Hackmonocut – The Sum Of My Parts

hackmonocut_RingMaster Review

A sultry swampland of immersive melancholy, noir kissed beauty, and bewitching almost sinister drama, The Sum Of My Parts is one of the major surprises that always spring up in a year. To fans of Austrian musician Hackmonocut, album and sound is probably an evolution to an already recognised alchemy from the artist but to newcomers, as us, the release is a spellbinding and mouth-watering surprise from the shadows, one of the essential adventures of 2015.

Hackmonocut emerged in 2012, spending months writing and creating his distinctive yet at times enjoyably familiar tapestry of sound and shadow bred emotion. Debut album, In The Land Of Basement Hobby Rooms, was released in 2013 and swiftly lured potent attention and praise which its single Virgin Suicide Bomber sparked to stronger effect. Whilst making the video for the track, Hackmonocut formed a live band whilst studio recordings as with the new album, remained a predominantly solo project. Now it is the darker presence and incitement of The Sum Of My Parts to seduce fiercer spotlights, which such its soulful power and haunting seduction it surely will.

The album opens with We Better Look Away and a scuzzy wash of riffs and tangy guitar tempting around dulled but concussive rhythms. Quickly there is a psych rock spicing oozing from the raw air, especially once the vocals of Hackmonocut begin pouring narrative and melancholy. The song equally has a punkish snarl to its reserved but invitingly swinging stroll, Doors meets sixties garage rock orchestrated by The Jazz Butcher a simple but potent description to the character and magnetic hues of the excellent start to the album.

Things turned much darker with Now which from its first breath slowly invades and blossoms in ears and imagination with its sorrowful elegance and imposing theatre. Gentle but rich hooks and melodies emerge and sparkle in the dark corners of the track whilst the dirtier fuzz lined play of the guitars entwines with emerging drama cast by the strings and ukulele of Mr. Woolph, who also play in the live band, across the absorbing landscape. There is a definite Echo and The Bunnymen air to the song also, one also embracing Nick Cave essences, both flavours which return in varying degrees across the album but only colours to something with its own identity and voice.

cover_RingMaster Review     The excellent Used Love rips the air next, a garage punk seeded snarl of a song growling round the ever riveting tones of Hackmonocut. This time a sense of artists like Inca Babies and Pete Wylie come to mind as the track twists and turns on a spiral of sound, energy, and invention. It is like a hex on the imagination, just as irresistible as the following Dead Born Sister. The new single, released the same day as the album, is noir cast seduction which glows with beauty and a tormented soul as it captivate ears and thoughts with its sublime craft and inescapable and tenaciously dark hug. Once more Nick Cave is an easy comparison, as also that of The Mission, but once more the man creates a unique croon painting a lingering sound and picture which breeds only addiction fuelled reactions.

The Ripper (Gimme Back My Love) follows with a similar tone to its dark smouldering of emotion and gothic hues. Blessed with the contrasting warm harmonies of Ella against the grainy tones of Hackmonocut, the song flickers and glows like a fire in the night, guitar and bass the eventful sparking in the shadow of the tribal rhythms additionally lit by flames of voices. Strings again add richer drama and potency to just one more peak in the increasingly impressing release.

Through the mesmeric dolor of Scarlet and the distorted scuzziness of Leech, the album continues to enthral, the first enslaving with its fascinating heartbreak through word and sound and the second with a harsher climate of blues and psych rock accompanied by mellow but flirtatious piano. Both, without quite matching those before them, grip attention and appetite before Love Letter slips into Doors meets Helldorado lamentation and soon after, to close up the album, Days Of Roses takes the listener on a flight of sweltering balladry and lost souls. Both simply transfix but the final track is pure dark seduction with grit in its attitude and tempestuousness in its air.

The Sum Of My Parts has an intimacy to it as potent as the resonating sounds shaping its body but also carries broader reflections across songs which, as the album itself, only grow and involve the listener more with every listen. This is a must for all dark rock ‘n’ roll and gothic rock fans, for those with a taste of any of the references mentioned, and really a treat for anyone which loves great dark music.

The Sum Of My Parts is available from August 14th.

Ringmaster 14/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Black Inside – A Possession Story

blackinside_RingMaster Review

Initially starting out as a band playing Black Sabbath covers, Italian heavy metallers Black Inside have grown into a strongly accomplished and captivating proposition as evidenced by new album A Possession Story. Casting a classic heavy metal sound with numerous dark flavourings embroiled in doom toned imagination, musically and emotionally, the album is a potent step from a band looking forward to having a very healthy presence within the European metal scene.

Formed in 2009, the Napoli hailing quintet soon moved from playing other’s tracks to writing and performing their own mix of infectious classic, eighties, doom, and epic metal. Autumn 2011 saw the band release the Servant Of The Servants demo which down very well with fans whilst garnering very positive media reviews. Across the December of the following year and the January of its successor, Black Inside recorded debut album The Weigher Of Souls which also upon release via Underground Symphony Records, earned rich praise and attention. Recorded towards the end of last year, the Neil Haynes mixed and mastered A Possession Story pushes the band’s name and sound to loftier heights and easy to expect broader spotlights on Black Inside.

cover_RingMaster Review     The Red Cat Records released proposition opens with Man Is A Wolf To Men, a stirring slice of metal taking little time to awaken ears and appetite with its thrash lined riffery and ravenous mix of rhythmic and aggressive tenacity. There is a definite Metallica feel to the track, an inviting tone which is only accentuated by the guitars of Brian Russo and Eduardo Iannaccone, as well as the grizzly voice of Luigi Martino. Across its length, those same strings also spill tantalising sonic and melodic tempting and a dark drama which is carried deeper into the song by the bass of Vincenzo La Tegola. As you can say about the album overall, there are few major surprises with the encounter yet it has a fresh and powerful presence which only invites involvement.

The Siege Of Jerusalem follows and straight away has a heavier prowl to its gait and doomy air to its nature, guitars spinning a sinister web around the initially spoken vocals and portentous rhythms led by the spiky beats of Enzo Arato. Once setting the scene, the song twists into a more power metal bloomed canter, which maybe does not quite live up to the promise of its entrance but spins a captivating theatre of sound and words. Imagination is also a thick element of the encounter, slips into melodic caresses with impassioned vocals and a tapestry of skilled enterprise from the guitars for the main mesmeric.

The song Black Inside also makes a beguiling introduction, guitar seducing and dark vocals entwining before the song comes alive with sonic flames and a brooding tone of bass, all subsequently attributing to a heavy metal roar with a fusion of inventive unpredictability and sparkling melodic expression. It is a template continuing in both I’m Not Like You and King Of The Moon, though both cast individual and dynamic proposals of their own. The first has a spicy blues rock lining to its fiery rock ‘n’ roll whilst its successor, as in all songs to varying degrees, openly wears the band’s Black Sabbath seeding in its power balladry.

Things get heavier and more sonically flirtatious with Too Dark To See, tangy grooves and anthemic tendencies potent persuasion from early on and only increasing their temptation as the band evolves and twists them with further magnetic resourcefulness across its riveting body. The bass of La Tegola reveals a repertoire of sinister tones and invention alone, superbly and imaginatively backed by the theatre and adventure of the guitars. The best track on the album it is as good as matched by the album’s title track and its own haunted maze of sound and sinister imagination. It is almost imposing with its doom spawned breath and initial elegant collusion of instrumentation and resonating sounds, but it is also another which cannot quite keep its scintillating start consistently going across its whole adventurous landscape. Nevertheless the track is a cauldron of intensity and creative ingenuity which only leaves a healthy greed for more.

The mellow seducing of Forsaking Song with the excellent additional vocals of Sara Shade continues the by now hypnotic lure of A Possession Story whilst the creative stalking of Jeffrey from yet another irresistible introduction, swings into a lumbering beast of incitement. Its doom’ heritage’ is an open predation and persistently swaying the intent and tone of the track as it broadens its creative shoulders and thick mesh of sound with every passing minute and idea. Like Iron Maiden meets Candlemass, the song is eight minutes of provocative resourcefulness which every time it begins to labour in flavour or style manages to sculpt and whip out another thrilling and unpredictable twist.

The purest slice of classic metal rock ‘n’ roll on the album brings the album to a close, Pharmassacre an anthem to swing fists and vocal chords to, and though for personal tastes it is the weakest song, it still creates a lively and enjoyable close to a highly satisfying release.

A Possession Story is a grower too, a release sparking stronger pleasure as every listen reveals more of its more understated but potent qualities. It is fair to say that Black Inside is not ready to turn the heavy metal scene fully its way yet but their album certainly gives it a very inviting nudge.

A Possession Story is available now via Red Cat Records.

RingMaster 14/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Sewer Rats – Money Maker EP

_RingMaster Review

Dirty, energetically angry, and sonically visceral; that is Money Maker, the debut EP from British psych rockers Sewer Rats. The band has a sound which more than lives up to its name and a release which is bred from the filthiest recesses of their grungy psychedelic lit minds. The five track encounter, unleashed by London based label Fluffer Records, intimidates and tempts in equal insatiable fashion whilst providing the potent seeds for a very healthy and musically carnal future for the band.

Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Luke Morris, bassist Iain Morrison, and drummer Dean Robbins, the Immingham in Lincolnshire hailing Sewer Rats has been brewing up plenty of keen attention through their fiery live presence and abrasive sound. Money Maker is sure to inflame matching success, its recent release already luring rich acclaim and hungry new appetites their way.

cover_RingMaster Review   It all begins with Skint and a swift caustic wind of guitar which in no time is part of a sonic lacerating of the senses as gnarly bass, scything beats, and raw intensity joins the mix. It is a blend weaving a sludgy swamp of stoner bred grooves and heavy, almost animalistic, riffs led by the scowling, Lemmy-esque tones of Morris. As thick and aggressive as that is, the scuzzy roar accompanying the sounds expelled ensures there is viciousness to the swing of the song and an irked belligerence to its bracing air. It is a superb start to the release, addictive hooks and grooves vocal throughout the tempest before it all makes way for Devil Blues.

The second track has a slightly more laid back approach to its bluesy filtered cauldron but still stirs up a blaze of scarring sonic trespass and anthemic hostility bound in more scorching grooves. Again this is a title which perfectly sums up its content; rock ‘n’ roll to open up hell and enslave salacious souls, and indeed leave the listener exhaustingly wanting more.

The psychedelic instincts of the band take centre stage with the instrumental Black Label Serotonin. It is a sweltering climate of sultry melodies and surf rock twisted enterprise, providing rich evidence that Sewer Rats can be as emotionally and sonically gentle as they are aurally ferocious. It is a bewitching hex which is swiftly a memory as the EP’s corrosive title track surges with toxic radiance and caustic energy straight after. Once more grooves collude with searing hooks and ever grouchy vocals to create a swagger to the sonic blizzard, and again feet and senses are treated to a rebelliously contagious and enjoyably punishing stomp.

Money Maker is concluded by So Far Away, the brutish Motorhead meets Black Tusk corruption of its predecessor replaced by a wash of psych rock acidity aligned to a southern kissed morass of aggressive invasiveness and inhospitable noise. It is a mighty end to a gripping release, though you can easily sense that Sewer Rats is only at the start of its evolution and there will be plenty more attention grabbing and mightier proposals forged ahead, certainly just as uncompromising ones.

If the likes of Bad For Lazarus, Converge, Mastodon, Unsane…well you get the idea, are your temptation check Money Maker out for sure.

The Money Maker EP is out digitally and on vinyl now through Fluffer Records.

RingMaster 14/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Strobegirl – Alice

_RingMaster Review

Following the sixties elegance and tantalising charm of the singles Trophy Girlfriend and Honey Boy, Heather–Jane, better known as Strobegirl, slips into something even more bewitching and mesmeric with Alice. Seeding a theme bred in the Lewis Carroll classic within a dream pop landscape, the new single from the British singer songwriter/multi-instrumentalist is a blossom of harmonic seduction and ethereal captivation.

It was over two years ago that Strobegirl mesmerised ears with The Strawberry Sessions EP, a collection of synth/dream pop songs which danced with ears and imagination. Subsequently the Croydon musician released a handful of singles and EP which have either missed the same heights of that first release, or matched and once or twice indeed eclipsed its lingering beauty and enterprise. All offerings though have left a full appetite and pleasure in their wake it is fair to say, Alice no exception as it provides one of the most endearing proposals from the lady in recent times which certainly overshadows those thoroughly enjoyable recent singles.

Alice opens with an evocative ticking and a fall of crystaline notes, they the prelude to a nursery room ambience which swiftly offers childlike innocence which kisses the senses through the song’s imagination. As synths brew their mellow caresses and haunting shadows, the ever siren-esque voice of Strobegirl skips across the brewing canvas. It is a minimalistic soundscape blossomed, yet one in a perpetual dance of provocative textures and melodic flirtation. That nursery rhyme hue continues to add its colour to the warm hug but equally there is an adult intimacy to the lyrical side and creative drama of the song that just irresistibly fascinates.

The song just demands further attention, which means its companion song All Gone Wrong has to wait its turn before showing itself to be a just as fascinating offering, if not quite discovering the same instinctive and matching temptation in its presence and imagination as its predecessor. All the same with bubbly scenery within the mist like touch of keys, at times this brewing a Depeche Mode like ambience, and of course the magnetic vocals and harmonies from Strobegirl, the song drifts and lightly falls like morning dew over the senses. It does call out for a slither of unpredictability or something to wrong-foot and throw off expectations, but from start to finish it has ears and pleasure in its thrall.

Alice is the prize though and more proof that Strobegirl taps into a dreamscape/shoegaze coated pop which uniquely sets her apart from the crowd. Go gets seduced is our suggestion.

Alice/ All Gone Wrong are out now through Strobegirl’s bandcamp.

RingMaster 14/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright