Sawthis – Youniverse

SAWTHIS (3)

Tagged as modern thrashers and sounding like the exhilarating offspring of Static X meets Bloodsimple, Italian band Sawthis unleash one of the year’s highlights in the corrosive riveting storm of Youniverse. An unrelenting and breath-taking tempest of sonic intensity and exhausting predation, the eleven track release simply leaves the senses and passions raging for its predation.  Not arguably ground-breaking but thoroughly refreshing and explosively incendiary, this is one album that all thrash fans should add to their personal playlists.

Formed in 2000, the Teramo hailing quintet bred their sound on the inspirations of the likes of Soilwork, Machine Head, Slipknot, Metallica, Testament, and Pantera. Debut album Fusion emerged in 2003 receiving very positive responses from media and fans. This was followed by an extensive time of shows which saw the band alongside the likes of Destruction, Anathema, Sybreed, Impaled Nazarene, Extrema, Sadist, Necrodeath, and Assassin. Their live performances consistently added to the stature of and acclaim upon the band; further appearances with Lacuna Coil, Entombed, Shaman, and Konkhr to name a few only cementing their reputation. Second album Egod appeared in 2009 via Scarlet Records, again to strong reception and followed by more intensive gigs and tours, this time with bands such as The Haunted, Primal Fear, Bulldozer, Cattle Decapitation, God Dethroned, and Sepultura last year. Released through Bakerteam Records, Youniverse is the next step to world awareness and domination, its aim you suspect destined to success.

A conceptual album focused on the theme of multiple personality disorder, Youniverse immediately tests thoughts and synapses with SAWTHIS_YOUNIVERSE_COPERTINA HDThe Logical Color. Rhythms splinter bone from the opening second with deep drilling riffs a muscular companion. It is an attention gripping entrance which only explodes to greater heights as the two protagonists extend their rabidity to further heights and the vocals of Alessandro Falà scorch the air with his vocal squalling, every syllable intense and malevolently sculpted but forcibly engaging like the sounds around him. Ensuring escape is futile the song relaxes into a tantalising embrace, the guitars of Adriano Quaranta and Janos Murri gnawing the senses whilst offering new mystique to the blistering encounter whilst the vocals also offer a more respectful and mellow if still an intimidating and commanding lilt. The track is a scintillating introduction, varied and adventurous but deliciously predatory from start to finish.

The following fury of The Waking Up is equally rapacious and magnetic, the beats of Michele Melchiorre building an irrepressible trap whilst his vocals slip perfectly and potently alongside those of Falà, their at times dual attack an exceptional driving force for the riveting inventive sounds. The bass of Gaetano Ettorre also creates a sinew clad prowl which menaces and tempts like a stalking beast within the torrent of intensity and energy surrounding its intent. It is another towering song continuing the immense start and soon matched by both The Voice Falls On Me and The Disturbed. The first has an insidious breath and air certainly around the vocals but tempers it with a melodic fire reminding of In Flames whilst its successor which features Rob Cavestany from Death Angel, simultaneously sears and smoulders within the ear whilst weaving melodic and vocal temptation that leaves the passions alight and guitar enterprise which spawns burning tendrils of sonic enterprise to seduce without mercy.

Through all the tracks the album deepens its hook within the emotions breeding a hunger which dares Youniverse to fail their need. No such realisation is forthcoming as the likes of The Indelible, a track which swings seamlessly from carnivorous intensity to seductive melodic flaming, The Impure Soul with its creeping twisting sonic vines of excellence within a ferocious yet carefully trained consumption, and The Spotlight only increase the dramatic strength and torrential imaginative lure of the release. The last of the three finds an extra growl and rawer presence to its caustic provocation, though melodic and harmonic exploration is only a deep breath away and soon merging into the turmoil with enchanting toxicity.

Before departing the album ensures the listener is left a wasted blissful wreck through the corrosively contagious tempest that is The Mad and the hellacious beauty of The Switch, both tracks stretching the passions and boundaries of the album further. Earlier we said that there was debatably nothing unique about Youniverse which was true except that as tracks like this and the closer, The Walking exploit the rapture seeded, it is hard to remember many others stalking the same routes as Sawthis. The final song is no slouch in whipping up the senses and satisfaction either, its rampaging stomp another blaze of sonic venom and melodic adventure wrapped in creative savagery.

Produced by Paolo Ojetti (Infernal Poetry) with the band, Youniverse is a massive war of pleasure and enthrallment, a release which takes Sawthis to the upper echelons of new metal, and without doubt another album to add to the growing pool of serious contenders for album of the year.

www.sawthis.it

9.5/10

RingMaster 30/09/2013

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Terrorway – Blackwaters

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Bakerteam Records has really gone for the jugular this month with not only the impressive carnivorous release of the new Sawthis album but also the equally predacious and scintillating Terrorway debut full-length, Blackwaters. An antagonistic assault of extreme metal with thrash and groove temptation, the album is a riveting furnace of invention and imagination. It chews and gnaws on the senses often shielding some of its undoubted ingenuity but when in the clear or given close attention that enterprise leaves the passions aflame and breathless.

Hailing from Cagliari, Terrorway formed in 2009 and immediately drew keen attention and critically acclaim with the Absolute EP the following year. Taking inspiration from the likes of Strapping Young Lad, Dillinger Escape Plan, Meshuggah, and Pantera into their metal ‘experiment’, the band explore and stretch their intent and imagination with masterful success upon Blackwaters. The band equally earned a potent reputation for their live shows which has seen them alongside the likes of Mnemic and Paul Di Anno. Their track Her Last Breath was placed in the Kill City vol.17 compilation release and led to strong interest from numerous labels before the band signed with Bakerteam Records soon after. Recorded at Corpse Factory Studio in Cagliari across December of last year and this January, the Jacob Olsen (Hatesphere, Moonspell, Corpus Mortale, Born From Pain) mixed and mastered Blackwaters is the full blooded entrance into the wider metal world, one which you immediately feel will thrust the band into major recognition.

The album opens on a scenic peace to stand against the song title, Wretched. Whispers and movement grace the landscape with Terrorwaysuddenly quickening pace before riffs scythe through the air with repetitive sinew driven animosity and rhythms share their thunderous iron bred swipes. It is an immediate storm between the ears ridden by the caustic squalls of Valentino “Sidh” Casarotti. Twisting around and crushing the senses simultaneously it is a startling piece of ferocity if in hindsight only a taste of things to come. The guitar of Ivan Fois offers a carnivorous spread of riffing and sonic narrative which is prowled just as intimidatingly by the throaty bass stalking of Giovanni Serra. It is an imposing and gripping entrance to the album which is taken further by the following title track. More merciful in its initial cupping of the ear, the grooves and rhythms soon cage and terrorise whilst seducing with animalistic intensity. Again the vocals provide a scolding menace to help create a fearsome atmosphere punctuated by the threatening strikes of drummer Cosma Secchi. Sprawling through musical and lyrical depths soaked in shadows with Casarotti the demonic conjuror, the song suddenly submerges into an evocative melodic adventure, Fois carving an escape for the senses to bask in and feed upon before the sounds again shred their skin for a primal and savage investigation.

    In a Swamp and Keep Walking Silent continue the stretching of the passions and album going, the first a progressive serpentine toned hunt, vocals slowly entwining their animosity and venom over emotions whilst the bass of Serra stokes the ashes of terror alongside the tirade of raptorial riffing and invention. Its middle dip into another melodic breath is not as successful as on its predecessor but as one rigorous attack the song is another immense hook in the rise of the album. Its successor swarms over the senses with its waspishly tinted riffs, rhythms stabbing home their animosity with every swing of a stick and concussive percussive brawl. There is a Lamb Of God essence to the track, though taken to darker deeper depths of confrontation, whilst the melodic temper certainly at its conclusion is In Flames like and quite magnetic.

Through The Inescapable Plot, the track a devouring predation which is relentless when submerged in its intensive attack, and the suspense crafted annihilation that is Chained, the band continues to push their imagination and limits. Both of the songs are equally unafraid to delve into melodic and resourceful twists which explore their own inner narratives and the eager thoughts of the listener whilst the following Renewal pounces on the debris they leave to create an explosively enthralling expanse of psyche testing, pulse racing ingenuity. Easily the best track on the album, the slice of corrosive ruin and thrilling imagination shows how much more there is still for the band to discover within themselves.

A Cursed Race is just as potent in its exploration and unpredictable craft, the song a close runner for top honours on the album whilst the closing Ruins provides a vitriolic fascination with a pervading if at times somewhat overwhelmed ambience against the stolid rhythmic caging and tension twisting riffery. It is a staggering conclusion to the release, Blackwaters saving its most ruinous and creative blazes for the major finale. Terrorway stand on the brink of the fullest recognition with the album which from the immense closing stretch of Blackwaters you cannot help anticipating will only be cemented and elevated in the future.

http://www.terrorway.com/

9/10

RingMaster 30/09/2013

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This Early Autumn – Mood

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    This Early Autumn is an alternative rock band hailing from Columbia which is beginning to create a feisty wash of acclaim around itself. Driven by lead vocalist/producer Juan Valderama, the Bogotá band are set to release their new single Mood, a track which as our introduction to the band takes a firm and engaging grip on thoughts. It is too early on the evidence of one song to say that the band is or is not a potent force in the brewing stage but certainly it is an intriguing proposition with plenty of open promise.

From what we are led to believe This Early Autumn emerged from a graduation project which spawned two songs Hollow and Mood. The new single is the follow-up to debut release Nothing Compares which drew strong eager responses in Columbia and the UK as well as good MTV coverage. The trio of songs also made up the Primary Pursuit EP but it was the single which grabbed the attention outside of their homeland and which Mood you suspect will increase or at least cement. In 2011 Valderama moved over to London and has been making numerous live appearances around the city since, again to great responses which the single should find an enthusiastic home from.

As soon as Mood caresses the ear you are soaked in thoughts of Placebo, Radiohead, Japanese band Tokyo City Chaos, and fellow Columbian band Hidden Desires. This is not to say the song is unremarkable but the essences are strong within the fresh breath of the single. The vocals of Valderama take a little while to soak in but by the chorus spark nicely in the ear whilst the melodic grace and infectiousness of the keys and guitar only provide a compelling persuasion which like the vocals takes time to seduce but ultimately do with good strength. Of those references This Early Autumn remind most closely of the Japanese trio though the single has a lighter energetic poise in comparison but is less intensively evocative and passionate.

The song is a gentle flame of richly hued melodies and lyrical suasion which add to the colour of the temptation which is undoubtedly at large but against that there is a dimmed spark to prevent it being a lingering kiss upon the ear and memory. It is a pleasing and appetising encounter though and one ensured to make This Early Autumn a band to have strong hopes for.

www.thisearlyautumn.com

7/10

RingMaster 30/09/2013

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Through Colour – Somnium

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The first of a concept-based 2 EP release, Somnium is a potent and passionate release from a band who after many years of making good impressions, has seemingly come to that point where impressions have become strong recognition. The five track release from UK rock/pop band Through Colour is a striking and accomplished introduction, though also one which only fleetingly ignites real fire in the passions for its undoubted impressive songwriting and excellent delivery. There is very little to hold up against the release, if anything at all but there is just a lack of that extra spark to make a lingering heart erupting declaration.

Nevertheless Somnium is a formidable release from a band which formed in 2004 in North Wales. Initially called My Turn To Kill until 2009 when they felt a change was needed to suit their style and evolution of sound, Through Colour next released the well-received debut mini album, Dream In Black And White which was recorded with Romesh Dodangoda. Its success and shows alongside the likes of Enter Shikari, Fightstar, We Are The Ocean, and The Misfits only added to the stock of the band. Then in 2011 the Manchester based quintet took a break to work on new songs but now the line-up of vocalist Steve White, guitarists Lee Crimes and Jazzy Bones, bassist Kieran Joyce, and drummer Shaun Humphreys return with Somnium, a release sure to bring further stature and awareness to their potent sound and songwriting.

Opener Daydream immediately takes attention by the hand and carries it and emotions on a vibrant dance of heart bred adventure and20212_10151367174122185_1827981421_n melodic colour. Instantly pleasing with a fresh breath which is coated in the kind of anthemic lure which is impossible to ignore let alone resist, the song thrusts jangly riffs and strong vocals through the ear from its opening second. The temptation is elevated with the fiery chorus and subsequent almost teasing twist before the verse, the rhythmic juggling especially impressive within the strong wind of sonic expertise and lingering hooks. The track makes a stirring start and remains the major pinnacle of the release despite the valiant efforts of the other songs.  Lyrically it has a passion to match the vocals and music, all combining for an infectiously memorable and deeply satisfying entrance into the EP.

The following Lost takes a gentler caress to the ear to open its account, the excellent vocal style and tone of White again a compelling inducement. Into its stride the tugging on the emotions is brought on a more restrained gait compared to its predecessor but one with plenty of sinew sculpted energy and eagerness whilst the rhythms of Humphreys cast a muscular and pleasing frame to the guitar scythes and melodic persuasion. A slow burner of a song in many ways it is a good confirmation of the promise oozing from the opener if without finding the heights of the first song.

Both Ink and Broken hold a seemingly personal aspect, certainly taking the potency and strength of the emotive tone on White’s delivery, and feel linked, not as a two part offering but in tone and emotion. The first is an absorbing encounter, the keys and vocal harmonies delicious hues to the provocative canvas of the track though there are elements which sound too familiar for comfort but from an unrecognisable source to be fair. It makes for a song which ebbs and flows in the passions though like the previous track it is one which makes a stronger call and suasion the more you share its colourful flight. The second of the two tantalises with riveting rhythms and again the excellent harmonies the band bring to their songs so skilfully and effectively. Once more it is a song which at times is pure scintillating mesmerism and in other moments finding things to annoyingly feed expectations. Nevertheless it is an excellent track which like the rest shower the ear and thoughts with a wave of promise and adventure which makes the future of the band one to anticipate hungrily.

The closing Till The End is the weakest on the release but yet again has plenty to feed an awoken appetite for the band. The orchestral embrace of the song makes for a dramatic but thoughtful presence whilst the evocative wash of the song is a magnetic caress but ultimately the track in comparisons to the rest of the EP is lacking the trigger to bring the imagination and emotions to the boil.

Somnium is a fine collection of songs though and a companion which leaves a healthy intrigue and intent towards its forthcoming companion EP. Through Colour has the craft and sound to make big waves in UK rock pop, they just need that final fuse or trigger to make it a long term enthralling one.

http://www.through-colour.com/

https://www.facebook.com/ThroughColour

8/10

RingMaster 30/09/2013

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Co-Exist-Skelf

Skelf Front cover Main

Scottish synapse stretchers Co-Exist follow their acclaimed and impressive album Violent Intentions Begin with Slow Incisions of 2010 with another intensive senses exploiting sonic corrosion in the deliciously intrusive shape of the Skelf EP. A rabid sonic savagery spews from the incendiary mesh of intensive metal, rapacious thrash, and vitriolic grindcore; the effect and presence of the release a tempest of intensity, spite, and downright viciousness which exhausts and devours whilst simultaneously igniting the passions.

Consisting of vocalist Dawson Taylor, bassist John Clark Paterson, drummer Quzzy, and guitarists Charlie Perratt and Marc Mullen, the 1998 formed Glasgow quintet have over the past couple of years sculpted an impressive reputation for their sonic scarring and the latest release only reinforces and strengthens their reputation for skilfully crafted and passionately bred unbridled caustic and intimidating persuasion. Creating a squalling quarrelsome mix of Coilguns, Retox, and The Locust, band and EP are an extreme scourge of deeply rewarding invention which takes little time in reaping the more restrained seeds sown in the dawning steps from Of Steel for an intensive examination. Holding itself in check initially it may be but the song is still instantly intimidating in its lure and temptation as it seduces the listener into the subsequent torrent of crippling rhythms, insidious sonics, and ruinous riffs. Driven by the abrasive vocal squalls of Dawson, the track is insatiably brutal but beneath in its underbelly creates an underlying groove and grinding irritant which only entices.

The fury of barbed hooks which score the psyche is continued by the following tempest Eyepliers and the toxic Kick yer fucking cunt in, their malevolence alone nasty and merciless but combined pure sonic destruction. The first of the two is a sonic rape of ears and mind, every note an intrusive grain within a storm of bedlamic abrasion. Its two minutes of life burns the senses whilst lungs try to grasp an ounce of air within the aggressive furnace. Its successor is as equally toxic; vehemence and noxious intent reducing the body and mind into easy prey for its open predation. Both songs are exhausting scintillating treats and easy to give full submission to.

History of violent behaviour spawns from a more metallic source, a classic metal essence coaxing out a more accessible, compared to those tempests before, rampage of grooves and melodic craft within the constant tumultuous rage also employed. It is a superbly structured charge which only invites full hunger for its creative premise but does remain in the shadows of the earlier and subsequent blazes of toxicity as in the outstanding Brass Knuckles, the track almost fifty seconds of tempestuous thrash abuse. Another sonic terror fused to invidious tension, the short mental mauling achieves more damage and provides greater satisfaction than most bands can create in a marathon of minutes.

The release ends with a lasting flight of sonic cruelty in Stress fractures, a track which stands toe to toe with the venomous peaks already stet by the EP. It concludes a rabid and greedy fury of primal infestation which leaves only an urgent hunger for more of the destructive imagination violating the senses. Certainly a release for those with masochistic tendencies towards their music, Skelf and indeed Co-Exist provide a ruinous creative pestilence it is impossible not to have a desperate appetite for.

https://www.facebook.com/Coexistgrind

9/10

RingMaster 29/09/2013

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Stuntman Mike – Triangles

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UK alternative rock band Stuntman Mike has brewed a potent rising reputation for their vibrant sound since forming around three years ago, a certain trigger coming with the release of debut song Triangles. Following on from the keen promise of the single Blackout Revolvers released at the tail of last year, the trio from Glasgow now unleash their debut album, also called Triangles, to make a strong and enjoyable statement about a band finding their creative and enterprising feet. The release offers a collection of accomplished and passionate songs which leaves an eager appetite for their persuasion in place. The album it is fair to say is not one stretching the boundaries of uniqueness for the genre but certainly adds a fresh and heart bred spice.

Taking inspiration from the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Black Sabbath, Kasabian, The Police, and Queen into their ideas and organic sound, the trio of vocalist Scott Hetherington, guitarist Billy Mulholland, and drummer/backing vocalist Affy Ahmad have earned an impressive reputation live which has included shows alongside the likes of Kassidy, The Dykeenies, The Damned Things, Gun, Barry Hyde (The Futureheads) and the Virgin Marys. Their previous self-released singles have also garnered great support and acclaim with the song Secret Forces winning Rock Recording of the Year at the Scottish New Music Awards. Continuing to be passionately DIY, the band is primed to brand a deeper mark with the album, an evocatively fuelled release recorded with famed Scottish producer Stuart McRedie (The Fratellis, Pete Doherty, The Dykeenies, Codeine Velvet Club).

Coming in new to the band, it has to be said their name is not the most inviting for some reason but that is soon forgotten as the 1098022_623813610973427_2105731101_nalbum’s opening track Buffalo confidently strolls up to the ear. Crisp beats and fiery melodic guitar teases immediately draw in attention whilst the brewing intensity and excellent vocals add further potent persuasion. It is not long before a Manic Street Preachers feel emerges from within the song, a flavour which with the band’s own invention makes for a sizzling and impressive invitation. Hooks continue to scythe a deep lure in the imagination whilst sonic hues stand side by side with the delivery of Hetherington to incur greater temptation upon the passions. New ground is not being laid with the song but satisfaction is undoubtedly thick in its presence.

The following Great Exploitations with its fizzing electronic spices and vocal harmonics finds a Muse tint to its magnetic temptation. The stomping core of the song leads the emotions on a heady venture beneath the continually shifting and exploring melodic weave and anthemic breath to forge an encounter which like its predecessor just lifts and ignites the appetite and passions. It continues the impressive start which is not quite matched by next up Modern Glory and Promise, both songs lacking the spark which marked the first pair. Neither lack craft and imagination though, the first having a Mind Museum like emotive energy to its narrative and the second an infectious if not quite tightly griping call to its encroaching cloud of sonic intensity and provocative adventure. Taken alone the tracks leave a lingering impression but on the album pale against the surrounding opening twosome and next up We Say Fire. This song is a sinew sculpted confrontation with a feisty swagger to match. Not neglecting the melodic flames and skill the band already unveils on the album, the track is a storm of rapaciousness and restraint, the extremes brought in a seamless and compelling alignment.

Through the likes of Cartel with its broody guitar and bass probing and the tantalising Roses and Razors, the band continue to hold thoughts and attention in their direction but into its second half the album loses that fire which earlier songs seduced with. Again though these and tracks like Ashes and Champagne Wolves are never less than pleasing and enjoyable in their company, just not lingering once departed.

Closing with the enterprising romp of Kingdom to provide a strong finish to its enjoyable presentation, Triangles marks out Stuntman Mike as a band to keep an eye on. The album does not reach the peaks found by some of its tracks consistently enough across its length to fire up the passions intensely but with all songs soaked in promise and adventure it makes a healthy base for the band to spring from.

http://www.stuntmanmike.co.uk

7.5/10

RingMaster 29/09/2013

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Three heads from a dying monkey: the Headcount Interview

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It was with the release of the Two Heads/Die Monkey Die EP that UK punk/noise provocateurs Headcount ignited a long term passion for their sounds here at the site, a slavery which only bled excitement when the band released their new album Lullabies for Dogs recently. The Oxford trio thirteen years or so on from their first steps as a band with the Malicious Damage Records released album showed they still had the snarl and lyrical provocation not forgetting the mischief which twisted our imagination and emotions into submission a decade ago. Grabbing the opportunity with possibly over eager hands to find out more about the band past and present we fuelled the band with numerous questions. With great thanks to vocalist/guitarist Rob Moss, bassist Rob Jeffrey, and drummer Stef Hale we talked about Lullabies for Dogs, Paul Raven, Marco Pirroni, the dying days of music and much more…

Hi and welcome to The RingMaster Review.

Before we talk about your new album Lullabies For Dogs, can we swiftly go back to fourteen years ago when the band began? What was the spark which brought the band together and what was the main driving force for its intent?

ROB MOSS: We were brought together by a mutual friend who sang in a pre-Headcount band for us. After he went to the states we just carried on! To be honest, we’d been starting to follow a heavier direction anyway but the change in circumstances gave us a chance to do a wholesale change of go for it!

The driving forces? Just general reaction to all that goes on in the world. You will note that I, in particular, seem to have an opinion on everything and , of course , believe that EVERYONE wants to hear it……..

Are those inspirations just as potent and forceful now or have they changed or evolved especially in regard to your songwriting?

ROB MOSS: Absolutely. Probably more so because the world does not seem to be getting any better does it? Look at Syria and Egypt and the whole global economic crisis or the homophobic laws being introduced in Russia. Hardly an improvement – more’s the pity

ROB JEFFREY: Our songs have always been about current issues, which kind of makes us like a loud version of HEAT Magazine. Mossy has something to say on most things, and whilst we don’t always share exactly the same opinion on everything we generally move in the same direction, give or take the odd punch up. If anything, our more recent approach is darker and more subtle then the old days of openly fighting paedophiles, the church & Earl Spencer!

STEF HALE: It’s a strange mix which makes Headcount but with all of our differing tastes in Music, this is what creates the noise, brutality and melody. Headcount are not wannabe pop stars, punks nor metal heads we play what we like and that comes through from Mossy’s punk, Robs thrash metal and my “listen to anything”. The collaboration is catchy and “fucking have it”! rhythm section with the lyrical content and melody from mossy of all the things that “gets on his tits” this is what makes us sound like…well, Headcount

So you still get as creatively angry about the same things or has that canvas widened over the years?

RM: It’s widened as there are more and more ridiculous events happening. Headcount existed pre 9/11. I was amazed that things went that far. I could NEVER have imagined someone crashing a plane into the two towers, call me naive if you like. From then on, anything seems possible and there are ever increasingly ridiculous scenarios being thrown up by the world. Politician’s expenses, banks failing, churches arguing over women bishops and gay marriage. All that nonsense!

As mentioned you have just released your excellent fourth album Lullabies For Dogs; is the anticipation and excitement releasing a new 528281_563301857015153_1671612872_nrecord the same for you as when you began or is there a different stronger emotion surrounding these moments for you now?

RM: Hmmmmm. Hard to say. The first things you release are always exciting but as you go on that excitement tends to give way to a more nervous approach. Will they like it as much as the last one? It’s still a great buzz getting your music out there.

RJ: It’s much more exciting now. Mainly because we know we are a good band with a damn good album, and other people do too, whether it is their kind of thing or not. We were really keen to see how people responded to it, because it is not classic Headcount as such, and the response and reviews so far have been great. The next album will no doubt sound different though.

SH: Just fucking glad it’s finished and we can move on to the next!

The album does have that familiar or rather distinct Headcount sound which for us seems less heavy than your previous albums but has a more developed intensity and even more deliberate snarl to its provocative attack. Would that be a fair assessment and if so did you aim for this direction or one which organically came about?

RJ: It’s Marco’s fault. He’s a dandy highwayman and can’t cope with riffs.

RM: Well, you say it’s less heavy, others have said it is heavier! Actually, I’m with you. I think it’s less brash. More refined but has a brooding malevolence about it because we have refined out songwriting, developed our musical skills (arguably) and got older. I feel better equipped to express myself than before.

How and where specifically has your music and songwriting changed and evolved since your early releases?

RM: We’re 14 years older! I can’t keep that pace up now. I’m an old man. To play like the first album, well, I’d need oxygen after 10 minutes. But seriously, our influences have changed, we have more subtlety in our lives now and I think ideas and methods have been absorbed into our approach in a good way. We have middle eights now and a few key changes that we didn’t have before because we just didn’t know how they worked!

RJ: We are little bit more experimental nowadays, especially in the studio, and songs tend to develop as we tinker rather than being a finished product at the first time of writing. But again, in true Headcount style the next era of Headcount could just as easily consist of 3 minute hardcore thrashers. Who knows? Or cares!

It has been five years between the new release and last album To The Point, time where the band seem to sink quietly into the background. What led to your low profile and did the sad loss of Paul Raven who produced your last two albums and I know was a friend, play a part too?

RJ: We needed a break from what we were doing. For lots of reasons. Not all bad ones, but we definitely all needed to do some other things. We actually rehearsed and wrote and recorded loads of stuff in that time, but that was kind of peripheral meanderings. We collaborated on a hip –hop album (yes Headcount and hip hop!) with Dynamax, recorded some secret punk songs with a secret trance superstar (still secret) and wrote lots of songs, which eventually led to us recording many and choosing a few of them. So, very busy just away from gigging and the whole ‘scene’ for a bit.

RM: Actually Raven only produced Die Monkey Die but his influence was there on To The Point. Raven died just as To The Point was released and that hit us hard and made us very introverted. There were a few things going on that made us think “what’s the fucking point” and we retreated. We wrote some new songs and they got heavier as we played them and we though “yes, this is Headcount” and went for it!

SH: Raven was an inspiration. The Man could extract more energy and playing ability from any of us than we ever thought possible. We all miss him. Outside of his death I think we all got pissed off with the music scenes and having to support the same type of shit wherever we played and what is it with promoters today putting us in with a religious acoustic band! I think this all got to us all so we needed time away.

headcount 2Was there a strong emotional element when recording Lullabies For Dogs, because of Paul’s presence in the previous releases and if so did it add something extra to the album would you say?

RM: In honesty, no. The sessions for Lullabies were different in that we recorded using different technology and had Marco on board who brought a very different dynamic. That’s not to say that we don’t miss Raven. He crops up when you least expect him to

The new album as you mentioned, sees for us the legend and ex-Ant Marco Pirroni bringing his guitar skills back to the band having appeared on your 2002 debut album. Was this in your minds when writing the album and what does Marco bring which accentuates and builds on your core sound and ideas?

 SH: Marco, although a miserable bastard at times, is a genius and transformed a couple of OK songs or album fillers into rip roaring classics with a couple of Killer riffs.

RM: Marco came on board just as we were about to record and I don’t think he had an intention of making an album with us. He was just looking for something to do and we kidnapped him and sent him home a year later! Marco is a great guy to work with. I can go all gushy if you want but seriously he is very inventive in the studio and very generous with his time. He provided some great hooks for the album like the chorus riff on Black Dog Days and forced us to look at the structure of the songs, cutting out the “bollocks” and looking at adding middle eights. He took the seeds of a song and said ”do this, do that, swap this with that, cut that out, play this here”. You can see that the lad has a bit of talent and I’m glad he finally got to work with a band as talented as us after all those years farting about with make-up and No 1 records.

RJ: Marco manages to find melody in the strangest of places, and you just have to let him work out whatever he wants as the track plays. He has definitely brought out the melody makers in us, and the songs where Marco’s playing is most prominent are definitely the most accessible to listed too.

Lyrically you as expected are pulling no punches on the album, as with the track News Corpse. I guess in the world as it is there will never be a shortage of triggers to inspire and vent against.

RM: I’m afraid not. There are plenty of targets out there aren’t there? People are pretty grimy creatures aren’t they?

On the other side do you think the music fan still takes as much notice of lyrical commentary or is led to thinking deeper about things by music nowadays as in previous decades?

RM: I don’t know really. Probably not. There are lot of great lyricists out there but if the tune isn’t kicking then it’s not going to fly is it? Turn it the other way round. How many great tunes have bollocks lyrics but are still hits? Some people love to look at the lyrics. Probably got too much time on their hands…..

SH: For me, music is dying a death. Where is the enjoyment of waiting outside Our Price for the new Iron Maiden album and reading from cover to cover? Maybe music is just too accessible and “clean” today. All being done with loops and synths. Teenagers have their little earphones and digital media, what’s happened to saving up for the expensive stereo with Fuck off speakers? It’s not only the lyrics people don’t listen to. Music has become a disposable commodity.

How much is the lyrical aspect of songs just observation of social and world issues and how much is closer to home, taken from personal headcount3experience?

RM: Probably 50/50. Some of the lyrics are personal, not necessarily me but reflecting issues in and around the band and others are wider socio-political comment. Depends on the mood of the day when writing; if something has irked me, it might become the subject of the song

Can you tell above another song on Lullabies For Dogs, the track Black Dogs Days and its link to the great mental health charity SANE?

RM: Churchill used the phrase Black Dog and it seemed apposite to use it when writing about depression. Then we saw that SANE were running a campaign to de-stigmatize mental health issues and we thought that there was a tie up that was worth mentioning. Their Black Dog campaign has really helped get the message over that mental illness needs to be openly discussed and that it does not mean that you are confined to an institution to chew your elbows! It’s treatable using all types of therapies and there are HUGE numbers of people who suffer but live normal lives. Just like people with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic flatulence (drummers mostly)!

Humour has always played a big part in your music in a merger with your directness and uncompromising look at things. This is a reflection of you as people and personalities?

RM: Yeah. We’re pretty easy going people. Like a bit of fun and try to make gigs an interactive thing. We like talking to people, sharing opinions and having a laugh. Our humour is cruel though. Poor old Stef gets it in the neck a lot. Mainly from Rob J who is an evil bastard. We couldn’t live our lives like we write lyrics. That would be just too grim.

What is next for Headcount?

RM: Promoting the album with a couple of releases planned. As many gigs as we can get and then maybe some more songwriting. The next album I want to record quickly. A few days. Bang it out. It might be a heavier album. Not sure yet. Let’s see what comes naturally.

Many thanks for sharing your time with us and revealing some of the depths within Headcount. Anything you would like to add?

RM: Thank YOU for having us. It’s really difficult for unknown bands to get the exposure so folks like you make a MASSIVE change. There are so many barriers to getting good music heard. There is a lot of shit that is bankrolled and gets the exposure. Honestly. So many shit shit shit bands stealing the oxygen of publicity! Lots of them with horrid clothes and wank haircuts and no fucking tunes!

You’ve left it so open ended Pete by asking if there’s anything we want to say that I fear we could be here for days!

So I’ll just say to folks, listen to the album (you can find it on Spotify first) then buy the bastard thing and come to a show for the full, undiluted experience. Live Headcount is something quite different to the recorded version.

See you there???

Read the review of Lullabies For Dogs @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/headcount-lullabies-for-dogs/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 27/09/2013

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