Magoa – Topsy Turvydom


    Topsy Turvydom might not be setting new standards and adventures for the metal world but with ten tracks of bruising and invigorating craft it makes for one sizeable and feisty encounter, a confrontation which leaves satisfaction and enjoyment lively responses. Created by French band Magoa, the album is a multi-flavoured rampage employing an expanse of styles and invention within its explosive body and though it maybe is not the most original fury of modern metal it does provide a very easy to devour and return to exploit.

The album from the Ermont hailing quintet is the successor to the band’s well-received debut Swallow the Earth, a superbly sculpted and delivered blaze of metal which builds on the strong base of its predecessor to push the band to greater depths in their songwriting and aural manipulations. Released via Klonosphere and produced by Charles “Kallaghan” Massabo, Topsy Turvydom initially engages the ear with a rich suggestive ambience, its brewing mass and intensity punctuated by electronic beats. It soon unveils the entrance to opener Ailleurs where the guitars of Vincent Alvarez and David Teixeira are instantly carving the air with concise sinew clad invention and the rhythms of drummer Martin Montergnole punching as forcibly as the riffs beside them. It is a magnetic introduction where the squalling vocals of Cyd Chassagne sit perfectly upon the djent/metalcore filtered enterprise The already impacting encounter lures the passions further as an electronic teasing and the bass of Vincent Blondel add extra contrasting yet wholly persuasive tempting. The song is an immense start which provides the core knowledge of the album, a storm of slightly familiar attributes unleashed in a resourceful and contagious tempest.

The following Wall of the Damned is a sturdy confirmation of the strong start, cleaner heavy rock vocals and grooves the opening Pochette_cartoninvitation within another rapacious cage of hungry riffery and rhythmic provocation. The song twists and turns in its presentation, fusing a mix of John Bush fronted Anthrax and TesseracT which slowly burns its way into the senses and imagination, moving from initially a pleasing encounter into one of the highlights of the album, its emotive keys caressing and melancholic atmosphere an endearing and lasting suasion.

As the likes of the commanding Max Bet, with its infectious blend of lethal intent and melodic swaggering, and the intriguing Betraying Grace next play upon the ears, the album continues to enthral and breed a strong hunger for its presence. The second of the two swings from a Pantera like snarl to a pop metal coated harmonic embrace, its structure imaginative and impressively crafted as it entwines the extremes into an appealing and ultimately convincing assault. Another track which takes time to fully persuade and to ignite the energy of pleasure others reap with ease, the track only leaves attention and appetite engrossed in what Topsy Turvydom next has to offer.

     Party Time brings an electro metal bred suggestiveness to its encounter which without lighting the fires and an appreciation like its predecessors still makes a worthy incitement for the album and emotions, if not a long term one, the same which can be said of the classic metal seeded Eat You Alive and the Estamos Locos. The first of these two is less potent in its merging of styles, the song shaking the throat gently rather than ripping out its flesh like other tracks on the album, whilst its successor even in providing a brutal and ravenous predation on the senses fails to find that spark or fuse to a lingering and deep thrill, though both in craft and skill leave no one wanting.

     Broken Record is a different story; featuring Threat Signal’s vocalist Jon Howard, the track is a ravishment of the senses with an intensive rabidity soaking every riff and rhythmic strike whilst vocally Chassagne, backed strongly by the band, chews every syllable of his narrative before sharing its aggressiveness. Infusing rap vocals in to the antagonistic rage works well as do the harmonies which caress the ears in the latter part of the song even if neither delivery escapes the shade provided by the great lead attack, but it is the imagination and adventurous experimentation of the song and its structure which makes the richest convincing; and certainly the virulent grooves and Korn like breath which breaks out at times does it no harm either.

Completed by the strenuous and inventive might of Forgotten Saints and the excellent closing insidious fury of the thrash lit There Is No Tomorrow, the album is an impressive and convincing slab of accomplished and thrilling metal. Magoa might not be stretching limits but undoubtedly creates a tempest of enterprise and skill which feeds the needs of any metal release. Intelligently carved invention, exhausting passionate energy, and the eagerness to push themselves, the album has it all and more.


RingMaster 06/11/2013

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Nami – The Eternal Light of the Unconscious Mind


Having impressed critics and fans alike with their debut album Fragile Alignments two years ago, there was a strong anticipation for its successor from Andorrans Nami. The album was a fusion of brutality and melodic textures which impressively ignited the imagination and tested the senses whilst installing the band as one of the most inventive and challenging emerging forces. Now the quintet returns with its successor The Eternal Light of the Unconscious Mind, an album which builds potently upon the band’s introduction with a maturity and evolution of sound which leaves any hopes and assumptions for the release short changing the realised ingenuity and might.

Released via Year of the Sun Records, the album sees the band reuniting with producer Jens Bögren (Opeth, Soilwork, Amon Amarth) and featuring guest performances from Loïc Rossetti  of The Ocean as well as Carlos Lozano and Marc Martins of Persefone. The release explores further the progressive melodic side of its predecessor, though aggression and brutal energy is not left aside on The Eternal Light Of The Unconscious Mind. It is a ferociously imaginative and sculpted tempest of textures and ambiences, an intensive intrusive beauty crafted by blazes of diversely infused metal for an evocative provocation which cements and stretches Nami’s presence as an emerging force.

The Beholders opens things up with an absorbing synth created ambience, a elegant beckoning which even with the vocal angst lit nami_coversqualls of Roger Andreu making their presence known hold attention with a warm potent lure. The song soon uncages its deepest intensity and shadows though, scarring riffs and demanding rhythms ridden by harsh antagonistic vocals provoking the senses; simultaneously though the guitars of Iván Marín and Filipe Baldaia the track provides an enthralling melodic temptation alongside its rapacious intent and hunger. It is a blend which captures and inspires the imagination whilst senses and passion are taken on an ever shifting exploration of compelling structures and breath-taking textures. Thoughts of The Ocean and Gojira grace the encounter at times but it is something unique to Nami which sets the sound, song, and release distinctly apart.

The following Ariadna launches a full on predation from its first second, the drum and bass pressuring of Sergi Verdeguer and Ricard Tolosa respectively an immediate enslavement which ebbs and flows in intimidation to compliment and shadow the melodic grace and poetic air of the song. It is a glorious enticement with saxophone fire evoking greater appetite for its bewitching narrative within again a continually evolving expanse of progressive exploration.

Through the riveting Silent Mouth with its rolling rhythmic contagion and sonic sculpting aligned to immense vocal persuasion, and the intensively oppressive yet invitingly magnetic Hunter’s Dormancy, the album continues to hold thoughts and emotions in a tight inventive grip. The second of the two is a heavy prowl of the senses which like all tracks is willing to savage expectations with unpredictable detours and imaginative shifts of sound, whilst its successor The Animal and The Golden Throne merges a classical and caustic incitement into an evocation which pales against its predecessors but adds a thought pushing element to the album’s concept of looking at dreams and the unconscious.

Both Bless of Faintness and Hope in Faintness entice the listener deeper into their and the album’s seduction, the pair a linked fascination of sound and intent which continues the inventiveness and mouthwatering potency of album and band. Crimson Sky and The Dream Eater complete the album, the two tracks providing a strong lure of adventure and suasion though they fail to set the same heights as earlier songs, the first half of the album stronger than it’s second. The songs nevertheless are dramatically powerful and creatively intense and only slip because of the staggering excellence of those at the start of the journey.

     The Eternal Light of the Unconscious Mind is a thrilling emprise, one which not only provides incontestable evidence of the promise and quality of Nami but stands as one of the progressive metal treats this year.


RingMaster 06/11/2013

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Black Dogs – Grief


Reeking of causticity and aggressive passion, Grief the debut album from UK metallers Black Dogs, is a barbaric full introduction to a band with the armoury to be a powerful future force within British metal. Rife with grooves which seduce the wounds caused by the violent riffing and rhythmic antagonism, the ten track brawl shows exactly why there is a powerful buzz about the Northern pack. Corrupting the senses with a brew of metalcore, hardcore, and groove metal, Black Dogs is a potent storm of creative spite poised to explode, Grief the possible trigger.

Since forming in 2011, Black Dogs has built a strong reputation through their raw and merciless live shows, performances which has seen the quartet share stages with the likes of Hatebreed, Stray from the Path, Bring Me The Horizon, Feed the Rhino, Heart of a Coward and most recently supporting  Heights on their debut UK tour. Their stature and the acclaim around them has been on a swift ascent with appearances at Hit the Deck Festivals and Download Festival only adding to their stock, something Grief will only powerfully accelerate you suspect. Released via Destroy Everything, the release is a stirring and magnetic confrontation, one which though not perfect declares a promise and already rich quality in the band which needs to be closely followed.

The release offloads battering rhythms and snarling riffs upon the senses from its opening seconds, first song Hellhole stomping Grief-Cover1DRAFTrigorously through the ear with combative intent and malicious intensity. With a just as immediate groove temptingly veining the track and squalling hardcore vocals grazing its surface, the song tells you all you need to know about album and band, and whether their ravaging is the quest you wish to be chewed up by.

From the impressive start 13 Bastards next takes its predacious share of the senses, sinew empowered riffs and a deliciously malevolent bass sound smothering and confronting ears and emotions. Once again an irresistible groove entwines its primal seduction around the imagination as the vocals unleash a cauldron of passion and venom. Continuing the intense stance of the album with equal strength and quality, the bass an especially vociferous presence, the track makes way for the savage Krokodil. It is of the same stock as its predecessors, and those to come, which brings up the only quibble with the album, a similarity to the structure and attack of songs which needs an attentive focus to distinguish and discover the undoubted individual twists and temptations of the tracks. It is not a massive issue when the album from start to finish is thrilling, but something lazier listeners may flounder with.

Both Savages and Shame enflame the passions, the first as you can imagine from its title is an unbridled fury but one which lurches and twists with incisive riffs and rhythmic adventure around its core groove and intensive riffery to keep things intriguing, whilst the second is a dramatically addictive encounter with a tantalising groove and djent bred dynamics enslaving ears and beyond. Black Dogs has a dirty merciless sound but one which is unafraid to turn in on itself with inventive explorations, this track the strongest example. It is not an experiment which is always stretched enough by the band in songs for personal thoughts, a missed opportunity shown up by Shame but something you can only anticipate will flourish ahead.

The excellent Traitors is another with incendiary grooves and melodic flames scorching the flanks of its straightforward bruising core, invention again raising the temperature and pleasure of the passions. One of many pinnacles on the album it is followed by the title track, a brief evocative instrumental which provides a ready canvas for the imagination to play with. It is a colourful interlude soon succeeded by another discontented vocal and sonic abrasion in the carnivorous shape of She Bites and then Bitterness. The pair adds extra fuel to the passions with their craft and fevered animosity, the first of the two a dark bordering on sadistic threat and the other a less impressive but still easy to greedily devour accomplished ruin.

Ending on the scorching intensity and air perishing fire of Leeches, the album is a stunning entrance and base for Black Dogs to strike on from. Grief simply leaves a deep satisfaction in its wake for its insolent sonic riot and a sizeable hunger for the band’s exploits ahead.


RingMaster 06/11/2013

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Blazes and passion: an interview with Black Belt KARATE


If pinned down and made to name one band this year which has most explosively leapt into view, US rockers Black Belt KARATE not only has to be high in contention but in all honesty probably steals the accolade. With an introduction which has been as musically fiery as it is creative and as insatiably passionate as it is absurdly addictive, the quartet from Los Angeles has awakened a greedy appetite in a swelling legion of fans on both sides of the pond. From a blaze of refreshing indie punk, garage rock, and blues seduction, provided by debut EP Volume 1 and first single Camouflage (Man On Fire) as well as a devastatingly impressive live show, this quartet is a potent force on a very steep ascent. Greedy to dig deeper into the band we had the pleasure of talking with three quarters of BBK, vocalist Ryan Hanifl, bassist Harry Ostrem, and guitarist Jason Achilles Mezilis (drummer Ryan Brown unavailable as he is currently out on tour with Dweezil Zappa). Touching on the band and its member’s backgrounds, LA, songwriting through to Oingo Boingo, and Wild Sex, this is what BBK revealed…

Hi Guys and many thanks for taking time to talk with us.

First up for all readers this side of the Atlantic and maybe a couple in the US still unaware of Black Belt KARATE tell us about the band, its members and what brought you all together?

Ryan (Hanifl – vocals):  Jason & I’s innate disgust in one another’s personal taste in music.  It was really more on a dare than anything else. “Hey I dare you to write a song with me that we’ll like”.   I still hate everything he likes

Harry (Ostrem – bass):  Basically, all of us have played in numerous bands and to some degree, gotten our asses kicked by pouring our hearts and hopes into groups that succumb to premature dissolution.  At the end of the day, despite previous heartache, we are rock musicians born and bred to play in a band.  Our desire to create and perform great rock and roll is what brought us together and has sustained us thus far.  I think our past hardships have helped us approach this band with a certain sense of maturity.  Jason and I have never argued.

Jason (Mezilis – guitar / producer): This is true; yes…Harry and I get along famously.  And yes, Ryan has terrible taste in music.  We’ve actually tortured him on long road trips with Iron Maiden on endless loop…a tactic similar to the Bush-era practice of interrogation with Guantanamo Bay prisoners.  But at the end of the day Ryan Brown (drums) gets one up on us all with his pathological love of old Zappa records

You have been/are involved in other bands before BBK, tell us about your backgrounds and was there something lacking in those sounds bbk 2which you all wanted to explore in BBK?

Jason:  A big part of the sound of this band has been in my head for years, as a production aspect in terms of the stripped-down approach, and BBK came from finally finding the right talent to make that happen.  These guys are inspiring to work with, and in terms of filling a ‘hole’ yeah I think with any artistic venture you have to believe that you’re contributing something that is needed, that isn’t represented in the current mix of things.

Harry:  I put all of my rock and roll eggs in one basket for years, which led to an awesome band and an album that I am very proud of.  But like the old story goes, it takes much more than great music and players to keep a band together.  I vowed to never again put myself in a musical corner.  Black Belt Karate has supplied a platform where I can play my heart out, invest my time in music I truly believe in, and have the freedom to pursue individual artistic ventures.  One of the key ingredients in making Black Belt Karate work is that everyone is supportive of everyone’s entire artistic career.

Jason:  Harry moves around a lot on stage

Your debut EP Volume 1, which was released earlier this year in the US has just had its UK unleashing, how has the responses here to it been in comparison to back home?

Harry: People in LA don’t listen to music; they just listen to themselves 😉

Jason:  The UK audience has been incredibly receptive…it’s been fantastic.  Radio and press have responded very warmly, and we’ve been getting letters and messages from new fans that are discovering us through that support.  It’s pretty damn cool…and exactly what we hoped for, when we made the initial push to reach across the pond.  UK fans have traditionally had an understanding of the energy of honest rock n roll, dating back for decades, that is as true and relevant today as ever, it seems.

We called the EP a blaze of refreshing indie punk, garage rock, and a spatter of blues devilry with a healthy brew of funk; it is a riot of multi-coloured flames and fiery spices suggesting a wealth of inspirations. What and who are the more impacting inspirations to your creativity with BBK?

Ryan:  I find creativity in the moment.  If the vibe ain’t right, the shoe won’t fit

Jason:  You did say all those very kind things, and I think we owe you five bucks now for it.  Yeah I would agree with Ryan, for us inspiration is very abstract…it comes much more from the energy of a new riff, or a rhythm, or a vocal. Sometimes a great tune can be inspired by something as basic as the rhythm of your footsteps, when you’re in the right mood to find a groove on it.  We draw much more on the immediacy of a feeling / vibe than we do off specifics.  On the production side of things, the basic approach is to keep it as raw and honest as possible, and still sound good coming out of the speakers…there’s always the notion of “if this came on the radio right now, how would it make you feel” – and then dial that in so it’s where you want it, in terms of not only energy but also relevance.  There’s a certain way to mix familiar elements into a new, exciting delivery.  Bands like Muse, The White Stripes, even Radiohead…all the music that you hear and love contains elements of what’s come before…but stirred in a new pot, or with a different spice.

Harry: “Multi-coloured flames and fiery spices”…I think the same description can be applied to Gandalf’s urine…

You are often tagged as a super group because of your other bands and projects, not a term we like in any respect, how do you feel about that labelling of you? Is it a compliment or more of a burden?

Ryan:  We’re a super group?

Harry:  It’s a burden!  I am so tired of being compared to Cream, Bad Company, Asia, and Atoms for Peace.  Can’t the public just let us be!

Jason:  You forgot Toto…

bbk 3Tell us about the band name and did you consider how hard it would be to find you in a Google search 😉

Ryan:  There was no thought whatsoever in the band name.  It was a throw-a-way lyric in one of our first songs.  Maybe that will come back to haunt us.  Hopefully it will

Jason:  The name came up randomly, yeah…but there’s something about the energy of it that just made immediate sense.  One of those ‘light switch’ moments, and a quick “Google” search and iTunes check later, it was ours!  Far as the rest…we own the goddamn internet.  Go ahead, Google it…see what happens

Your songs on the evidence of the EP and the single Camouflage (Man On Fire) are raucously energetic and ridiculously infectious but come with a wonderfully textured sound and structure which suggests your music is an organic creature but carefully sculpted. Is this the reality?

Harry:  I think that is a good way to put it.  There is a song-writing process in place, but despite this structure, there is plenty of room for inspiration and collaboration.

How does the songwriting work within the band?

Ryan:  Jason comes up with a bunch of meandering chords.  Ryan (myself) writes a bunch of meandering melodies.  Harry grows out his moustache and tells us about his day.  Ryan (Brown – drums) does Chewbacca noises the whole time

Jason:  That’s actually a surprisingly accurate summation of it

Harry:  Jason and Hanifl are the main song writers in the band.  They make pretty tasty demos and send them out to Brown (drums) and myself.  Once we have learned the material as it is on the demos, we get into the studio and jam out the tunes.  This is where each individual member gets to put their stamp on the song.  Jason and Hanifl are both very open to the rhythm section’s ideas, which is a sign of respect and trust.  No one is told what to play, but we all give suggestions.  I also have some of my own demos I am preparing for the band; but don’t tell Jason.

Jason:  Shit…

It is quite a democratic process then or are there moments of more volatile debate when it comes to creating songs? 😉

Ryan:  I would say any debate ever is not about the songs, it’s about other stuff…

Harry:  We don’t debate on songs very much.  The Ryan’s often debate turnip and radish prices and how this will affect the global market and the value of the Euro.  I spend most of my time debating with myself how well Larry Bird’s game would translate in today’s NBA.  Jason doesn’t debate so much as masturbate during rehearsal.

Jason:  (strange gurgling sound)

You have obviously brought the EP to stages in the States but any plans to treat us in the UK and Europe to it live?

Jason:  Yes!  We actually have a few smaller festivals locked in for late June 2014, in England and Scotland…we’re working with local booking agents to secure a good run through – ideally would be at least a few weeks, perhaps even a month or so, as far throughout Europe / UK as we can make happen.  Lot of time between now and then, we’ll see what opportunities present themselves…but yes certainly hope to bring the band overseas next year.

The EP has a strong live feel to its presence and energy, how was it recorded?

Harry:  We record on to tape, which is a first for me.  Instead of being singularly focused on precision by watching a wave form and playing to click, we play our parts, listen to each other live, and evaluate whole takes.  I have really enjoyed this process.  It has helped me think of how the bass-lines play off of the other instruments in the band, as opposed to just trying to play the part “right”.

How much would you say of your previous projects and the way you have worked in studios with them helped or added to the experiencebbk vid shot Directed by Tyler Jackson of recording Volume 1?

Jason:  Ryan (Hanifl) and I had a band previous a number of years ago called ‘Your Horrible Smile’…some of the elements of this band can be traced back to that sound we initially crafted back when.  But as far as overall experience, everything do you professionally affects your next move, so for myself working with a group of guys this professional and experienced in the recording world definitely makes me step up my production skills.  It’s a great challenge

You come from LA but listening to the EP I would not say it had that typical or recognisable feel of other artists and sounds from the city. How do you fit in with the local scene do you think?

Harry:  We don’t.

Jason:  There’s not much a local scene here…not sure when that last was, but yeah we don’t sound much like other bands on the local level.  There’s some obvious lines to draw to some of the more successful locally-spawned bands, like the ‘desert-rock’ vibe and whatnot…but in terms of bands that we play with that are friends of ours, yeah everything is pretty different.  It’s not Seattle, that’s for sure

Has the city impacted on the band musically in any way or as an inspiration?

Jason:  Not musically, not so much…our music isn’t about LA necessarily, I think everyone in the band draws their own inspiration from a more personal headspace…but it is an inspiring place to be in terms of having everything you need here to get a great band going, in terms of industry and so forth.  Kind of like being in a giant “band boot camp” or something….it’s a working city, and inspires you to do the same.  One of the things that’s ironically great about Los Angeles is you don’t fall in love with the city for what it is, but rather what it gives you…so it’s easy to leave for work (i.e. touring) on extended periods without getting terribly homesick, ha!

Your next single is a cover of an Oingo Boingo song, a band we adore. Tell us about that and why you chose this song out of all their great tracks to cover?

Jason:  We actually learned the song initially at the request of our drummer, it was a song his wife really dug and always wanted to hear him play in one band or another.  It turned out surprisingly good, and we put it to tape at the suggestion of a good friend of ours, who saw us perform the tune live.

You have re-invented the song, Wild Sex (In the Working Class), made it your own without losing its creators essence, how did you 249044_580506948651976_1384913559_napproach recording the song without just doing a bland copy like so many other bands do with cover songs?

Jason:  Well thanks man.  Yeah I personally have always loved doing cover tunes; it’s a great “bridge” for new fans to get an idea of your overall vibe, by connecting the dots in their head to something they may already be familiar with.  Ryan (Hanifl) in particular did a really good job making this tune all his own, and the whole band stepped up in a great way.  It was definitely interesting trying to rework Xylophone and full horn arrangements (along with layered guitar tracks) down to a single pass on the instrument.  But that’s a big staple of our sound, that what you hear on our recordings is how the band pulls it off live, so it was fun to make it work.  Also, we had no idea our singer played harmonica so well until we did this tune…that was a fun surprise.

What is it about Oingo Boingo which gives you thrills and as also an LA band it is safe to assume they were a big inspiration on you as musicians?

Jason:  I wouldn’t say a “big inspiration” as much as just a really fun one.  The music is fucking great, anytime they come on the radio it gets turned up!  And of course Danny Elfman is a monster, so anything that can contribute to touching his legacy is pretty damn cool

Tell us about the great video for Building Walls, a track off of the EP.

Jason:  That video was directed by our very talented friend Tyler Jackson, who has done all our videos previous.  We were fortunate  to be able to get [actor] James Duval on board, which was fantastic, and so wanted to construct a concept that could revolve around him – basically Tyler and myself sat down together and watched old ‘The Twilight Zone’ episodes until something good hit, and then he ran with it like a champ.  The domestic-couple nature of it was pretty much at my urging, and Tyler pushed hard for the supernatural / otherworldly elements of it.  It was definitely an ambitious shoot, 4 days of full-shooting with a 20+ crew for band and background footage.  Tyler’s looking to produce a short film from what we shot, not sure when that will be released…but he got 40 pages worth of script out of the whole thing.  It was a lot of work!

What comes next apart from the new single for BBK?

Harry: Christmas special, 2014 college tour, European tour next summer, and Volume II.

Jason:  We’ll have some more singles out, possibly sneaks from the new record next year as well

Will there be gaps of silence from the band due to your other commitments or is this a ride which will be pretty much continuous?

Jason:  We try and time everything so there’s a continuous flow…if we can’t be playing / touring momentarily due to other commitments, then we’ll still use that time for video releases, new singles.  Or reworking the website for better merch, or whatever can be done.  Playing with talented (and busy) guys like this takes a lot of planning ahead…but it’s worth it

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

Harry: We’re really young and largely successful, so if this band doesn’t work out, that’s cool.

Jason:  Nice 🙂

Photos, artwork, and video still courtesy of and copyrighted to Carl Mahoney / Studio Mahoney, David Urbanic, and Tyler Jackson

Read the review of the Volume 1 EP @

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 05/11/2013

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