Ruts DC – Rhythm Collision Volume 2


For a great many of us the best punk band in the history of the genre was The Ruts, a band which fused raw street life and sound with addictive bass heavy dub and reggae. From day one they were a formidable and inciting presence cut short by the passing of frontman Malcolm Owen in 1980 aged 26. The history of the band up to that point is well documented within punk and rock, the music still igniting fires and lingering with relish and provocation year after year in many ways, and the same can be said of the band since, though the release of the new Ruts DC album Rhythm Collision Volume 2 equally highlights the large gap in music left by their absence for the last three decades.

Absence is a little misleading though as drummer Dave Ruffy and bassist John ‘Segs’ Jennings have certainly continued to inspire and leave a strong imprint on music, both playing live in numerous bands and with their impressive production skills which has led the pair to be tagged as Europe’s Sly and Robbie. It has been a long period for time to bare since the remaining members of The Ruts after the tragic death of Owen, released the albums Animal Now and Rhythm Collision as Ruts DC in 1981 and ’82 respectively, and an even bigger miss for music once Jennings, Ruffy, and guitarist Paul Fox called it a day a year after their last album. Their reunion in 2007 to play a benefit gig for Fox who had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and sadly died later the same year, ignited all the dormant passions with the show, an event which saw the likes of The Damned, Misty In Roots, UK Subs, Tom Robinson, and John Otway supporting and Henry Rollins taking over the vocal presence for the band, being declared as “the best punk gig of all time” by the Times.

This led to the band to reuniting with Neil Fraser aka Mad Professor who worked with the band on Rhythm Collision in the studio for an impromptu session which then led to another day of guest vocalists and musicians bringing their talent to the now vibrant project. Ruffy has said about the recording, “The album really came together by a series of fortunate events, before we knew it we were back in the studio for The Great Day of Vocals – Segs, Ngoni (aka Delbert McKay, Misty’s guitarist/vocalist), gifted lyricist Aynzli Jones, Brixton lyrics man Tenor Fly and Rob Love, frontman with Alabama 3 all turned up, tuned in and came up with the goods. Nothing was pre-conceived or planned.

Due to hectic schedules the proposed plan to get Mad Professor to do the final mix was an unavailable option the pair turned to Brighton producer Prince Fatty aka Mark Pelanconi. With everything in place and as it emerges beautifully finished, Rhythm Collision Vol.2 stepped forward and without any hesitation can be announced as one of the finest most exhilarating albums to grace and ignite the passions in a long time. The rhythmic heart of the album shows Ruffy and Jennings have lost none of their majestic power and provocative resonance whilst creatively they lay bench mark after benchmark for bands and artists to be inspired by within reggae, dub, punk, music.

As soon as the brilliant Mighty Soldier idles up to the ear with a warm ambience and joyful tease there is a fire smouldering within the ear, the throaty bass lure vibrant yet shadowed whilst the vocals of Tenor Fly shape thoughts with style and slight mischief within the seductive harmonies. It is a mild paced romp, a pulsating evocative persistence which leaves feet, voice, and passion eager to add their collaboration to the sultry dance, the brass flames bringing further irresistible temptation. Throughout the space synths of Steve Jones tease and add sweet devilry to the encounter whilst the keys of Seamus Beaghen provide a caress and firm push which leads to greater ardour for the stunning start whilst the guitar niggle is incendiary within the whole impressive blaze.

Through the likes of the sky travelling soundscape of Mix Up featuring Molara Awen on vocals, the white hot persuasion of One Step and Smiling Culture, the release grips tighter on the senses and emotions. The second of the trio resonates through thought and synapse whilst its touch is like a seductive walk over hot coals, a track to be taken gently, devoured thoughtfully, and enjoyed addictively, whilst the third, a song based on the death of Smiley Culture, is a deeply evocative and beautifully sweltering fascination of intent and sound with the vocals of Aynzli Jones and Rob Love riveting. At this point the album has already left a full rapture for its presence at play and goes on to only reinforce its potency with each track.

The oscillating atmosphere of Technology with its impossibly contagious brass call and the bone trembling sirenesque bass inducement of Jennings, which pushes the boundaries of Sun & The Stars to their delicious limits, evoke further imagination and hunger whilst the mesmeric caress of London Dub featuring Smokes (William Simon) is instant captivation, a welcome submergence in a soak of roasting ambience and equally fervid breath.

For personal tastes the first half of the album steals the show with its insatiable energy and invention but as the songs just mentioned and the likes of the thrilling dub heaven Heavyweight Style and The Road unveil their imperious charms there is no loss of lustful hunger and pleasure across the whole album. Featuring the blissful voice of Jessica Mcintyre, The Road is another glorious torrid slice of beauty veined by pulsating shadows from that irresistible bass lure of Jennings, a final triumph on the album though the two dub-core mixes of Technology and Soldier which do finally close the album are no fillers either.

With further contributions from guitarist Leigh Heggarty and vocals from Ngoni Mukai and Aurora Dawn in the mixing pot, the Sosumi Recording released Rhythm Collision Volume 2 is an unbridled treat, a collaboration extraordinaire which leaves the body, soul, and world a better place.


RingMaster 13/05/2013

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Utopium – Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality


If you are looking for nasty then Vicious Consolation/Virtuous Totality from Portuguese grindcore annihilators Utopium will feed your desires and then some. It is a fearsome atrocity of sonic viciousness and intensive malevolence but equally a compelling and deceptively contagious violation of primal enterprise and howling malice. The band bring an additional brawling hateful crust and sludge animosity to their grind driven destructiveness and though arguably it takes a few listens to truly make its persuasion the album is one you cannot refuse or escape.

The quintet from Lisbon formed in 2007, making their presence known strongly at home with their first demo Rehearsal the following year and their audience wasting live appearances. A few line-up changes came across the years but Utopium has gone from strength to strength, their strongly awaited debut EP Conceptive Prescience in 2010 easily living up to brewed expectations whilst receiving impressive acclaim, and a 7” split release with Lifedeceiver the following year only enhancing their growing status within extreme metal, as did their shows alongside the likes of Rotten Sound, Misery Index, Despised Icon and Wormrot as well as festivals appearances at places like Bracara Extreme and Milhões de Festa.

Released via Bleak Recordings, Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality has all the armoury, invention, and ‘charm’ to lift the utopium_coverband to the next level of recognition. From the opening torrent of aural abuse of Null Rousting through to its last primal second, the album is not an experience for the weak hearted or kneed but from start to finish it leaves an exhausted but certain intense satisfaction in its place. The opener arrives through dark intimidation, its corrosive breath wrapped around a lumbering oppressive energy and pressing hungrily upon the senses. The bass offers a resonating growl alongside serpentine vocals and sonic squalls, all brewing towards the expulsion of malicious unbridled destruction. Into its now octane fuelled charge the track rips the ear apart, its riffs searing flesh and rhythms cracking bone but it is all ok as an impossibly addictive groove spines and seduces the whole annihilatory confrontation. The climax of the song returns to the intense heavy massed rummage through emotions whilst its lingering sonic farewell leads the senses right into the fury of Lodging In A Rut. It is mere seconds in presence, every one a blight upon the ear but equally a very pleasing scourge.

The song is like many, barely around long enough to blister the senses even once, though that is all most need to make a lingering impact and it has to be said that the varied range of lengths from seconds to at most four long tortuous minutes, only emphasise and brings further light the wealth of imagination and inventiveness beneath the constant ruinous attack. It also allows eighteen venomous predators to wreak real potent havoc across the sonic battlefield that is Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality.

The likes of the excellent Held Tombstone, with its thick black tar embrace gnawing away with each vehement driven riff and crippling rhythm soaked by punk rage, leaves disorientation and greedy hunger for more whilst the contagiously grooved Jarred Into Newtons recruits any remaining doubt and resistance with carnal bred ease, its insistent and sharply honed riff driven scything another irresistible violation.

The first nine tracks hold their own with those mentioned the biggest highlights but the Virtuous Totality portion of the release is its most compelling stance and immediately makes that declaration with the monstrous Dissolution, its carnivorous rabidity merciless and demanding especially through the throaty bass prowl and sonic searing unleashed. It is powerfully backed up by the spiteful Retrace and Rummage, all of its thirty eight seconds a scalding toxin, and the ravenous Thrive A Starch, a track which towers above the senses with leviathan intensity and iron clad metal aggression and proceeds to enflame the passions with caustic aural irreverence and undefined but unavoidably addictive grooves from guitar and bass.

The best track follows soon after in the black-hearted shape of Owner of A Kept Abidance. From an ear plundering slow vindictive consumption with vocals dripping malignancy with every intelligibly growled syllable, the song explodes into a torrentially driven flume of rancor sculpted sonics and similarly bred rhythmic abuse. It is a maelstrom of hostile intensive virulence and vitriolic grooves which are irrepressibly seductive as is its open enmity, and by far the best track on the album.

With the likes of Revamp The Disinfection and the brilliant Thin-Skinned Skill ensuring Vicious Consolation / Virtuous Totality finishes on a pinnacle of vitriol, Utopium has delivered one of the best extreme releases this year. If the likes of Brutal Truth, Nasum, Extreme Noise Terror, and Terrorizer do it for you, then this will surely thrill.


RingMaster 13/05/2013

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Hessian – Manégarmr


Exhausting, senses numbing, and simply plain vicious, Manégarmr the debut album from Belgian band Hessian is as toxic as it is scintillating though a tempest which has to be endured and enjoyed numerous times to feel its full wealth of rewards and riches, admittedly by that time though the ears are wasted sludge on the floor and mental capacity reduced to that of molten tar.

Consisting of guitarist Levy Seynaeve (of Amenra), drummer Tim Bryon (of The Black Heart Rebellion), vocalist Bram Coussement, and bass player Kenneth Vanhoutte, Hessian came together three years ago, their different musical backgrounds and inspirations joining for an immediate understanding, an instinctive conspiracy which roars from within their raging music and album. A well-received debut EP set things in motion soon followed by a split 7″ with Amenra, a split LP with Pale Creation on Magic Bullet Records, as well as numerous shows throughout Europe. Their recent signing with Southern Lord has laid down the perfect base for the release of Manégarmr into the world though whether it is ready for it is debatable.

The band bring the most destructive essences of sludge and black metal into a merger with just as predatory intent of punk and crust, the result a carnivorous abrasion which scores flesh and leave synapses a dysfunctional wasteland. Opener Ascension sends a sonic banshee squeal through the ear before thrusting a furious onslaught of blackened riffing and energy right after it. It is a mere appetiser though as the full force and hunger of the track explodes in a hardcore brawl fuelled attack with bass and drums chewing everything in sight in rapacious urgency and the guitars searing anything left, whilst the vocals of Coussement treats the senses to sand blaster bred violence.

It is a murderous start easily matched and at times outbid by the following likes of the scintillating venomously grooved Serpent’s Whisper with a cascade of fervid malevolence accompanying every skilled and malevolently crafted note, the savage Plague Monger, and Father Of Greed. The second of these rips a big hole in emotions with an annihilatory scythe of riffs and a down pour of rhythmic brutality before cauterising the wounds with a sonic greed and melodic acid for a painful but delicious confrontation, while the latter of the trio throws its full weight against the senses with lumbering oppressive doom cored intensity.

Allowing a little respite through the acerbic and melodically distressed instrumental Vamacara, band and album regain any lost submission through the ferocious Swallowing Nails, its fire of sonic animosity leaving a hazy aftermath of burnt consciousness and simpering compliance, and the equally vindictive Hollow Eyes, a ravenous war on the senses whose every note is a rabid predator obliterating any notion of escape or hope.

Completed by the title track and Mother Of Light, it is hard to say enjoyment played a major part in the experience such the pungent havoc unleashed but there is only a massive selfish hunger to return to its nasty arms left after the final duo of songs leave their branding. Both tracks epitomise the release and band, grievous, sonically severe, and the deliverers of undefined but intense invention, even if you have to fight through the corpses of lost brain cells and demolished senses to find the treasure.

Manégarmr is an excellent release deserving of all the acclaim it will receive. One more final warning, do not try to listen to anything else for a least a day after facing Hessian eye to ear, the ringing does stop…eventually.


RingMaster 13/05/2013


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Steve Von Till – As The Crow Flies


    As The Crow Flies is a release which pushes all complications and unnecessary wrappings aside to unveil and inspire a core of emotive poetry and introspective inducement. It is a haunting meditative soundtrack to reflection, self and worldly; a record of dark beauty and an impacting seductive evocation from Steve Von Till, the Neurosis vocalist/guitarist, which leaves thoughts and emotions bare.

The album has its re-release via Neurot Recordings, the independent label founded by members of Neurosis and Tribes of Neurot and run day to day by Von Till and staff, which has grown into a fully-fledged label bringing releases from the likes of Ufomammut, Isis, Shrinebuilder, Neurosis, Across Tundras, US Christmas, Ides of Gemini, Oxbow, A Storm of Light, Amenra and many more to the world. As The Crow Flies was released right at the start of the labels emergence but has been out of print for many years. Its re-release thirteen years after the original indelible mark was made feeds a smouldering hunger which has laid waiting in those of us who missed it first time around.

As song after mesmeric song plays its heart and tale upon the ear, acoustic guitar and the gravelly low key whispering of Von Till part crooning and part serenading the imagination, the album visually emerged in the mind as a long lone fence within a melancholic sultry landscape of emotions, each song a post to lean upon as the cage stretches into the horizon and each drawing, inciting a reflective union with the suggestive atmosphere and smouldering ambience placed around thoughts. The surrounding breath and scenery is a shadow crafted intrigue beneath flaming hypnotic skies and upon a canvas of vividly coloured weaves employing everything from sadness and sorrow to hope and resignation. It is a scintillating and enthralling walk through its soundscape with the sounds musically and vocally bred for the fullest engagement.

The album opens with its most potent and captivating presence. Stained Glass offers up a deep resonating caress of the ear soon joined by the throaty sirenesque haunt of the cello, the pairing alongside the slightly grizzled tones of Von Till, a thought crafting blend of chiselled and organic beauty, the dark and light textures within an overall darkened spell leaving no room for escape as the song opens up with its emotive wash of provocative temptation for the mind and passions. As across most of the album, the simplicity is as riveting as it is impossibly addictive, its employment of repetition and singular chords resonating with one persistent voice like an emotive narcotic for nothing less than deep willing slavery to its powerful almost sinister charm.

The following We All Fall walks through darker fields, its residue of sombre elegance drifting across the ear with childlike folk seeded simplicity, its closing vocal temperance almost nursery rhyme like with a dark breath and intent. It is a riveting experience as powerful and enriching as its predecessor and is soon matched by the likes of Remember, a song with a breeze soaked in chant and pulsating glistening from the sun but equally leaving a teasing of impending cacophonies which are never realised but add wonderful cloud to the emotion exploration, and the exceptional Twice Born, another harvest of sublime melancholia enhanced by the blue touch and beauty of the cello and sky bound harmonies between Von Till and the golden tones of Kris Force from Amber Asylum, her celestial siren wrapped tones an irresistible fascination beside the restrained yet compelling tones of her companion.

Midheaven is a drone seeded meditative cloud which ensnares the senses with its single chord repetition occasionally joined by another singularly crafted stroke of discord touched melodic taunt. It is a starkly haunting piece from an equally barren landscape emotionally and visually, the journey coming near its end with a brooding intensity lifting its resentful head as final track Shadows in Stone approaches. Like earlier song Warning Of A Storm, the closing track crafts a sinister embrace which permeates every sense and thought whilst bringing all the elements which flamed throughout the album, that morose delicious cello cry, seductive caresses from the voice of Force, and the consciousness provoking guitar invention and inciting vocals of Von Till, into play. Once a rhythmic resonance and enticement of drums and percussion opens up the song further the sunset of imposing majestic radiance leaves the passions simply enflamed.

     As The Crow Flies is a wonderful album which gets better and better as well as more evocative with each venture into its heated sweltering depths and well worth its return for us stupid enough to have missed it the first time around.


RingMaster 13/05/2013

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My Dying Bride – The Manuscript

My Dying Bride

UK doom alchemists My Dying Bride set themselves a major benchmark with their album A Map of All Our Failures last year, a release which took all the expected prime essences bred by the band across the years and that made fans of the Yorkshire quintet offer fervour driven support since their formation in 1990, and laid them onto a fresh rich new plateau. It was typical My Dying Bride but in a new pleasing stance which even set those of us who have more of a passing affair with their music to stop and take notice. The Manuscript is a four track EP which continues the presence established on the previous record and though it slips just below the high standards set it employs the new emotively carved impacting breath which emerged for another very appealing experience.

Released via Peaceville Records, The Manuscript is a potent imagery bearing quartet of tales seeded and reaped in tragedy, loss and bitter vengeance; gothic tales brought to bear with metallic intensity and melancholic shadow bred melodies. Each song strolls and prowls a well-worn, but not exhausted or diluted, premise of love, death, and all the emotions which make their bed within the two extremes. It is like most of their releases an offering which is easy to see why the band garner such devotion from fans even if personal fires lay no more than smouldering at best, and like the last record an encounter which has the ability to raise a few sparks even in less receptive appetites.

The title track rides in on a soulful blaze of guitar whilst bass and drums add their firm touch to the emerging presence, but it is the 578094_507496359312227_1503676395_ninstant lure of the vocals of Aaron Stainthorpe followed by the ever delicious emotive breath of the violin, Shaun MacGowan using the canvas set to paint a potent impassioned melancholic weave upon its surface, which seals the brewing recruitment to its premise. The heavy laden walk of the track consumes senses and thought, wrapping them in dense feelings for the guitars of Andrew Craighan and Hamish Glencross to seduce with their personal narrative and suggestively confronting riffs. The concussive approach of the drums certainly in cymbals and percussion does the song no favours to be honest, nor the release as a whole, but such the excellence at work around them it is a minor niggle especially when the song slips wonderfully into an elevated groove lined enterprise which reminds of the same heart recruiting, passion lighting anthemic temptation which veined the early work of the Skids, the slight Celtic whispers irresistible within the rhythmic snarl of drums and bass of Lena Abé. It is an explosive virulence which makes way for a gentle folk crafted climax for a little bit of disappointment despite its own personal beauty, such the quality and lure of what heralded its appearance.

The opener is impressive even though for our individual tastes it ebbs and flows a little, the song always richly satisfying but igniting moments of real seduction without retaining that hook throughout. The same happens with the following Var Gud Over Er, the immediate carnivorous attack of rapacious riffs and predatory bass calls gnawing and growling with thrilling ferocity whilst the guitars create a sonic weave to encapsulate the intensity. Across its even pace crawl though even with the enjoyable move from intimidating growls to a cleaner expressive delivery in the vocals, the track only provokes and invites a full ardour never quite getting its many appealing barbs in deep enough for a total persuasion. The track is an undeniably pleasing companion though which arguably does outstay it’s welcome at eight minutes plus of a relatively uniformal stance, but offers another great finale as it makes way for its successor A Pale Shroud of Longing.

The song loams large and tall over the ear with descriptive melodic fire from the guitar revealing itself beneath a wall of oppressive energy built by bass and drums which seizes any remaining attention and chains it to the brewing sonic embrace and the subsequent emotive beauty spawn again by MacGowan and his singing bow. It is a moment which sees tingles running their tiny fingers down thoughts and spine as the evolving intensity and weight of the song exploits with open craft and contagious imagination their persuasive touch. It is easily the best track on the EP, its haunting voice and feverish hunger within the again crawling ravenous passion and weight, an irresistible temptress which combined with the treacherous yet spellbinding tide of emotive darkness, leaves a big highlight.

The closing Only Tears to Replace Her With is very much like the second song on the EP, a track with moments which instil a lingering entrancement but never quite restrains their escape into enjoyable but uninspiring captures. The Manuscript is an excellent release for the main though and one fans of the band will devour with ferocity and be rewarded wholly for, whilst for others like us it may not light any fires but offers plenty to relieve happily again.


RingMaster 13/05/2013

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