By The Rivers – Self Titled

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Initially persuaded like so many by previous single Take Control that the 6 strong original new age reggae band By The Rivers was a unit which just had to be watched closely as their fresh and soulful melodic craft to grew into even greater things, the release of their debut self-titled album confirms and enhances all those previous thoughts and emotions. The eleven track release is a stroll through the heat of summer with all the warm caresses of the sun and the heart at tantalising play in its tender and emotively engaging arms. It shows that the previous single and releases were mere appetizers for the seductive feast of sound and invention to follow, a record which easily confirms all the acclaim and eager declarations surround the band since forming.

Formed in 2010 by friends since birth, Nile Barrow (lead vocals/guitar) and Jordan Birtles (drums/vocals), By The Rivers honed and sculpted a unique sound fusing a weave of reggae/ska/soul/afro-beat, all flavours igniting a driving passion in the duo. The cultural aspects of the sounds also aided to the influences as the pair began writing songs with a social commentary as well as just as potent love songs and positive takes on things that affect the youth of today. Joined by Matt Willars (bass), Sam Read (keys/guitar/vocals), Will Todd (Tenor Saxophone), and Leo May (Trumpet), the Leicester band was no stranger to acclaim from their first steps into view. Within their first seven gigs the band was lined up to play alongside the likes of Dawn Kinnard, Neville Staples, Fun Lovin Criminals, and Toploader, sparking an appetite within promoters and venues for their distinctive and refreshing sounds. The first year continued with the band sharing stages with the likes of The Buzzcocks, Maxi Priest, Musical Youth, Dawn Penn, Saxon Sound, and The Specials whilst continuing to earn impressed responses from people such as  Lynval Golding, guitarist and vocalist of The Specials/Fun Boy Three who declared “They are the new The Specials”. Their two EPs drew press and fan acclaim with debut single One Word and its successor Take Control both like the album released via Kompyla Records sparking up a strong anticipation for the album, a hunger which is easily fed.

The album opens with the instantly magnetic Vulture, the song a melodic blaze of vocal harmonies and expressive seduction from BTRAlbum_FrontCoverthe off, even before the music adds its compelling swagger and elegance to proceedings. An energetic but respectful romp which holds the ear and emotions by the hand as it dances across the brass flames and flashing guitar strokes, it is as infectious as it is lyrically provocative, the vocal persuasion of Barrow and co as irresistible as the perfectly sculpted melodic teasing and narrative colouring the intent of word and voice. The full combination is simply a magnet for the passions and senses setting the album off on the perfect start.

The following Make Your Own Road lifts the immense start to another plateau of excellence and steals one of the top honours spots on the album. Heralded by a restrained but bright brass call the song is soon offering a sultry stroll of deep throaty bass lures and group vocal calls as the chorus opens up the scintillating encounter. As the guitar picks and plucks the greedy heart the trumpet and sax offer a defined wantonness which enflames an already brewing ardour incited by the vocals and deliciously emotive bass sound. Every element of the song is passionate and expressive, each aspect an individual tease and narrative in tandem with each other and in union a piece of melodic alchemy which lights up every shadow and corner of thoughts, heart, and the day.

After such an immense start there was bound to be a dip in temptation but if there is it is barely recognisable as the likes of This Love, You Got It Wrong, and Don’t Look At Me with the aforementioned Take Control slipped in their midst, enchant and evoke further pleasure. Certainly the songs do not reach the same elevation of the opening pair but with the beauty of the first of the four a radiant kiss upon the ear and the persuasive ‘call to arms’ of the single with its deep temptation lined coaxing just two outstanding moments from this part of the album alone there is no slip in its fascination and strength.

The album ends as powerfully and contagiously as it begins with firstly the irresistible Rise Up stroking the ear into an enamoured rapture with its reggae honed siren call and brass fire erupting to deepen the temptation and soon matched by the Caribbean soaked rhythmic/melodic tango of Run Home, a song with an eighties whisper which reminds of Haircut 100. The closing pair though almost steal the whole show with the sweltering allurement of Don’t Say You Love Me raising the temperature with an epidemic cursed melodic enterprise and the closing Rocksteady a thrilling crescendo of ska shaped melodically grooved splendour to what is a stunning album.

By The Rivers, band and album, is a treat the summer of this and every year hence forth will adopt as its mesmeric soundtrack and the heart as its long lasting invigorating companion.


RingMaster 07/05/2013

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Candidate23 – Recurring Dreams EP


Having strongly impressed with their previous EP Stay Awake, UK indie band Candidate23 has just unleashed their new offering to again show how exciting a band they are whilst bringing a vibrant evolution in their already thrilling creativity. As with their other releases the quintet from the North West of the country have sculpted a sound of undefined familiarity but one which employs it in an encounter which leaves the passions gasping and imagination fiery through open originality and carefully honed craft.

Formed in 2010, the Liverpool based Candidate23 have only made good impressions, their allure and temptation growing more potent with each release and live performance which has seen the band alongside the likes of Funeral for a Friend, Young Guns and The King Blues. There breakthrough to the widest national awareness is overdue and deserved but still biding its time, teasing us and them but with Recurring Dreams that lock just might and should have the right key finally. With references to the likes of The Wombats and Foals upon them, to which we would add Placebo, Mind Museum, and in some ways Doves, and sewn within their own distinct sound anticipation of a big year for the band from this EP alone is unavoidable.

The title track is a brief brewing ambient beckoning to introduce the release and draw one into the following mighty temptress of a song in Float Away. The track is a sparkling explosion of melodic colour and winding expressive atmospheres veined by rolling rhythms which cage the ear for the vocals of Will Hayes to gentle stroke forth the lyrical heart of the song. The singer instantly impresses, as he has on previous releases, his words and delivery seductively dancing across the vibrant mingling of tantalising enterprise from guitarists Alex McIntyre and Andy Perrin and those still energetic rhythms of drummer Jono Tringham side by side with the rumbling basslines of Ryan Dennett. The emotive lure of the song is never far away or lost in the energy and steps forward most potently for the closing breath of the track as it passes over to next up Until It’s Cold.

From a gentle wash of emotional keys and the soaring tones of Hayes the song rises to its feet with again the beats of Tringham framing the warmth with rich firm persuasion which invites limbs into the affair as much as the emotions. Though the song does not explode with the same intensity as its predecessor it packs a colourful punch in its superbly crafted melodies and equally compelling harmonies to leave extra hunger in the keen appetite already encouraged by the EP.

I’ve Been Here Before is a slow burning delight, a song which took time to make its full declaration before the senses but emerged as one of the most powerful and lingering gems on Recurring Dreams. A smouldering lullaby for the heart with a rising intensity to its breath and enveloping heat, the track offers familiarity in a brand new guise which covers the senses like an old friend which will never lack a welcome but equally intrigues with an undiscovered emotional depth. As with the whole EP, there is nothing not to love about the song as the band show they are as adept and imaginative in slowly crooning the passions as they are igniting them with an infectious anthemic fuse.

The final pair of songs confirms an already done deal between release and ardour, the outstanding I Want You a stirring almost riotous slice of aural contagion, the virulent call of the chorus the perfect climax to the magnetic verse and the call of vocals and sound which rage with invention and lush beauty. The closing First Steps matches what came before with elegant sonic caresses within its enthralling fascination of energy and rhythmic keenness. Though arguably not the most dynamically capturing song on the release it makes a final declaration of just how impressive and thoroughly pleasing Recurring Dreams is.

Available as a free download by a band generous in sound and invention, their new EP has all the weaponry and class to be the trigger for national domination before taking on the world. Candidate23 has provided the mighty tools for all to enjoy and spread the word.


RingMaster 07/05/2013


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Honningbarna – Verden Er Enkel


There has been a buzz about Norwegian band Honningbarna which has been hard to avoid going in to this review with their PR Company alone fervidly enthusiastic far beyond their paid agenda in the presentation of the band’s new album for coverage. Could they really be as impressive and exciting as admittedly a great many are claiming? Yes they are and then some. Their new album Verden En Enkel is a scintillating excuse for passions to riot and limbs to brawl, its unique and insatiable punk rock fire rich in potency and impossibly virulent contagiousness.  With dramatic flames of melodic fervour and hooks as barbed and addictive as any sexual favour, the thirteen track release thrusts the band into the heady heights of being the future of melodic punk and possibly the core elements of punk itself.

As fresh faced teens the quintet from Kristiansand took no time in grabbing intense attention with their debut self-titled EP of 2010 which was followed within three months by the band winning the Norwegian broadcasting’s annual unsigned band competition, Årets Urørt. The following year their first album La Alarmane Gå (Sound The Alarm) won Best Rock Album at Spellemannsprisen, the Norwegian equivalent of the Grammys as well as Honningbarna gaining a Best Newcomer nomination. Their rise has been strong and energetic to match their renowned live performances which have also marked the band as one of the most explosive and unmissable treats. The likes of Rage Against the Machine, Gallows, and The Hives have been slapped upon the band as comparisons and it is easy to see why but really they stand alone from the rest with only for us Russian punks Biting Elbows bred from the same distinctive imaginative well though you could probably also add The Fat Dukes Of Fuck too.

Produced by Swedish producer Pelle Gunnerfeldt, the Republic Of Music released Verden Er Enkel meaning The World Is Simple, 551283_10151283210191924_2033457083_nis the first album to have a wider release infiltrating further afield within Europe and the UK, something which can only trigger a mass euphoria one suspects if our reactions are any gauge. It is a record which fuses every aspect of punk old and new with melodic garage rock ferocity and breath-taking energy. It is also as is the band, loaded with political confrontation at times though with them welcomingly only using their native tongue its content is lost on limited linguists like us but the snarl and bite in the delivery and sound does offers plenty to be provoked and inspired by. Honningbarna is poised to ignite rock music to a level which will take the name around the world, well certainly if quality and invention is any benchmark.

The album opens on the sensational lure of Dodtid, the twisted guitar beckoning a sonic lasso around the ear gripping with the intensity of a hornet. Exploding into a barrage of rapacious grooves all sonically sculpted within enticing rhythms, the track then steps into a slow breath of vocals and drum framing before unleashing the turmoil of sound once again. The vocals of Edvard Valberg squall and challenge whilst being ably accompanied by the group gang locked harmonies to post an anthemic hook within the brooding maelstrom at play upon the senses. Harshly metallic with a hardcore abrasive edge the song is a deliberate entrapment for which there is no escape or hiding from, especially its final lingering sonic lancing of flesh as it evolves into the fire of the following Ikke La Deg Rive Med. It is a bruising encounter with muscular energy and scything guitar sinews from Christoffer Trædal and Fredrik Justnes working their caustic charms whilst the beats of drummer Nils Jørgen Nilsen cage and enslave with skill and mischievous purpose. With elements of The Bronx and Red Tape to its stance and drive the track continues the impressive start with inspired ease.

Through the likes of the mighty Velkommen Tilbake where bassist Lars Emmelthun gnaws and chews the ear with stirring potency whilst the song itself just stomps all over the emotions with old school devilry, the thrilling Tynn Is with its arguably unadventurous, compared to other moments on the release, yet enticing gait, and the exceptional God Jul, Jesus, the album fosters the rapidly brewing ardour for the album with irresistible craft and imagination. The second of these sees the added treat of Valberg and his shadow inspired skills with the cello, bringing another stunning bow to band and release whilst the third of the trio is a rampant swagger of growling rapacious rhythms from bass and drums within a corrosive energy and magnetic  blaze of vocal harmonies and feisty passion engulfing hunger.

The album holds its truly momentous moments in nothing but highlights for the latter part of its presence starting with Fuck Kunst (Dans Dans), the lead single form the album. A slice of dirty incendiary rock n roll with riffs and thought poking vocal delivery to incite the strongest reactions and an imagination and devilry to spark their fullest greed, the track is the perfect lead into band and album though easily matched by next up Offerdans and the best song on the album Ned. Whilst the first of these two dances with the ear like a punk dervish, perpetually moving riffs and barbed hooks sharing target practice on the passions with unerring accuracy its successor is quite simply a complete tempest of addict making melodic spiky grooves and equally catchy riffs ridden by coarse confrontational but anthemic vocals. At its core and partially hidden there is a groove the Buzzcocks would have been proud of  whilst the overall plundering of the ear is vintage punk rock given a modern makeover for a new breed of riot.

Before its end Verden Er Enkel confirms its majesty through the bass carved rock scrap of Si Nei, the brutally addictive title track, and the brilliant closing psyche altercation of Gi Oss Kick. It is a stunning and delicious spat from a band who more than justify the claims wrapped around them from the outside. Honningbarna is poised to ignite the appetite and passions of not only punk but rock n roll in general and across the world. It all starts here.


RingMaster 07/05/2013


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Red XIII – Perceptions


Whether UK metalcore annihilators Red XIII have realised the immense promise which brewed within their debut album of 2010 with their new EP Perceptions is questionable but certainly the enthralling six track release is going in the right direction whilst easily placing the Blackpool quartet as already one of the more original and refreshing emerging breaths, or should that be roar, in the genre not only in Europe but possibly worldwide.

Riding roughshod over audiences since 2006 with their uncompromising yet adventurous sound, Red XIII has earned intense attention from fans and acclaimed responses from the media through the aforementioned album Better Safe Than Sorry, as well as impressive passionate performances alongside the likes of Sylosis, Liferuiner, Heights, Betraying The Martyrs, Texas In July, Heights, and The Arusha Accord to name just a handful. The new release shows the band at its most destructive and creative to date and though the leap has not been as potent as anticipation imagined going by their already high standards it is a big step forward for the band with Perceptions easily standing out amongst similarly engineered sounds in the genre and a great many metal releases in general.

Released via Transcend Music Label Services, the EP opens with the immediately intriguing Sleeping Giants, its initial progressiveRED XIII - Perceptions wind loaded to a brooding bass and twisted riffs accompaniment. Installing a groove which whips head and passions from their slumber, the track unleashes rhythms from drummer Tim Clark which cage, poke, and explore the senses the further into the song you go whilst the bass of Ivan Coulburn offers a rapacious presence from first note to last, its presence a predatory link between the drum incitement, the flames sonic class of guitarist Jason Dean and the excellently continually shifting vocals of Sean Donovan. His delivery stalks a range of squalling provocation and malice dripping growls to ride the extensive grooves and invention of Dean like a tempestuous beast.  The fact that the song and release as a whole does not always push the envelope and limits of its most potent elements is really the only ‘flaw’ you can lay at their doors, the track walking the lip of full adoration and addiction causing might but never quite taking that last leap of faith. Despite that the opener is an immense introduction which the rest of the songs only qualify in their individual and richly pleasing stances.

The following General Disarray takes a mere second to bombard the ear with another delicious groove and even hungrier rhythms within an earnest and rebellious intensity. Into its stride the track is a storm of ferocious rhythmic punishment and persistently encroaching and thrillingly evolving guitar abrasion built on impressive sonic invention and acidic melodic persuasion. As before the vocals of Donovan come in multi-brewed venom, at times almost touching a clean gait whilst cruising the full gamut of scolding malevolence. It is a monster of a song with a craft which leaves one magnetised during and after its confrontation.

Trainwreck explores the senses with a sonic web of enterprise before allowing a ridiculously addictive bass lure to escape its flame and the vocals to score the now mesmerised senses with primal spite. It takes no time though for the track to unleash an exhausting corrosive breath and unrelenting caustic hardcore rough handedness. With a gait as unbridled in its assault as the unique vindictiveness the track, it taunts and erodes the defences with energy every bit as violent as a derailment but with more purposeful and direct targets. Without reaching the heights of its predecessors the track easily leaves a hunger for more of the abusive thrills offered whilst suggesting there is still much more to come from the band, again a comment which can be levelled at Perceptions as a whole.

Next track The Bitch grabs top honours on the EP, its emergence from a dawning raptorial charge and bone splintering rhythmic beckoning into a tsunami of deeply coloured sonic endeavour and rabid intensity guided by the heavy fisted great vocals of Donovan and matching bass snarl exceptional. In some ways the track seems unsure of its direction yet everything it entwines around its impressive body and the ventures brutally explored only lead the passions to erupt with greed and want for more of its unpredictable foraging of the senses and emotions, especially its progressively sculpted and wholly seductive climax.

The final pair of songs, Illuminate and Exploding Pet, expose the listener to more creative fire in songwriting and its unreserved barbarous realisation, the first of the two a fusion of hardcore and metal savagery carved into a compelling slab of excellence almost as equal to the previously mentioned gem and the closing song which lives up to its outstanding title by whipping the senses with industrial strength lashes of barbed riffs and similarly vicious rhythmic intrusion. It is a mighty conclusion to a formidable and wholly impressive release. Ok Perceptions still loudly hints that the band has some way to go before unearthing their full potential but it still stands above most other metalcore releases with ease and ignites a sure anticipation of a real classic in their future.


RingMaster 07/05/2013


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