Slug Comparison – IIa

photo by Peter Wiholm

As the world and age wears down the ability to be truly surprised and equally finding many things to be   especially excited by, there is one thing which does get the juices flowing and that is something new from Slug Comparison. That kind of anticipation springs from being enthralled by its first single Bringer of Doom and subsequently hooked on a following self-titled debut album back in 2014 and has now been seriously rewarded with new EP IIa.

For those yet to discover the glory of Slug Comparison, it is the solo project of Doug Harrison, the vocalist/guitarist of the similarly tempting Canadian progressive rock outfit Fen, they not to be confused with the British black metallers of the same name. Harrison’s sound has already proved to be is an instinctively bold and imaginative embracing of various rock bred styles and textures while involving ears and thoughts with an intimacy which maybe can only emerge within a solo endeavour. It has been a quiet time on the Slug Comparison front recently with Harrison being afflicted by tendinitis last year which brought his work on new tracks to a temporary halt; being unable to play and compose as is his process on the guitar. He is back now though and returns with the first in a series of EPs, a trio of songs produced by Doug Fury with Harrison which simply ignites the senses and imagination like never before.

Drawing on the craft of Fen guitarist Sam Levin, bassist Mike Young from The Devin Townsend Band, and Randall Stoll of Congenital Fixation to bring his new tracks to life, the latter pair having helped out previously on that first album, Harrison instantly captivates attention with opener Let Some Light. The lure of acoustic guitar hungrily caresses ears initially, it’s tempting soon joined and enhanced by Harrison’s distinctive and ever compelling vocals and the darker hues of bass and beats. Melodies ignite across the infectious canter of the song, opening like suggestive blooms as voice shares emotion and reflection with harmonic and earnest dexterity. Heavier rock strains add to the evolving landscape of the song, essences of blues and classic rock colouring more progressive and folkish essences though it all joins and emerges as something with its own character and style. The track is simply delicious, infectious and emotive while involving body and thought with sublime ease and craft; escalating all attributes with its unpredictability.

The opener also reveals a new organic catchiness in Harrison’s music without defusing the imagination and established individuality of sound exposed within his debut album. That infectiousness is even more virulent in the following Exactly What to Do. If its predecessor is irresistible, the second track is alchemy for the spirit, the track instantly grabbing hips and instincts with its swinging gait and a rock ‘n’ roll hunger soon joined by an addiction inciting chorus. Spicy grooves and grungy rapacity adds to the contagious theatre of the song, every catchy twist and seductive turn a spark to involvement and lusty pleasure. At times there are hints at the likes of Porcupine Tree, Voyager, and Katatonia within the adventure but again no more than scents in its own rich roar.

Becoming completes the EP, a gentle stroll of a song with Harrison and acoustic guitar again an engaging hug welcoming ears into the intimacy and heart of the song. A smouldering persuasion compared to the forceful exploits of the first two tracks, it still needs little time to unite with thoughts and appetite as ears get lost in its melodic wiring and descriptive beauty.

Even with an instinctive connection with the sounds of Slug Comparison because of those earlier temptations, IIa still left a surprise spawned open mouth behind on its first listen and a greed for much more thereon in. Doug Harrison has hit yet another plateau with his own writing and music and indeed for us eclipsed anything from Fen to date too; time the world caught on we say.

The IIa EP is out now and available @ https://slugcomparison.bandcamp.com/album/iia as a name your own price download.

http://www.slugcomparison.com/    https://www.facebook.com/slugcomparison/

Pete RingMaster 13/06/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Barbed hook and stirring insights: talking Kill II This

A growing and attention grabbing force within the UK metal/rock underground scene from the mid-nineties, with acclaim crowded albums under their belts, it is fair to say that the demise of Manchester’s Kill II This in 2004 left many heartbroken. Their return a decade later though not only re-ignited that following but lured a new wave of fans especially recently through the recently released single Sleeper Cell. The track showed that the quartet of vocalist Simon Gordon, guitarist Mark Mynett, bassist Pete Stone, and drummer Jeff Singer had not only retained their rousing metal and heavy rock blended sound but found a fresh energy and adventure within in. We recently had the chance to explore the past, present, and beyond of the band with thanks to four string slapper Pete…

Hi Pete and many thanks for sharing your time to talk with us.

You have just released the video for new song Sleeper Cell but before we talk about that can you give some background to Kill II This and how it all came to be in the mid-nineties?

Mark, Jeff and myself were in a band called China Beach in the early 90’s – we really learned our trade in that band, touring Europe relentlessly, often just living in our van, sleeping on top of the gear….We would probably have been classed as Power metal back then, but we were getting the urge to get a lot heavier as the metal scene at that time was evolving. We decided to look for a new singer and – and that’s how we ended up with Nick Arlea who at the time was living in New York playing in a band called Power.

We had a fair bit of music already written that was just way too heavy for China Beach and so Kill II This was born. We got the album recorded fairly quickly (Another Cross II Bare) and more touring began. We already had a reputation for being a hard working reliable band and I think that helped us get some of those early tours.

Did you have a specific aim and sense of direction for the band at the time?

Just onwards and upwards really…None of us had a job so there was only the band to focus on. Things were comparatively easy back then ha ha! We never purposefully tried to fit into any genre – we started using samples a lot more adding a new dimension to the live shows and our overall sound…at the time nobody was really doing that.

How has that changed, if at all, with the reactivating of the band a couple of years back.

Well we’re a little bit older now obviously, with the responsibilities that brings! I don’t feel as desperate to prove ourselves anymore I guess…we’re not trying to be the next big thing anymore! We are immensely proud of what we do though and are thoroughly enjoying our revival. I’m loving the new stuff we’re doing and Simon has breathed new life into our back catalogue…he kills it every night on stage. I still don’t know how he didn’t end up with us way back to be honest-we’ve been mates for years!

You released a quartet of albums with for us the second in Deviate the moment the band truly clicked within the metal scene and its keenest attention. How did you find it at the time trying to make that breakthrough?

I think at that time the band felt like we had really earned any success we were getting. We had worked hard and made a lot of sacrifices in our lives. We were touring nonstop still and had some fantastic tours with the likes of Slipknot, Megadeth and Machine Head to name a few, as well as headlining in our own right, and it just felt like the natural progression of things…we worked hard and we were starting to see results. Good times!

Would you say that the album was also the moment the band’s true and distinct sound suddenly blossomed?

Undoubtedly…I think Mark had really found his riff writing groove – I think he would agree that DV8 was probably our best album too. There were some internal wranglings through this period – I had left the band for a while, Caroline joined for a while, then I came back – all sorts going on, but the end result was still that unmistakable Kill II This sound.

Fifth album, A New Spiritual Mountain was marked out by the band as being its last but eventually emerged under the moniker City Of God. What is the story behind it and that switch? Was it mostly because of the new character of sound it embraced?

I think really this is a question for Mark as I didn’t play a part in that project, however personally I don’t think it was in in the same vein as Kill II This musically. There was definitely a different feel to it. It was the first time I’d heard Simon sing like that too really-even more aggressive than his Xentrix stuff. Great album though – we often wonder if we should sneak a song or two from it into our live set…

Leaping forward to the now; Sleeper Cell undoubtedly has that signature Kill II This sound and personality but equally a fresh breath of adventure and indeed aggression. How do you see your sound as having evolved since the comeback?

A few years ago Simon and myself were in a band with a couple of the guys from Xentrix called Hellfighter, which I guess had some thrash undertones and I’m hearing some old school influences in our new stuff here and there – but I wouldn’t say there’s a massive difference. We’ve used far less samples in the new track than earlier stuff, there’s some aggression in there vocally, but importantly there are melodic hooks.

Has everything within the band been an organic shift or something you all deliberately aimed for when planning your return?

I think fairly organic really-we have no deadlines to live by these days so we can take our time writing – something that we never could in the old days. We haven’t deliberately set out to sound one way or the other to be honest – we’re just going with the flow creatively. We’ve all been playing together in various guises for years and it’s a bit like putting on a pair of comfy slippers when we get together!

And the return of the band, how easy was it for you all to come back together and start creating again?

For me the timing was just right. Hellfighter had just split as the other guys were reforming Xentrix, Mark and Jeff had been informally chatting about reforming at this point. I think the push was being offered a headline festival slot at Fiesta Du Rock in Belgium, even though we weren’t strictly in existence at that point. So we rehearsed and we were made up with how good it sounded. It just came together so fast, and the songs still sounded fresh and relevant. So we thought let’s do some new stuff…

Sleeper Cell is a hint to the kind of sound and imagination we can expect from future releases?

That’s a hard one to answer. Yes I think you’ll hear things in a similar vein but don’t be surprised if we throw some curveballs in there. We’re not writing for the music industry anymore. This is for ourselves as much as anything. Obviously it would be nice if everybody else likes it too….

Tell us about the single’s video. It was recorded by Carl Arnfield of Chalkman Video, who has persistently sparked visual pleasure with his films over the past few years. How did you come to link up with him?

Through friends of friends I think-he needed something to complete a show reel – we needed a video! It’s such a small world really -he was good friends with Xentrix- was actually in them briefly I think! He put us in touch with a chap called Johnathan Santry who arranged all the fight choreography and is actually in the video…Great bunch of guys.

Carl was a great – he worked really hard for us – we’re made up with the video.

What inspired its striking narrative and guerrilla like strike on the senses?

Well I think the lyrics and subject content speak for themselves. I think it really suits the aggression of the verses then the melody of the choruses adds a great hook. Then the outro is just huge!

Unfortunately on the same day, several hours after releasing the track and video the atrocity that was the Manchester Arena bombing happened. Given the subject matter of the track we have pulled back its proper release for obvious reasons.

Where did the filming take place; and a lengthy shoot?

The band shoot was done in a day at a studio in Preston, and the fight scenes were shot in Manchester over a couple of days so not too lengthy. Carl really worked hard to get it finished for us….in fact we’re still humbled by effort everybody involved put in.

What is next for Kill II This; The chance of an album being planning?

We intend to keep writing for sure. Whether or not we release an album or just drip feed one track / video at a time I’m not sure. We are looking already at festival appearances next year, plus a few more shows this year. I’d love to get back out to Europe too…it’s been too long.

Big thanks again for chatting with us; any last words you would like to add?

Thanks for showing an interest in us and we really hope you enjoy the new video…you can watch it on our website where you can also download the new track Sleepercell for FREE.

http://www.kill2this.co.uk/    https://www.facebook.com/pg/kill2this    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsrVYMExsQyYNt0h4WU1lRQ

The RingMaster Review 13/06/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Stellarscope – Standing In The Shadow Of Your Ghost

Evocatively invasive and seductive from its first to last breath, Standing In The Shadow Of Your Ghost is the new album from US outfit Stellarscope. Shaped by rousing yet darkly suggestive rhythms and driven by emotion strapped melodies within cinematically hued atmospherics, the release consumes as it ignites ears and imagination from pretty much its opening and seemingly intimate contemplation of “the pain of loss and the fear of an uncertain future.”

The creative union of vocalist/bassist/guitarist Tom Lugo and drummer Bob Forman, the band expanding with bassist/keyboardist Rob DeFlaviis and guitarist Edward Neenan live, Philadelphia hailing Stellarscope weave walls of sound from a relentlessly infectious blend of post punk, indie rock, shoegaze and more. Their music and songs devour the senses but simultaneously reveal a lively and eventful character which has the body bouncing and thoughts weaving, reactions fully inspired by Standing In The Shadow Of Your Ghost.

The album opens up with Don’t Belong and instantly has ears enthralled through a deep bass groove amidst boisterous beats as the guitar shares its fuzzy enterprise. The addition of Lugo’s voice, a delivery as warm as it is melancholic, enriches the swift coaxing and equally seems to spur a thicker scuzzy hue in the sounds around him. There is a sense of emotional desperation at times in his vocal presence too as his words reflect and explore in the fall-out of lost love. Richly captivating, like a fusion of My Bloody Valentine and Artery, the haunting trespass gets things off to a powerful and impressive start.

The following Capsized only builds on that compelling invitation, instantly gripping intrigue and a full welcome with its own distinct lure of beats and bass before opening up into a controlled stroll with moments of fever led by Lugo’s again easy to consume vocal presence. With essences of bands such as A Place To Bury Strangers and Slowdive in its instinctively catchy canter, the song is a smooth collision of emotional drama and sonic infection sparking body and appetite before Falling with its mellower gait and sultry climate offers a cosmic caress come intimately involving suffocation, one as funky and seductive as it is emotionally shadowy. As in the first, Forman’s rhythmic rock ‘n’ roll prowess is anthemic and manipulative of body and spirit whilst Lugo’s guitar and bass enterprise conjures similar involvement of emotions and thoughts with its contrasting yet mutually tempting tides of suggestiveness.

The thumping beats of Forman has speakers and body romping within a whisper of a breath as Only Strangers Now steps up next; his controlled but driving exploits alone irresistible bait. The tenacious rhythmic incitement is skilfully wrapped with a Joy Division seeded tone though that too has real liveliness to its solemn wash with vocals just as energetically flirtatious. Taking best track honours on the first listen, the band’s recent single sets up the more emotionally intense All For You perfectly, the following song’s laid back reflection fuelled atmosphere part House Of Love, part My Bloody Valentine but with the underlying sonic causticity found in Jesus And Mary Chain. Hypnotic and ghostly with a great concussive essence in its rhythmic touch, the track is another full immersion of ears and imagination within Standing In The Shadow Of Your Ghost.

So Long brings another accelerated charge and climate with its infectious adventure straight after; its cinematic and heavy atmosphere seeded in second and third album era of The Cure though melodically Ride come to mind while You Feel It Too has more of a synth pop meets noise rock meets fuzzy shoegaze serenade for the listener to explore though as with all songs, what emerges has only the Stellarscope persona all over it. Both songs leave rich pleasure a lingering memory with the first especially prone to lingering in thoughts with its tenacious escapade.

Both Nothing To Me and No Reason Why capture the imagination with ease, the first a fuzzy smog of sound and emotional openness fuelled by Forman’s ever voraciously infectious rhythms  while its successor is a slower and darker enveloping of the senses with its own alluring radiance and plaintive shadows. Though neither quite match up to those before for personal tastes they each only enrich and strengthen the depths and enjoyment of the album with the second arguably offering the release’s most intense and intriguing moment.

Completed by the raw and almost disarming This Is How It Ends with its seductively cloaked and richly enticing stark climate and emotion, Standing In The Shadow Of Your Ghost is one compelling adventure from start to finish which only grows with every listen. There are numerous essences and textures which go onto the band’s adventurous sound but as suggested, all woven into something if not fully unique as close as you would wish.

Standing In The Shadow Of Your Ghost is out now through Patetico Recordings @ https://pateticorecordings.bandcamp.com/album/standing-in-the-shadow-of-your-ghost

https://www.facebook.com/Stellarscope-42638364841/

Pete RingMaster 13/06/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Creative gunslingers and seductive melodies: exploring the world of Prime

Prime has been a rising incitement of attention and pleasure within the British underground rock scene since emerging in 2014 and it is fair to say that the Nottingham outfit is only just beginning to arouse a broader and richer following and support for their multi-flavoured melody rich sound. Following the recent release of their new single and ahead of an upcoming EP we had the pleasure of finding out more about Prime with vocalist Lee Heir exploring the outfit’s origins, sound, latest single and  much more…

Hello Lee and thanks for taking time out of your day to talk with us.

My Pleasure.

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all?

The band is currently myself on vocals, Kieran Hill on lead guitar, Daniel Ison on bass guitar, and Zero on drums. We’re looking to add a bad-ass guitar player over the summer so we shall see what happens.

Some of the band are recent recruits, has that had any impact on what you are doing now, in maybe inspiring a change of style or direction?

It has… I think we were about to get a bit soft before Kieran and Zero bought so high-impact, flamboyant playing to the table. Every song-ending now sounds like it’s veering off the end of a cliff! And Dan is looking for a certain level of intricacy in the music, he wants to build quiet and loud song structures and tell a 4-5 minute song through those theories.

What inspired the band name?

I wanted something big, a bit like T.REX, as Marc Bolan was a massive influence on me starting out. I got the name from the Lee Marvin film Prime Cut – it was in the TV guide one day when I was flicking through the film listings.

Was there any specific idea behind the forming of Prime and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?

There were no grand plans. It originally started off as a studio project, we recorded a studio album in 2014, but I suppose it was more like a solo project as most of the guys didn’t end up playing live with us, guys like Dan Ryland, who was a very creative drummer. The lads who played on the early recordings were all great, I just wasn’t happy with the mixes of the production at times.

Do the same things still drive the band when it was fresh-faced or have they evolved over time?

Well Kieran is still fresh-faced, he’s only just turned 20! I think the lads are all the same as me: I’m driven by more musical challenges, I just wanted to make pure rock music originally, which in a way, we still do, but there’s more subtlety there now and more interesting songs.

Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

Everything is better in my eyes. Zero instantly knows where he wants to take a song as a drummer, he has such an ear for which direction he sees our songwriting. Dan, for such a cocky bastard, doesn’t rate his own abilities as highly as he should: he is an excellent songwriter. The sound was more based in garage and punk, and although I love that stuff, with the exception of The Seeds or The Clash or Gang Of Four, they were never the most musical of genres.

Across Prime it sounds like there is a wide range of inspirations so as a particular process in the songwriting emerged to generally guide the writing of songs?

No particular process, it used to be jam out in the studio, so that’s why it was maybe more punky and frenetic and less subtle. Now most songs come from me or Kieran, or sometimes me and Dan, sitting down with a pint and thinking a bit more.

Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?

Everyday life, concepts, theories… Chris (Munton), our original bassist said to me “I try and write songs that give people direction and some meaning”, I suppose I do that to a degree, in more of a layered, subtle – or sometimes in your face! – way.

Could you give us some background to your latest release, out soon, the Bye Bye EP.

Well Bye Bye, our latest single and video are out now online on the usual places, so we’ve decided to enhance it with some tracks recorded live at the o2 Leicester and a remix by a really good electronic artist called Roger Portas who has previously remixed Donna Summer and has a project called Video Tape Machine. The track Bye Bye originally started off as a simple demo, it just sounds like pretty fuzzy rock with my vocal quite impassioned – or unlistenable I prefer to say! – I think I’ve improved on it a little bit since thank God!

What are the themes and premise behind Bye Bye?

It’s a very confused song about a broken relationship, and how people go round in circles until they just come to a dead end and realise that they are never going to be together.

Are you a band which goes into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

We haven’t recorded in over a year, but it’s always best to go with the most complete song possible and put finishing touches to it, such as finish lyrics off, or add nice guitar overdubs and backing vocals, done by Shirena Ingram, who is a lovely girl and a really nice singer. We road test everything we record live, for many months before recording. If it doesn’t go down well live it’s pretty silly recording it; although Bye Bye was a rare exception to that rule.

You mentioned tracks live at the o2… tell us about Prime live?

We go out there to entertain first and foremost, if you come watch Prime anywhere in the country, you’ll never get the same show twice. I don’t think you get that with bands like Arctic Monkeys, from what I hear they’re pretty boring live.

It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it your neck of the woods? Are there the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there for new bands?

We’ve had more interest and luck up North I would say, our sets have gone down a storm in venues like The Wardrobe in Leeds. Christian Carlisle on BBC Sheffield has played us and seems to like what we do, although certain stations in the East Midlands don’t seem to, they seem to be more interested in plucking fifteen-year-old girls from obscurity… that’s their prerogative. I’ve been a bit frustrated by certain venues when we have gone down clearly very well to bigger crowds, yet a lack of follow up is done – the system is definitely flawed at times, but we push on. Next stop is London.

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date? Do you see it as something destined to become a negative from a positive as the band grows and hopefully gets increasing success or is it more that bands struggling with it are lacking the knowledge and desire to keep it working to their advantage?

I don’t see apart from the very poor royalties on streaming sites – virtually non-existent from sites like Soundcloud and Spotify – that the internet can be a bad thing. People from around the world can find out about Prime. That’s a great thing. Main problem is the lack of quality control, there’s a lot of shit content and bad music – from the kinds of bands you just mentioned -getting in the way of people finding us too.

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

I’ll just say thank you for your time and thank you to your readers for supporting new or unsigned music. Without your support, new bands can’t exist, so keep doing it!

https://www.facebook.com/ukprime/    http://www.thepublichousebrand.com/prime

The RingMaster Review 13/06/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright