Blinding Sparks – Brutal Awakening

It has been a fair while coming but French metallers Blinding Sparks recently unleashed their debut album, Brutal Awakening, and it is a jewel of a proposition; a flawed one maybe but a real treasure nonetheless.

Sarreguemines hailing Blinding Sparks came together in 2009, producing a clutch of demos before unveiling the Renaissance insipide EP in 2014 or 15; as with other moments in their early days, the date seemingly varying. Nevertheless, its post rock adventure lured strong attention and provided a spring board from which Blinding Sparks really took off in sound, reputation, and presence. As Brutal Awakening swiftly shows, the band’s sound has evolved into a rapacious alternative metal fuelled proposition but one embracing an array of flavours with an imagination which is as unpredictable as the album’s character.

Brutal Awakening opens up with Don’t Need A Name, a track instantly prowling the senses as keys shimmer. The muscular rhythms of drummer Nicolas Kieffer and the imposing snarl of the four strings cast by bassist/guitarist Claude Hilpert are as predacious as they are infectious, vocalist Jeremy Conrad joining their trespass with his gravelly tones, again part threat part invitation. The song mellows a touch before returning to its invasive temptation, the song, featuring French singer/actor Laurent Bàn, revealing mercurial enterprise twist by turn.

It is an adventure which fuels the whole of the album, next up Arch springing a web of grooves and vocal irritability across rhythmic predation. As Conrad’s vocals match his and Hilpert’s guitar in contrasting fierce and melodic textures with clean prowess, Johanna Flauder adds her warm tones, she impresses immediately and within every track shows she is much more of a presence and important hue than simply a backing singer. Vocals return to their raw state as the cycle begins again, nurturing thoughts that though Conrad is potent with each, personal tastes hope his ventures into his far stronger cleaner delivery are more concentrated ahead, a thought the album continues to nurture.

The punk infested My Dog Will Piss On You follows, its metal ferocity rabid and addictive with its death, alternative, and groove metal collusion matched in nature by the varying and richly enjoyable vocals, singular and united. The track is superb, a glorious nagging on the senses arousing attitude and spirit with every raucous exploit before Deathbeds calms things with its melodic, slight Latin spiced croon. Anthemic beats and melancholic strings respectively drive and wrap the song’s emotive stroll, Conrad and Flauder vocally magnetic as Hilpert and Kieffer lay down their own virulent bait. Both tracks are magnificent, instinctive bait to ears and quickly matched by the catchy seduction of A Trois, a song which arouses involvement like a puppeteer.

Not for the first time within Brutal Awakening, ears are reminded of Russian band Biting Elbows, this time by the melodically fired In Front Of My Mirrors. Its caustic touch and acidic melodies are perfectly tempered and complemented by the searing tendrils of guitar and invasive beats, the song tantalising at every turn with a quality more than exploited by the tenacious and increasingly volatile This Useless Fate straight after for another particularly stirring moment within the album.

The cantankerous often choleric For An Eternal Rest as good as bullies ears into submission next, its thoroughly enjoyably trespass escalated within successor I Fuck It, a track in breath and attitude more than living up to its declaration. Each leaves real greed for more, both with great vocal contrasts and the latter with its ravenous grooves and evolving maniacal drama.

That earlier mentioned diversity in the band’s sound is relentlessly in full charge but each track has a character unique to Blinding Sparks; the dark hearted, noir lit psychosis of A Tough Road For The Heart emphasizing the point. It might not quite match up to the heights of other tracks within the album but has to be the most compelling and fascinating moment within Brutal Awakenings, its nightmare simply beguiling.

Make You Happy sees Bàn guesting once more, the song another which is so easy to fall into if without inciting the lust others may have teased while the mighty assault of The Straight Line welcomes the voraciously scarring throat ripping tones of Océane Thomas. The track steals the show, Thomas and Conrad instinctively dynamic together; add the more composed yet as potent presence of Flauder and the rabid sounds of the trio and you have aural manna for certainly these ears.

The album closes with the brief serenade of The Last Song, a melodic seducing to drool over as band and release leaves as captivatingly as they entered. Brutal Awakening is a masterpiece, as suggested one with aspects which are not so much issues as potential to be realised, but simply one of the most enjoyable assaults heard in a long delivered in a roar living up to its title.

Brutal Awakening is out now.

Pete RingMaster 23/01/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Hyvmine – Earthquake

High praise has been brewing up around Los Angeles quartet Hyvmine and it is not too hard to understand why listening to their debut album, Earthquake. The release is a tapestry of attention gripping craft and substance, an encounter woven with individual style and enterprise united with a single rock ‘n’ roll intent.

Hyvmine could be said to be a proposition built around or for the striking technical skill and open imagination of lead guitarist/vocalist Al Joseph but the band’s first album soon shows it is all about four very talented musicians bringing individual prowess to a common guile and aim. Their sound is a magnetic fusion of progressive metal, hard rock, and grunge, a weave which at times ebbs and flows in its imagination stoking qualities and success but is never less than one seriously fascinating and enjoyable proposal.

Earthquake wakes upon ears with Shift, keys like suggestive mist immersing the senses before piano and guitar cast their own inviting welcome. Al’s earthier vocals step forward soon after bringing grunge nurtured hues with him, the song already aligning a mix of flavours and only continues to broaden its web as Al’s guitar paints its creative intent around the rousing rhythmic rumble sprung by bassist Christopher Joseph and drummer Fabrizio Cavallaro. With veins of progressive and heavy metal continuing to escape the strings of Al and fellow guitarist Alon Mei-Tal, the track simply lures intrigue and increasingly keen attention.

The following Mirror Master opens with a bass led grumble, a Sick Puppies like breath joining it as the song swiftly eclipses its predecessor. Veins of technical dexterity and cunning ensure the imagination is persistently caught unawares and pleasured as wholly as ears, the track bursting from its earthier canvas like a firework before settling down to similarly enticing heavier rock incitement. It is a weave emulated across the album in numerously individual ways, as the following Shogun shows with its instinctive rapacious growl and Seether-esque croon. Flowing through mellower scenes, the backing vocals of Alon a warm caress, and steelier climes, the song seduces and snarls with equal tenacity and temptation.

All Of Creation brings its own braid of menace and melody next, grooves winding around the senses as vocals and melodies smoulder if with a great gravelly raw edge especially in the former. If you can imagine a fusion of TesseracT and Stone Temple Pilots, this absorbing track could very well epitomise your thoughts. Again Al’s skills radiate but as elsewhere they are never, even with the startling twists leading to his strands of creative flair, forced upon ears but organically embraced with a track’s roar.

The album’s melodically seductive title track engagingly, almost lovingly, wraps around the listener but still holds a thick growl in its depths while Fire Escape prowls with a plaintive grouchiness as it flirts and challenges with a funk infused, predation lined shuffle. Each left a definite want for more, a lure pretty much all tracks within Earthquake sow as echoed by the melodically atmospheric Elysium. Like a heavy rock equivalent of The Christians meets Voyager, the song is pure mesmerism, its metallic touch addictive and harmonic heart irresistible.

The album closes with firstly the similarly hued but firmly hard rock nurtured Great Divide and lastly the flaming almost tempestuous Cliffhanger. Neither song quite ignited the appetite as their predecessors but both just left an already bred intent to enjoy the album again and again a little more urgent each offering moments of real mouth-watering adventure within their bodies.

Though making a great first impression, Earthquake really grows with every listen, recognisable aspects aligning with uniqueness for one thoroughly pleasurable encounter.

Earthquake is out now through Seek and Strike, available @ and

Pete RingMaster 23/01/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Joensuu Riihimaki Talks…


Finnish trio Joensuu Riihimaki has just released their third album, Highwater a released taking the band’s roots rock/Americana sound to new adventures. We had the pleasure of talking with the Turku hailing outfit about their new offering, the band’s origins, and much more…


Hello, can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started and what brought you all together?

Sami Joensuu (lead vocals/acoustic guitar/banjo/harp)

Kari Riihimaki (electric/acoustic guitar)

Moilu Moilanen (drums/backing vocals)

We started JR back in 2013. I met Kari at the songwriter’s club I was hosting at the time and we’ve worked together ever since. We found out that we were both looking for the same things in music and soon after, we played our first gigs.

Things worked perfectly right away and we released the first single, Joe’s Café Blues/ A Pale Wind Comin’ in 2014. Our first album, Greetings From The Edge Of The World was released in the spring of 2015 with Running Moose Record Company with which we have released all three JR albums.

Initially, we were going to play as a duo, but we soon realised that we needed a drummer, and that’s how Moilu joined the group.

Have you been involved in other bands before? If so has that had any impact on what you are doing now, in maybe inspiring a change of style or direction?

Yes, we all had several bands before Joensuu Riihimäki, Moilu used to play alternative rock band called Russian Love and Kari´s former band among others was Doggtown. I have almost always been a solo artist. Each musical backgrounds have contributed a lot of to JR. Diversity has always been a big part of the JR music.

It is obvious where the band name came from but the thinking behind it?

Joensuu and Riihimäki are our last names and it sounded good and “weird” at the same time. We have never thought to change the band’s name, even though we knew it is difficult to pronounce outside Scandinavia. Both the last names are also town names in Finland.

Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer and how would you say it has evolved over time?

The first idea was to set up an honest band with a sound which should be timeless and original. The band must be at its best on the album and live. It felt like Joensuu Riihimäki needed to bring together; all the music around seemed so hollow and empty.

I wanted to offer something that matters. Maybe I wanted to bring something back from the roots. That’s why the roots music, and the same things still drive the band onward when it was fresh-faced and what the band is now. I’m so happy about it. Since our early days our sound is fuller and has more shades

Has it been more of an organic movement of sound or more the band deliberately wanting to try new things?

Yes, JR has always been more of an organic movement of sound but we have always been experimenting with new ideas with the sounds in every level. Our purpose is to create music that will last over time; we have our own sound which we want to hold on to.

Presumably across the band there is a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating music?

A wide range of inspirations, definitely. I have a very personal approach to music and writing music. Somehow in the process of creation all that process is very private and own, you know, at that moment.

Is there a particular process to the songwriting and where do you draw the inspirations to the lyrical side?

I write down what I witness into a notebook, which I carry around with me all the time, and turn them into lyrics. I generally observe society and people, the inspiration for the songs comes from ordinary life, really and I usually write rather symbolic stories and the lyrics and music are usually generated at the same time

Give us some background to your latest release.

We released our third studio album Highwater on December 1st last month. The reaction has been great. The reviews have been great and encouraging. Many of the songs from the album have received airplay all over the world and many of the songs can be found on top ten radio charts all over the world. So many cool things have happened in such a short time. We are really happy about all of this.

Could you give us some insight to the themes and premise behind it and its songs.

Highwater has ten different stories that tell about change in people and society these days, love and history; history that we must not forget. Sometimes everything seems so clear and clean, but there are always things on the other side, about these things have been Highwater done.

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?

The structure of the songs is usually quite ready by the studio, but the final arrangements take place in the studio. I usually come up with the ideas and everyone writes their own parts.

Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably the favourite aspect of the band?

We are absolutely at our best when we play live. We always put on an energetic show and we live in the moment, our live shows are just intensive. We try to let the audience be completely overwhelmed by our music. We just live with situations and with the audience. Interaction and communication with the audience is the most important thing. On stage I really feel alive!

It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it?

That’s true; here is no easy way to success. It has to do a lot of work. You just have to believe in yourself and you can be sure that you will be disappointed in many things and promises, that’s for sure. Each defines goals for itself.

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date?

These days, it seems that social media plays a major role in marketing. Social media and the internet is an indispensable media but it is understandable that it is difficult for some to use it. For us, the internet has brought friends and fans around the world. That is awesome and we use social media every day.

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

Thanks to all our fans. Follow us on social media so you know what’s happening.

Highwater, the third album from Joensuu Riihimäki is available now to stream, download and purchase from Spotify, iTunes, YouTube etc…

Further info on Joensuu Riihimäki can be found through the following sites:

Pete RingMaster 23/01/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright