Kodiak Jack – Alhambra

Kodiak Jack sky

Though UK rockers Kodiak Jack has not exactly been a secret it is fair to say that they have yet to ignite the widest attention across the country, something they will surely address as new album Alhambra starts its rampage. Built on eleven irrepressible inventive slabs of prime rock ‘n’ roll , the album is an incendiary fuse for the imagination and passions, undiluted heavy rock which thrusts the band to the fore of not only British but European rock music. With raging sonic endeavour around infection clad hooks and intensive riffs, all strapped to a rhythmic enticement which refuses to take no for an answer, the beast of a release is the kind of feast you can never stopping licking your lips to.

    Hailing from Portsmouth, the quintet first drew keen attention with debt album Your Death: My Glory in 2011, the release becoming no stranger to acclaim from fans and media alike. Strong radio play followed as well as the record having tracks featured on the cover mounted CD of an international edition of Metal Hammer, used on the closing credits of Eurosport’s British Superbikes coverage, and part of the States released Rumble Rides: Muscle Drag DVD . Their live reputation equally has earned the band a big reputation, shows with the likes of Kobra & The Lotus, Paul Gilbert (Mr. Big and Racer X), Everything Everything, Elvis Jackson and many more only confirming the emerging might and presence of Kodiak Jack. Recorded last year in Sacramento, California with Tesla bassist Brian Wheat who became a fan when the band sent him their debut back in 2011, Alhambra takes it all to the next level; actually up a  good few levels such its tremendous power and enterprise.

     Released via Angry Badger Records, and featuring three reworked tracks from their debut alongside seven voracious new Alhambraexploits, Alhambra takes no time in firing up the appetite with opener Get Out Alive, guitars dangling an initial temptation before thumping rhythms splinter their bait aside the vocals of frontman Bryn Roberts aided by those of guitarist Jon Karp. Into its stride the track brews up a rousing contagion which it accelerates further with storming riffs against melodic flames from Karp and Jeff Arnold, whilst the bass of Kev Farren stomps alongside the equally hungry beats of Keiran Bellinger. It is a roaring blaze of hard rock setting the release off in fine anthemic style, sparking an immediate greedy appetite.

     The first single from the album Brother steps up next, again no second wasted on lightweight beckoning as heavy riffs and crisp rhythms immediately set to work on the ears. A grunge feel emerges as the song expands its sonic narrative, a winding groove seducing the senses as the vocals of Roberts again impress with a Glenn Danzig essence coating some of his delivery. A strong acidic solo also spears the song towards its end to raise extra temptation before a dramatic finale makes way for the equally riveting and impressive Wasted Youth. Roving beats join scrapes of riffs alongside the opening narrative of Roberts as the song sets its irresistible toxicity in motion first, before hitting a similarly enthralling and magnetic passage of melodic passions pulling virulence. There is a blues flame to the guitars which only accentuates the swagger and addictiveness of the song too, it an early pinnacle in already a heady range of peaks.

     Both More Than This and Crossfire keep album and reactions sizzling, the first once again employing the greediest rhythms within an expansive wash of sonic causticity and expressive vocals whilst its successor has a broader rock wash to its earnest declaration. The pair stroll a level below what came before but with undeniable craft and the passion to inspire, neither leave anything but thrilled satisfaction behind before the outstanding THEM takes over. It almost nags at the ears from its first breath, riffs and beats a persistently probing trap beneath the wider rock delivery of Roberts, again perfectly assisted by Karp. A tinge of glam rock mischievously grins in their and the music’s incitement to tease just a little more and like so many of the tracks it secures a swift tempting for feet and voice which only the deaf and dead could resist.

     No Surrender is just as epidemically riotous and catchy, Karp and Arnold sculpting a sonic playground for the vocals and the more intimidating rhythmic section to prey and incite within, whilst the brilliant Waves with its heavier almost carnivorous presence stalks the senses with a predation which is dangerous and drenched in irresistibility. The compelling quality keeps coming on strong as firstly the masterful Live To Fight unveils a drama driven melodic rock pyre of emotive balladry and La Rue follows it up with a muscular impact of passion stirring energy and bordering on antagonistic craft, melodies and harmonies unafraid to seduce with every note and syllable.

     Completed by debatably the weakest song on the album, Coming Home, though that is down to the quality of the rest of the release than real short comings it may have, Alhambra is a rock album setting Kodiak Jack as one of Britain’s strongest and masterful rock bands but also declaring them as a new big noise in hard rock full stop. For those with a taste for Velvet Revolver and Guns N Roses, through Stone Temple Pilots and Alice In Chains, to Blackstone Cherry and Thousand Foot Krutch, and everything in between and around them, this album is your new best friend.

http://www.kodiakjackofficial.com/

9/10

RingMaster 24/02/2014

 Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Mark Morriss – A Flash of Darkness

Mark Morriss

     The Bluetones was a band which never really grabbed our attention, certainly nudging it numerous times across their thirteen hit singles and three Top Ten albums, but never making that incisive move to enthral as they did so many others. Former band frontman Mark Morriss though has had little problem managing to not only awaken but gripping that focus with his second solo album A Flash of Darkness. Consisting of eleven provocative flights of imaginative indie pop with a folk underbelly and soaked in evocative colour, it is a mesmeric adventure bounding eagerly and vivaciously through reflective and tempering shadows. Released via Acid Jazz Records, A Flash of Darkness is a masterful seduction and for our minds the best thing the singer songwriter has unveiled.

     The album follows Morriss’ debut album Memory Muscle of 2008, a folk-infused encounter featuring string arrangements from the legendary composer David Arnold which never really rustled up major attention. From the splitting up of The Bluetones in 2011, Morriss has engaged in successful solo tours as well as writing and performing with Matt Berry on his recordings and shows as well as creating his own prog outfit The Maypoles and writing music for David Walliams’ award winning Children’s audio books. A Flash of Darkness continues the musician’s solo adventure with a smile and swagger which enlivens the sounds and invention rippling through the release, the latter aspect a subtle coaxing rather than the loud toxicity you feel it might have been in someone else’s hands.

    The title track opens up the proposition, a song one originally written for a short-lived musical project of Morriss and Berry 1656207_635396076509138_2127819875_ncalled The Swedish Twins. A sultry Morricone bred call and ambience wraps the ears first, tower bells and whistles sculpting the scenery before the song falls into a sixties pop tasting embrace with the recognisable tones of Morriss adding their warmth to the climate. That mentioned vaunt soaks the song, a brass jazz temptation teasing greater emotion the way of the track whilst the tango of guitar invention and heated harmonies only intensify the virulently irresistible bait. Visually evocative and tenderly commanding, the opener is a sensational slice of songwriting, an artistic adventure to set things off on a real high.

    Whereas you can almost add a touch of The Wonder Stuff to the first song, its predecessor Consuela with its gentler yet no less infectious presence, has an eighties flavouring which induces thoughts of The Bluebells and occasionally The Lightning Seeds. Keys add further romance to the persuasion alongside that offered by the melodies and excellent vocal expression. Potent in sound and draped in provocative imagination fuelled hues, the track takes the passions by the hands and whisks them around that summer drenched eighties dancefloor with elegance and contagion before making way for the folkier and rhythmically punchy Guilty Again. A piano crafted beauty immediately kisses thoughts as vocals and a rhythmic prodding skirts its elegance but as with all songs it is one facet of evolving and expanding adventures. Like a lingering smooch, the track strolls with a boisterous gait flinging its happy melodies and hooks around with joyous enterprise to invite and ignite the same pleasure in its recipient.

    Both the mesmeric It’s Hard To Be Good All The Time and the enjoyable cover of The Shins’ Pink Bullets engage and treat with resourceful radiance and splendour, though neither can grip the same high level as previous songs. Despite that neither leaves satisfaction empty or provides weak enticement, diversity and ideas persistently leading the imagination into a submissive grin whilst the next infection under the guise of Low Company unveils an enveloping breeze of lyrical and melodic suasion in another sixties/seventies air to seduce from start to finish.

    Life Without F(r)iction  with its country twang is the next to lift feet from the floor, its bouncy heart unfussy and impossibly tempting before the best song on the album, This Is The Lie (and That’s The Truth), steps up to run its addiction coated fingers through the passions. An acoustic croon with Morriss offering a minimalistic lyrical and musical bewitchment, the track is pure aural manna, additional sirenesque harmonies and small bursts of energy bringing a creative virulence upon ears and emotions. It’s tempting borders on molestation but is simply melodic alchemy at play, the same toxin running through the veins of Space Cadet. The song with a wider brush of sounds and invention smothers the ears in a celestial ambience around thick and deeply permeating melodies, the result another exceptional fascination.

    The album closes with firstly another cover, this of Kavinsky’s Nightcall, which without earning the same ardour as the original material still leaves emotions enthralled, and the slow burning Sleep Song, an exceptional track which took time to make its strongest case but over time evolved into another big anthemic highlight. The pair closes up A Flash of Darkness in fine and endearing fashion leaving a return into the release a demanding option, a choice consistently rewarded each and every time by Morriss in one of the early albums of the year. Whether The Bluetones is a lure or not for you, this is one pop album you must not bypass without delving deeply into.

http://www.markmorrissmusic.co.uk/

9/10

RingMaster 24/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Villains – Self Titled

villains

     Showing a heart as big as its melodic invention and with energy as attention grabbing as its enterprise, the self-titled debut album from UK band Villains easily shows why there has been a richly brewing fuss about the Essex quintet. Eleven songs which stomp, infect, and croon though not necessarily in that order, the album is a vibrant and appealing slab of alternative rock from a band the country is destined to embrace. At times it scintillates with an imagination which has you catching your breath and in others simply pleases without reserve, but always the release provides a satisfaction which is lingering and full.

     Villains rose from the ‘ashes’ of Chelmsford band Never Means Maybe in 2012, an outfit with acclaimed releases and appearances at events such as Download, Sonisphere, T In The Park, and the Hevy Festival, as well as shows with the likes of Bury Tomorrow, Mallory Knox, and Enter Shikari under its belt. The five members reinvented name and sound to emerge as Villains and last year released debut single Come Out And Play, a track which was soon recruiting eager attention and praise from fans and media alike. It inspired a certain anticipation for the band’s first full-length, a hunger which is undeniably fed across the body of the album with plenty of additional flavour and quality to impress and surprise. The release is not necessarily one to really knock the passions off their feet, its sound arguably seeded in some recognisable beds, but it is an encounter to certainly leave them hungry for more.

     The band gets things off to the strongest start with The Ways I Tell Them, romping rhythms from drummer Drew Steane Cover-(500x500)stirring up the senses as the guitars of Tom McCarthy and Matt Steane have a potent strike at the air. Settling into a pacey stride with rhythms continuing to incite and the bass of Bert Forster adding its individual virulent temptation, the song is in no time working on imagination and emotions as the expressive tones of Renz Byrne glide over the sinews and melodies parading their enticements. With rigorously rousing choruses and energy to lift crowds, the track is a masterful start, the excellent backing and assisting vocals of Forster and Steane only adding to the bait.

     The following Wicked Ways makes a less striking start though is no less dramatic, the smooth voice of Byrne stroking the ears whilst guitars caress his presence. A darker bass groan adds shadows to the emotive endeavour whilst guitars and keys dazzle and evoke thoughts with a craft and adventure that accentuates the passion of the song. Though not as instantly gripping as the first, it eventually unleashes a charge of rhythms and intensity for its own anthemic tempting which soon seals the deal with the emotions. Its fine offering is matched and surpassed by the next track, The Fall. The vocal combination takes little time in charming the appetite as the emotive texture and drive of the song builds into a crescendo of passionate melody drenched heat. As already shown on the previous songs, Villains is never afraid to evolve and twist its invention as here ensuring predictability and expectations go hungry.

     We Have Capture continues the pull of the album if without matching earlier heights, its smouldering melodic embrace graceful and welcoming but veined by a muscular intent which brings again a riveting drama, whilst the following Bleed offers not for the first or last time, a Manic Street Preachers essence to its contagious hook and anthem spawning intensity. Provocative and deceptively melancholic, the song easily engages and excites before the emotive part ballad/part anthem The Light Out Lives The Star next croons and seduces the imagination. Verging on a stadium rock grandeur but honed to be just as effectively intimate, the song is a slow burner which over time climbs to stand on equal levels to the more vivaciously delivered tracks, though none really match its passion.

     The best track on the album is without doubt the previously mentioned single. Come Out And Play is simply irresistible, guitars and the grouchy bass making the first potent lure before joining the feisty drums and charging riffs to converge on the passions with a fiery and infectious gait. The singular and dual vocal delivery is outstanding and only seems to incite the sound to greater urgency and voraciousness, again the use of the word anthemic unavoidable in the face of the track’s glorious romp and persuasion. The only problem which arises is it leaves an inevitable shadow over the very potent efforts of Visions and Sinners such its triumph. To be fair the enthralling enterprise and almost antagonistic breath of the first of this pair is exceptional and stands aside its predecessor, if maybe one step back, to help forge the strongest part of the release whilst the second is coated in melody rich sonic flames around that grizzled bass tone and again compelling vocals to raise temperature and emotional concentration. Like the album as a whole, the song is a skilful draw and for personal tastes the perfect end to the album. That position though is taken by The Hardest Part, a mellow ballad breeding heart driven fire as it proceeds. It does not light similar flames in the passions but with Byrne again showing the depth and power of his voice and the song enjoyably showing the accomplished craft of the band, it is still a rich and full suasion.

   Villains, band and album is an undeniable force in the making, one already creating a deserved spotlight which you suspect will only intensify over time, especially if the band can go even further with the excellent potency of this release.

https://www.facebook.com/villainsofficial

8.5/10

RingMaster 24/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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