firewheelbombfire – Square Peg In A Square Hole

firewheelbombfire - Square Peg in a Square Hole - PromoShot1WEBSize

I guess we often say releases capture the imagination but in the case of Square Peg In A Square Hole from firewheelbombfire it captures, inspires, ignites, and frames a myriad of thoughts, ideas, and imagery bred by its compelling body. An album which offers up a new experience with every listen, it can play as a continuous journey through a post-apocalyptic like world or as individual tales through equally traumatic landscapes whether physically or mentally. It is a thoroughly intriguing piece of work which thrills and incites across its expressive narrative and stirring imagination. It is not a flawless release and admittedly at rare times things fail to ignite the strongest connection but it is a release which tells and triggers a wealth of stories and feelings, and ultimately is a triumph.

Firewheelbombfire is the solo project of Cardiff-based producer Matt Strangis, a man already renowned for his production work in the realm of drum and bass under the name Billy Gone Bad. His new guise and sound sees Strangis bringing numerous rock and metal essences and flavours into a riveting merger with uncomfortable and impacting ambiences. Also within the canvas the album offers are a plethora of as the bio say ‘other noise-enabling bits and pieces found around the home (kitchen utensils / plates / cats).’ It all makes for an organic and startling experience, an encounter which would not be out of place as a voice to the blackest noir drenched or starkest futuristic or social cinematic endeavours. Completely DIY on a non –existent budget, being home-recorded in the exact chronological order of the track-listing, and conceived from a pro-album / anti-single perspective, the album is an incendiary pleasure for the sense and imagination.

The album opens with Doggone, the track emerging from a distant shadow with the air and energy of a tube train with intensity coverbrewing to an impending climax but then instantly dropping off into a melodic guitar crafted caress. With vocal nudges making a claim alongside the bass, their whispers as if spawn through a vacuum hose, the track shimmers and resonates like an ever revolving wheel of textures and dimensions,  a clarity eluding the grasp until a time of its choosing when the guitar entwines the ear with a deliciously grooved irritant to its touch and mesmeric call. It is a restrained but dramatic start, the impressive first of a flow of tracks provoking the mind and its invention.

The following Get Out Much? is a shadowed fuelled temptation, the low slung restrained vocal tones and the equally throaty bass enticement veined by vibrant rhythms for a hypnotic conspiracy. The breath of the track is dark and knowing; its deceptive secrets left to be discovered though once it eventually opens up its doors for a surge of stoner lined guitar grooves and energised fiery vocals, the heart is there to be explored. Infectious from numerous angles and premises, the song takes the great start to another level with ease and anthemic almost primal seduction.

The melancholic feel of Francis opens up yet another avenue of emotion and thought, its desolate and gloomy air like a reflection of a long past loss or regret. Its touch is that of a colourless memory, a black and white photograph of remembrance, and deeply emotive. Though the piece does not come close to the passion igniting heights of its predecessors its hold and ability to spark images and personal thoughts is stunning.

The next tracks again offer new adventures within the landscape being investigated, the contagious rock dance of Carry on Carrie a melodic siren especially with the speeding through a tunnel like hypnotism across its building climax, whilst both Telephone Voice (On / Off) and Trodite with their undefined but in many ways sinisterly presences are like aural magic eye artwork, though each twist and needed warped look into their colourful and bleeding depths, a scenario emerges with a new guise to explore each and every time.

The hungry intimidating corridors and hidden dangers of Pissing Guilt is a like a perpetual nightmare, its persistently looming dark embrace and inescapable menacing ambience full of seemingly vocal reassurance yet prowled by a sonic and rhythmic provocation to steer only uncertainly around the light within. Imagine yourself lost in a maze of perpetual clutching shadows, the walls of blackened streets either in reality or the mind stalking and herding emotions into a corner for an everlasting provocation and the song makes for the perfect  soundtrack.

Polypoly and September lead the listener back to safer ground though both again have their shadows to peer over proceedings. The infectious smouldering entrancement of the second of the pair is an irresistible lead into the closing It Ran And Ran And Ran, and its rapacious enterprise. The heaviest predator of the album, the song is a confrontation of stoner and industrial spiced doom metal like stalking, the bass and rhythms slowly watching and encroaching closer on their prey as the intensity and pace of the track builds to leap with a pack like mentality across all its elements upon the senses. It is an excellent finish to an equally impressive album.

It is hard to really compare the album and its sound to another though I am sure many will maybe rightly use Trent Reznor as a reference, but another name does rear its head in that of Colin Newman (Wire), not so much in sound maybe but presence and atmosphere. Square Peg In A Square Hole is a great album for all who like to listen, think, and imagine with their music and firewheelbombfire a project destined to impress again and again.


RingMaster 02/05/2013


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GraViL – Thoughts Of A Rising Sun


Having already raised a certain appetite for their immense and imaginative sound through previous EPs and the single Enemy Within, UK metallers GraViL have raised the bar for themselves and arguably extreme/melodic metal with the release of their strikingly impressive debut album Thoughts Of A Rising Sun. The self-released brute of enterprise and invention ignites if not a new realm for intense and evocative metal it certainly pushes and sculpts new corners and roads within the existing boundaries.

Having already found awareness through the pages of Kerrang, Terrorizer and Rock Sound, and potent radio play, the London quintet have risen to yet another plateau with Thoughts Of A Rising Sun. Recorded in the closing weeks of last year with acclaimed producer Dan Abela (Gallows, Bleed From Within, Voices, Silent Descent), the album infuses the widest range of metal flavours and essences to their melodic deathcore spine, emerging as unpredictable and as diverse a ravishing of the senses as you could wish for.

The first couple of tracks alone leave no doubt that the album is an immense and startling proposition, as well as suggesting that 3there is still plenty of depths for the band to explore ahead, a frightening and threatening thought to get excited about. Structurally Unsound steps forward on a lone melodic breeze, the bright inviting beckoning a devious lure as it leads the ear into the immediately exploding maelstrom of sound and intensity. The track roars with venom and cavernous strength before gnawing and chewing viciously upon the senses with rabid riffs, crisp rhythms and scowling vocal squalls from Grant Stacey. As the knees buckle under the extreme assault, the band breaks into a breath-taking melodic aside with clean vocal harmonies to lap up with greed. The progressive toned tease is a mere breath in the control regaining fury but then reappears again with the guitars of Tony Dando and Andy Slade parading a skilled and expressive fire of sonic and melodic enslavement for the passions. Throughout the drums of Conor Harkness cage and punish the senses without diminishing the potency of the seduction also at play whilst the bass of Nathan Lamb prowls within its own shadows to add further depth, even if its presence is a little lost in the production and needing concentrated focus to fully feel its compelling breath.

The following Enemy Within, the first single form the album, opens with a rain of electro rock and industrial enticement as its stretches its sinews to their fullest limits, their final positioning the canvas for a technical ear plundering carved from heavy sabre like persistent strokes and a brewing carnivorous intensity. As its exposes more of its inciting landscape there is a merger of sounds which plays like a storm of The Browning, In Flames, and Meshuggah yet stands alone from all three and any other reference you care to throw at it.

The stunning start to the album is easily continued through the offensive savagery of Beyond Reprieve, a track which even with its bestial hunger is not short of irresistible grooves, addictive riffs, and blistering caustic vocals to capture the imagination. Again the sonic intrigue and invention of the guitars is magnetic and the bass finding better clarity in the mix a rapacious intimidation alongside the outstanding stick abuse of Harkness.

The next up treat, The Wanderer unveils an exhausting soundscape of rabid energy and malevolence all matched and tempered by the thrilling vocal harmonies backing up the richly pleasing harsh lead vocals. As upon every song the fusion and thought of the contrasting aspects is inspired and outstandingly realised, their mutual qualities and temptations given full rein to flow and make the most dramatic persuasions whilst working perfectly alongside every other stirring intense facet.

From Something Worth Chasing with its great key led intro, through the violently emotive title track and the barbarous song The Struggle, to the enthralling Bottle Of Shadows with is constantly shifting battle lines, Thoughts Of A Rising Sun charges up the passions and pulse rate with intensive creativity and explosive imagination. Though arguably the first part of the album outshines the latter, the last of the songs just mentioned easily makes a scintillating and demanding claim for best song.

With the epic and excellent riff driving March Of The Titans closing up the album, it is impossible not to drool over GraViL and their future. On the evidence of Thoughts Of A Rising Sun expect a real classic from the band in the future whilst right now they have given up a possible contender for best of 2013.


RingMaster 02/05/2013

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Corsair – Ghosts of Proxima Centauri


This week sees the re-release of Ghosts of Proxima Centauri from progressive rock /melodic metallers Corsair through Shadow Kingdom Records who released their acclaimed self-titled album of earlier in the year. The six track EP first made its well-received appearance in 2011 and makes a nice accompaniment to their current album. For those new to the band and also existing fans it is an enterprising and appetizing look into the band leading up to the recent release.

Their second independently released record before signing up with Shadow Kingdom, Ghosts of Proxima Centauri has a majority of the elements which went into their excellent album showing the evolution was in full swing within their inventive songwriting and imagination. More as the promo for the release says ‘laid back’ than its successor, the EP still has the tools and intent to rock the passions into action as well as exploring expansive progressive expression. If someone new to the band, the record also makes a fully convincing persuasion to check out their following album, its sounds and kaleidoscope of textures igniting ones would imagine an urgent appetite to do so.

The opening instrumental Wolfrider is a pleasing and inviting start to the EP, its fiery breath and provocative sinews a strong base for the expressive melodic and sonic colouring of guitarists Paul Sebring and Marie Landragin. It is not a track to ignite the passions but certainly makes a very decent lead into the following Warrior Woman, especially with its blazing climax. The second track is a thrilling ride of intensive riffs and incendiary melodic teasing with a groove which lights up the senses. The vocals of the guitarists with bassist Jordan Brunk adding his part are decent enough though the production leaves them less impressive than they should be, but it not really an issue to be honest such the quality of the song and those to follow. Many have placed references to the likes of Thin Lizzy and Hawkwind upon the band and certainly on this track and whole release it is hard to offer many alternatives. It is classic rock from the seventies with a bite which leaves an addictive taste to its thrilling encounter and a contagious lingering temptation.

Burnish The Blades offers a slightly less forceful stance but still with an energy and intent which vigorously dances with the ear whilst dazzling it through adventurous descriptive flames from the guitar framed by the excellent rhythmic craft of drummer Aaron Lipscombe. The blues expression of the solos envelope the imagination with a pleasing burning touch whilst the song itself without reaching the peak of its predecessor is a riveting companion as is Centurion, another thought drawing landscape of creativity and colourful invention. The track adds deep character to the narrative of the guitars as they help the vocals cast the fantasy fuelled tale leaving a definite greed for more even if again it lacks the virulence of Warrior Woman.

The closing pair of Orca and Eyes of the Gods completes an impressive release which certainly deserves its second chance to grab wider awareness. The first of the pair has a wonderful additive of female vocals, their sirenesque lure into the rampant and excited groove of the song and its virulent rhythms sensational whilst the song itself and its ever twisting and bewitching invention seals the deals for the passions as it stands to the fore of the release as its best moment. The closing track which features the excellent emotive violin of Gabe Cooper, though one feels it could have been even more potent with a better feel to its heart within the production as with the vocals throughout, is a riveting heated sunset to the album, its air rich in sonic colour and creative veining to inspire and conspire with thoughts and emotions.

Ghosts of Proxima Centauri impressed on its first release and still does even knowing what immense quality followed its wake. Whether discovering Corsair through the album or this EP both are releases all progressive and melodic rock/metal fans should and need to walk the outstanding lands of.


RingMaster 02/05/2013

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