Road To Horizon – Chapters EP


    UK melodic post-hardcore unit Road To Horizon is a band on the march if the evidence of their Chapters EP is a portent of things to come for the West Yorkshire quintet. Though a release probably still seeking definition in its own identity, the six track release is a highly accomplished and satisfying encounter from an equally impressive promising band.

Road To Horizon formed in 2008 or 09, depending on which bio you read, and has run the course of obstacles which confront most bands to emerge stronger and determined with the sound to back it up. Having toured with the likes of Rise To Remain, Funeral For A Friend, Attack! Attack, and Hildamay the band has built up a loyal and growing following certainly helped by their appearance on an episode of BBC 3 show Don’t Tell The Bride. As Chapters shows the band has an intensity and creative invention which fuels a keen anticipation for their future as well as a strong appetite for their sounds right now.

The release opens with Through Ashes, a piano introduced powerhouse of a track which immediate goes from mild seduction intorth-chapters-ep-cover a fury of muscular passionate embraces. The melodic flames which burn from within its energetic might forged by the guitars of Danny Kingsbury and Benji Wilson instantly grip with impressive persuasion whilst the vocals of Ben Flockton and his subsequent union with those of Kingsbury and bassist Oli Parkinson well into the track, show a strength and thoughtful delivery that is as potent as the emotive intensity brewed by the music. It is a striking and immense start framed by the uncompromising yet respectful rhythms of Parkinson and drummer Simon Gordon, a track which takes mere moments to show why there is a fuss over the band brewing.

The following Caught Red Handed also makes a gentle entrance before stretching its sonic sinews and rhythmic strength into a formidable proposition. Its gait though is reserved for the main, even with the provocative beats and squalling scowling vocals bringing up the rear to the emotive lead of Flockton. The track lacks the contagion and startling presence of its predecessor but nevertheless instils a definite sense of something brewing within the imagination of the band which will emerge to greater heights, especially through its rich and firm melodic caress.

In Your Bed gets the EP back onto a higher plateau, the slightly abrasive opening riffs stirring up the senses as the sonic and melodic elements step forward to take their expressive place. The song does not offer anything particularly new but mercilessly ignites a hunger for the infectious grinding groove of the track and the intimidating metallic prowl of the bass. The song switches from intense emotion led vocals and equally embracing sounds to a predatory and inciting stance throughout, the band adept in both and their seamless union with Parkinson and his four string raptor having their finest moment on the release. The band is tagged as melodic post-hardcore as mentioned but this is rock music with an intimidating and caring presence which sets bands apart.

Both Open Your Eyes and This Is The End leave a deep impression, the first driven by a thumping heartbeat of a gait and anthemic vocal lures, the soaring clean delivery of Flockton a vivid and full temptation shadowed by the great growling brawling alongside him. It is another exceptional track on Chapters and a further example why it is impossible not to be excited by the band. The second of the pair fails to spark the same ardour found elsewhere though there is not much wrong with the song except a lack of an identity it can call its own. Musically the track is rife with craft and its skilful interpretation just not a fire starter.

The EP closes on a real and great surprise with a cover of the Rita Ora track R.I.P. Releasing a mental groan upon approaching Chapters as maybe many will before hearing it, doubt is soon dismissed by a rousing and thrilling beast of a song, the metallic makeover turning the track into a deliciously infectious and ear riling treat. It is impossible not to be joining in the chorus and raising an emotive fist to this new instinctive version. It is an added extra gem well worth its potent place.

Though at times Chapters finds a lack of originality, for the main it is an invigorating and inventive encounter which suggests the wholly unique voice of the band is not that far away. Road To Horizon should be watched very closely.


RingMaster 10/04/2013

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Russkaja – Energia!


    Sounding like the bastard offspring of the Austrian Strauss Brothers with a bent for insatiable adrenaline fuelled folk metal and exhausting jazz, Russkaja is a dream or delicious nightmare for those with the wildest adventure in their musical hearts. Fusing and brewing up a storm of crazed polka beats, bedlamic punk rock energy, and a multitude of other instinctive essences from a tempest of styles and sonic cultures, their sound is as distinctive as it is wonderfully challenging. Self-penned as Russian Turbo Polka Metal, Russkaja create music which is a jaw dropping joy and certainly across the fun of new album Energia! ignites thoughts of the likes of Gogol Bordello, P&H, and Kontrust within a unique and wholly addictive individual stance.

Formed by Georgij A. Makazaria (ex-Stahlhammer), the band consists of a group of Russian, Austrian, and Ukrainian musicians. Though begun in Vienna the band has a certain Russian flavour to their near manic creativity, an imagination with a tongue firmly entrenched in its cheek but dripping with enterprise, pure invention, and irresistible anthemic lunacy. Since 2006 the band has played more than 300 concerts across Europe and found major success in their ‘adopted countries’ of Austria and Germany. Four impressive appearances at Wacken Open Air has lit up attention and a growing fever for their sound with shows at Chiemsee Reggae Festival, Nova Rock, and numerous World music and Jazz festivals furthering their brewing presence, thirty Festival events occurring across Europe last year alone. Third album Energia! feels like a trigger to major things for the band as it teases the senses during its irrepressible encounter but then we at The RR are suckers for aural mischief and meddlesome ingeniousness.

With the lyrics predominantly in Russian but with plenty of other national flavouring included throughout, the songs are said to be a475_Russkaja postmodern version of Russian folklore; all you need to know is that they make up another thrilling thread to a weave of sensational limb commanding and passion firing brilliance, starting with the title track. The song takes the length of one mere breath to scoop up the passions in a dance of teasing guitar and the bear like vocals of Makazaria. Into its stride the song reaps a ska/reggae swagger to its strolling stride with the horns adding a gentle flame of heat to the brewing urgency of the now romp approaching gait. The sparks of brass instantly bring a grin and warmth to the heart, the trumpet of Rainer Gutternigg and potete (a unique hybrid of trumpet and trombone) of H-G. Gutternigg teasing and guiding to the head bobbing strokes from  the guitar of Engel Mayr.  Firing up the gypsy inside us all, the song is instantly one of the pinnacles of the album though closely challenged by each subsequent riot of sound and dance.

The following Barada and Radost Moja continue the flush of excitement, the first with a slower walk within sun soaked rays of smouldering brass and sensitive guitar caresses though you sense a wickedness just waiting to free itself throughout. Like a muscular Bad Manners, honestly, the track sways and lights the air with compulsive temptation whilst its successor leaps in like a court jester, a kaleidoscope of aural colours primed to tease and persuade the most potent ardour. Featuring Wladimir Kaminer and Yuriy Gurzhy, the song is a delicious romp of melodic rascality, a delicious devilment of toe tapping merriment with street corner shadows to pounce within the sinewy tones of the chorus. With the drums of Mario Stübler framing all, the firm rim of the song breaks into a sizzling waltz of seductive melodic sunshine before regaining its hold for another muscular climax, and completion of one more major highlight within Energia!, one of so many.

Soaked in diversity as much as crafty imagination, the likes of the brawling punk lined Autodrom with its schizo breath, Violina Mia with the violin of Ulrike Müllner placing its emotive kisses on the ear, and Surrealnaja with the bass of Dimitro Miller finding its throatiest presence within the sweltering whimsy of the polka embrace, all reap distinct and individual fields of invention and musical textures.

The album holds back two more of its greatest moments for the latter end of the release, firstly with the thrash/grind metal coated Dikije Deti. Of course it is not long before the track is flaunting its aural knavery with siren like melodic inducement but punctuates it with explosions of metallic ferocity which seamlessly erupts from the surrounding energetic folk parade. Tanzi Tanzi is another punk n roll bruising veined with unhinged melodic revelry and one more ardour causing triumph.

With only the closer Sorry unable to keep the fires which raged from the opener continuing to burn as furiously, though it is an impressively sculpted piece of emotive adventure, the Napalm Records released Energia! is a magnificent tempest of intoxicating joy. It might not be for everyone but certainly any fans of folk metal and psyched melodic invention will be wetting themselves in delirium for what Russkaja conjure.


RingMaster 10/04/2013

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The Omega Experiment – Self Titled


    Initially a self-released album of last year, the self-titled album of US progressive rock band The Omega Experiment now has its re-release via Listenable Records and the chance to deservedly reach a much wider waiting audience. The album is a striking piece of work, an imaginative and inventive cyclone of progressive sound and metallic fire honed into a melodic wash of pop enterprise and heavy steeled ingenuity. Though the release does fluctuate in the strength of fire and impressed satisfaction it ignites within personal tastes it is impossible not to offer a full recommendation for its intensely creative and passionate craft.

Hailing from Muskegon, Michigan, the duo of Dan Wieten and Ryan Aldridge show an instinctive and intricate skill in blending soaring euphoric synths, hungry and intrusive yet intriguing guitar exploits, and lush magnetic vocals into songs which either squall with tempest energy or seduce with the warm siren charms of the sun, at times merging both for the fullest invigorating examination of experimental invention. Their debut EP Karma found rich praise with Devin Townsend as well as a great many and it is hard to see their debut failing to bloom the same and stronger responses this time around.

If the aforementioned artist and the likes of Journey, Yes, Porcupine Tree, and Coheed And Cambria inspire great anticipation than The Omega Experiment will easily satisfy but with plenty of ideas and ingenuity which you will not have envisaged. Of course if the genre they impressively frequent is not of your taste buds than the album will not change your mind but still offers plenty to inspire further attention as they progress, certainly for us here. There is nothing about the album you can pull apart and criticise, only acclaim its craft and imagination but if something does not exactly light your fire then that is something generally beyond persuasion though with this album it is ironically very enjoyable to try and change that instinctive stance.

Opening track Gift instantly sends a blaze of hot guitar beauty across the senses, its heated atmosphere tightly wrapping around the sonic splendour coaxing the ear. Into its stride three things strike home the most and remain that way throughout the release, the precise sculpting of the guitars to carve evocative shapes within the second potent thing, the expansive and rich depth of the keys which equally evoke emotions and thoughts to go along with the lyrical narrative. The third is the impressive vocals, either singularly or in harmonic union, a mutual conspirator to the contagious beauty raised elsewhere.  The song ripples and pulsates with ideas, never standing on one footing but shifting its weight and guise continually to intrigue and magnetise thoughts and senses. Arguably there may be too much going on to absorb but there is little to throw barbed faults upon the immensely strong starter.

Tracks like Stimulus and Tranquility continue the prog rock dream which fans of the genre with drool over for sure. Both songs as examples, splice the air with a devious striking skill of musicianship, the bewitching craft of the pair dazzling the view of songs whilst enhancing their overall breath. Though neither track truly sparks up a furnace of passion they undoubtedly increased the lure of the album with the second of the two gently mesmerising as it leads into the heart and strongest part of the album. The entrancing track seamlessly swaps places with the destructive might and antagonism of Furor, a muscular rampage with as much metalcore like venom as it has progressive seduction.  It is a bear of a track which chews on the senses with crushing rhythms and will bending riffs whilst the glorious clean vocals bring an angelic rapture to the primal intensity. Easily the best track on the album and one which feeds our preferences much more than any other. The album has the armoury to feed all desires but the depth of your rewards depends on what aspect breeds your musical heart the most.

The following Bliss, a brief fusion of agitated ambience and probing invention, continues the inciting pinnacle sparked by its predecessor and as the album heads towards its finale it offers an even more potent and enriching presence. Both Karma and Terminus raise the temperature, the first especially another triumph on the album, its Opeth/Dream Theater strength and melodic incursion into the soul of the song irresistible, whilst closing track Paramount leaves a lasting stroll of sun soaked melodic elegance with pop rock infectiousness.

Produced by Acle Kahney of Tesseract, The Omega Experiment is simply a dynamic and vibrant slice of progressive rock which fans of the genre will devour greedily whilst for those less sure there is plenty also to find pleasure from though more with the muscular rampages of a Furor. All in all though an impressive debut from one promising band.


RingMaster 10/04/2013

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