Sofy Major – Idolize


Band and album certainly faced and went through turmoil on its way to being unleashed on the world, but Idolize the second album from French metallers Sofy Major, has defiantly emerged as one of the most frighteningly impressive albums of the year so far. The release is a beast of a record, an album which can only be declared as carnivorous, in sound and intent.

It was the fall of last year that the band took their scintillating fusion of caustic metal, exhausting sludge, and invasion noise, over to Brooklyn and the Translator Audio studio to record the follow-up to their acclaimed debut Permission To Engage alongside producer Andrew Schneider (Unsane, Keelhaul, Converge, etc…). Then hurricane Sandy unleashed her hunger upon New York City, destroying the studio facilities, ruining all the recording equipment as well as that of the band. After a few days with the help and support of the Brooklyn indie music scene and that of Dave Curran from Unsane and Pigs, Sofy Major and Schneider finally undertook the recording of the album. Whether the situation added something extra to the recording which might have been absent if all had run smoothly is hard to tell but certainly Idolize has a snarl and raw energy to it which makes as strong a call to the senses and passions as the impossibly contagious and imaginative sounds set loose upon the ear.

After the recording the trio undertook their first US tour, that and the album the climax of the intensive work and energy expelled by the band since forming in 2007. To date Sofy Major has played alongside the likes of Jello Biafra & The Guantanamo School of Medicine, Baroness, Electric Wizard, Boris, Shrinebuilder, These Arms Are Snakes, Kylesa and many more, continually earning eager acclaim but it is hard to imagine any will be as feverishly offered as that you suspect will come flying as Idolize hits the world.

The album opens with its full arsenal of aural weaponry primed and delivered through the sensational Aucune Importance. The coverhightrack grips the ear within seconds, carving flaming designs through the air with its psychotic rhythmic invention and rapaciously sculpted riffing. Every second and ounce of breath within the track dances with the devil’s alchemy upon thoughts and passions, its irresistible hooks and lures intrusive and addictive, not to mention at times bewildering, whilst the toxic melodic enterprise licks at the senses with delicious salaciousness. It is a staggering start which for most releases would also mark a following dip but not so Idolize.

Both Comment and Steven The Slow which features Dave Curan, bring their distinctive acidic glaze to bear greedily upon  the listener, the first with a oppressively heavy touch from riffs and bass which wonderfully lay on the ear with a full sludge thickness, its manipulative tendencies working away seducing  the imagination within the labouring intensity. Its successor finds an even greater weight to its intensive energy and devouring, the slowly enveloping and exhausting recruitment deceptively virulent and tantalisingly suffocating. Both tracks do not short change on grooves either despite their extremes of gait to further the uniquely addictive hold constructed upon thoughts and heart whilst vocals eagerly scowl over and score the restrained and willing ‘victim’.

Through the cantankerous Bbbbreak with its corrosive growl and the two part UMPKK, band and album continue to enthral and surprise. Part 1 of UMPKK is a haunting dive through a cavernous atmosphere, its depths unveiling more and more intimidating shadows before leaving the listener alone in alien isolation before the second part stares directly in the eyes and conjures up a hypnotic shuffle of provocative rhythms and melodic teasing before igniting the touch paper for a furnace of sonic fascination and almost tribal intensity. It is a riveting track with riffs and bass devious in their temptation and control of head and its inner workings.

As the album relentlessly impresses and captivates with each of its aural predators it is impossible, how intensely you look, to find flaws or a second of wasted sound, the likes of the mercilessly erosive Slow and Painful, the schizophrenic tempest Coffee Hammam, and the discord loving Seb, driving their hooks and the claws of the release deeper in to the passions. Two more major pinnacles of the album come as it makes its way towards its ardour fuelling conclusion. Firstly there is Platini, a song which mixes stoner swagger to a ravaging metallic gnaw, the latter especially potent from the ever staggering bass. The track is exceptional, a confrontation which niggles and taunts whilst being persistently thrilling and playing like a hybrid mix of Kylesa, Therapy?, Retox, and even occasionally Pere Ubu. Then following the insatiable excellence of Frost Forward, the album ends with a cover of the Portobello Bones track Power of Their Voice. The track is a punishing fury of antagonistic punk and hardcore seeded energy blended into a biting sonic wind which exposes senses and nerves to an uncompromising embrace.

Released via Solar Flare Records in Europe and No List Records in North America, Idolize is a tour-de-force to be seriously reckoned with and Sofy Major destined to become one of the giants of rock/metal invention.


RingMaster 01/06/2013

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Tristania – Darkest White


Norwegian gothic metallers Tristania are back with their seventh album and though it might be excessive to say it is their finest moment yet, it is certainly one of their most captivating. Darkest White is a diverse and striking album which plays with shadows and light like a devilish puppeteer whilst seducing then wrapping thoughts and emotions in melancholic beauty. Following previous album Rubicon, the new Napalm Records released album exploits the striking vocal talents of Mariangela Demurtars and Kjetil Nordhus, the melodic grace and potency of the first forming an irresistible union with the other, whilst prowling around them there is the venous harsh tones of guitarist Anders Høyvik Hidle. It is a combination which sets the Stavanger band apart from most and gives wide scope for the varied exploration and imagination continually offered by the band with the new album no exception.

Opening track Number instantly forces ear and senses to attention with barbed lures to a rhythmic attack and an addictively niggling tease of riffs. It is an immediately recruiting contagion which already within the first minute has passions on alert even with the excellent rasping scowls of Hidle stalking and picking on the ear with full malevolence. It is such a thrilling start that there is almost a moment of disappointment when the song steps back for the glorious voice of Demurtars to unveil its full charm. It is a brief thought though as the singer’s tones soar the sky of the song which has now opened up with enriched melodic arms. Switching stances and offering further symphonic mastery keeps things unpredictable and exciting though for personal tastes the synapse drilling sonic ravaging is the track at its full potency.

The title track raises the game again, the provocative charging and incessant call of the riffs alongside clean male vocals forming an 488_Tristaniainfectious entrapment which is impossible to escape. As with the opener, the song revels in its capture by spreading its invention into a journey of ingenious and inspiring invention, the guitars of Hidle and Gyri Losnegaard sculpting a presence which meshes metal, punk, and post punk into one gothic feast whilst the keys of  Einar Moen stroke thoughts and feeling with an evocative warm coaxing. It is a delicious piece of enterprise which nips at the listener throughout before handing over its prisoner to the equally impressive and commanding Himmelfal. Once more riffs from the guitars wonderfully niggle with the bass of Ole Vistnes prowling their work with rapacious beauty. It is a mid-paced encounter which feels much more barbaric across its exhaustingly intense length than it is whilst equally has a weave of melodic sun musically and vocally which soaks the evocative shadows into a dance of warm fascination.

Such the immense strength and quality the album opened up with the likes of the pop rock like Requiem and the dazzling Diagnosis initially leave a slight feeling of being underwhelmed though both as well as Scarling are towers of craft and adventure in their own right. Following the earlier songs though and then having another pinnacle of the release in Night on Earth straight after leaves them pale in comparison. The outstanding Night on Earth grips the ear with a stoner seeded groove ridden by scowling vocals, the effect a Black Tusk like temptation soon ignited by the again stunning vocal flames of Demurtars all impressively framed by the unmissable skills of drummer Tarald Lie. A fire of a track in sound and imagination, it leaves emotions ablaze in equally heat and ardour, and sets the album back on its earlier plateau.

The glorious passion and emotion of Lavender toys with the passions next, its smouldering caresses loaded with climatic fuses which erupt into towering melodic fires. It is a sign of the songwriting and invention of a band when songs like this soak the listener in a sunshine of emotive bliss yet still give clarity to the shadows and melancholy pervading its heart and lyrical narrative, something which can be wrapped around the whole album.

Closing with the tantalising Cypher and Arteries, a final explosive mix of corrosive maliciousness and incendiary glamour, Darkest White is a dramatically satisfying and engrossing treat which again sees Tristania bringing an invigorating breath to gothic metal. Though maybe unlikely to top best of year releases come December it is an album which entices very frequent companionship with ease.


RingMaster 01/06/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from