Escapethecult – All You Want To


All You Want To  is a persistent little temptation, an album which admittedly did not really blow thoughts and senses away initially but did engage them in a pleasing and intriguing proposition. Away from its aural embrace though hooks and melodies, rhythmic twists and grooves kept swerving around the imagination and memory, all leading back to and revealing themselves as being bred by the debut album from Escapethecult. The seven track encounter is still not an experience to leave you intensely awestruck but with its lingering and ingenious enterprise certainly enthrals as one of the year’s more exciting progressive metal propositions.

Escapethecult is one of those super groups you read about, a collection of established musicians taking time out from their more recognisable exploits to explore new hopefully impressive avenues, something the quartet does with ease from start to finish. The brainchild of Kamlath bassist Peter G. Shallmin, Escape The Cult came to life in 2008 with its founder drawing on the qualities of vocalist Matthieu Romarin of Uneven Structure, guitarist Mike Wead from King Diamond/Mercyful Fate, and Primus/A Perfect Circle drummer Tim Alexander to help realise his vision of creating a progressive metal audio/visual experience. It has been a journey for the band to this point and for Shamlin who talked about the album saying “It was a dynamic and exciting start, with blood, sweat and tears shed throughout the process and a long exhausted preparation for the attack. Every day was worth to make it real. We were sincere in our ideas that are embodied in our debut.

The gentle but resourceful entrance of opener Backfired, with a bass twang courting spicy guitar enterprise, swiftly catches the imagination and though it is not a dramatic start to the album, an intrigued appetite for the song’s offering is

Created by Igor Omodei

Created by Igor Omodei

drawn. The distinctive tones of Romarin bring a familiar and passionate texture to the emerging narrative of the song, one never forceful or in a rush to challenge ears and thoughts but leaving inventive tendrils of melodies and strains of sonic incitement to infest the passions. It is a potent and riveting start to the album, basking in the renowned individual skills of its creators whilst forging a compelling and unique suasion of its own.

The following Clandestine opens with a muscular and aggressive threat which is soon tempered by an evocative heat of sonic colour and warm vocals. There is still an intensive weight to the rhythmic potency of Alexander though to keep senses on edge and balance out the almost Queens Of the Stone Age like sultriness coating the melodic exploration of the song. Grooves are seemingly slight in their bodies yet make for the most addictive and as mentioned earlier relentless temptations, the outstanding second track one of those which makes the most re-appearances in thoughts away from its source, whilst the flames of guitar endeavour from Wead transfixes as they scorch air and senses.

A definite pinnacle of the album, it is soon backed up by the gentle croon of I’m Absolute. With an immediately delicious web of hypnotic bass flirtation and the similarly mesmeric vocals of Romarin, the song sways and immerses ears in a smouldering and jazzy emprise of progressive fascination. The beats juggled by Alexander further captivate and ignite an already invigorating breath to a song, which as the album as a whole, does not explode in the passions but worms its way seductively into the psyche to forge an even more intensive bond.

Both the melodically tender Feel The Flight and the rapacious Tired Of The Past provide an absorbing canvas to lose one’s thoughts within, the first adding tense riffs and restrained yet incendiary grooves into its impassioned but mellow landscape. It is another where particular elements fire up ears and the passions rather than an overall combination but that united blend provides the embrace and rich foundation within which the sublime twists and essences can impress. Its successor is a feistier encounter in sound and intent which boils with imagination and unpredictability, preying on and tempting the listener with a provocatively charged invention which snarls and seduces with equal predation. An exceptional track binding ears in a thrilling adventure, it also sows seeds which blossom at a later date, though that is something truthfully which applies to all songs, as shown by the brilliant This Time Will Come. Hints of Alice In Chains and Tool, which have flirted with other songs too, make a rich enticement within the masterful blaze of intensive melodies and sonic acidity. There is also an underlying snarl and angst fuelled growl to the track which simply scintillates within the impressive and constantly evolving invention as it pushes itself to be the pinnacle of the release.

Where No Grown Up Grapes brings the album to a fine close with its web of heavy vocal and sonic passion. It is another where it simmers without lighting fires but then in a twist of a chord or rhythmic shuffle finds an enslaving idea or slither of imagination to set thoughts and passions ablaze. That sums up All You Want To as a whole, it at times simply pleasing with skilled ease and then striking with sheer genius and expectations slaughtering ingenuity. It all makes for an album which leaves a rich impression and presence with even deeper laid lures which prey on the listener later. How frequently Escapethecult will be exploring ears and imagination ahead we will see with its members ‘day jobs’ etc. but anticipation and hunger for more is already breeding healthily thanks to All You Want To.

The self-released All You Want To is scheduled to be unveiled in September 2014.


RingMaster 19/08/2014

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Jona Overground – On The Outside


A persistent caress on the ears, the soulful acoustic pop of Jona Overground as vibrantly presented on their debut album On The Outside, is a proposition to warm up any thought, emotion, or day. Presenting ten easy going yet elegantly crafted and persuasive songs, the release makes no demands yet provides a tender persuasion of memorable and lingering propositions which melt the senses.

Formed in 2011, Jona Overground is the creation of vocalist Ann-Marie Gilkes, who has worked with the likes of Erasure, Kylie Minogue, Lionel Richie, and Tricky, and guitarist/keyboardist Jon Griffin. Meeting whilst studying music at Goldsmiths College, the pair began writing together after discovering a mutual love of classic pop, with the creation of the band coming soon after. Establishing a potent reputation on the live scene around London and the South East, the duo linked up with producer Alexander Mayor to work on their debut release, the impressive IRL Records released On the Outside.

Opener If You Were Free sets the tone of the album right away, warmly coaxing chords of guitar courted by firm if unadventurous beats styling a canvas to which Gilkes paints intimate narratives with her potent tones and delightful 0003691228_350expression. There is much more to this and the other songs of course but it is a magnetic undercoat which leads to brighter enchantment. With the leaner backing vocals of Griffin skirting his tantalising guitar prowess whilst seducing harmonies break free throughout, the song swings and sway with a gentle but forceful enticement, making for an attention awakening and ear pleasing start to the release.

The following Spin Cycle sidles up to the senses with a sultry climate and dark seduction next; its majestic melodic curves from the start reminding of Burt Bacharach composed musical shadows, and more specifically at times the song Walk On By. With a glowing shimmer of keys leading to evocative flames of melodies around the emotive lyrical expression, the song continues the impressive beginnings of the album before moving on to be replaced by the intimacy of Last Time I Saw You. Though the song does not grip as its predecessors, ears and thoughts are still captivated by the enticing melody seeping from the guitar and the glorious heat of classically bred stringed suasion which immerses the imagination. A track which impresses further with time, it adds another potent hue to the body of the release, as does the next up title track. A song which from a powerful first meeting also increases its lure which each involvement, it parades a joyful stride and vibrant energy in creating an increasing infectiousness whilst keys add their individual colour to meet the ever agreeable vocals and harmonies of Gilkes. It marks the pinnacle of the album, a plateau which embraces its successor too. Caught In A Line is a ballad which lies close to ears and emotions, its repetitive harmonies and evocative incitement of keys mesmeric whilst Gilkes smothers the senses in her intimate vocal beauty. That alone is enough to delight an already contented appetite but it is the rub of strings and keyboard additives which add unpredictable intrigue to the tale to turn a great song into something which sticks in thoughts long term.

Both the smiling gait of Let’s Pretend and the darker throatier breath of When Sorrows End keep the highs coming, the first a slice of reined in pop revelry which is still allowed to swish its melodic skirt in seductive fashion and the second a glorious embrace of deeper toned sounds and encroaching shadows which flirt with and kiss the senses from start to finish. The best track on the release, the song is an imposing beauty and quite irresistible.

My Word, Your World is a provocative call for feet and emotions next, its again heavier emotive premise still an easy bait to dance floors before the similarly flavoursome revelry of Time For Games parades its summery festivity. Employing a duet between the melodious temptation of Gilkes and the down to earth tones of Griffin, it is a song which takes a little time to acclimatise to but soon has body and soul locked into its flirty waltz of sound.

The album is brought to a close by the more than decent Fallout, though its balladry lacks the spark of certainly the previous track. It still makes for a satisfying close to a thoroughly enjoyable romance of melodic pop in its most relaxed and refreshing state. On The Outside leaves contentment and a hunger for more in its wake, and that is more than enough to light up dark days and uncertain nights.

On The Outside is available now via IRL Records through all digital stores


RingMaster 19/08/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Gracias – Elengi


Ebbing and flowing with a magnetism which admittedly shines and dims across its compelling canvas, Elengi the new album from Congolese-Finnish rapper Gracias, is an encounter which demands attention. Released via Cocoa Music, which the artist part-owns, the album is a potent offering of vocal and lyrical persuasion but it is the varied and unpredictable provocative sounds around them which push tracks and release to a more inventive and exciting plateau.

Born in Congo and moving to Finland aged four to escape the building war in his home country, the Helsinki based rapper, real name Deogracias Masomi, originally emerged under the name Luminate and released an unofficial debut mix-tape called Listenin Comprehension in 2007. After a couple of years away from recording, he returned as Gracias, releasing a self-titled EP in 2011 which with its singles, loudly awakened attention and critical acclaim subsequently leading to awards. Debut album Globe recorded with producer JTT (Juuso Talsi) followed a year later again to similarly strong reactions and now it is the turn of Elengi and its lyrically personal and intimate songs to press for a wider spotlight upon the imaginative artist.

Elengi grips from the off, opener Repent casting a weave of dark atmospheric sounds and vocal hauntings into which Gracias unveils his provocative narrative. It is a bewitching entrance turning to a persistent persuasion across the track, the rapping and melodic croons from the artist as magnetic as the slightly disturbing and thoroughly compelling musical brew embracing him. It is a masterful start soon reinforced by the following Levels (Stream Fast, Die Young). The second song again brings an evocative air to bear on ears, this time with a crystalline coaxing to which a more intimidating breath wraps vocals. A rhythmic adventure with a slight tribal essence soon lights up the encounter whilst vocally Gracias evens out his imposing presence with another fine shuffle of his inventive and melodic delivery. Sultry and constantly with an edge of danger, the track is a mighty contagious offering opening up even stronger appetite for the release.

The unhinged entrance of Paint Me A Picture, its opening distress perfect for any Asian horror, is bait to greedily devour. It relaxes into a no less perturbing climate of warped voices within a cold intrusive atmosphere under which Gracias paints an intimate portrait of artist and a moment of his life. With another intrigue ridden rhythmic adventure teasing inside the chilling incitement, the track increases the weight and unique creativity of Elengi, something which is turned on its head by the melodic and more formulaic presence of Slow It Down. To be fair for someone with a more intensive knowledge of hip-hop and rap, the song probably calls out with a more distinct personality than felt but after the invention of its predecessors, the song is an underwhelming and expectation feeding proposition, though certainly accomplished and satisfying.

The elegant Eastern melodies of Gloomake brings thoughts a more imagination teasing offering even if vocally the song lacks the spark lit in the earlier forages of ears and mind. As in many of the songs it does offer a whisper of Tech Nine in its enterprise and willingness to weave original designs, if not in energy and dramatic virulence. Its relative success is matched by the cold embrace of Sada Yakko which features YSI. It is a track which at times borders on alienation with its twists and concentrated repetitive glide yet this is tempered by a great deranged breath to its stark coaxing resulting in another enthralling encounter.

The busy and skittish cloud behind the vocals of OD Cumulus is another which has thoughts initially undecided. At times it also threatens to disappoint but in further turns of its creative maze hits the sweet spot, nagging and teasing out another wave of hunger towards the undefined but riveting ingenuity at play. With guest Noah Kin adding tempting tones to the thick electro kissed baiting, the song grows in potency over each play just like the darker rhythmic and vocal stroll of Open, though the following captivation never manages to touch the levels of the previous song and those making up the impressive start of the album. In many ways the second half of Elengi is its weakest, Jubilee also with YSI for example, almost trying too hard to create a dark frame of intimacy and experience ending in a loss of the ability to make a lingering impression. You do have to admire and praise the want of Gracias to explore his feelings and personal exploits in a unique and individual way to the crowd though, this need making the album even in its less successful moments still an enthralling presence.

To buck the trend of the second side of the album, Even Out steps in with its sultry and creatively agitated dance of feet provoking rhythms, fanfares of dark sounds, and melodic mystique. It is a tantalising treat which demands to be taken notice of and eagerly consumed; a lofty triumph making the most aggressively contagious entrance for newcomers to the world of Gracias.

The final trio of songs also make a mix of persuasive strength. Burgundy Red, featuring Femme En Fourrure, is overall a mesmeric lure if with a few success defusing elements whilst Muhiva suggests more than it delivers with its understated rhythmic and quick footed African seeded enterprise never allowed the clarity and freedom to ignite the senses. Assisted by Brandon on the song, Gracias still adds an oppressive haunting to the sounds around him which engross as much as they frustrate. The album is completed by Lost n Found, one of only a few songs which come with no surprises and thus hold the least potent tempting, though the additional vocals of A. Miettinen are seductively enchanting.

Elengi has issues, though probably many are just to do with personal taste and want from hip-hop and rap driven propositions, but it is a riveting and many times a truly thrilling treat, especially in its opening stretch of songs. Whether it breaks Gracias into a wider European and world spotlight we will see but it is easy to be confident he will make that break through at some point if the impressive elements of the album press into even bolder evolutions.

Elengi is available via Cocoa Music now.


RingMaster 19/08/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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