Monsterworks – Earth


Certainly not an album you can fully absorb and investigate on one, two, even a third listen, Earth the new release from New Zealand metallers Monsterworks is a towering enthralling journey through time and invention. Fusing almost every metal style you can imagine into fluid and seamless soundscapes which suggest and paint more imaginative portraits in a few minutes of descriptive notes than can be found in a thousand words, the band has come up with one of this year’s major evocations. It is a masterful release which reveals and rewards much more with each eager encounter.

Now London, UK based, Monsterworks has repeatedly stretched their and the listener’s boundaries since 2000 debut album Dimensional Urgency right through 5 further albums, with the latter releases especially The God Album and last year the sensational Man :: Instincts EP, which was our introduction to the band, venturing deeper into an ever expanding creative ingenuity. The EP, now listening to leading to this seventh full length release, was definitely a portent of things to come with Earth the stunning evolution of its craft. Released via Eat Lead and Die Music, the album to simplify things is progressive metal at its most imaginative and potent, but a release which fuses almost every essential essence of the vast realm of metal into a soundtrack covering the journey of our planet from the first union of rock and minerals left over from a supernova explosion forming a globe orbiting an infant star through to the entrance of man and beyond. The album provides a masterful sonic narrative to a chronologically progressing theme with all the melodic colours and sonic explication needed to captivate and incite the fullest imagination.

The album opens with From Dust and Gravity, the track from a quiet unbothered ambience slowly emerging to bring solid slabs of MW_Earth_album_coverroving rhythms and heated guitar beckoning together before scorching the air around them with great sonically squalling vocals and a heightened rise in intensity and energy. At this point of contact there is a heavy/classic metal mix with an almost post hardcore intensity, an At The Drive In fire wrapping the song before it explores a stronger progressive and melodic metal temptation. To be honest like with all the tracks it is hard if not impossible to keep account of all the irresistible twists and flavours employed, and would certainly take all day to present here for the whole album, but every turn and sweeping venture is skilled and a natural fit to what came before and is to come which really is all you need to know..

The following Late Heavy Bombardment is a heavily weighted confrontation, vocals and rhythms coarse and thunderous with a thrash lilt to the riffs and a predacious tone to the guitars and their sonic descripts. A mix of light and blackened shadows the track feels like it is a dawning from within the dark, dangers and foreboding still rife but being seeded with adventure and new beginnings. Its intensive provocation makes way for the wonder and melodic warmth of Last Universal Ancestor, its opening tender touch an evolution of the hints in its predecessor before erupting into a rigorous sonic jeopardy with the guitars sculpting a web of sonic intrigue and fire bred fervour licking around the tale of the song and ear with a classic metal fuelled tongue. The vocals are exceptional, a delivery and scope as diverse as the sounds being brewed and perfectly in league with their intent.

Both the scintillating call of Oxygenation with its black and progressive not forgetting heavy metal simmering cocktail of invention, and the rapacious aggressively impacting Powered by Fate impressively take thoughts and emotions through the widest range of sounds and experiences with the first of the pair arguably the highest pinnacle of the album. It is hard not to be further impressed by how each track expertly represents or at least suggests the state and climate of the growing world at the point they explore so powerfully and one assumes accurately, as shown further by the brief but destructive Bookended by Extinction and the excellent Aeon of Man, two songs which thrust the senses and imagination into a cauldron of the seemingly annihilatory transitions between stages of Earth’s growth and the emergence of the beauty of man and life respectively. The second of the two songs is another major highlight, the track a raging festival and dance of energy and enterprise with a stoner swagger and hard rock groove marking the ‘birth’ and a blacker metal suggesting the rabid hunger and shadows which equally come in tow.

The album is completed by the nine minute expanse of the title track, the song like a summary of all that came before and brought the planet to the completion of the previous song as well as a prelude to the next brewing chapter in evolution. It brings an outstanding album to the perfect close emotionally and creatively, leaving the listener the only option to learn more by taking Earth’s rangy exploration again…and again. In regard to being one of the albums of the year, it and Monsterworks certainly make a compelling case.


RingMaster 30/08/2013

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Secrets Of Sin – Future Memories


Making their world introduction with debut album Future Memories, German band Secrets Of Sin certainly gives food for thought with their imaginative and adventurous sound. The nine track release is not without flaws and is openly declares that there is plenty within the band to come out and improve upon, but quite simply the album is one rather appetising encounter that is full of promise and lies in the hands of the band ready to be built upon.

The band’s demo EP Fairytales of 2009 caught the imagination of their home underground press and fans, their merger of symphonic and melodic metal making a strong exciting persuasion but with Future Memories it is fair to say that Secrets Of Sin has leapt forward in their sound and invention. As mentioned the album declares the band as nowhere near being the finished article, if there is ever such a thing in music, but the quintet certainly has the ammunition and skill to become a strong and lingering presence in world metal.

Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Robert Mansk, guitarist Niklas Rach, drummer Michael Schier, keyboardist Philipp Eiperle, and newest Secrets Of Sin - Future Memories - Artworkmember vocalist Christina Groner, Secrets Of Sin take little time upon Future Memories in sparking good thoughts with opener Deus Ex Machina. The track is a brief industrialised dawning provoking rich ideas before merging into the initial electro stomp of Utopia. From here synths make a swirling beckon before the orchestral heights of the keys veined by thumping rhythms immerse the ear in epically toned persuasion. Into its galloping stride the song makes for a strong if unsurprising adventure though expectations are soon displaced by excitement as the wonderful voice and delivery of Groner lays their touch on the senses. She has a sirenesque quality which mesmerises even within the more demanding and caustic squalls of Mansk and the heavy boned sounds building up crescendos of melodic flame and intensity. Reverting to again more familiar essences for the latter symphonic pressing, the almost Nightwish meets The Browning like track is a potent and gripping start to the album with imagination and thoughts finding a steady and pleasing place within the less than unique but enterprising encounter.

Both Alive and Once Upon A Time continue the impressive start if certainly with the first not reaching the same heights set by its predecessor. With Mansk taking the vocal lead the song is a less dramatic and exploratory song but again a more than solid track with the guitars and keys painting a sonically sculpted melodic weave to satisfy the ear before passing over to its successor and its emotive and classically weaned beauty. An elegant ballad with Groner bringing further irresistible temptation to the guitar and string hued evocation, the song from a regular start brings in sun clad melodic flames and a sultry ambience which as it expands its horizons offers greater temptation to mark a step up for the release, a rise soon cemented by the blistering assault of Inside. A spiral of guitar sets things in motion before keys and rhythms stretch its touch and the metal reaped vocals of Mansk herald a heavier suasion. Another step up comes with Groner adding her presence to the continually hungry song, and it has to be said that with all respect to the rest of the band it is no coincidence that songs and the album find even greater potency and originality when the lady opens her lungs.

The two following songs Hope Dies Last and The Joker are arguably the least fluid and for many one suspects  will be the least successful in persuading their ardour but for invention and bringing something new in imagination to symphonic metal, they emerge as our favourite and the most exciting songs on the album. The first opens with a straightforward heavy/epic metal like lure before Groner and a great throaty bass sound start picking and teasing at the ear with mischief and adventure. It is an inspired moment leading to another successful union of the two vocalists alongside a wash of melodic heat which rises in temperature with skill and hunger. At times thoughts of Hammers of Misfortune rear their suggestion whilst at other twists and especially in its successor there is a definite Kontrust devilry at play. The second of the pair beckons with a brass lure before diving into another electro waltz blended into a techno metal like suasion. Soon the metallic intent takes over with Mansk opening the vocal narrative but things never settle into predictability as sound, vocals, and band leap persistently and scintillatingly from note to note and idea to idea. It completes easily the best part of the album for personal tastes and the area where you hope the band push and experiment more with in the future.

The extremely potent and stirring power ballad Shadows, the song a merger of tender light and heavier menacing dark with Groner and the keys in conflict and union with the intensive guitar and muscular rhythm storm, and the twelve minute epic presence of Civilisation stretch thoughts and the now truly lit passion for the release further. The second of the two does meander along with undulating success to be honest, losing some of the undoubted grip it forged early on though it is mainly down to its length you suspect, but musically and with the keys especially vibrant bringing a contagious embrace amongst a delicious wash of discord taunting throughout it is another great track.

Completed by firstly Puppet Play where the band and Groner flirt with alternative rock and the very decent closing ballad What I Am, Secrets Of Sin leaves a very healthy appetite and anticipation for their future offerings. With room for improvement but full of very enjoyable and enterprising imagination Future Memories is a great introduction to fresh adventure.


RingMaster 30/08/2013

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