IIOIOIOII – Rising Sky


With more than a passing nod to eighties synth pop, the Rising Sky EP from US industrial/electro project IIOIOIOII is a delicious major introduction to an artist which combines evocative atmospherics with seductive melodic embraces and teasing testing invention. Consisting of four magnetic tracks which without stretching boundaries explore fresher pastures than most within a well-worn genre over the years, the Juggernaut Media released Rising Sky is an engaging and captivating proposition from a potently emerging talent in Christopher Gurney.

Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, Gurney with his solo project creates an absorbing web of sound and textures around strong vocals and open emotive narratives. IIOIOIOII (pronounced I.O.) takes thoughts at times back to early Mute Records days with its minimalistic breath within a feisty enterprise. The EP also occasionally triggers comparisons to the John Foxx, Modern English, and once or twice the new wave/synth pop beginnings of Ministry, yet despite that it has an individuality and character which brings those flavours into something refreshing and invigorating as well as different to most current bands. It is a mesmeric treat and the instigator to great anticipation to Gurney’s forthcoming debut album.

The AA side of Rising Sky consists of the title track and Stardust , the opener immediately laying down a seduction which breeds IIOIOIOII - Rising Sky - coverattention and hunger for its persuasion. The first track ambles in with electro splinters of encouragement and a more sinew cast industrial predation which though equally inviting is wrapped in shadows and intrigue. The vocals of Gurney make a clean and open provocateur though you sense a snarl on the edge of every syllable waiting for its moment but the song’s restraint holds court throughout. The track has a reflective pace to its narrative and gait which holds both the magnetic elegance of the melodies and preying darker edge of the shadows in an easy union whilst the infection laced chorus has the virulent lure which marked the aforementioned songs of Modern English.

Next up Stardust like the first song, appears on the upcoming album Sun, and equally makes a compelling teaser for the full length. The slower evocative stroll of the track instantly weaves the pop charms of Paul Haig in with the thick ambiences of Nine Inch Nails, though the song ultimately steps mainly through the synth pop scenery of the potent landscape. It is an absorbing flight which bewitches imagination and passions within a celestial mesmerism veined by the melancholic breath of vocals and lyrical expression.

The B-side brings Could Have Been, an exclusive track to the EP, and Good Night a re-mastered version of a track first found on the projects first demo. Both continue the compelling call of the release, the first with a darker shade to its emotional hues and aural colour. It again offers essences of Trent Reznor as well as Gary Numan whilst within its vibrant stroll over the senses its suggesting blacker shadows carry a Frank Tovey touch. May be less impacting than the previous pair of songs it is still an encounter which leaves ears and thought absorbed and appetite greedier for what the release and IIOIOIOII has to offer. The closing track is a starker, darker industrial prowl; its fizzing, corrosive surface accentuated by the acrid lilt to the vocals. It is only half of the story though because like all songs it allows extremes and opposites to embrace and here Gurney weaves an OMD like melodic exploration with excellent vocal suasion to the cloud, menacing evocative heart of the track. It is a sinister thrilling conclusion to a masterful release.

If Rising Sky is any indication of the album it is going to be one of the most highly anticipated and striking synth pop/ electro industrial releases of recent times. Roll on its arrival as it is very easy to be confident that IIOIOIOII has something special in wait for us.




RingMaster 11/10/2013

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30,000 Monkies – Somewhere Over The Painbow


Launching itself at the senses with a web of sonic confrontation, rhythmic predation, and noise locked seduction, Somewhere Over The Painbow emerges as another of the year’s essential treats. The new EP from Belgium band 30,000 Monkies is a four track fusion of noise and psyche rock with stoner/sludge persuasion which leaves senses and thoughts exhausted but basking in an adventure which is striving to create its own unique corner of aggressive invention. Tagged as experimental which can be a false descript at any time, the quartet from Beringen arguably explore previously discovered dark corners but it is in a way no other has yet thought of to create new and unique sonic bruisings. With no regard to expected structures and well-trodden avenues, band and EP is a thrilling uncompromising endeavour with raptor bred hunger and pestilence seeded intent.

The ConSouling Agency released Somewhere Over The Painbow follows the band’s debut EP Womb Eater Wife Beater of 2011.The release was a heavier intensive sludge fuelled release in comparison to the new EP but one rife with various exploratory sounds and ideas. It set in motion the evolution which sees the new release certainly not miles away from that oppressive temptation but shearing it into a leaner, more caustic provocation with seemingly extra freedom to push its edges and limitations, which it does with delicious results.

Opener Imperial Staches from a few thumping beats unleashes a quarrelsome sonic grazing from the guitars of Michiel De Naegel and Ruben Savelkoul to instantly crowd and consume the ear, their scathing touch working its way down to put everything on red eager alert. With the bass of Igor Vuch feverishly roaming the blaze whilst the rhythms of Ward Beerten enslave and capture the passions, the track is a ferocious merciless scowl upon the senses which finds extra malevolence once the brief but pungent vocal squalls of Savelkoul make their appearance. The song is a short fury but takes a greedy grip on the imagination with ease whilst igniting a rapacious hunger for the rest of the release.

The following Amazones soon raises the ante and temperature with its opening Devo like sonic tendrils amongst muscular mountainous beats; its presence an instant lure and entrapment for which full submission is a given and fully cemented by the hardcore like vocals and melodically coaxed intensive rock striding. There is a certain Melvins/Sonic Youth like air to the harsher antagonism but also a hint of quirkiness which is Pere Ubu like. With a rampant finale the track is a commanding and demanding highlight soon matched by Czarring. Erupting with coarsely grained vocals and carnivorous bass tones, the track is a garage punk spawned snarl which at its start and in latter moments smack of UK band The St Pierre Snake Invasion whilst its sonic manipulation and violating noise craft has essences of fellow Limburg residents Kabul Golf Club. As always though, these are passing winds in something wholly individual to 30,000 Monkies, added tasty spices to an already riveting expanse of uncompromising imagination.

The closing thirteen epic Batteram is the true pinnacle of the EP, a constantly imposing and enthralling dark hymn which from its organic vocal and funereal expanse unveils slowly contagious limited grooves and anthemic low ‘chanting’ which is almost sinisterly meditative. Probably the only funeral march to recruit lustful followers, the track eventually drops into a cavernous doom filled suffocation, bedlamic suggestions preying on the imagination within the intensive swamp of insidious malevolence and exhausting weight. It is a striking fear mongering treat which maybe outstays its time though at no point do you wish to flee its acrimonious sufferance and pungent stifling.

     Somewhere Over The Painbow is sonic alchemy and pained imagination at its best, a predator and inspirer of the senses and emotions. 30,000 Monkies has basically carved out one of the big gems of the year, a release which gives noise a massive shot in the arm.



RingMaster 11/10/2013

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Markradonn – Final Dying Breath EP


Offering something distinctly different and threateningly confrontational, US metallers Markradonn make their introduction with the riveting Final Dying Breath EP. It is a release which challenges thoughts and ears whilst leading them on a fury of creative invention and experimentation. It is not a journey which allows an easy passage but it is one with the strongest rewards for the effort and intensive examination given.

Hailing from Florida, Markradonn take influences from death and black metal alongside progressive and symphonic metal into their self-termed ‘Experimental Atmospheric Metal Musical Expression’. It is a striking and gripping endeavour which on initial terms raises as many questions as it answers but emerges over time as a thoroughly absorbing and aggressively demanding experience which leaves a hunger for more. That raging appetite will soon be fed by the band’s debut album Ceremonial Abnegation Part 1: Ad Ex Carne Excoriation (Excoriation of the Flesh), it the first part in a series of concept albums that will include 4 parts in all, a 25 song concept epic about a man who has completely renounced his life and all of his beliefs in a ceremony that results in the end of his life, and the entire process of his soul/essence returning to the place of the first creation. Before its early 2014 though we have the vigorous appetiser the Final Dying Breath EP to preview things and set up the seeds of anticipation for the emerging project.

Recorded between the last waking hours of last year and the awakening of this, The Bluntface Records released Final Dying Breath opens with its title track and is soon washing the ears in ominous atmospheres and consuming rhythmically framed ambiences. The vocals of Haniel Adhar Markradonn squall with serpentine venom and toxicity across the expanse of the track whilst his guitar craft backed by Allen C Raia sear and burn with melodic intensive flames which singe air and ear. It is the rhythmic evocation though which commands the passions, the orchestral percussion of Jon Gabriel Katz a rising theatre for the drama and the creative slaps of drummer Tim Carter an evocative scourge of the narrative to drive the track deep into the imagination. It is a gripping start if one which frustrates as does the EP as a whole in its production. It may be just the promo sent over but the production is very muddy which certainly adds to the consumptive oppressive depths of the theme perfectly but defuses all the nuances and individual scripting which you know is sculpting the impressive effect and success of the song.

The following Internal Hate Unbounded heralds in the senses with a colourful fanfare within a stalking embrace which intensifies its predation as drums and bass carve their temptations in the underbelly of the caustic symphonic flight. The pestilent heart of the track soon prowls its cause around the ferocious bestial premise whilst the music opens up all its darkest corners and magnetic lures for a tempest of avant-garde vitriolic adventure. As nasty as its predecessor, may be more so, but with a more open welcome before its ruin, the track again leaves the mind and emotions enslaved in a turbulent and needy peril, unsure of where to run but wanting more.

No Redemption, No Forgiveness is a cavernous enticement, a climactic instrumental which parades a soundscape of desperate emotions, lost hope, and emotional turmoil. With brass flames coursing through its evocative halls from Chris King, trombonist Jesse Hudson, Matt Farrington, Nick Weaver,  and Reebeka West, the piece is a thoroughly potent instigator to imagination and emotional exercising, each run of its landscape building to stronger hued thoughts and interpretations.

The EP’s finest moment comes with the final two tracks, Frenzied Winter Sorrow and Cathartic Spiritual Purgation. The first of the two smothers the ears in another delicious drum persuasion, the orchestral percussion joining its lure to cast more drama over intrigue before the track explodes into a torrential fury with the brass at times soothing its passage without lessening its malevolent angst. There is a folk metal revelry lurking within the bedlam too which only adds to the enticement but again with a more understanding production the track really could have risen to imperious heights, though the excellent guitar play and solo as well as the rhythmic cage leaves only strong satisfaction behind. The closing track actually emerges as the favourite, the song another rhythmic jungle with an infection clad appeal but one aligned to an aboriginal calling through the didgeridoo of Dennis Bottaro. Shards of guitar scar and wrap around the maze of rhythms whilst a synth-guitar colours between the rhythmic punctuation but it is the drums and percussion which steal the passions and inspire the imagination.

Final Dying Breath is a promising and adventurous burst into view by Markradonn with only the production an issue, though arguably a big one, but as the EP was produced by Haniel Adhar Markradonn maybe it is supposed to be this way. Fingers crossed not and the album sees a more rewarding touch to the undoubtedly outstanding ideas and sounds, we for one cannot wait.



RingMaster 11/10/2013

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Touchstone – Oceans Of Time


Highly anticipated, Oceans Of Time the new album from UK progressive rock band Touchstone is a release sure to delight and excite their fans. It brings a wave of creative sounds and mesmeric temptation which is  destined to also recruit more passionate followers and though admittedly this was our first introduction to the quintet,  it took little time in becoming a compelling and beautifully crafted persuasion to meet expectations which were bred from being aware of their well seeded reputation,   a good strength of anticipation which the album met with its expressive presence. Whether it lit enough major fires in thoughts and emotions is still under debate but undoubtedly the ten song melodic evocation bred a desire to investigate  previous releases with its riveting premises and absorbing touch.

The Hear No Evil/Cherry Red Records released Oceans Of Time according to its promo, continues the Wintercoast story which began in their acclaimed 2009 album of that name and has continued through subsequent title tracks of the equally welcomed The City Sleeps of 2011 and the new release. Also to be found upon the album is the final part of the Shadow trilogy, which started with 2007 release Discordant Dreams. Obviously if this is your first time with the band this means little apart from adding to the retrospective intrigue but as all songs are easily standalone suasions it makes little impact on the end thoughts. Produced by John Mitchell (You Me At Six, Lower Than Atlantis, Funeral For A Friend), Oceans Of Time combines the purest essences of progressive and melodic rock with a wealth of flavours and spices which brings a magnetic and enthralling call from the songs. Not all of the tracks are as successful as others but throughout each it is impossible to journey their expanses without finding elements and ideas which ignite the imagination, even if often the songs fail to follow up those moments so that overall it draws strong satisfaction and appreciation rather than lingering passion.

There is no problem with the opener though, the new single from the album. Flux is a scintillating introduction and aural temptress TS_OOT_Artwhich expels an electro breath before it takes a mere second to unveil a stomping gait and glorious melodic embrace, riffs scything through the air with poise and sonic bait whilst rhythms make a crisp platform for the sirenesque vocals of Kim “Elkie” Seviour. Backed by the tones of keyboardist Rob Cottingham it is an elegant and smouldering long kiss on the ear within a vibrant flame of sound and energy. This album version of the song takes the listener on a fuller expressive and pulsating stroll with enthralling melodic asides which builds on the punchiness of the single edit to provide stronger atmospheric and evocative pastures to immerse within. Neither stands above the other ensuring that if you have the album it is well worth picking up the single also.

From the excellent start the following Contact with an almost dance seeded initial beckoning emerges into a sultry climate heated by the again outstanding vocals, a constant over the album, and the precise guitar invention of Adam Hodgson. It is an enchantment given substance and depth by the bass prowl of Moo and the strong yet respectful rhythms of Henry Rogers. Like many of the tracks on Oceans Of Time it suggests and hints at more than it delivers but nevertheless with the rhythmic skill and potency of the drums the track is a thoroughly engaging and enticing continuation of the fine start of the release.

Next up Tabula Rasa has a light almost eighties coaxing to its tenderly touching melodic lures whilst vocally Seviour holds a Stevie Nicks caress to her tones which matches the Fleetwood Mac like enterprise and flavour of the song. Like its predecessor the track fails to live up to the opener but leaves plenty to be enjoyed and devoured greedily by ears and thoughts whilst its successor Fragments rises to and stretches beyond the great heights which was laid down initially. Fragments is rhythm heaven, the opening big boned tantalising web of Rogers’ adventure immediate slavery of the passions, especially aided by Seviour walking its tendrils with her beguiling voice. The drums hold their irresistible lure throughout the song whilst it evolves its narrative exploring exotic Middle Eastern climes and transfixing beauty through melodic sceneries which change and emerge to greater seduction before the ears. It is a magnificent track; the highest pinnacle of the album which gives the rest of the release a tall order to contend with.

Both Spirit Of The Age and Shadow’s End create charms to wrap the senses in for full satisfaction though they understandably fall short of the target just set. The first is a gentle melodic evocation which like many songs juggles the passions, at times holding them tight and in other moments letting them slip through less efficient persuasions  though like the album with time and attention it does make stronger convincing declarations. The second of the pair also has times where it sparks up riveted interest and then loses the strength of its hold to leave a satisfied smiling but eager to move on appetite. The same applies to Solace, the song a reworking of the song from Wintercoast. It is a strong and pleasing track but one which still has yet to really seduce the imagination and thoughts, it raising more uncertainties than appreciation in many ways.

The rhythmic devilry of Rogers triggers keen anticipation as Through The Night steps into view, again his craft and invention a virulent tempting. The song itself once into its flow does not live up to the fascination though again maybe one which ebbs and flows in its creative captivation but still makes a provocative companion. The guitars and vocals alongside the drums dance with some stirring imagination across the offering which cannot be resisted but at the end of the day like parts of the album it has no lingering enticement to leave behind.

The closing title track has veins of undefined familiarity running through it which instantly pricks interest from its start and with whispers of those earlier eastern winds, is an arresting conclusion. Masterly constructed and impressively presented the song epitomises the album, a song which at times walks the edge of rapture but in the end never crosses the line to bother such intense flames. Oceans Of Time is definitely a richly appealing and enjoyable album, but one which missed its potential and certainly for these emotions fails to light major fires in the passions, then again it triggered a want to discover previous albums so Touchstone certainly had some strong success.



RingMaster 11/10/2013

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