Groan – Ride The Snake EP

© Oran Tarjan

© Oran Tarjan

Like being thrust into a predatory mosh pit of agitated woolly mammoths, the Ride The Snake EP from one of the UK’s most exhausting and inventive sculptors of heavy duty riffs and contagion clad rhythms wrapped in funk kissed intrusive grooves continues the towering presence of a titan of consumptive intensity. Groan are no strangers to acclaim and it is hard to expect anything but another fever of praise and strong reactions for their latest towering five track bruising. Merging stoner and doom metal with hard rock and classic metal, plus plenty more essences, Groan has never been lightweight in crafting rapacious provocation but it is fair to say that their new release has an extra growl to its rampage which ignites even further hunger for the band’s incendiary sound.

2010 saw Groan’s debut album The Sleeping Wizard uncaged and it had little difficulty in garnering eager responses and acclaim from fans and media alike. Equally drawing hungry responses for their live shows the band next recorded a split EP with Finnish band Vinnum Sabatum in 2011, it another record swamped by critical plaudits as was second album The Divine Right of Kings which was unleashed in October of last year. Now with a new line-up seeing band founders vocalist Mazzereth and bassist Leigh Jones joined by guitarists Mike Pilat (ex-Ocean Collective) and James Beedham, as well as drummer Zel Kaute (ex- Pettybone, Vodun), Groan thrust forward the Ride The Snake EP to attack and ravage the senses, something the Superhot Records released record does with riveting exhaustive ease.

Women Of Doom opens up the torrent of sound; ridiculously gripping acidic grooves winding their way around the chugging RideTheSnakeCoverthroaty bass prowl and slugging rhythms, all immediately capturing attention before moving on to the imagination as their persistence seduces with every chord. The great slightly rasping vocals of Mazzereth almost scold the ear, his delivery a squalling passion which matches the heat of the song’s energy and the melodic causticity coating every note. From the lumbering yet energetic start the track lifts its heavy metal knees into an eager romp, entwining both lilts across the remainder of its magnetic heavyweight bulk.

The impressive start is soon left in the wake of Drug Lord, the track a massive peak upon the release. Group shouts triggers the entrance of the track, their call enticing predatory riffs and barracking rhythms to bring their intensive pressure and air to the already tempting bait. There is always a swagger to the band’s creativity and songs, the second on the EP employing one of their most contagious yet, the song swinging with muscular hips whilst sonic endeavour and anthem bred vocals seduce the listener further. It is a delicious riot of dirty rock ‘n’ roll soaked in raucous blues and stoner toxicity, a song hard not to just have just one more rampage with before moving on.

Both Slice of That Vibe and Blessed Is My Blade feed on the black ‘n’ blue emerging upon the senses caused through their predecessors with individual but mutual creative rabidity. The first fuses a punk ‘n’ roll essence reminding of Fuckshovel to a Maiden kissed metallic predation. It does not quite find the same submissive rapture as the first two tracks but with guitar invention which has lips licked furiously it is still a formidable and irresistible blaze soon matched by its successor. The second of the two hits a classic/hard rock vein to exploit, rhythms taking chunks out of the senses whilst the guitars send sonic spirals across their bows with enterprise and seductive skill.  Infusing additional haunted temptation and a breath stealing chugging charge as well as a bordering speed metal infection, the track is an absorbing stoner rock hybrid of the highest order.

The eight minute plus stroll of Citadel of Chaos brings the EP to a close. It offers a reserved gait which increases pace and intensity as it expands and an insatiable seduction within its expressive and sonically scenic path. Though the earlier tracks still take top honours the closer shows everything you need to know about Groan to place them on the frontline of British stoner and riff driven metal.  With the likes of Desert Storm, Ten Foot Wizard, and XII Boar to name just three of the great imposing current and emerging bands, the UK scene has the staggering armoury to take on the heavyweights of the world with Groan again proving they are driving the frontline.


RingMaster 09/12/2013

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Grace Solero – Hundred Years Apart


As striking an encounter as you could wish for Hundred Years Apart the new album from UK rock band Grace Solero, is an impacting encounter which cannot fail to wake the imagination and stir up a very healthy appetite for its enticing potency and dramatic sounds. Admittedly it is not a release which grips with the same strength of appeal and success across all its thirteen tracks, the album making an imposing initial impact which only deepens and grows across subsequent plays but it also has moments where it just does not spark any real fire or hunger as found elsewhere. Nevertheless it is a release which leaves thoughts and emotions eager to hear more and expectations rife that the London based quartet is an emerging presence set to ignite in our psyche whether we like it or not.

Formed by the core of the singer and guitarist Grace Solero who lends her name to the band and California born lead guitarist Dan Beaulaurier, the band merge numerous rock and metal styles into something rivetingly distinct. As the new album shows there is a definite similarity to Skunk Anansie, Grace’s style and startling range bred from the same natural sources as blessed Skin, whilst musically the band sculpt tracks with a merger of styles which captivate through the purest addiction forging grooves, hooks, and melodic flames. Their debut album of 2010 New Moon drew acclaim and strong attention with fans and media but you suspect that this will be classed as foreplay to a greater response and recognition as the Wohone Records released Hundred Years Apart searches out more passions to tempt and persuade. With a line-up completed by drummer Maurizio Liberato and bassist Bjorn Zetterlund, Grace Solero will be ingraining their existing mark to richer success and deeper depths if not now definitely ahead.

The first half of the album is certainly its strongest and the band ensures first contact is a memorable and rousing strike, opener 1003365_494894257264451_1617464641_nRiptide riling the senses in a caustic and inventive stomp. Guitars make the first electrified stroke of the ears soon joined by the drama clad expression of Grace, her delivery immediately shaking any lethargy from senses and thoughts. The strolling gait of the song is sculpted by a great moody bass sound and shimmering acidic guitar tempting which subsequently erupts into a squalling fire of energy and sound as all aspects fuse into a sonic brawl clad in contagion. Like the album overall, it is fair to say the song is not leaving existing invention in rock or metal opened mouthed in awe but undoubtedly gives it a kick up the backside in passion and adventure. Repetition plays a great part in many of the songs lures and the first is a prime example, a riff and hook niggling throughout with a singular voice and intent to great effect.

The following Electro takes the strong start and lifts it up further levels, a sinister dark groove preying on the passions from its opening breath whilst barbed allurements and melodic infectiousness emerge to build an anthemic cage to which passions can only submit and flourish. The new single from the album, the track also features the irresistible tones of Tristania’s Mariangela Demurtas who alongside Grace makes a union which only accelerates the charge of emotions greedy to embrace the fiery evocation.

We Don’t Wanna takes its lead from its predecessor, the track though slightly more reserved riding upon thumping rhythms and jagged riffs to enslave the imagination whilst the vocals glide and soar with beauty and causticity over it’s the bait. The track as the first pair shows the skill off the band in sculpting irresistible and provocative entrapments but also in breeding a variety across the songs and sound offered, the third stretching the expanse again. It may not be a boldly new sound but the band certainly creates a refreshing and highly varied one.

The likes of the emotionally and musically intense St Ives with its great gnarly bass spawned groove clad prowl and the smouldering Unless, a track which brews a rising crescendo of fervour, reinforce the pull of the album whilst Circles is a soaring blaze of vocal and melodic drama veined by further infection fuelled grooves and wonderfully niggling hooks. All three songs leave a hunger for more ripe intent though in some ways disappointment follows.

After a thrilling cover of the classic Audrey Clark and Lori Kramer penned Yard of Blonde Girls, grunge and noise rock essences wrapping the offering, the album raises one last peak before slipping from its pedestal. Far Away is another smouldering seduction which places a spellbinding cast over the senses, one raising in intensity and passion the further into its trap you immerse. With a persistent hook nagging away within its belly the song is a thrilling absorbing adventure which probably goes some way to making the likes of Falling Down and Real feel an antic-climax in comparison. Both tracks as well as The Woman By the River are superbly crafted and presented in their individual guises but despite all presenting compelling elements lack the spark and character to stand away from expectations. Their blandness, for want of a better word, against previous tracks is a drop which presents the album from challenging best of honours though they cannot prevent Hundred Years Apart from being one of the more exciting and captivating releases over recent months. The closing Eternal Love emphasises that, its Eastern kissed melodies and exhaustive fire a final drama to drool over.

Hundred Years Apart is a great and thoroughly satisfying album even if one which misses its full potential. It does cement Grace Solero as a band with a seeming destiny to ignite UK heavy rock music, something they have already started with this very enjoyable release.


RingMaster 09/12/2013

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Left For Red – Vol 002: Mercy Fight


Being a sucker for riffs which prey on the ear and rhythmic encounters which rumble with an anthemic lure, it took little time for Vol 002: Mercy Fight, the new EP from UK rockers Left For Red to grip attention tightly as its opening track stomped into view. Proceeding to entice and captivate the imagination as it blasts through three heavyweight provocations, the band continues to impress and raise suspicions that with the promise flowing through the release they have the potential to be very formidable antagonists within UK metal. Still arguably searching for originality, Left For Red make a sinew driven declaration with their second EP which cannot be ignored or left alone.

Formed in 2010, the Stourbridge quintet merged early influences of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest into newer discoveries of bands such as Strapping Young Lad, Tool, and Deftones as their own take on heavyweight metal emerged. The five-piece soon grew a strong reputation and following for their live performances, which was only enhanced by the release of their debut EP, Vol 001 – Empty Shell. The band since starting has shared stages with the likes of Beholder and Breed 77, supported Chimaira and Revoker on their Age Of Hell Tour, as well as undertaking their own successful shows including headlining a sold out gig at the 02 Academy. Recently crowned winners of Kerrang!’s TNA competition Left For Red is on a sturdy ascent, one which Vol 002: Mercy Fight will only add extra fuel to.

As soon as the forcefully beckoning drums beats of Rob Hadley probe the ears it has to be said that opener Kneel Before You Left-For-Red-Vol-002-Mercy-FlightDie is halfway to recruiting a hungry response. Once the gnarled bass tones conjured by Dan Carter and carnal guitar riffs also add their intimidation a major appetite is awoken as passions begin to stir for what is on offer. It is a primal start, one pinpointing and exploiting the rhythmic savage in us, and irresistible lead into the equally rapacious expanse of hungry riffs and melody soaked enterprise which erupts from its temptation. Into full stride the song is an accomplished and magnetic blaze of endeavour, the vocals of LC a firm and expressive antagonist around which the riffs and invention of guitarists Aaron Foy and Phil Smith carve and paint a skilled and pleasing adventure, even if there is nothing dramatically original to the event cast. Despite that it is an impressive and increasingly contagious start which leaves a healthy appetite for what is to follow.

My Obsession enters on a weighty carnivorous prowl from the bass skirted by sonic ambience, a presence soon enveloped in a cage of rhythmic predation and brewing intensity. With an air of doom and foreboding to its breath, the track slowly stalks the ears; circling them with preying riffs alongside the emotive narrative provided by LC. All the while though it is brewing a web of virulent temptation which shows its face in the chorus and evolving grooves. There is an undefined familiarity to the incitement though there are moments where Breed 77 comes forcibly to mind to add extra spice to the already delicious recipe. It is a magnificent song making its predecessor look slightly pale in comparison.

The closing Mercy Flight breeds from the success of the second track to unleash a perfectly crafted fury of rampaging riffs and rhythms clad together in a brawl of ferocious energy and rapaciousness. Again there is something recognisable to the song especially when it opens its melodic rock arms, though even then the track is eating your children and having it away with the wife. It is a tantalising conclusion to a compelling release, an EP which is not bothering boundaries yet or setting truly unique marks down for the band but one to thrust them onto the radar of newcomers and confirm the suspicions of something special evolving as seeded in the previous EP.

Left For Red has some way to go to stand out from the crowd but on the evidence of Vol 002: Mercy Fight it is certainly on their horizon which can only be an impending treat for us all.


RingMaster 09/12/2013

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