Blacklist Union – Back To Momo

blacklistunion_RingMaster Review

A few short weeks back, US rockers Blacklist Union unleashed their single Alive N Well Smack in the Middle of Hell, a magnetic stomp of a song providing an inviting teaser to the band’s new album Back To Momo. If you too took up its enjoyable invitation to rebel rouse let us tell you now, as good as it actually was, it barely touched on the might and enterprise flooding the band’s fourth full-length. It is persistently rivalled and at times just outshine by the thrilling incitements offered by Back To Momo, which tells you just how outstanding the album is.

Formed in 2004 by frontman Tony West, the Los Angeles hailing Blacklist Union was soon stirring up attention, especially from the 2006 release of debut album After The Mourning. The band’s reputation and stature continued to grow as the band emerged on the US rock scene, second album Breakin’ Bread With The Devil two years later luring keener fan and media focus which its well-received successor Til Death Do Us Part in 2012 pushed much further. Now it is the turn of Back To Momo to try and breach the broadest spotlights, a success hard to bet against such its rebellious and anthemic might.

BLU-Momo-Cover-smBlacklist Union - Back To Momo   With guitarist/bassist Todd Youth and drummer Matt Starr alongside West, Blacklist Union opens up Back To Momo with that aforementioned single, Alive-N-Well Smack in the Middle of Hell. A lone guitar stirs the air first, it’s coaxing soon pierced by a vocal shrill and joined by tangy grooving. Part hard rock, part punk ‘n’ roll, the song hits its stride with a swagger and a closet full of irresistible hooks and sonic enterprise from the guitars. Addiction is the order of the day with the song and as it has feet and emotions fully involved, it is easy to think rock ‘n’ roll does not get much better than this, but oh yes it does, and often across Back To Momo.

The following Shake It Off has a more restrained canter to its blues washed hard rock, and a sense of familiarity which is only enriched by the excellent delivery and vocal attitude of West. Expectations are fed a touch by the song, surprises less bold than on tracks around it but again it has ears and enjoyment settling into a keen appetite before the outstanding Mirror, Mirror on the Wall turns the creative heat up. Erupting in a surge of rhythms and sonic flames, the track quickly swings boisterous hips and frees contagious resourcefulness as an equally riveting vocal adventure jumps in. The track is glorious, a rousing blend of The Stooges, Turbo Negro, and Jane’s Addiction with just the right amount of glam metal, and easily the best incitement upon the album, and the next single surely?

Both the actual upcoming single Evil Eye and Superjaded keep things fiercely bubbling. The first is a scintillating swamp of prowling beats, nagging riffs, and blues bred hues with again an irresistible vocal tempting from West whereas its successor merges the infection of rock pop with the tenacity of punk and the revelry of hard rock, it all contained in a vibrant but restrained embrace which only seems to intensify the invention of the song. Both tracks come with a wealth of flavours and styles, another great feature across the rock ‘n’ roll of the album, and maybe it is no surprise they do given inspirations to the band range from Guns N’ Roses to David Bowie, Bad Brains to Bauhaus, T Rex to The Mission and The Ramones, to name a few.

With a title like Rock N Roll Outlaw you pretty much have an idea of the type of sound on offer and true to pleasing form, the song is an enticing blend of southern and classic rock coated in that twang that gets the taste buds grinning. The music itself does not hold the biggest key to the song’s success, as flavoursome as it is, but the invention and mischievous twists the band put into it is what excites the imagination most before the album’s title track uncages some more punk lined rock ‘n’ roll which simply radiates belligerence within a anthemic blaze. With a skeleton of pulsating rhythms within melodic and infection oozing creative flesh, the song entwines echoes of Alice in Chains, New York Dolls, and Shark Tape.

We Are Not Saints, as It’s All About You right after, flirt with some invigorating strains of garage rock for their individual designs, the former twisting it into a predatory prowling of the senses and serious ignition of the instincts to rock ‘n’ roll whilst the latter, taking an even richer dose of sixties/seventies garage ferocity, weaves a tonic for body and soul bristling with sonic tendrils, sparkling hooks, and psych rock breeding. The rhythms from both bass and drums are wicked seduction whilst West again shows he is one of the most magnetic and dynamic frontmen/vocalists in rock right now.

Things remain infectiously hot with the enthralling Meet Me on Zen Street, a song veering on the brink of horror punk at times, and again through the dirty scuzz lined Graveyard Valentine. Rock ‘n’ roll needs a healthy dose of filth and attitude, and there is plenty on show in voice and sound in this irresistible proposal, the grouchy deep throated bass leading the way. Punk again rears its welcome head, and not for the first time on Back To Momo, there is a touch of Canadian duo The Black Frame Spectacle to the thrilling stomp.

The album is completed by firstly the niggling temptation of Wined, Dined, & 69’d, the song simply classic bred, glammed up rock ‘n’ roll, and lastly Read Between the Lines, a track which again prowls the listener with dazzling lures and spicy enticements. It does not quite live up to earlier peaks yet as all songs, only leaves a licking of lips and want for more.

Back to Momo is not bulging with sounds that are unfamiliar yet from start to finish it is commandingly fresh with an insatiable spark sure to ignite any day. The single Alive N Well Smack in the Middle of Hell was and still is a mighty way to join the Blacklist Union, whilst the album shows it has much more to thrill and incite with. . After this if the band has not breached major attention then world rock is a fool.

Back To Momo is available now via BLU Records.

Ringmaster 13/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Mordecai – Valour

mordecai 2_RingMaster Review

London based Mordecai are no strangers to stirring up the British rock scene with their rich and rousing sound, they have worked their charms on the other side of the Atlantic at times too, but fair to say they have outdone themselves with the thrilling Valour EP. Released a few weeks back, it is an anthemically dramatic and compelling collection of songs showing the diversity of the band’s songwriting and sound whilst forcibly pushing both on again from past triumphs. Quite simply it is one of the finest slabs of heavy rock/metal the band has unleashed to date and one of the essential explorations this year for all.

Though formed in 2006, Mordecai really began making a major impression from 2010 when the band’s line-up settled and solidified. They had already released a couple of EPs which were well-received by fans, but it was at this point that their Black Stone Cherry, Alter Bridge, and Black Label Society inspired sound found the spark to ignite itself and bigger attention. The band was soon exploding on stage at festivals such as Bloodstock, Bull Dog Bash, and Hammerfest over the subsequent twelve months or so and sharing stages with bands such as Black Light Burns, Bam Margera’s FFU, and Fightstar. 2012/13 saw Mordecai playing Download, one of the few unsigned bands to have ever been given two consecutive years, being invited to be part of Mark Tremonti’s (Creed, Alter Bridge, Tremonti Project), Fret12 Artist Development Program in the summer of 2012, and releasing debut album Undaunted the following year. The encounter lured keener and bolder attention from media and new floods of ears, something it is easy to assume that Valour will eclipse; to be honest it already is since it’s unveiling.

Cover   As soon as the opener to the John Mitchell (You Me At Six, Architects and Alter Bridge) recorded Valour erupts in ears, you can see why it has been kicking up dust. Fight Fire With Fire opens with a lusty roar from vocalist/guitarist Dan M Hicks and spicy licks of guitar across thick riffs. Rhythmically too, the track does not hold back, meaty beats from drummer Alex Gooders immediately landing with purpose and intensity as the bass of Mickey C grooves offloads predation and infectious bait. The contagion only increases as lead guitarist Andy Short spills hooks and grooves with craft and relish across the brawling rock ‘n’ roll being woven. Backed impressively by the band, the grisly and alluring tones of Hicks continue to hold ears whilst appetite and imagination is stolen by the sizzling tapestry of sonic enterprise and aggressive rebel rousing coursing through the exceptional start to the EP.

Latest single Just One Life, which also features John Mitchell, comes next and quickly the band reveals a mellower though no less potent side to their music and presence. There is a feel of bands like Seether and Shinedown to the song, spicy essences in a song which invites involvement rather than demands it like its predecessor. In its individual way, it also spreads a web of smart twists and catchy hooks throughout its melodic croon and though admittedly it does not emerge as one of our favourites on the EP it is fair to say it only leaves a smile of enjoyment before the metal fuelled All Wrong strides in and takes over with heavier rapacious attitude and armoury. A rolling rhythmic enticing lays down the first gripping coaxing before the song twists itself into a grouchy collusion of carnivorous riffs, toxic grooves, and another refreshing growl of vocal incitement, it all uniting in a thrilling tempest enticing body and soul to punch the air and snarl at the world.

Circles slips into another calmer landscape of invention and energy next, its initial tempting hinting at bands like Life of Agony before creating rhythm sculpted crescendos that blaze in ears with a sense of nineties band Skyscraper to them. Maybe taking a little longer to take a firm grip compared to those around it, the song emerges as another major highlight with a chorus impossible not to get involved with and a presence which lingers long past its departure.

Valour is brought to an explosive end by Rise where once more the band is casting lines of addictive grooves and deeply delving hooks, sonically and rhythmically, whilst building an incendiary wall of vocal and emotive intensity that just seduces with imagination and, again have to use the word, anthemic prowess. The song is a mighty end to a magnificent release, as suggested earlier easily the best thing Mordecai have created. It will be one the best things you are likely to hear in the muscular rock ‘n’ roll scene this year so go spoil yourselves.

Valour is out now.

RingMaster 13/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Dead XIII – Catacombs

temp dead xiii final_RingMaster Review

Just over a year ago, UK horror metallers The Dead XIII, without majorly startling ears made a potent introduction with their Creatures Of The Night EP. It certainly whetted the appetite and revealed the potential of the band forging out a distinctive presence in the British metal/rock scene. Now the Mancunian quintet unleashes their debut album Catacombs, an encounter which weaves all the promise of its predecessor into a hefty slab of skilled and thrilling enticement. Whether the band has quite found that unique voice can be argued, for us it is still something brewing, but there is no doubting that the album is a potent nudge to awaken national attention and push the band well away from the crowd.

The Dead XIII escaped their crypts in 2013 and was soon breeding an increasing number of loyal fans through a live presence which over time saw them sharing stages with the likes of The Fearless Vampire Killers, William Control, Dead, and Bad Pollyanna. Creatures Of The Night lured new blood to the band with its Wednesday 13 meets Misfits like sound in 2014, a base which The Dead XIII has torn and sculpted into a more mature, inventive, and predatory proposal. Fresh from the British Horror Story Tour with Ashestoangels and Farewell, My Love, vocalist Kurt Blackshard, lead guitarist Ste Mahoney, keyboardist/guitarist Symon Strange, bassist Paul Ryan, and drummer Spike Owen reveal the evolution that has coursed through their songwriting and sound over the past year with Catacombs, and provide a rather tasty offering at the same time.

catacombs-cover_RingMaster Review    The album opens with its lead single XIII; guitars instantly weaving a mesh of sonic bait before the song erupts into a cauldron of electronic and guitar driven causticity. The distinctive tones of Blackshard quickly enter the building drama oozing from every aspect of the song, his unpolished and ghoulish dark tones another magnetic lure to an already heftily enticing encounter. There is a whiff of Marilyn Mansion and White Zombie to the track, as well as The Defiled, hues which collude to create a contagious trespass of the senses and a mighty and irresistible start to the album. It is a potent first roar matched by Frostbite and its fiercely aggressive tenacity aligned with a wintery atmosphere cloaking keys and vocals. Whereas the songs on the previous EP rarely strayed from their core design, here as in its predecessor, the song is unafraid to twist further unpredictable and imagination bred flirtations of sound and ideation into its appealing intrusion.

Daemons shows its teeth straight away with thumping beats piecing carnivorous riffery. The keys almost as quickly spread their sinister gothic charm and melodic resourcefulness into the ravenous tempest of the song where again there is an energy and intensity which never relents from badgering, almost bullying the listener. It is a great union, warm inviting textures contrasting the imposing bellow of the song whilst rhythms and the growling vocals temper the provocative tapestry of the keys and melodies. It is fair to say that every track is aural theatre, and each song upon Catacombs a mouth-watering dark escapade perfectly epitomised by the third song on the album.

The album’s title track is its successor, another proposition which gets straight down to the virulent nitty-gritty of its devilish invention and uniting horror metal/punk resources. Once more the grizzled delivery of Blackshard is like the barker or crypt-keeper to dark deeds and deathly delights within the song, and whereas on the last EP his tones occasionally tested with their one dimensional presence, in song and album they reveal, as the music, that they have evolved and discovered their deep potency.

The pair of Be-Were and The Greatest Escape richly catch the imagination next, the first encroaching on ears with stalking riffs and jabbing beats around a demonic fusion of singular and mass anthemic vocals whilst the second, being arguably the most openly Misfits toned song on Catacombs, dances on ears with a voodoo-esque array of hooks and again mass vocal roaring. Both tracks captivate with its slithers of heavy metal seeded enterprise from Mahoney whilst the latter further grips though it’s entwining of intimidating rhythmic and metal textures with melodically searing flames erupting within the song’s smouldering heart.

Not quite living up to those before it, lacking the creative spark which ignites its companions, Haunter with its corrosive metal breeding still leaves appetite and satisfaction content next before making way for the outstanding and ravenous Lay Siege To Hell. The song is unbridled and bruising rock ‘n’ roll but equally bold with sidesteps into electronic/techno adventure and a host of ever changing hooks and scorching guitar imagination adding up to another boisterous rousing of body and psyche within Catacombs.

The closing stretch to the album begins with Can’t Escape The Grave, more highly agreeable rock ‘n’ roll to lose your inhibitions and soul to and ends with Apothesis, a death infused, ambience crafted encounter which is as much post-hardcore and blackened metal as it is horror metal, and quite enthralling. It too does not quite match earlier tracks yet it is the most inventive and increasingly fascinating offering on the album revealing the depth to The Dead XIII invention still brewing and to be explored ahead.

There is no doubting that Catacombs is a must explore treat for horror and gothic metal/punk fans. It is not the perfect offering with some tracks a little too similar in some areas and hues of other genre bands seeping into play, but one impressive leap forward for the band and undeniable impressive romp for ears. As things moved forward between EP and album, evolution will see the same ahead as The Dead XIII progresses and we for one cannot wait whilst continuing to devour Catacombs right now.

Catacombs is out now

RingMaster 13/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright