bones of its victim with an equally intrusive lust. It is another magnetic aggressor which makes way for the equally mighty and compelling Last Way To Cerberus, a track which shows more restraint than elsewhere but still leaves exhaustion in its impressive wake.

The instrumental Beyond The Limits is in a way puzzling but equally exceptionally potent. The dramatic and epic sounding piece feels out of place where it is positioned, though you can feel a relationship to the beginning of its predecessor. It feels almost like an interlude with no real connection to the sounds around it but it is so impressive and emotively inciting with colourful imagery flying from its depths, that one feels as an opener it would have truly found its triumph.

Through the remaining likes of the raptorial Destiny Written In Blood and the senses burrowing feast of excellence The Hunt, the album just ignites the passions continually. It is a release you can immerse within knowing that every time it gives its all with the purest of heart and temptation. Between Vice And Virtue is a thrilling and thoroughly satisfying release which knows what it is great at and takes that to its most potent extreme. KomaH is a band you can only ever eagerly make time for.




RingMaster 15/03/2013

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