Wheatus – The Valentine LP

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    Wheatus is one of those bands which continually has the shadow of their greatest/memorable hit looming over their subsequent songs and releases in the gaze of those outside of their potent fanbase, and like many it is an unavoidable shame as they certainly have much more to them than the raging success of one song, as shown upon new album The Valentine LP. Teenage Dirtbag for a great many will always be the sign post for the band but the ten tracks making up the new release stand as a clear creative marker, as so many tracks across their previous releases, to the greater strength and adventurous depths of the potent songwriting of the band.

The first full length release since TooSoonMonsoon of 2005, though there have been the Pop, Songs & Death: Vol. 1 – The Lightning and the Pop, Songs & Death: Vol. 2 – The Jupiter EPs of 2009 and 10 respectively, The Valentine LP  takes thoughts and senses on a warm and evocative ride through melodic and expressive imagination. It takes mere moments for opener The Fall In Love to draw out full attention, the metronomic beats of Kevin Garcia a persistent lure behind the coarse touch of guitar and the provocative bass. The distinctive vocals of Brendan B Brown as expected lay down the narrative and heart of the song with expressive style whilst the backing vocals of Gabrielle Sterbenz and Karlie Bruce offer a wash of sunlit harmonies to warm up further the pleasing temptation of the song as the keys of Mark Palmer dance around and court the ear with additional enticing splendour.

It is a strong start soon surpassed by Fourteen and Holiday, the first immediately catching the ear with the raw scuzz lined call of the guitars of Brown and bass prowl of Matthew Milligan before once again the vocal combination spark up the emotions and pleasure, whilst its successor is a vibrant pop rock flame that ebbs and flows with restraint and unbridled fun linked as tightly together as the melodic shimmer and sinew bursting bass are whilst being egged on by the deeper voiced keys of on this track Ken Flagg. It is a tantalising song which casts essences of the band’s debut upon the awareness of the world into their now firm songwriting maturity.

    Break It Don’t Buy It keeps the brewed heights of the record washing eagerly over the ear, its sultry and exotic suggestiveness a magnificent companion to the lively and contented stroll of the song. Once again the whole vocal aspect is as infectious as the sound but undoubtedly it is the ehru provided by Jack Hsu from The Hsu-nami which steals the honours and elevates the song into another sphere.

The next up title track is a smouldering caress with the ever striking and provocative discordantly attitude guitar and bass sound providing a potently hued canvas for the vocals and the combined keys of Flagg and Michael Bellar to colour its heart. It enchants and absorbs thoughts throughout, even if it lacks the final temptress glaze of the previous songs, whilst the excellent Mary Mary Sea Serpent evokes emotions with a soulful and passionate embrace. Such the strength of song lyrically and in delivery you sense there is a rich and deep personal element to the composition which only increases its captivating persuasion.

     Marigold Girl is another highlight, its again smouldering seduction bringing the prime Wheatus sound into a flourish of melodic and slight post punk discordance across the guitars and keys. There is also an open Beatles breath, to the chorus especially, that works depending on your appetite for such things but to be fair only flavours further an already enchanting and thrilling suasion.

The bedlamic opening to Lady Adelaide wets the appetite for the song ahead, its teasing mesh of noise and unbalanced energy a scintillating hook into a song which continues to allow the ‘chaos’ to share its glory amongst the melodic haze of energy and imagination. It is the least accessible track on the album but the most thrilling and ingenious with distortion and discord the perfect playmates for track and passions.

The Valentine LP is completed by firstly That’s True, a tender ballad sculpted by acoustic guitar and stalked by the brilliant rhythmic insistent alchemy of Garcia. If the track had stayed this way throughout it would have been a pinnacle on the album but with the additional adventurous twists of bass and harmonies alone it rises to another level. It is followed by Love Is Too Expensive, a closing fire of a pop song with again enterprise in its construction and direction. It completes a strong and pleasing album though it also adds a little irony in that as great as the release is it fails to ignite enough fires inside the passions to be a major triumph which suggests maybe the band has been overtaken by others openly inspired by Wheatus, such as the excellent Late Cambrian whose vocalist/guitarist John N Wlaysewski provides a sizzling solo on the concluding song. The Valentine LP is without doubt though a richly satisfying release and one which inspires plenty of wishes to return again and again to its body.

http://www.wheatus.com/

7.5/10

RingMaster 20/08/2013

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Losing Skin – I: Infinite Death

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Entangling and enthralling the listener in a tempest of vitriolic sound and equally vicious lyrically intent, I: Infinite Death from US hardcore protagonists Losing Skin is one of those albums which cuts off any escape from its creative malevolence and skilful violation by veining its fury with voracious hooks and barbed grooves. Insatiable traps for the senses within the corrosive spite and riffing of the songs, it all adds up for a release which chews up and spits out the listener whilst leaving them cursing the day that such rewarding and ravenous sounds put a new shade on extreme music with claws that demand and command.

Formed in 2009 and consisting of current and ex members of bands such as Behold and Whalelimb, Losing Skin has savagely attacked the senses from day one. Employing inspirations from the likes of Slayer, Benediction, and Grave into their lethal fusion of metal and hardcore, the Spokane, Washington quartet has earned a formidable reputation through their previous releases and live performances which the new release can only entrench deeper and further afield. Released via Blasphemour Records, the release is a seventeen track scourge bringing the 2012 released album into union with the band’s debut EP Old Wounds of 2011. It is a powerful and potent rampage with evokes and provokes reactions from thoughts and emotions whilst treating the ear to some of the most pleasing sonic acridity known to man.

The release opens with Torn Asunder, an instrumental scene setter with industrial menace within a stark yet only slightly intimidating Cover Artatmosphere. As its last comment passes Black Celebration surges through the ear with the vocals of Alex Boston searing the hairs on the surface of the ear with a malice dripping attack within a heated charge of fiery riffs and cagey rhythms, though they soon turn nastier to command the senses as the track burns deeper and with more intensity. It is an impacting start especially with the underlying compelling groove, which hands over the sonic baton to The Man Who Fell to Earth. With attention and appetite firmly enslaved by its predecessor the song stalks and crawls around its recipient with a dark groove and rapacious riffs flying the harsh colours of the vocals to contagiously light up a new depth of hunger for what is on offer.

Through the likes of the uncompromising almost psychotic Destroyer’s Crown, the hostile Neverender with its cynical breath and severe touch, and the caustic storm that is Time Crawling By Me, the album continues to impress and leave breath a stranger to lungs. The trio do not quite live up to the start to be fair but still tick all the right boxes and lick all the perfect wants to keep the hunger for their creative rancour high. They are split by the instrumental title track which does bring a dip in proceedings though only because it feels out of place. A continuation of the opening track and obviously the underbelly theme of the album it does not evoke the imagination and ideas as successfully as it possibly would have if the opening or closing piece of a release. Where it is it just feels like an obstacle to move over swiftly to get to the meaty goods.

Tides of Acheron offers no such issues when it is its turn to gnaw and bruise the senses. The best track on the album it is a blaze of persistent niggling grooves and rapaciously prowling melodic and sonic animosity which just ignites rapture for its ferocious enterprise and insatiable destructive rabidity.  Continually shifting its attack and offering an unpredictable gait which leads the emotions down various avenues, all carnivorous and all gloriously uncivil, the track is immense and holds the senses captive for the rest of the album to devour.

     From Eternal Return, another creative inspiration to visions and interpretation helping to bookend the album part of the release, the tracks from Old Wounds make their play on the ear, Iron Rain immediately scoring flesh with a metal sinew clad scowl and the likes of the excellent and riveting Iron Reign, the tantalising My Mind is a Steel Trap with its near on seductive grooves and wanton riffing, and the predacious I Am Ruin with a thrilling throaty lure to the bass and rhythmic enticement bringing further mountainous highlights to the already excellent release.

The punk ferocity of Nails and the striking closer The Mirror Reflects which returns after a long break as a darker harsher raw interpretation of its original self on the track, complete I: Infinite Death, closing off an outstanding and exciting corruption of peace with malicious craft and powerful invention. Losing Skin is a band which leaves no one safe from their irresistible sonic annihilations masked as songs so beware and enjoy.

https://www.facebook.com/losingskin

8/10

RingMaster 20/08/2013

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Primitive Man – Scorn

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As psychologically damaging as it is compellingly addictive, Scorn the debut album from US blackened doomsters Primitive Man, is a rewardingly intensive examination of the senses that has thoughts and emotions cowering before its malevolent rage. Seven tracks of intrusive, venomous sonic consumption, the release is in no way an easy listen, its uncomfortable intent and presence devastating in the extreme and corruptive in it ‘lighter’ moments, but throughout there is a lure and niggle which just will not let go of captivation and excitement.

Hailing from Colorado, Primitive Man was formed in February of 2012 by Ethan Lee McCarthy, Jonathan Campos, and Bennet Kennedy (current and former members of Withered, Clinging To The Trees of A Forest Fire, Death of Self and Reproacher). Creating an invasive sound bred one suspects from the darkest malevolent corners of the psyche, the band opened up awareness with the initial release of the album last year and then a self-released demo, but it is now with its full release via Relapse Records that Scorn will surely expose the strongest hidden fears of the world to torment and soundtrack. The founding trio (Kennedy having since having left the band after the album recording and replaced by drummer Isidro Soto) take no shortcuts to the inner most depths of mind and senses, each track a crippling but rewarding expulsion of peace and safety which breeds the most potent post-apocalyptic, post sanity expanses of noise and atmospheres.

The title track wraps the ear in a sonic rub of sinister and persistent heat before collapsing into a lumbering intensive prowl of doom scorn_1500drenched black metal seeded incivility. Sculpted from a thick sludge dripping web of roaming inciting rhythms and corrosive guitar enterprise, the track is as caustic as industrial lime upon the senses and as provocative as the blackest claustrophobic night towards thoughts and emotions. Menace soaks each labouring predacious note whilst the sonic croon of the track flays air and flesh with each insidious second.

The long devastating start is followed by Rags, a track which toys with the mental debris reaped by its predecessor with another leaden crawl of slow voracious riffing and rhythmic caging immersed in a weight of intensity which alone suffocates the senses. The bass finds a ruinous tone to its growl to add to the barbarous snarl within the infernal smothering but all along there is again a sonic temptress to the sound and niggling enticement which coaxes the heart of the burdensome assault and leaves passions hungry for more.

I Can’t Forget opens up yet another disturbing soundscape to be explored, its blood curdling ambience as cinematic in its touch as it is stifling and best described as the voice of rooms within Hostel that were too vicious and carnal to go near. The track is fuel to the imagination and in its own distinct chilling toxic way as ravenous on the psyche as the previous tracks and its successor Antietam, nine minutes of excruciating vehemence cast through a captivating mesh of enticing melodically blessed sonic temptation and thunderous drums coaxed by the continually impressive bass growl and the guttural vocal severity, which throughout the album brutally and impressively narrates the hellacious maelstrom honed heart of the release. Unpredictable and wholly riveting as it twists from and in to itself, the track is a fearsome venture which alone makes the album a must hear proposition though not one for many to be undertaken alone.

Undeniably the best track on the album it is surpassed in favourite stakes by Black Smoke, a piece that reflects the listener’s  gasping for breath up to this point whilst sending additional sadistic hauntings through the ear via evil bred whispered voices and their reserved yet bedlamic persistence. Like I Can’t Forget the track opens up a wealth of thoughts and imaginary scenarios to almost mesmerise its recipient into its clutches before passing them on and into the jaws of Stretched Thin. A blur of grind, hardcore, and thrash like tendencies crafted into a swarm like wrap of sonic distrust and metallic barbarity, the track is a scintillating blizzard of sonic bait and ravenous metallic scalding leaving the senses alive yet  severely damaged.

Closing with Astral Sleep and its impossibly slow heavy riffs and intense plodding rhythmic feet, Scorn is a scathing pungent delight which thrills and pleases just as evenly as it hurts and punishes. Primitive Man will not find a home in the hearts of melody driven fans for sure but within extreme metal they and their album are one richly satisfying grievous encounter.

www.primitivemandoom.com

8/10

RingMaster 20/08/2013

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Nothing – Dig

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    Recently signed to Relapse Records, Philadelphia-based Nothing release new single Dig to celebrate the link up with the label who will release the band’s debut album Guilty Of Everything in 2014, as well as their current tour with Whirr. Combining a mesmeric and stirring mix of shoegaze, metal, and progressive invention, the single is an imagination capturing temptress walking the same seduction as found from Deftones and Palms but with a unique potently evocative sonic elegance of its own.

Nothing was formed in 2011 by Domenic Palermo, a musician who previously brought us hardcore/punk act Horror Show. His former band was held at stop when Palermo was imprisoned for a stabbing which saw him away for two years. Once released, he took time away from music before releasing a demo called Poshlost under the Nothing name. Then followed a union with Brandon Setta, who brought his craft for creating lush and rich evocative soundscapes to the intent and vision of Palermo. A 300 ltd edition 12” EP called Suns And Lovers followed on the Japanese boutique label Big Love Records, with the band donating its share of the proceeds to the label for a Tsunami Relief Charity. The release was then followed by a five track EP Downward Years To Come in November of last year which again caught the imagination of a great many.

Recorded with Jeff Zeigler at Uniform Recordings the single is a scintillating hook not only to itself but the forthcoming album, an inspiring playmate for thoughts and visions to immerse and wrap themselves within. Dig opens with a crisp but gentle blaze of guitar and resonating ambience which only needs the entrance of the outstanding vocals to secure total attention and plant a seed which brews to ardour by the song’s end. It is impossible not to think of Deftones during the track but it is doing the song an injustice such its individual fascination and melodic charisma burning magnetically from within the caustic yet equally alluring steely wrap. Vocally thoughts also drift to House Of Love whilst the song itself explores a skilfully fermented sunset framed by the outstanding rhythmic cage and spellbinding guitar guile and craft.

Dig is a must check out release though it should come with a warning as there is no doubt it will be the instigator of strong unrest as the wait for Guilty Of Everything and its joys seemingly promised by the single bears down on patience.

http://www.bandofnothing.com/

9/10

RingMaster 20/08/2013

 

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