Warm crypts and sizzling corpses: an interview with Norm Elliot of Norm And The Nightmarez

Norm

Wickedly contagious and a diversely warped fusion or rockabilly and psychobilly at its most incendiary best, Psychobilly Infection the debut album from Norm & The Nightmarez is one of those standard forging releases which breeds inspiration and exhilaration. Thirteen tracks of intrigue lit and passion drenched rock ‘n’ roll, the album is a storm of rapacious creativity flourishing in decades of influences and twisting them in something new and template casting. The band is the creation of vocalist/guitarist Norm Elliot, already renown with Mickey & The Mutants and their impressive first release last year. Norm & The Nightmarez is a new kind of a riveting beast and we seized on the chance to find out more when Norm kindly spared his time to let us explore his history, the album, psychobilly and much more…

Hi Norm and many thanks for sharing your time with us.

Before we talk about Norm And The Nightmarez and debut album Psychobilly Infection, tell us about yourself and your musical history up to previous band Mickey And The Mutants.

Hi Pete … I was born in Northern Ireland, to escape the troubles we moved to Birmingham England when I was 4. I’ve been here ever since. I picked up a guitar when I was 13 and found I could play it quite easily, it was the 1st thing that actually made sense to me, school just went over my head and bored the shite outta me. I joined a R’n’R band after 2 weeks of playing, then developed into Rockabilly and then I discovered The Meteors and my life changed forever. I formed a psychobilly trio called the Phantom Zone, we were OK and supported all the new upcoming bands including The Guana Batz, The Stingrays, and The Vibes. I then travelled the world for years just playing my acoustic around bars developing my writing skills on the way.

Has rockabilly/psychobilly always been the main source of your strongest musical pleasure personally and creatively?

Simply: YES !!! It’s in my blood, when it’s there, it’s there for life.

You have seen and been involved in numerous decades of the psychobilly scene here in the UK, would you say it’s in one of its healthiest moments right now?

I was there very near the beginning, then as I say travelled the world, it’s amazing to see how big it’s become again. Its healthier than ever and an amazing scene to be involved in, full respect to those that kept playing, they saved the music I love and I thank each & every one of them for that. Also people like The Bedlam Crew and Little Jo, her MySpace was one of the 1st psycho related sites I came across and I’m sure that played a huge part of the returning scene.

We mentioned Mickey And The Mutants, how did the link up with ex-Meteors/ex-Guana Batz bassist Mick White and Sharks drummer Paul ‘Hodge’ Leigh come about?

I was in my own Crampish Garage band called The Bionic Krugerrands and Mick liked what we did, and my guitar style so asked me to join him. I said no many times but then my drummer left and as I was at a loose end I caved in, I’m glad I did. Then the drummer he had left and we found Hodge, simple as that really.

I may be wrong but I get the impression that you are happier and more fired up creating and driving your own bands than playing in other’s projects, though I hasten to say that your own penned songs and vocals on the MATM album Touch The Madness do not suggest that to be fair.

No, you’re correct, I love to create and have a deep passion for what I do and after 37 years of creating music in one form or another I know how it works so understand the process and what to do to get the best out of it. It was fine working normandthenightmarezpsychobillyinfectioncdwith Mick and he was kind enough to listen to my input, and you know what? We made one hell of an album Hodge, Mick ‘n’ Me and I’ll always be proud of it.

What are your strongest inspirations would you say in sound and your guitar style?

Guitarists: Cliff Gallup, Grady Martin, Paul Fenech, and Ivy Rorschach

Songwriters: Nigel Lewis, Paul Fenech , Johnny & Dorsey Burnette, and Leiber & Stoller.

Artists: Most of the Sun Rockabilly’s and various Rockabilly and Psychobilly over the years.

Norm And The Nightmarez has just released its first album, the undeniably brilliant Psychobilly Infection. There seems to have immediately spread a swift and lively buzz about the band and release. Would you say this has been the most dramatic impact a band or release you have been involved in has made?

HELL YES !!! But as soon as we heard the album mixed, myself and Alan Wilson knew we had created something special. That’s from a punters point of view not from an arrogant stance. I’m thrilled with the way it turned out!.

Did you have any expectations or hopes beyond simply having people like it once it had emerged in the studio?

Oh Yes, I want to play this devils music all over the world as much as possible, I’m never happier then when I’m onstage doing this material, it honestly sends me wild, sometimes I have to rein myself in a bit for fear of injury ! Whatever you see me do onstage is from the heart, nothing is staged or acted, any scream, any grimace any movement, it just gets into my bones and transports me to a place I love to be.

You seem to have found the perfect blend of rockabilly and psychobilly on the album, both teasing and seducing without overpowering the other. Has this been an instinctive and natural find or something you have cultivated over time?

Purely and Simple Instinct!!!

I get the impression that the band is very new as a presence; is that the reality and were the songs on the album bred after its emergence or do some have a longer history to them?

10443120_680915955319815_6023845040549483159_oI just sat down over a weekend and wrote the songs as I always do, on my own with my acoustic. A few were already in existence but most totally new. I think I’ve had Sex Kitten for about 30 years but never used it till now.

How did you meet drummer Frank Creamer and bassist Mark Bending and how easy was it to get them on board for the album?

Frank Creamer was briefly around in the late part of the early days so I kinda knew him a little from then and I got Mark Bending from an advert I placed.

I am right in believing the band has a different line-up for live shows now?

Yes you are, I have a very talented young buck called Jake Lyon on drums, he has a degree in music and filled in with the Mutants on a couple of gigs, I’ve honestly never worked with such a gifted live drummer. John Goodey is on double bass, he’s been in rockin’ bands for the past 30 years plus and is an awesome double bass player.

Tell us about the recording of Psychobilly Infection, was it all smooth sailing?

I honestly can’t remember much about it, it went by in a flash and as ever recording with Alan Wilson was really pressure free. I did the ground work and preparation before I went in and as a trio we practiced hard for it. We did have one hiccup as the bass player’s bass wasn’t up to it and Alan wanted to make it special so Steve Whitehouse put his underpants on over his jeans and saved the day by driving his own personal bass over for us to use in a super hero styleeee.

Any tales you can tell us from that time, any solicitous meetings or the occasional salacious summoning? 😉

Yeah, there were the 9 prostitutes, two if which were lady boys (I can’t tell you who had them ) and the mountain of coke night !!!. Nah, only kidding, all quite boring really we just concentrated on getting it bang on, capturing the threat and suspense we wanted to create. Early nights and Earl Grey!!!.

Is there a particular moment or aspect to the album which gives you the biggest chill and tingle of satisfaction and pleasure?

It all gives me a tingle I just honestly cannot believe how amazing it’s turned out, though if I’ve got to pick one moment it’s at the end of the 2nd lead break in the song Psychobilly Infection just before I start to sing, it’s like a Buddy Holly dum dad dum da dum, dum dum, it just moved me and I get a thrill now every time I do that bit live, its ace.

What is on the near horizon of Norm And The Nightmarez?10446663_680914721986605_2839446702070720291_n

The Beldam Breakout festival in September & a lot of gigs booked, to be honest amazing stuff is coming in daily but we’re up for anything and just wanna get out there both in the UK and around the world and play, play, play.

Thanks again for talking with us, any final thoughts to leave us pondering?

Norm & the Nightmarez are here to stay, come to a show and see for yourselves … come get the PSYCHOBILLY INFECTION !!!.

And finally tell us five of the most important or simply thrilling releases which have had a part in your evolution as a musician and songwriter.

In Heaven – The Meteors

Elvis Presley – Sun Sessions

Johnny Burnette Rock n Roll Trio

Stray Cats – Stray Cats (that’s the 1st album only )

Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps – 1st two albums.

Sneaky Bonus ::: Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks

Of course, there’s also Eddie Cochran, Billy Fury, Buddy Holly, The Ramones, The Undertones, The Clash, all the Rockabilly Sun Recordings etc. etc. 🙂

Hey thank you Pete, it’s been fun mate.

 

Read the review of Psychobilly Infection @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/norm-and-the-nightmarez-psychobilly-infection/

https://www.facebook.com/Normandthenightmarez

Pete Ringmaster

The Ringmaster Review 01/08/2014

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Norilsk – Japetus

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Listening to Japetus, the debut EP from Canadian metallers Norilsk, you feel the band may have missed their calling, for if anyone could make stark desolate wastelands and inhospitable landscapes a potent tourist attraction then this band could. It is exactly what they do on their introduction to the metal world, make stark doom drenched soundscapes some of the most alluring proposals heard this year. Forging a sound bred from intensive sludge and post metal, the band creates bait and presence which seduces as it savages to leave the listener grinning insanely as its predatory instincts sonically disembowel the senses. There have been a wealth of impressive first assaults from bands this year but Japetus stands head and shoulders above most with ease.

Gatineau, QC hailing Norilsk is the creation of Nicolas Miquelon (Damnus, The Great Russian Empire, ex-Kintra) and Nick Richer (Damnus, Doll, Outrage AD). Taking their name from Siberia’s most northern city, the pair’s sound has been infused with inspirations from the likes of Thergothon, Saturnus, and early My Dying Bride, spices bringing a further doom laden death metal quality to their invention. It is not a sound which is exactly revealing new pastures and adventures for the genres it employs yet it has a startling, riveting breath and voice which puts the band apart from the rest and into a fresh and compelling corner of its own. Ahead of their first album, the Japetus EP sets down an immense and enthralling, not forgetting exhilarating, base and teaser for upcoming horizons, whilst inspiring a hunger racked with greed.

The title track sets things off and instantly has ears and attention awake with its nagging riffs and acidic sonic wash which scythes gently but forcibly across the senses. Within seconds you feel there is a relentlessness to the song even in its Japetus EP - artworkrelatively reserved stance at this point. Soon the guitar and bass predation of Miquelon is discovering a pungent snarl to which the beats of Richer add their intimidating punch. A Killing Joke like groove adds to the appealing lure before the guttural slowly crawling vocals of Miquelon prey on imagination and emotions. It is an irresistible enticing which erupts with intense crescendos before slipping back into its determined slow gait, riffs and grooves insatiably beckoning the passions. At over eight minutes by mid-way you wonder of the track will out stay its welcome but with inventive twists and that pure hypnotic pull of its repetitive ingenuity, there is never a chance, especially with the toxic melodic side step which permeates body and soul towards its conclusion.

It is a staggering opening which is soon surpassed by Potsdam Glo. The track is a swiftly established different kind of a beast, its slow predacious entwining of ears and synapses carrying a gentler though no less menacing gait and texture. The bass is pure demonic flirtation, its lure a throaty velvet to which the vocals of Miquelon offer a cleaner delivery than on its predecessor. Thoughts of Anathema and Isis make their hints but also earlier spices like Bauhaus and The Cure in just as many hinting ways. As it floats imposingly across the senses there is a meditative effect which embraces tenaciously though that lingering coaxing is subsequently buffeted by the increasingly volatile and threatening swipes of Richer. The songs climax is an immersion back into its melodically enthused seducing, a warm and invasive beauty swallowing ears and imagination.

Japetus is an extraordinary proposition, as mentioned not ground-breaking in sound but striking unique in presence and imagination. The CD version of the EP also offers a cover of the Voivod track Negatron, Norilsk twisting and transforming it into their own distinct version with insidiously dark throated vocals, ravenous intent, and an atmospheric malevolence which engulfs the senses. It is an outstanding track which makes the CD the more essential choice though no one will be left disappointed by the two-track download.

With that full-length imminent, Norilsk has made the most powerful and exciting entrance of any one this year. Japetus is aural brilliance ensuring that anticipation has nostrils flaring for the album.

The self-released Japetus EP is available now digitally and on CD @ http://norilskdoom.bandcamp.com

https://www.facebook.com/NorilskDoom

10/10

RingMaster 31/07/2014

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Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferi – Self Titled

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Having missed like many their self-titled album when it was released in 2012, it is with thanks to Memento Mori for resurrecting the potent and thrilling offering from Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferi (V.R.P.I.) once again for us all to devour. The album is a pestilential treat of satanic death metal with a melodic veining and raw surface which simply fires up the imagination. The band has been called Mexico’s best kept secret but with this second outing for their album you suspect their unwilling privacy will be no more.

Consisting of members of Necroccultus, Sargatanas, Ominous Crucifix, Supplicium, and Leper Messiah in its line-up, the 2009 formed V.R.P.I. has forged an intensive and impressive reputation in their homeland’s extreme metal depths moving further afield. Their debut album has been the main cause of that, its ravenous spreading of the band’s contagiously vindictive sound insatiable and sure to incite a wider hungry spotlight this time around.

The album comes in nine chapters starting with the sinister Serpents Council. From its opening desperate and haunting air the track swiftly expels a controlled rabidity of riffs and rhythms bound in a sonic web of intrigue and enterprise. It is a caustic proposition especially with the raw throaty vocal squall of Rubens Nergal, but it spears that with a virulently enticing swinging groove which attaches to the stride of the song and the intimidating guitar designs forged by Ignis Deo, Edgar Ramirez, and Jesus Inukai. It is a short and potent provocation to get album and thoughts prepared for the creative torment ahead, which soon descends on the senses through Ceremony Of The Impure. The antagonistic rhythms of drummer Daniel Sanchez instantly cast an intimidating frame coloured further by the heavy lilted tones of bass from Angs Balandran. It is an intensive barracking but one tempered by the rich evocative hues of melody clad guitar and vocal chant in the background. The track does not ignite thoughts and passions as strikingly as expected and hinted at by the previous track but still has them simmering contentedly with a keen appetite.

That hunger is soon fed a tasty voracity through Towards Battlefields, its predatory breath and stalking gait flavoured with a compelling bass sound amidst another acidic weave of riffs and sonic confrontation equipped with turbulent enterprise and a rigorously captivating groove. The track is a formidable and threatening slab of addictive hostility, death metal at its feverishly creative and intensive best matched by the very brief Ravenous Apocalyptic Raids. The track is a swift scourge of malevolence and destructive enterprise which impressively leads straight into the just as nasty and riveting Purification By The Sword. A rancorous fury of crippling rhythms and scarring riffs blaze across the senses immediately, the latter’s alignment with a scorching sonic whining irresistible. The track proceeds to lurch and twist with bestial predation and intensive urgency before settling into a more controlled but no less insistent stalking with abrasing vocals and melodic toxicity nestling menacingly over the continuing rhythmic provocation. The best track on the album it is a monstrous infesting of ears and passions, alone a reason to take V.R.P.I. eagerly to your vulnerable breast.

Its might is matched by the rising from dark depths of Leviathans Coronation. Like an awakening subterranean beast, the track flexes its rabid muscles into a destructive air as bass and drums build a tumultuous cage of lethal rhythmic violence. Its sinews continue to ripple as riffs surge purposefully alongside a sonically fuelled melodic emprise which begins to paint the track’s demonic canvas. The track continues to test and challenge, frequently shifting its gears in gait and violating ears in dark intrigue and enthralling sound. It is a real brute of a song but one wrapped in an ingenious beauty and invention which is death metal as organic as it is singularly inventive.

Both Nine Kingdoms and Hunting And Sacrifice keep the grip of the album tight even if certainly the first of the two with its varying degrees of persuasion slips in stature to those before it. With a driving nagging groove and rhythmic unpredictability the track still leaves satisfaction high before its successor unleashes its hellacious and malignant fury upon the senses. Strange to say for a track intent on corruption and viciously imposing enmity there is an elegance to the song which seduces as its tears thoughts and emotions to their bare bones. It is an impossibly magnetic onslaught which makes way for the savage Necropolis Rising, a track unleashing all its lures and spite upon the ears in again absorbing and emotionally jaundiced manner. The further into its maelstrom it goes the more infectious and addictive it becomes, preying on the passions with skilled enterprise from each of the Irapuato sextet and a combined imagination.

The album is completed by tracks from the first demo of V.R.P.I.; the raw trio of Serpents Council, Ceremony Of The Impure, and Towards Battlefields more than decent inclusions which show the seeds from which the excellence of the album has emerged. For death metal in its best creative throes of adventure, ingenuity, and sheer malevolence, Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferi, band and album, is a no brainer recommendation, especially if the likes of Morbid Angel, Deicide, and Vital Remains appeal.

Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferi is available via Memento Mori now @ http://memento-mori.es/

https://www.facebook.com/VRPI666

9/10

RingMaster 01/08/2014

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A.C.O.D – Another Path…

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Following two well-received albums, French metallers A.C.O.D have reinforced their impressive presence with another accomplished release in the tidy shape of the Another Path… EP. Consisting of five tracks which blend various styles and essences into its melody driven rapacity, the release without igniting an intensive fire in the belly leaves ears and emotions healthily satisfied.

Formed in 2006, the Marseille sextet first drew a wide attention with debut album Point Zero in 2009 backed even more potently by its successor First Earth Poison two years later. Earning a strong live reputation at home the band also found strong support across Italy and Japan. The new Shawter (Dagoba) produced EP pushes the stature and sound of A.C.O.D to a level that you suspect will lead the band to a new strength and expanse of support and recognition.

The release opens with its title track and needs little encouragement to unleash a persuasive torrent of riffs and grinding grooves amidst a commanding rhythmic coaxing. It is a concentrated tempest on the ear but soon discovers a new acod coverferocity which floods the senses with thrash bred hostility and blackened predation. The vocals bring a potent and varied causticity to the adventure too, the twin vocal assault as distinct as they are united in their abrasing narrative. The track continues to flare up with unpredictable twists and inventive colour though its core drive remains in control until it makes way for the following Black Wings. The track continues the immense start with its own enthralling offering, riffs and rhythms again consuming ears in a fierce mesh of intent and enterprise. Hooks and melodies again stir up the imagination within the turbulence of the song, essences of progressive and technical metal as impacting as the antagonistic passion of the track. There is an undefined spark missing to the track to leave it paler against its predecessor, something which in many ways applies to the EP, but it still ignites a keener appetite and impressed reaction for its fiery proposition.

Unleash The Fools steps up next, its immediate intimidation reminding a little of Killswitch Engage. There is a similarity to the previous track in its insurgent riffing and threatening rhythmic attack but soon unveils a richer vein of emotive melodic and sonic expression. The cleaner growled vocals on the song are a little unconvincing for the first time on the release but swiftly excused thanks to the strength of the pure clean delivery within a graceful and provocative melodic detour. Again it is a song which arguably should impress more than it does such the skill and imagination within in, but nevertheless leaves satisfaction full for next up Abuse Me to run with. That it does skilfully with an instantaneous stride of hostile intent within a predatory merger of rhythms and guitar. The darker toned vocals equally menace thoughts as the track with its turbulent and gripping drama returns the release to its opening plateau of adventure and creative enticement.

   Another Path… is brought to a thunderous conclusion by Words of War. Its initially heavy footed stalking gait subsequently entwined with a more urgent thrash seeded scourge of riffs and rhythmic intensity to which vocals add their venomous syllables and spiteful passion. The track took longer to persuade than others on the release but emerged with its discord kissed sonic bait and pleasingly niggling riffery as another striking highlight.

A.C.O.D has a sound which is refreshingly hard to pigeonhole, think of a style and there is probably a potent whiff of it in the superbly crafted passion driven songs within the EP. As said Another Path… is not an encounter to really set metal ablaze but certainly it gives it a flavoursome proposition to eagerly devour.

The Another Path… EP is available now!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/AcoD/97357318597

8/10

RingMaster 01/08/2014

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Betraying The Martyrs – Phantom

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As undeniably compelling as it is, Phantom the new album from Betraying The Martyrs is also a bit of an odd beast to digest and get excited about. At times it roars with an invention which sends tingles down the spine and in other moments inspires sighs of disappointment, yet for those lesser moments where its persuasion flounders, they are more often than not swiftly followed and consumed by twists and ideation which leaves the passions ablaze once again. It is a release which maybe too often leaves thoughts unconvinced but it also provides a deeply intriguing and insatiable satisfaction in its turbulent wake which is impossible to ignore or dismiss.

The Paris based sextet of vocalist Aaron Matts, guitarists Baptiste Vigier and Lucas D’angelo, bassist Valentin Hauser, drummer Mark Mironov, and keyboardist/vocalist Victor Guillet forge a sound reaped from the strenuous depths of extreme metal, djent, Metalcore, hardcore, and progressive metal, though that is still only a hint of their tempestuous creativity and sound. The success of debut album Breathe In Life pushed the band into an intensive spotlight especially in North America which you can only see Phantom fuelling further and to a greater spread across the metal scene. Released via Sumerian Records, the album is in many ways summed up by opening track title Jigsaw, not only in sound but in that tracks feel like their elements and ideas are slotted together, generally seamlessly but with the occasional piece in the wrong slot.

Phantom is also an open progression from its predecessor, reaching deeper into and expanding the essences found upon Breathe In Life whilst infusing new twists and imagination. Jigsaw instantly descends on ears with antagonistic rhythms and jagged riffs, their attack predatory and controlled within a brewing sonic rapacity. The song is soon releasing the handbrake though as guitars tear way at the senses with snarling riffs and scything hooks bleeding death metal malevolence and metalcore vitriol. It is a quick contagion which flourishes further with gutturally spawned vocals aligned to a cleaner suasion of voice. It is not a startling start to the album and though certain aspects like the coarse vocals and melodic respite is strained at times, the track is a thoroughly captivating encounter with flirtatious temptations within its smothering wall of sound and aggression.

The following Where The World Ends opens with a classically seeded piano caress aided by clean vocals and a dramatic ambience which is as suggestive as it is enveloping. It is an outstanding start which rises in weight and intensity Coverwith rolling heavy footed rhythms and the evolving growling vocals of Matts, already showing himself to be a formidable vocalist. In no time the seductive start is a maelstrom of viciously flung rhythms and sonic fever equipped with splinters of sonic spite and djent spawned hostility. Again, with a demonic tone to the vocals which easily slip into a cleaner lilt at times, the track ignites the imagination and senses potently as the album continues to grow and increasingly impress, though the fade-out is annoying and for personal tastes always lazy.

Walk Away swaggers in next with an agitated gait within evocative keys to make a strong and potent start, guitars and bass again unleashing their volatile sinews to skilled and resourceful effect. The soaring harmonies and orchestrated climb which emerges from the ravenous entrance of the track soon defuses the striking impact, leaving thoughts lost and unsure in the unexpected turn of the song. Though perfectly and fluidly infused, there is an unsatisfactory feel to the move with the returning animosity of sound eagerly welcomed, especially with its twisted hooks and senses scorching vocal causticity. It is undeniably a powerful track but one almost trying too hard to be different and exploratory which leaves it prone to an unconvincing offering just as with next up Let It Go. The band’s latest single is cover of the song from the movie Frozen, and epitomises the album in many ways. Its melodic start is soon under a carnivorous swamp of metalcore ingenuity and savagery which leaves ears and passions ablaze yet then proceeds with admittedly great clean vocals to temper its assault with a melodic balladry to which the hoarse vocals lose their potency. The track has proven a fan favourite it seems but left us cold and totally underwhelmed, though there were still elements which enthralled.

Both the atmospherically haunting instrumental L’abysse Des Anges with its beautifully sculpted melodies and grooves within a rising climactic breath, and the incendiary storm of Phantom (Fly Away) bring appetite and emotions back into the sturdy lure of the album. Featuring Gus Farias of Volumes, the second of the two is a bestial predator of a track, leering at and gnawing over the senses with uncompromising rhythms and ferocious riffery, both aspects sharp and antagonistic beneath the spread of vocals. There is also a maturity and in places a reserve to the song which sets it apart from most others on the release, and proves the depth of potential within the band.

What’s Left of You is another to stir up the imagination and a fresh breath of hunger for the proposition, its barbarous presence underpinned by a great swinging yet understated groove. Keys provide a delicious drama and adventure to the adversarial climate of the track, merging in the creative rabidity with radiant enterprise and unpredictability. Whereas the mix of extremes failed to impress within the likes of Walk Away and Let It Go, here everything fuses gloriously proving that when Betraying The Martyrs get it right they have the potential to set new standards.

From the ok instrumental Afterlife with its epic nature and melodic poise, the pinnacle of the album erupts. Legends Never Die is a monster of a track, crippling riffs and viciously swiping rhythms bringing body and senses to their knees whilst grooves wind tenaciously around the inhospitable spine of the savaging. The thrilling keys of Guillet provide misaligned colour to the fury at times whilst in other moments flowing, as the clean vocals, magnetically through the voracious predation of the track. It is a masterful brute of a song though it is another, and far too many on the album, which simply fades away as if the band do not know how to end its design.

The final quartet of songs on Phantom, ebb and flow in their success with firstly Lighthouse a track which alone thrills and deflates across its barbarous terrain though it is more the former to be fair. The following brief instrumental Your Throne leads into the sadistic and enthralling landscape of Our Kingdom, a full on tempest which at times loses its definition of elements such its corrosive assault but matches that with some rich flights of melodic and inventive textures to chain thoughts and attention rigidly. It is a track which leaves you wanting more which the final song Closure Found is happy to provide with its similarly structured and uniquely flavoured tsunami of intent and voracity. As mentioned earlier when the band gets it right they excel, and to be fair on Phantom they do more often than not come up with richly pleasing successes.

It is not a classic album or one to set the passions blazing consistently but Betraying The Martyrs is not a band to short change on imagination and brave exploration which makes Phantom for all its ‘issues’ an easy to devour and recommend encounter.

Phantom is available now via Summerian Records @ http://www.merchconnectioninc.com/collections/betraying-the-martyrs

https://www.facebook.com/WeAreBetrayingTheMartyrs

7.5/10

RingMaster 31/07/2014

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Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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Bastion – Vremya borby

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Like a potent book you cannot put down, there is a magnetism and intensive lure to Vremya borby, the new album from Russian folk metallers Bastion, which is inescapable. Severely rugged and antagonistically muscular yet melodically mesmeric, the second album from the band is a striking and commanding enticement, folk metal at its instinctively formidable best.

Formed in 2002, Bastion began with a sound bred from heavy and power metal influences but through several line-up changes before and after, as well as natural evolution, their sound found its home in Pagan/Folk metal inspired by the ‘struggle for the revival of Pagan Ideology and Traditions of their Nation’. 2007 saw the release of the demo Remembering the Past but it was debut album The Dawn of Svarog in 2011 which awoken a richer attention upon the band. Before its release, Bastion was already looking ahead to its successor, working on its visual design with Peter Podkolzin before in the following year, laying down the drums for the next encounter. Created over two years, Vremya borby, translated as ‘The time to struggle’, was completed and unleashed to show a new intensity and aggressive to the Krasnoznamensk sextet’s sound in which they thrillingly employ an enthralling mix of varied folk flavours and instruments.

Released via Der Schwarze Tod, the album immediately makes an intensive impression with an attention grabbing flow of rhythms and a subsequent squall of riffs and sonic rapacity as opener Arkona 1168 consumes ears. It is a formidable and thick web of sound which alone potently coaxes but once the folk spawned melodies of pipes add their temptation, the track elevates to an even greater enticement. Riffs and rhythms continue to badger the senses, at times leaning intensely upon them and in other spaces pummelling their surface as the urgency and aggressive intent of the song continues to show its sinews and ferocity. The vocals make for an intriguing and pleasing aspect too, their raw and gruff attack at odds with the melodic side of the song whilst aligning to the hostile roar elsewhere but they make the perfect fit within the riveting mesh.

The title track steps up next with a similar intent and structure but a mellower tone within a still rabid tempest of attitude and sound. As it evolves the track spreads a distinctly different and adventurous charm to its predecessor, melodies CD coverand hooks an insatiable tempting within a restrained but keenly intrusive charge of sound. As all tracks it provides an adventure which is a tale of its own and even though the narrative is sung in Russian the imagination is pressed into shaping its own visions and interpretations. With a sonic invention and swirling acidic endeavour, the track soars and incites emotions with ease for another impressive step in the landscape of the album, one soon taken up another level by the pair of Zavety (Behest) and Boevaya (War Song). The first of the two is part stalking predator and part rabid horde as it surges upon ears and thoughts. Its body is never an outright fury or assault but certainly one which intimidates with instinctive predation, even as the delicious web of traditional folk wood instruments colour the imposing shadows of the song. It is a stirring encounter with the throaty bass prowess especially thrilling though it is soon left slightly in the shade of its successor. The second of the two calls with citric pipes initially before immersing in a thunderous charge of riffs and rhythms ridden by the lordly and raucous vocals. It is an enthralling call to arms, muscles clashing in the air as a melodic seduction, especially from keys and horns, brings hope fuelled hues and dawns to the building hostility as it thrusts thoughts right in the midst of sweat soaked, dirt clad warrior bonding.

The albums best track is followed by Moya Zemlya (My Land) which has the unenviable of trying to compete with its predecessor. Rawer and dirtier than the previous song, and even more hostile, the track rummages through the senses with a malicious vocal and caustic sonic voracity. It is a destructive engagement until the moment the song reins in its spite for another absorbing evocative passage of melodic imagination and emotion which in turn inflames the potency of the returning tenacious fury of the track. Though it does not manage to match earlier songs, it is a compelling and ravenous provocation which is soon a distant memory once the might of Bylina takes over. Though the group vocals with their tribal discord labour in their convincing the torrential and unrelenting nagging of riffs and punchy rhythms seduce ears and emotions with sublime ease. It is a lure which only tightens its grip as pipes dance and flirt with their rich tapestry of expression and sound over the merciless and scintillating surging of riffs and rhythms.

The album closes with V pesnyah dedov (In Songs Ancestors), an eleven minute epic which scars and seduces, ravishes and entices across its evolving soundscape of sound and lyrical emprise. It is a fine conclusion to an excellent release which has everything you wish from a folk metal release and more in a masterfully unrefined and honest encounter. Bastion is without doubt a band to take notice of.

Vremya borby is available via Der Schwarze Tod now @ http://www.ebay.com/itm/BASTION-Vremya-Borby-CD-2013-Pagan-folk-metal-/131099358329

https://www.facebook.com/bastion.pagan

8.5/10

Ringmaster 31/07/2014

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