BL’AST! : Blood


It seems strange to us that a band, and a very good one can lose track and memory of a bunch of master tapes of unreleased recorded material but that is exactly what happened with US hardcore innovators BL’AST!. Thankfully for the world their discovery was made in an abandoned storage locker by guitarist Mike Neider who contacted Southern Lord with the news of his discovery and to shorten the story a little now we have the quite stunning furnace of fury to devour, an album which will be ravenous consumed such its startling presence.

Formed in 1982, the Santa Cruz band had the genre instantly drooling with their debut album The Power of Expression in 1985. Intense and dramatically potent their release and sound started the highly influential impression the band cast over hardcore over the following years, their live performances which saw them play with bands such as Exploited and Slayer only cementing their rapidly earned status. Signing with SST Records, the band released the devastating It’s In My Blood in 1987 with the equally impacting third, Take The Manic Ride following two years later. Not long after that record the band split up and certainly outside of the US, band and name arguably drifted into the shadows. BL’AST! did reunite in 2001 briefly for a few shows but little more was heard until the very discovery.

The recording sees a line-up including current Alice In Chains vocalist William Duvall who had joined BL’AST! as second guitarist at the time. His tenure was short lived and no recordings with him involved were ever released, until now. From Neider contacting Southern Lord Records’ Greg Anderson also of SUNN O))), the material was offered and placed before BL’AST! enthusiast Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) who eagerly snapped up the chance to mix the recordings. What has emerged is easily one of the best hardcore releases in modern times and one can happily suggest easily on par with what made the band so important and influential back in the eighties, so again the question lingers how did these tracks get missed at the time, as undoubtedly they are nowhere near being throwaway not good enough slices of antagonism.

Anyway they are here now to chew up the senses and the release takes little time to excite the ear as opener Only Time Will Tell goes to work. The immediate bass grinding of the senses is just delicious, a gnarly belligerent beckoning skirted by equally appetising discord lit guitar and thumping drums. It is the narwhale like call of the second guitar which unites it all to one of the best introductions to a song heard in a long time, so impressive and enjoyable that once into its stride the track is almost an anti-climax. Bruising and making welcome demands with the Malcolm Owen like vocals a caustic provocateur the encounter unleashes riffs and rhythms which taunt and eye ball the senses contagiously. Not for the first time on the album thoughts of the Ruts, not only vocally are rife and eagerly approved.

The following Ssshhh certainly does not understand its title, a crazed vocal squall heralding another fire of riffs and sonic abrasion which ignites the senses and passions. As with its predecessor the song is relatively straight forward but littered with hooks and slight grooves that grip attention and pleasure with ease as do the likes of the antagonistic Sometimes and the lethal Winding Down. The first of these two lashes and burns the ear with twisting sonic flames and savage energy whilst its successor lays down another strong bass enticement before expelling a predacious ferocity that sweeps the emotions up in a tempest of rhythmic and sonic incitement.

Through further rapacious persuasion with the likes of Tomorrow with its ridiculously addictive and blistering waspish breath and the pulsating Your Eyes, the album just seeps deeper into the psyche and passions, the second of the two a doom clad deliberate prowl which acid burns the flesh of the ear with sonic toxicity whilst offering the shadows of The Damned to its air. It is a brief treat leading straight into another pinnacle of the album in the virulent Poison and its irresistible anthemic pestilence.

The album is completed by It’s In My Blood, another song where the bass lays down a riveting bass and temptation for the guitars and drums to prowl and embellish with voraciousness. Sizzling hooks and grooves make a web of intrigue and compulsion only slightly tempered by the brutally forged eye to eye vocal scalding whilst into its hungry flow the song breaks out with a noise rock scything within an epidemic punk pathogen. It concludes an exhausting wholly outstanding assault which may be comprised of old tracks but is easily as fresh and vital as anything around today. A brief mention also for Grohl and his masterful touch which is just as important in making Blood so refreshing and impressive. Dare we hope this marks the return of BL’AST!


RingMaster 02/09/2013

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Midday Veil – The Current


    The Current is one of those experiences which is impossible to truly represent in all of its depths and rich effects on the imagination and nervous system through mere words. The new album from US psych-prog band Midday Veil, it is a masterful deeply enveloping release which is as intimidating and challenging as it is magnetic and mesmerising. It is aural alchemy, a cosmic journey of emotions and energy which are simultaneously transformed into a potently hued soundscape of invasive colour and imposing shadows, and one of the most tantalising and enthralling albums this year.

The Seattle band began in 2008 with Texan vocalist/songwriter Emily Pothast and ‘analog synth-head’ David Golightly collaborating on writing and creating music. Expanding in the early part of the following year with guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Timm Mason joining the pair as well as bassist Jayson Kochan, drummer Chris Pollina, and percussionist Sam Yoder, Midday Veil unveiled their debut album Eyes All Around in 2010. It was well-received by the underground media but it was with the following pair of improvised cassette releases, Subterranean Ritual II and Integratron of 2011 and ’12 respectively which really lit a fire in the passions of experimental/progressive fans. Recorded in an acoustically perfect wooden dome built with “extraterrestrial guidance” on a magnetic vortex in the Mojave desert, the pair of releases thrust the band onto another level creatively and in awareness. Now the quintet, with drummer Garrett Moore the only change in personnel since the project began, have returned to deliberately sculpted songwriting with The Current whilst reaping the same fluidity and imaginative intensity and looseness which drove the previous releases.

Released via Translinguistic Other Records, the album is immediately provoking and teasing the ear through the title track and its cosmic discord lit pokes within a strong rhythmic frame around the brewing synth narrative which soon colours the imagination. The vibrant bass roam brings further warmth to the table but it is the wonderful seductive tones of Pothast which shower heat and evocative caresses upon thoughts and emotions. There is a definite soulful swagger to the song’s dance which brings a festival mischief to the progressive heart of the song though waiting you sense darker eyes and intensity also at work. Increasingly more persuasive and sultry as it progresses deeper into its cosmical sun, the track leaves thoughts soaring and investigating their own imagination as it effortlessly evolves into its successor.

Choreia just as its predecessor is a startling piece of sonic storytelling, the instrumental another astronomical venture with crystalline shards of synth and equally endurable melodies lighting up the sky of the song as below a primal rhythmic repetition parades a commanding tango of intrigue and menace. A slight doom coaxing wraps the underlying almost predatory course of the flight whilst above guitars and keys expand their orchestral bred beauty with again a constantly building intensity. Evocative and powerful, the piece is a ravishing sonic painting which simply engulfs the listener in irresistible grandeur and suggestive peril.

Again as with each segment of the creative landscape that is The Current, next up Remember Child flows from its companion, a haunting chant like ambience providing an inviting yet chilling drone of an invitation which almost secretively ebbs and flows before rhythmic walls emerge to slowly cage the dramatic and evolving sonic blizzard. Not exactly dissipating but certainly fusing into a melodic and harmonic sunrise with the vocals once more sirenesque, the song continues its ambitious and successful preternatural persuasion before transforming into the just as entrancing Without and Within. Soaked in a Middle Eastern influence and elegant acoustic beauty the song is simply extraordinary, its haunting Siouxsie and The Banshees like vocal and melodic sway a transportation into shadowed mystique and other worldly mystery. The biggest pinnacle of the album is really is hard to portray here the glory and majesty of the track.

Sun Stone is a verging on corrosive drift through caustic climes, an instrumental of synapse grazing chills bringing stronger danger forward to temper the persuasion of the previous song and the closing eleven minute plus epic Great Cold of the Night. The closing song again has that Eastern ambience within a welcome electronic nagging speared by intensive flames of guitar encouraged further by the mutually persistent rhythmic pressurising. The song is an adventure all on its own, its heat and smouldering rapaciousness offering a vibrant and colourful emprise coated in intimidation and threatening shadows.

Produced by Randall Dunn (Sunn O))), Master Musicians of Bukkake), The Current is an exceptional exploit with a transfixing and invigorating soundscape. Dark and glamorous, psychologically spine-chilling and meditatively enthralling, the album is genius and Midday Veil sonic sculptors it is hard to know whether to embrace or distrust.


RingMaster 2/09/2013


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Karnak – The Cult Of Death


Uncompromising and ravenous, the new mini-album from Italian death metallers Karnak is a furious consumption of the senses but equally a deceptively rewarding one which with bravery and strong will before its ferocity provides a compelling and invigorating examination of senses and thoughts. Made up by five predatory tracks, The Cult Of Death is an annihilatory turbulence through the ear which consists of four new songs linked to a concept inspired by Aleister Crowley, as well as a cover of a Celtic Frost track.  With savage essences which put you in mind of the likes of Incantation, Pestilence, Nile, Morbid Angel, and Suffocation, the release is a potent and dramatic gnawing of the synapses marking the Monfalcone hailing quartet as a persistently formidable proposition.

Formed in 1993 by drummer Stefano Rumich, the band released numerous demos before making a strong impression away from their local area with debut album Perverted, the first release under the name Karnak. This was successfully followed by Melodies Of Sperm Composed, an album which saw the band evolve from their initial pure grind/death metal stance exploring elements of jazz, samples and more to add flavour and colour to the still destructive tempest of sound. Third album Tutti I Colori Del Buio was released in 2002 before the band went on a break provoked by line-up changes. 2009 saw their return and the signing with Casket Records with the release of fourth album Dismemberment coming the following year. A tour supporting Krisiun and Kataklysm pushed the band out further in 2011, though by now having supported the likes of Impaled Nazarene, Suffocation, Nile, Decapitated, Avulsed, Necrodeath, Pyogenesis, Destruction, Fleshgod Apocalypse and more over the years, Karnak was no longer a hidden secret. Last year the band supported Malevolent Creation, Krisiun, and Vital Remains on another European tour followed by another with Deicide. Currently working on their next album, the line-up of vocalist/guitarist Francesco Ponga, bassist/vocalist Lorenzo Orsini, guitarist/vocalist Marco Polo, and Stefano Rumich raise real anticipation and hunger for said release with The Cult Of Death, its bestial creative assault wholly persuasive.

The opening Intro just lays out a simple rhythmic beckoning but its temptation is irresistible and almost tribal as it evolves into The cover_karnak_thecultofdeathConstruction Of The Pyramid (The Demon’s Breath) who replays its offering before opening the gate to an intensive exhausting technically honed riff driven blaze which scorches the senses with the brewing animosity of the song and its breath is not far behind in carnivorous intent. With vocals roaring like the oldest colossal predator imaginable, the track lurches at the senses with insatiable energy aligned to a more restrained but unreserved sonic and rhythmic stalking. Furies of technical and acidically melodic guitar do initially wrong foot emotions after their submission to the easy to devour onslaught, but soon persuade craft and evocative hues.

It is an impressive start repeated and then surpassed by The Construction Of The Pyramid Beta (Invocation), the Meshuggah like web laid down around the passions at the start over run by the torrential thick sonic mass of intensity and suffocating ambience. Doom oppressive and sludge lumbering, the shift bleeds the air of light and oxygen but equally ignites thoughts with shards of melodic light and colour before the nightmarish soundscape with its heaviness and rabid vocals seems to claw like a swarm of patient demons at the psyche. As with the release it is not at times the easiest or most comfortable listen on first impressions but beneath the barbarous surface and many deeper levels there is a magnetic and superbly crafted well of invention and skilled temptation.

The nagging chugging which leads the song to a dissipating climax is immediately thrown aside by the sadistic entrance of The Construction Of The Pyramid Gamma, a start which is only built upon and intensified the further the track chews at the ear with the drum attack of Rumich unrelentingly and impossibly thrilling. Also unafraid to bring a potent melodic and sonic adventure to the striking narrative of the release, the track is a frequently changing and provoking treat concluding and summing up the new songs and strength of the album perfectly.

Completed by the cover of Celtic Frost song Jewel Throne, the release is an enthralling malevolent engagement. The final track is more than decent but as accomplished as it is it is not a match for the previous trio of songs. Quite simply The Cult Of Death really gets the appetite aflame for Karnak’s forthcoming album whilst making a thoroughly satisfying meal right now.


RingMaster 02/08/2013

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Steaming Satellites – Slipstream

Steaming Satellites

Following their highly acclaimed debut album The Mustache Mozart Affaire a year ago, Austrian band Steaming Satellites unveil its successor Slipstream, a release which one suspects with easily  match the strength of response certainly amongst their fans. Eleven indie/alternative rock/electronic tracks which at times seem deceptively simple but are crafted with precise thought and imagination, the album easily shows why the Salzburg quartet is earning such eager reactions even if it does miss out on provoking a continual potent wash of ardour for its offerings.

Reliably informed that the band began around 2005, they began seducing their local and homeland crowds soon after before venturing farther afield with a US tour with Hello Electric in 2009 followed by another with Portuguese band The Man the next year. 2012 saw not only the release of their first full-length but more tours across Scandinavia and Spain with Two Gallants whilst strong festival appearances including the Eurosonic Festival in Groningen brought this year to life. The foursome of vocalist/guitarist Max Borchardt, bassist Manfred Mader, keyboardist/bassist Emanuel Krimplstätter, and drummer/programmer/keyboardist Matthäus Weber have built on their previous release with Slipstream, bringing an arguably grittier and more caustic breath to its presence though melodies and electronic elegance are still given full rein.

Released via The Instrument Village, the album opens with its title track, a cosmic heralding instrumental with sinister suggestiveness and295486_10151678988644741_1044438872_n dawning melodic grandeur. Seemingly seeded in 2001: A Space Odyssey, it is a decent enough beckon which leads into Another Love, the song instantly grabbing attention with its Sicilian keys temptation. Soon joined by the distinctive tones of Borchardt the lure only gets stronger especially when the brewing drum and bass persuasion grips tightly to ignite a wash of passion. There is a soulful fire to the vocals which again is focus pulling whilst once into its stride the song saunters along with evocative colour and melodic enterprise.

The next up Notice raises things another level, keys again opening up the path for the fine vocals and melodic sun of the song to stroll along. A rich bluesy lilt to the guitars has thoughts alert whilst the now bold swagger of the track and its harmony led festive energy has ears dancing to their soulful tune. A foot and emotion puppeteer of a track, there is a certain Black Keys feel to the song which seems at odds with the suggested comparisons to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Bob Dylan which accompanied the release, though you can at times understand that idea. The following Another Try also brings a different thought, this time of the Alex Turner led band as it evokes a reflective and provocative narrative within the imagination. The synths sculpt an inciting ambience whilst the drums vein it with an honesty which alongside the excellent gnarly snarling bass lines ensnares a real hunger for their presence.

The intriguing ballad So I Fell Down brings again that Arctic Monkeys feel especially vocally, with Procol Harum like keys reaping the seeds of the seventies to mesmerise mind and emotions. Like the album as a whole, the song takes time to make its persuasion, taking numerous plays before it fully declares its riches it is the epitome of a slow burner forging a long term recruit for its glory.

Both Timezone and No Sleep for the Damned engage easily with the ear without quite matching what came before, though the blues drenched croon of the second of the two skirted by a great rhythmic taunt holds more than enough to pull one back into its depths time and again. The next up Rudder ebbs and flows within the passions, its evocative electro weaves and vocal harmonies making a magnetic breeze across feisty rhythmic waves of temptation which traps the listener in its creative snare. It like many does not light any raging fires inside but smoulders in thoughts and memory potently enough to make another strong impression, something you can lay at the door of Slipstream as a whole.

Shadows Collide is another more than decent ballad where again Weber steals most attention, which is then left firmly in the shade by the best song on the album, Anyone. There is a mischievous look on its tempting face from the start; keys, guitars, and rhythms courting the emotions like a pack of festival hounds before stretching their arms to welcome a delicious flaming shower of brass. The song takes no time in securing total ardour but then raises the game again with a step midway into mellower sway of invention and energy speared by hot coals of sonic invention and melodic fire.

Concluded by Gone and its melancholic poise, Slipstream is a very enjoyable and appetising album which as mentioned makes it clear as to why the band has come under such positive declarations, though it does not exactly spark a rapturous passion inside.  Steaming Satellites does bring plenty of appetising and easy to indulge in sounds and imagination though and undoubtedly will leave their fans new and old blissfully content.


RingMaster 02/09/2013

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