Cynical Existence – Erase, Evolve and Rebuild


It only took a minute of the opening track to Erase, Evolve and Rebuild to hear and feel something has stirred and evolved within Cynical Existence. The band’s second album it is a riveting collection of distinct and diverse soundscapes soaked in a maturity and craft which sees the project at a level only hinted at previously. It is a hypnotic web of invention and exploration which embraces the darkest shadows but also the most acidic and caustic light, the result a release which stalks, rampages through, and dances with senses and thoughts whilst seducing the emotions, though not always in that permutation.

Formed by Fredrik Croona (ex- Project Rotten/ Menschdefekt) as a solo project, Cynical Existence as evolved into a startling and formidable beast which has continued to impress across EPs and earlier this year the project’s debut album Come Out And Play, not long after followed by the Beholder EP. For most bands this frequency of releases leads to the occasional less than endearing or potent encounters but this is definitely not the case with Croona and co, in fact it has to be said that Erase, Evolve and Rebuild leaves much of what came before pale in its company despite their also impressive declarations. The depth and strength unleashed by the new album suggests that maybe the other recent releases have consisted of older written material or simply the striking evolution sculpted by Croona and Steve Alton of UK project System:FX who joined the band late last year, the pair now joined by third member George Klontzas of Pre Emptive Strike 0.1, is that dramatic a sudden leap. Erase, Evolve and Rebuild certainly does nothing to diminish the sizeable impression and quality forged by A Familiar Kind of Pain, Come Out And Play, etc. though instead it just breeds another wave of striking accomplishment by Cynical Existence.

Released via Belgium label Alfa Matrix, Erase, Evolve and Rebuild has little problem in having feet and thoughts in eager frontmovement through opener Something Strange. Synths instantly cast a festivity of sound over the ears, an ambience which is welcoming and almost devilish especially with the darker feisty electro stomp which keenly joys the invitation. The vocals of Croona squall with the caustic breath and malevolent lure which we have come to know and enjoy but the song also shows the appetite to infuse a cleaner darker gothic tone to the narrative which only excites. There is a lighter essence and buoyancy to the track compared to certainly the Beholder EP, but shadows and dark menaces still have room to toy with the listeners thoughts. A track sure to add fire to the dancefloor, it makes a compelling start to the album.

The following Erase Me is equally as potent and effective in rousing up the passions, its electro caress of a dawning soon a bulbous beckoning moving into an electro punk confrontation through the guitar of Alton. A riotous snarl coats the song from vocals through to the causticity breeding an irresistible temptation and wrapped in another waltz of electronic sedition which invites limbs and a voracious hunger to enlist in the track’s insatiable incitement, it is a rivetingly sculpted pinnacle of the album and further evidence of the evolution at work.

    My Decadence, Your Sins which features Rave the Reqviem has an absorbing eighties temptation to its thrilling landscape, a scenery which is like Depeche Mode does industrial at times and at other moments like Celldweller on a distinct mission to taunt the songbook of Fad Gadget. Despite those thoughts the track is still uniquely Cynical Existence in its stance and enterprise with the fact that the three minutes plus are over far too soon the only niggle. The feast of invention continues the scintillating presence of the album with ease, passing its heady presence on to the magnetic searing electro quickstep of Imperfect followed by the evocatively hued The Divine. Elegant classically wrapped keys open up the second of the two songs, its gentle radiant coaxing leading thoughts into the haunting melancholic caresses at the heart of the track. It is a masterful provocation of emotion and shadow cloaked climes, the gravelly vocals as on all songs that rasping texture which tempers and compliments the clean delivery and the melodic rays of sonic beauty.

The album from this point on immerses in even darker wells of malevolent rapture and predacious intent. The imagination consuming Falling with its thumping heartbeat the centre of a tempestuous emotional cloud and the pulsating heavy booted yet still irresistibly charming Deus Ex Complex are both unafraid to stalk the blackest corners within especially in the second of the two, shards of irrepressible electro romping whilst Our Bright Future is a twisted riotous incendiary tango of sound and energy which is prone to long breaths and pleasing unpredictability. This new energised character of a dance also reaps and offers its rewards through Sins Of Your Flesh and though the trio of songs maybe lack the final knock-out punch of their predecessors all leave satisfaction full.

The Endless Stride has a structure and contagion which feels closely akin to the first album without any definition as to why or to which offering whilst the effulgence of An Eternity Stuck On Repeat bewitches from its first glassy elegant touch, seducing with a wantonness which is refined yet brazenly uncompromising. The songs bring more open variation to the album as does the guitar grazing company of No Compromise and the industrialised rapacious crowding of the senses from Transformation (a search for change), both tracks successful conspirators in a slavery of the passions.

Completed by the outstanding smouldering cinematic instrumental of At the end (Outro), Cynical Existence has thrust themselves to the very fore of electro/industrial mastery with the transfixing Erase, Evolve and Rebuild. Arguably top heavy with its first selection of tracks a more vigorous exploit for feet and energy though the latter is no less an accomplished instigator of darker emotions and realms, the album takes the existing successes and sounds of the band into new breath-taking adventures of imagination and craft.


RingMaster 21/11/2013

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The Vaya Project – Happybleak

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Canadian band The Vaya Project is one of those presences which seem to remain a secret when so many less able and imaginative bands find a spotlight to shine on their work. This is not that the electro/industrial/ experimental project has lacked success but it is fair to say that wider picture of awareness has so far eluded it. New album Happybleak  is a tantalising and enthralling expanse of gripping  attention grabbing compositions which leave imagination and passions alight, and satisfaction so full it might just be the spark to change that secrecy.

The Vaya Project is the solo project of London, Canada musician/producer Jeremy Chaulk, who has equally set standards with his electronic project Kilurx, TVP RMX, as part of industrial dark metallers Project Juggernaut and plenty more. The  band has arguably been the vehicle for Chaulk’s most experimental explorations and  Happybleak is no exception, the album a striking mix of fiery sounds and electronic investigation though probably the most accessible release from the project yet. Consisting of four brand new songs, a quartet of tracks from the never released Dead Iris EP, and a set of four taken from the Ink Sonata sessions (Ink Sonata the recently released Project Juggernaut album), the new release is the perfect doorway into the music and invention of Chaulk and The Vaya Project at its most potent yet.

With most of the tracks predominantly instrumental, Happybleak provides evocative scenarios for the imagination to tease and be teased by, thoughts exploring their own visions with the pieces of music adding the spark and spice to each eclectic landscape. FTN opens things up, heavy pulsing beats resonating in the ear within an almost schizophrenic sonic causticity. As a contagious electro allurement adds its scorching presence to the mix, the track evolves in to a feisty, bordering on violent instigator for the dancefloor.  With rhythmic bait not even the dead could resist, the track is a scintillating apocalyptic kissed, industrial seeded slice of voracious inventiveness and the ideal entrance into project and release.

The following Methuselah brings an instant sinister and darker edged presence which is at odds with but compliments the previous devilry. Within the danger and intimidation lined walls of the track, scantily dressed melodies converge on its core, their leading spark a breath of warmth moving the piece into a mystically embraced and mystique soaked elegance which enchants and mesmerises the senses. Its emerging beauty is swallowed and given another fusion of temptation through Beautiful Agony which features Elle Hermansen (Ellemusic). One of two tracks with vocals, it is a wonderful slice of electro pop, the seductive vocals of Ontario singer songwriter Hermansen (who also adds tones to FTN) sirenesque within the embrace of equally fetching and fascinating melodies.

The thumping pulse of ReSex grips attention next, its metronomic lure an irresistible grip which enslaves attention whilst synths breed their own form of galvanic enticement. Like its predecessor the track is more electro pop than any other flavour, though also spiced with an irrepressible toxicity which appeals to all forms of electronic endeavour. Its successor Chasm is the other end of the spectrum, a darker predatory scourge of sonic pestilence achieving the same effect, total absorption of the imagination and emotions. A raw and unpolished breath frequents the walls of the composition, its touch harsh and stark but within this chilled environment a defiant funk lilted seed flourishes and thrills.

That ingenious blending of opposites is a frequent success in tracks, the likes of Luna Muerta and Jazmine, though with less open contesting aspects also merging differences for one provocative and richly satisfying encounter. Both tracks venture through undiscovered yet seemingly familiar landscapes, the first finding essences of Yello and Dalek I Love You within its coarser climes whilst the second of the two is a slow cascading of crystalline and glassy melodic and sonic light upon an expanding discord washed, noir clad mystery, and quite mesmeric.

Three of the next four songs are ones familiar to followers of Chaulk but in their reworked guises have never sounded better. Both the intrigue spawned mysterious Cactuz, a track destined to soundtrack the darkest spy movie, and the disturbing psychotic Pixel Army have found a clarity and potency which finds them at their most formidable and compelling whilst the insatiable rhythmic and energised appetite of Parasite leads the feet and emotions into another breath-stealing dancefloor stomp. Within the trio Fukakanuk provides its own inciting and charismatic tempting for body and imagination, its sturdy almost bludgeoning beats the skeleton for a sonic scarring and rapaciousness to hang from, as well as an impossibly infectious slavery which emerges as the track expands its diablerie.

The album is closed off by Dead Iris which features Roseblack. The song is another stylish and well-crafted song but for personal tastes does not match the dramatic quality and adventure found elsewhere upon Happybleak. The album is a fascinating journey for imagination and emotions, a thrilling bold collection of creative exploration which deserves to find the widest attention.


RingMaster 21/11/2013

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The Vitamins – El Santo Vs. Los Vitaminas / Look After Me

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With the release of debut single Keys To The Limousine, UK rockers The Vitamins introduced themselves in fine style and as one rather boisterously potent emerging force. The two track release was an eager and feisty blaze of primal rock ‘n’ roll, a pair of songs which brewed a heady exciting mix of blues, garage rock, and muscle. Proving it was no flash in the pan the Bury St. Edmunds trio return with the AA sided single El Santo Vs. Los Vitaminas / Look After Me, a pair of riots sure to accelerate the growing fanbase seeded by its predecessor.

Formed in 2011 and consisting of vocalist/guitarist Dick Phillips, bassist Ollie Swift, and drummer Neil Baldwin, The Vitamins continue their enterprising arrival on British rock with another couple of heavyweight and flame driven sonic endeavours. The 

644114_474853499280476_448366875_nsingle takes little prompting to seize ears and attention as El Santo Vs. Los Vitaminas flies at the imagination with its Mexican wrestling tale and challenge, the bruising intensive bass of Swift instantly pressurising the senses alongside the coarse and acidic riffs of Phillips. It is an incendiary engagement from the first note spiked by the punchy raps of Baldwin which has little difficulty in exciting ears and emotions. The vocals of Phillips backed by great band garage punk harmonies are as equally discord and scuzz coated as the sounds around them , the result a song which has a Stooges like punk blaze to its breath and Led Zeppelin seeded sinew to its hunger.

Look After Me is a different beast from the same inventive litter of thought and intent. It opens with a stomping keys crafted incitement soon joined by a glorious glam rock like burst of guitar. It offers a seventies rock spice which lingers throughout the track as the vocals jog keenly with their narrative and persistent rhythms forge an almost metronomic heartbeat and lure for the song. The guitar of Phillips also fires up its imagination across the expanding stroll of the song whilst the ridiculously infectious presence of the track provides slavery for the passions. It is a delicious stomp of pop rock and blues kissed garage punk and the best thing the band has conjured yet.

You sense there is no stopping The Vitamins as both El Santo Vs. Los Vitaminas and Look After Me make a compelling and irresistible persuasion and that it is just the appetiser to greater things ahead. Anticipation is already breeding impatience…


RingMaster 21/11/2013

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The Hate Colony – Dead Or Victorious


We might be coming late to the party but with Norwegian metallers The Hate Colony working on their new full-length a look at their debut album is definitely in order as we wait for what is already a highly anticipated follow-up. Originally released two years ago, Dead Or Victorious is an invigorating tempest of passion and aggressive intent which ticks all the right boxes for intensively sculpted and carnivorously delivered metal. Skilled and expertly unleashed, the album is a raw unbridled brawl with the senses, a promise soaked confrontation providing a sizeable and potent basis for the band’s sophomore full-length to evolve from. Time will tell if the band do grow or remain within the extended arms provided by Dead Or Victorious, but if the latter you still feel it will still be a richly satisfying slab of accomplished brutality as their debut.

The Trondheim hailing quintet it is fair to say upon Dead Or Victorious, are not setting down new markers or breaking boundaries but certainly at times worrying them with a fine vein of imagination within the excellently crafted songwriting and performance. It means there are no major surprises in store but equally the album never offers a song or moment when attention is allowed to wander or hanker for other things. From the opening notes and rhythmic punches of Cornered a greedy appetite is awoken as riffs and rhythms rigorously sniff around the senses, pressuring and barracking them into submission. The track is a ravenous storm of provocative and contagious intent, squalling varied vocal attacks as magnetic as the twisting sounds and ideas raging within the body of the song. As mentioned it is hard to say that there is something dramatically new going on but with enticing melodic craft and teasing veining the onslaught, it is one wholly captivating start.

Your Murder Scene takes no prisoners either, bass and drums preying on the ears as the guitars stroke an elevated hunger for covertheir exploratory touch and almost arrogant predation. It is a track which makes an immediate strongly appealing impression but also smoulders beneath its fury to ignite an even greater passion over time. Its elegant acoustic finale is a mouth-watering bridge into Diggin’ Deeper, a song which continues the evocative gentle persuasion for a fair amount of magnetic time before uncaging thunderous beats and a primal torrent of heavily clad riffs alongside the ever caustic and varied vocal voraciousness. The song gnaws at the senses across the whole of its rapacious presence, its antagonistic jaws a persistent provocateur ensuring an addictive slavery is forged upon the listener right up to its final squalling seamless passing over into Lies, another track which towers over the ears with spite in its rhythmic heart and venomous rabidity in its creative eyes. The song and album to this point certainly gives neck muscles an intensive workout which only continues as the release charges on through each exhausting track.

The more classic metal seeded Wall of Sanctuary with its almost niggling sonic enterprise steps forward next, vocals stretching themselves yet again for diversity and passion and though the song does not quite live up to its predecessors it leaves no one short on thought and inventively delivered adventure. The same can be said about Cottonmouth, a track which prowls and stalks the senses whilst seeding sinew built shadows in the imagination. As its predecessor the song is a formidable concentration of intensity and intimidation through striking craft but surprisingly lacks the killer touch to inflame the emotions as earlier tracks. There is not something truly memorable to come back and haunt the memory away from its presence, something which you can lay against maybe too much of the album, though it is the only issue.

Both the acidically poisonous No Sympathy and the corrosively enterprising and enthrallingly ravaging Remember Me keep the infectious toxicity of the album boiling, the second of the pair an ever shifting blaze of intrigue soaked adventure which is as unpredictable and gripping as it is virulently ferocious. It is left to the title track to close up the savagery which it does with arguably the albums most vicious and intensive point, though there are plenty of contender moments throughout the album.

Without setting flaming tyre marks on the surface of brutal metal, Dead or Victorious is a powerful entrance for The Hate Colony, one which offers the seeds for unique and limits spearing invention which you suspect and definitely hope the band’s second album will bloom. If the likes of Sylosis, Heart Of A Coward, and Battlecross feed your needs than The Hate Colony has a full menu to feast upon


RingMaster 21/11/2013

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8 Foot Sativa – The Shadow Masters

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Feel you are missing a snarl or two, or are feeling a little short on vital and brutal metal provocation in your life than allow The Shadow Masters to launch its aggressive spite on your soon to be beleaguered senses. The formidable return of New Zealand bred metallers 8 Foot Sativa, their new album is a rigorously compelling and vigorously demanding slab of exhausting  senses flattening metal. It is a thrilling release from a band with seemingly  a new lease of life and vitality to its body and intensity whilst finding an extra incendiary passion and invention to its already established craft.

The sixth album from the Auckland quintet, if you include their Greatest Hits compilation of earlier this year, and coming six years after the acclaimed Poison of Ages, The Shadow Masters finds the band with a new line-up. Alongside founding member guitarist Gary Smith, drummer Corey Friedlander and guitarist Nik Davies have joined the band but maybe more significantly and arguably giving extra heat to the fire in the band’s belly going by the album, the release marks the returns of original vocalist Justin “Jackhammer” Niessen and bassist Brent Fox. It all adds up to a revitalised stance to the band and a new aggressive and intensive depth to the Clint Murphy produced album, a provocation which sets the already firmly established 8 Foot Sativa right on the frontline.

It is hard to say that the album makes a devastating entrance as it opens with As It Burns but it is a start which definitely toys with 8 Foot Sativa - Artworkthoughts as an almost metalcore like engagement with meandering melodic guitar tendrils and heavy metal riffs tease the ears. It is not dramatic but raises good attention which is soon rewarded as the bass begins its persistent grilling and the song shifts into a rapacious determined charge. The vocals of Niessen scowl and growl with venom and intent matching the resourceful guitar enterprise and energy, whilst the rhythms of Friedlander just thump and swing with expert incitement. The track evolves across its length, a melodic weave emerging from within the attack and though fires are not raging from its offering they are definitely smouldering eagerly for what is to follow.

Shadow Masters and Summoned To Rise are the next to stand muscular and tall before the ears, the first a predator of a track with rhythms and riffs clawing at the defences whilst vocals sear the air with adventure and a great expressive range of fury. The melodic grooves and invention within make perfect tempers for the almost grievous voraciousness elsewhere in the track and it is not too long before passions and limbs are rabid recruits to the song’s call. Its successor slowly consumes with a starting melodic wash which goes on to employ sinews and intensity to its persuasion as well as atmospheric harmonies, especially to the vocals which range from guttural to clean with ease. Both tracks rampage and pressurise with imagination and skill to leave a greedy appetite full.

Through the magnetic Feeding The Weak where again the vocals excel in effect and diversity within a carnivorous confrontation littered with mouth-watering sonic skill and creativity from the guitars especially, and the voracious Never Abide whose rhythms, riffs, and vocals come with a rabidity debatably untapped before by the band, the album just makes the strongest convincing of thoughts and emotions.  Each track on the album has a unique and riveting narrative of craft and enterprise to unveil, and though at times these enticements take a while to show rather than making an instant appearance, the unique adventure goes towards setting the album and songs like Anatomy Of Hate apart from previous 8 Foot Sativa releases and many other similarly gaited bands.

Visions Of Red is next to rile up the passions to a greedier hunger; jack boot rhythms and senses nagging riffs from bass and guitar just insidious bait for the rasping vocals and anthemic contagion of the song to magnificently lord over. Irrepressibly aggressive it does not deprive the listener of some glorious melodic play and guile either, especially in the searing solo which is so easy to drool over. With their own distinct and malevolent characters both Back To Bare Bone and West As prey welcomingly and rewardingly on the listener, the first with the best bass bred incitement of the album and its successor with a viciousness which permeates everything from vocals to riffs, rhythms to the caustic energy, though again melodies are still given space to acidically erode senses and air masterfully.

Completed by The Second Chance, a track which swings over and leaps at the ears like a juggernaut suspended to a bungee rope, The Shadow Masters is an outstanding antagonistic triumph from a band which debatably have not quite shown just how good they were or could be before. 8 Foot Sativa have now, time to cower and embrace.


RingMaster 20/11/2013

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