Sushi Rain – Cocktail



In reference to its mix of sound alone, Cocktail is the perfect name for the new album from Tuscany hailing progressive funksters Sushi Rain. It is an energetic and imaginative maelstrom of flavours and styles across twelve tracks as individual to each other as they are united in unpredictable adventure. It is at times also as intoxicating as its namesake and even in moments where personal tastes do not connect as fully as in other moments, a lack of enjoyment is never an issue.

The beginnings of Sushi Rain go back to Italian hard rock band Valentine and its remaining four members around 2008. A band inspired by the likes of like Extreme, Gun’s Roses, Living Colour, and Faith No More, it had already begun incorporating main elements of funk and cross-over to create a distinctive sound. Soon the line-up of songwriter/lead guitarist Francesco Bini, vocalist Matteo Carrai, rhythm guitarist Stefano Maestrelli, bassist Saimon Sieni, and drummer Francesco Micieli pushed further forward with this evolving sound though across the following year a host of changes ensued. 2009 saw the departure of Maestrelli and Sieni, a name change to Sushi Rain, the beginning of the recording of a debut album, as well as the addition of firstly bassist Davide Biondolillo before Marcello Arena took over and also keyboardist Alessandro Biondi and alto saxophonist Alessio Crocetti.

First album Breathless appeared in 2011 to good responses from fans and media alike, it backed by successful live adventures across Italy and into Europe over the following year. More changes saw Crocetti leave the band during the start of creating their second album, to be replaced by Florence based American saxophonist and blues-soul vocalist Nadia Koski with a pair of backing singers in Giada Secchi and Sandro Toncelli also joining up. Completed earlier this year, Cocktail is the captivating refreshment emerging from the ‘fun’ of the previous few months and something for all to find some feel good tonic in.

SUSHI-RAIN_COVER_RingMaster Review    The album opens with Pop yoy pay, a slither of an introduction certainly awakening ears with its fun drama of bad entertainment being disposed of for the funk revelry of Sushi Rain and first song proper, Bunga Bunga. The second track is instantly inciting feet to shuffle and hips to sway, riffs and hooks as inviting as the flames of sax and the theatre of vocals already whipping up the imagination. Straight away as the infectious encounter tempts further involvement, essences of bands like Extreme and Red Hot Chili Peppers, and maybe a touch of Mr Bungle, are a spicy pleasure but only essences in a recipe already emerging as distinct to the band. It is a great true start to the album, a devilry to get all funked up with.

The following Why? similarly has the body involved with its tangle of tangy grooving. Its pop funk prowess is a virulent persuasion driven by a great mix of vocals across the band and a rhythmic enticing as catchy as the sparkling hooks and mischief within the incitement. Keys layer psych seduction and imagination into the mix too, another flavour colluding with equally captivating jazz enterprise and pop rock tenacity as the song reveals more diversity within Cocktail. This kind of variation is a perpetual lure within the album and continues in varying degrees in the reflective croon of One last night in Philadelphia, an emotive hug of melodic rock and the boldly simmering tango of Pillows. Neither track quite match up to the previous pair but both create a web of invention and unpredictability that has ears and appetite a little greedier. In many ways Sushi Rain is like a funk/classic rock version of Russkaja or Kontrust; a band twisting a horde of diverse flavours and textures into something instinctively different and invigorating to most things around them.

The smoky beauty of March of groove comes next, its noir lit climate a sultry seduction with jazz bred scenery enclosing rich blues rock tempting whilst the melancholy hued Free brings a compelling calm with its heart bred croon. Acoustic guitar provides a tender hand on ears but it is the superb blend of vocals across Carrai, Secchi, and Toncelli which steals the show. Both songs, and especially the latter leave a richer pleasure and want for more in their wake, a hunger fed by the excellent fiery roar of Jesus cries from your eyes and the melodic romance of It’s time to believe. The first of the two is a boisterous bundle of hooks and grooves bound in electronic imagination and sonic flirtation, matched and at times eclipsed by the brass enterprise of Koski, whilst its successor is a sublime summers day of reggae riffs and grooving aligned to Caribbean temptation and a feel good tonic of vocal and smiling melodies.

Things get dirtier and rock ‘n’ roll with Sushi Rain can’t write a single next, the song a grooved stomp with contagious attributes from start to finish, though for these ears it does lack that final spark and invention to rival earlier treats. There is no escaping some gorgeous twists and elements inside it though as too within the outstanding Brain drain. Like Oingo Boingo meets King’s X, the track is a bubbling infestation of body and soul sculpting another lofty high within Cocktail before the album drifts off with mellow charm in to the sunset via One.

It is a captivating close to an album which just gets more persuasive and enjoyable with every listen; even within this review and another simultaneous listen, Cocktail has grown again. For some this could be an album of the year contender, for others a pleasure to pass through now and again but for all, Sushi Rain is a proposal sure to leave ears and emotions feeling good.

Cocktail is available now via Indian record label Jackson Records through most online stores.

Pete RingMaster 26/11/2015

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Second To Sun – The First Chapter

STS_RingMaster Review

At the beginning of 2015, we had the opportunity to check out the Three Fairy Tales EP and a couple of singles around it from Russian metallers Second To Sun. It was an instrumental experience and adventure which just lit our ears and imagination. Now as the year begins to wind down, another proposition from the trio in the shape of a new album has ruffled the mental feathers and ruptured a rich vein of pleasure. The First Chapter is a nine track exploration of the broadest tapestry of metal styles and invention, carrying on from where the EP and certainly singles left off but breeding new experimental and ferocious captivation.

Second To Sun began back in 2012, formed by guitarist/keyboardist Vladimir Klimov-Lehtinen and drummer Artem Vishnyakov. The departure of the latter saw the band as a one man project for a while before bassist Anton Danilevsky and drummer Theodor Borovsky linked up with Klimov-Lehtinen. Debut album Based On A True Story was released in 2013 to welcoming ears and comments with the Three Fairy Tales EP coming towards the end of the following year, its unveiling drawing greater attention and in turn acclaim. Now the trio unleash The First Chapter, an encounter with a title suggesting it is a climax to the first part of the Second To Sun ascent, and tracks that are opening up a new soundscape and emprise of the band’s composing and sound.

Second To Sun - The First Chapter (2015) _RingMaster Review   As mentioned the Second To Sun sound is a ravenous kaleidoscope of sound described as “modern metal with the elements of black metal and ethnic Finno-Ugric music.” It is a thick and rich tapestry that draws on every strain of extreme and melodic hues you can wish for, creating immersive creative escapades inspired by the history and life of the Finno-Ugrian nations within Eurasia. It is also a highly evocative incitement as shown by album opener Spirit Of Kusoto. Inspired by a holy grove of the Mari people with very deep sacral meaning and serving as a “church”, the track places the imagination in the heart of the forest with the strains of Mari folk song Sun rises lighting ears. It is a potent suggestiveness which soon erupts into a more primal and rugged proposal, rhythms a predatory incitement as the guitar spews caustic hues. Almost as quickly a calm and beauty takes over as the bass continues to skilfully grumble; this another brief exploit in the evolving character and landscape of the track. The piece is riveting, an insight to a dark and bright place with danger and warmth almost fighting over themselves to dominate but ultimately uniting in one fluid enthralment as folkish as it is blackened, as mesmeric as it is intimidating.

Red Snow is an instantly more raw and carnivorous place, a torrent of hungry aggressive sound effectively representing the feel and climate of the tale of nine young men who died at the infamous Dyatlov Pass. You almost feel the cold, the starkness, and turmoil endured as rhythms and sonic imagination create a barbarous and compelling provocation throughout but the track is also as potent in its echo of the rural folkish landscape as voices and percussion amongst many flavours emerge. The track is as rousingly bewitching as its predecessor, a canvas for thoughts to interpret and use to cast their own take on events inspiring the piece before the dark, haunting beauty of Me or Him takes over to seduce and inflame the senses and imagination. Simultaneously mesmeric and bedlamic, each contrast superbly cultured and honed by the band, the track is a predator of sound with a gripping maelstrom of emotion and ideation woven into an irresistible trespass of diversely brewed incitement.

Through the djent, death metal twisted Land of the Fearless Birds and the oppressively enjoyable The Blood Libel, band and album only tighten their grip on body and appetite. The first is another fearsomely predacious offering with bloodied melodies and a psyche stirring atmosphere whilst its successor opens up a cauldron of black/death bred heresy with welcomingly invasive enterprise. Both tracks in their own way, impressively stalk ears and thoughts whilst casting an almost hypnotic lure through the scintillating invention and craft of all members. The imagination of guitar and keys from Klimov-Lehtinen is especially rousing, though arousal of instincts and passions are just as powerfully nurtured by the bass imagination of Danilevsky and the resourceful swings and beats of Borovsky.

Narčat in contrast to the previous pair bounds in like a warrior, bold and creatively tenacious like the young woman inspiring its heart. The track is an undiluted assault of energy, aggression, and a masterfully entwined diversity of metallic and melodic styles, all fused into a bracing tempest matched in its own individual storm by Virgo Mitt. Within the track though, an elegant beauty within a melodic oasis emerges to seduce and shape the tale being conjured in thoughts. The inspiration to the piece of music is as fascinating as the sound, and we suggest certainly checking out the background to all tracks via Second To Sun’s bandcamp to gain even more richness to the experience of the songs.

Completed by excellent bonus track Chokk Kapper, a spiny affair of riffs and rhythms branching out with intoxicating sonic and melodic intrigue and invention, and a demo version of Narčat, The First Chapter is a stirring and forcibly impressive provocateur of ears and thoughts, not forgetting pleasure. As progressive and avant-garde in as many ways as it is technical and extreme, the album confirms suggestions made by previous releases, that Second To Sun is one uniquely thrilling proposition.

The First Chapter is available now digitally and on CD via

Pete RingMaster 25/11/2105

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Mercutio – Back To Nowhere

mercutio shot 1_RingMaster Review

It might not have the passions always ablaze throughout the length of its certainly compelling body, but Back To Nowhere, the debut album from Mercutio is a new acquaintance you only want to get to know better and of its creators, more about. The twelve track encounter is a tapestry of varied flavours and perpetually enticing enterprise with something for all varied tastes. At times it embraces a metal breeding, others moments a diverse rock seeding, whilst across its twelve tracks a host of other styles and flavours are zealously infused and entwined into its theatrical and fascinating adventure. The result in a collection of songs which raise the passions in varying degrees but all entice and captivate as they make up one thoroughly enjoyable proposition.

Italy hailing and now London based, the quartet of vocalist Mirko Petrini, guitarist Fabio Staffieri, bassist Emanule Nazzaro, and drummer Francesco Lucidi since forming in 2011, has increasingly garnered a potent following and reputation on the UK scene with their progressive weave of sound, earning supporters in the likes of Anna Phoebe and the Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin amongst a growing legion of fans along the way. Recorded with Andy Wright [Jeff Beck/Simple Minds] at the Assault & Battery Studio in London, with Gianluca Cucchiara co-producing, Back To Nowhere is the band’s strong and inviting nudge on broader attention and keener spotlights with a rich personality to back it up.

It opens up with Shed Your Skin, instantly soaking ears in drama and awakening the imagination with its opening build of sinister sound around the instantly alluring tones of Petrini. Just as quickly, the track unveils a bubbly funk underbelly to a brooding union of riffs, voice, and rhythms. Reminding of UK band Japanese Fighting Fish, it is a gripping entrance by song and release which only increases in persuasion as things get more creatively agitated and atmospherically darker, as well as virulently tempting. Within this the bass growls seductively as drums lay down anthemic bait, around both the guitar painting a suggestive proposal lit by the excellent vocals. Ravenous metal, heavy rock, avant-garde mischief, and indie enterprise is all in there with other hues equally catching ears and imagination alight.

Packshot BTN_RingMaster Review   The following album title track is as rousing and inventively exhilarating in its individual way, opening on a rock ‘n roll stomp before casting a weave of electronic and melodic rock endeavour gripped by the just as dramatic but controlled vocals. Its heart is warm and air symphonically painted with melodies that entangle the senses with emotive prowess, though shadows are always a constant flirtation too as things build to small and harmonic but potent crescendos throughout before A Part Of Me lays a calm acoustic hand on ears. Melancholic with an air of the ever present drama in songwriting and sound, the song is an increasingly bewitching offering which certainly is enjoyable on the first listen but something to get more enamoured with over every subsequent listen.

The flirtatious Anytime with its emotive breath within rugged rhythmic scenery forges a similar engagement next, its classic and melodic rock enterprise given greater potency by the rousing exploits of the rhythms, whilst Fake unleashes another ridiculously infectious and instinctively off-kilter treat to match the opener. At times Mercutio create sound and imagination that stalks the listener, a mix of flirtation and intimidating in the invention which here courts strands of alternative metal and darkly bred rock ‘n’ roll with bands like Pryapisme and Toumaï coming to mind. It is a trespass of sonic intrigue which, as in most songs, leads to catchy embraces of energy and tempting posing as a chorus.

The reflective balladry of No Compromise is a warmly engaging proposal next, its emotive hues wrapped in summery spices keeping satisfaction high even if it is still over shadowed by its predecessor. Nevertheless with a delicious stringed embrace and the ever impressing vocals of Petrini, pleasure is a sure thing and back in torrents through the voracious shuffle and invention of Hail The Night. Again Japanese Fighting Fish is the closest to describe the robust imagination and draw of the track, a dash of 6:33 and Faith No More also adequate hints to the rich and provocative rock ‘n roll courting ears.

Featuring an appearance by Colin Edwin, In Front of you romances and captivates next with a carousel of vibrant melodic invention which works its way to an even more thrilling stretch of rap/alternative metal where Skindred meets Muse might be a good comparison. The song just gets bolder and more unpredictable with each passing minute, its theatre engrossing and matched by the smouldering allure of Mother, another song growing into its skin and exciting ears more over numerous plays. In contrast the fuzzy triumph of Set Me Free has body and emotions enlisted in its volatile and invigorating stomp from the first breath, a tinge of grunge aligned to Queens Of The Stone Age spicing its boisterous nature for another pinnacle within Back To Nowhere.

Straight after The Ghost That Is You casts a more restrained and atmospheric roar of sound but one with tempestuousness to its emotion and invention which soon gets under the skin and leaves a healthy appetite just a touch more greedy before Reasons To Erase brings it all to a jazz/funk/classic rock swinging close. Some tracks hit the sweet spot straight away and others take longer to ignite a similar reaction, but ultimately all do as with the final track which despite some sensational moments steals most full admiration over a host of pleasing plays.

As suggested earlier with Back To Nowhere, Mercutio provides something for everyone with plenty of just as flavoursome sounds and moments to back each aspect up; at times they make you lustful for the album, other times just leave you fully content, but throughout the band inspire a want to hear more and more…

Back To Nowhere is out now via Diverge Records through most online stores.

Pete RingMaster 25/11/2015

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Phil Lewis – Patchwork Heart

Phil Lewis_RingMaster Review

Being introduced to Phil Lewis through his highly enjoyable Age of Nothing EP, it is fair to say that we have bred an increasingly eager appetite for the pop rock prowess of the Welsh singer songwriter. Though he had already reaped a potent reputation and a healthy level of acclaim for a trio of earlier albums, the EP was the biggest nudge yet on widespread recognition. Now that potent hint has become a mighty roar thanks to the release of Patchwork Heart, a contagion of inspiring hooks and essential melodies united in some of the best pop tracks you are likely to heard this year.

Hailing from Penarth, Lewis had his musical passion seeded in “frighteningly dressed people on Top of the Pops”, and then in turn “the various genre charts in NME and Melody Maker”. It sparked the dream to have one of his own songs in the charts and in 2008 the release of his first single Just One Kiss became a very close miss on realising that dream. The first spark in an evolving and increasingly successful career came just before it though, with the unveiling of debut album Ancient Light the year before. Since then Lewis has released another pair of well-received and acclaimed full-lengths in Movements In Space (2009) and Ripples From a Small Pond (2011), with the aforementioned Age of Nothing hooking a great many more of us at the beginning of 2014.

artwork_RingMaster Review    Patchwork Heart is the next proposition from the man and in many ways the coming of age of his songwriting and pop invention. Its nine tracks provide a torrent of enslaving pop ingredients but composed and delivered with an imagination and almost mischievous energy and passion. Lyrically the album sees Lewis look with intimate honesty at the tough times he faced over past years, including the death of his father from Alzheimer’s Disease and the end of a long-term relationship as well as himself being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Musically it all comes with a hope fuelled, emotionally uplifting hug though, Lewis easy to suspect a ‘glass half full’ character with sings always seeming to veer towards the long term light.

Created again in collaboration with Ben Haynes, who produced the record and plays all the instruments, Patchwork Heart opens with Tumbling Down. Within a few breaths, the song is coaxing ears with blues spiced guitar and tenacious beats, the voice of Lewis as potent and strong as ever as things bounce and revolve around him. The track’s prime hook has an air of familiarity to it which only adds to the temptation whilst the fiery guitar endeavour of Haynes is extra tang in a rousing opener.

Things only become more infectious and gripping though as the tantalising Japan-esque Up On This Shelf swings up to the imagination. An exotic melody starts things off, a pulsating bass throb with crystalline shards of guitar quickly taking over as the tones of Lewis entice. The track is mesmeric, a sublime slice of elegant seduction with an underlying sonic eroticism. Not for the last time within Patchwork Heart, an open eighties flavouring and inspiration colour song and ears, Right on Time immediately after also providing a similar lusty hue of nostalgia kissed and undoubtedly fresh revelry. Virulent in all aspects, the song romps along on another bait of anthemic rhythms wrapped in the dramatic enterprise cast by guitar, keys, and bass. Like a blend of China Crisis, Pete Wylie, and The Killers, the track is glorious; Lewis at his pop conjuring best.

Healing Hands slips in next with a far more subdued energy to that of its predecessor as shadow toned guitar and vocals are gripped by a warm but melancholic expression. Lewis’ voice embrace ears in a reflectively intimate croon as that bright, crystal like quality to the melodies of earlier songs emerges again to resonate in the spatial climate above the intimate canvas. Over time the song’s air becomes more tempestuous leading to one highly provocative and stirring climax. The track is a powerful incitement on body and emotions, as too the following Smile in its very different way. From a synth pop start, the song is a vibrant shuffle manipulating ears and feet from the get go. The bubbly electronics continue to lure and tempt as guitars and vocals brew up an irresistible feast of pop infection backed by the great vocals of Sarah Haynes. The song takes thoughts again back to the eighties, its pop tonic hinting at the likes of Thomas Dolby and Thompson Twins, and to be honest quite impossible not to get physically involved with.

Next up is Sunshine in the Night, a song just as much a puppeteer on body and appetite which from its initial smothering of emotive beauty breeds a mouth-watering mix of repetitious teasing, contagion spewing vocal tempting, and immersive atmospherics. Rhythmically too, the track is a nonstop invitation which simply gets under the skin and leaves a big grin on the psyche.

The country spiced, fiery shimmer of Fantasy Reality bewitches next, its voice and body an alluring evocation of the heart whilst I Believe is a sixties hued offering with a good whisper of the Walker Brothers to its strolling enticement. The track’s chorus is another rousing hard to resist proposal, though that applies to most of them across the release to be honest, as proven one last time by the brilliant Be A Hero. The closer epitomises a Phil Lewis song, bold rhythms aligned to drama soaked imagination and the rich enterprise gripping ears as Lewis provides the strength of his voice. With more enthralling backing vocals, this time from Lizzie Dean, the track is a jungle of intrigue and emotive theatre, and the perfect way to end a thoroughly thrilling and impressive release.

A Phil Lewis song lies somewhere between those of the previously mentioned Pete Wylie and Colin Vearncombe (Black), and now after Patchwork Heart deserve to be contemplated in the same breath. Also out now is Digging for Earworms, a free to download best of album covering previous releases and including the riveting likes of Let’s Play, Age of Nothing, and Imprisoned. Both are albums all rock/pop fans should treat themselves to, as Lewis confirms himself as one of Britain’s brightest artists.

Patchwork Heart is out now @

Pete RingMaster 24/11/2015

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Unified Past – Shifting The Equilibrium

Unified Past_RingMaster Review

The two years between previous album Spots and its successor Shifting The Equilibrium has taken US progressive rock band Unified Past to a new level. It is fair to say that previous offerings from the band have garnered acclaim and impressed, especially the excellent Spots but the band’s new album is a stirring adventure in songwriting, sound, and imagination which walks a new plateau. The time has also seen the trio of guitarist/keyboardist Steve Speelman, drummer Victor Tassone, and bassist Dave Mickleson expand with the addition of vocalist Phil Naro, another potent new breath to the Unified Past temptation.

Formed in 1984 by Speelman and Tassone, New York hailing Unified Past has increasingly garnered acclaim with their rich mix of sound and live presence. A sextet of albums over the years has earned the band the reputation of being one captivating and fiercely accomplished proposition, each release, as Spots to Shifting The Equilibrium, seeing sound and band grow in craft and invention, not forgetting success. Equally individual experiences has seen original band members working and playing with the likes of Chief Big Way, Belladonna, The Colin Tench Project, Oceans 5, and Reaching Ground Project. Naro too has a spicy pedigree behind him having worked with Peter Criss, Lou Gramm, Carmine Appice, Billy Sheehan, and Brian May amongst many. More impressively though is the creative and musical unity the foursome have developed; Spots impressed but Shifting The Equilibrium comes with a new roar of striking invention.

artwork_RingMaster Review The album begins with Erasure Principle, a flight of melodic exploration across a sinew woven landscape. From its first breath crystalline keys lay an inviting haze within which the guitar spins a web of sonic enticement. Straight away there is scent particular to Unified Past washing the track and the emerging tapestry of sound, a flowing fusion of seventies and eighties rock with a modern progressive imagination. Naro swiftly impresses as a new vibrancy from his voice hits the song and sound, his tones dramatic yet honed to sit perfectly with the music around him. Inspirations to Unified Past include artists such as Dream Theater, Rush, Yes; each open spices to the album but as here, primarily just adding rosy hues to the band’s own distinct endeavour.

It is a potent start to the release but soon eclipsed by the even more striking Smile (In the Face of Adversity). Keys again bring that colour of nostalgia to the expressive weave of guitar whilst vocals melodically seduce as a quickly bred drama stirs ears and appetite with an epic tone merging intimidation and fiery beauty into the diverse kaleidoscope of sound and craft shaping the outstanding track. Keys wise a whiff of The Stranglers’ Dave Greenfield adds to the perpetually blooming excitement and theatre, but as in all proposals within the album, everywhere you look and turn the quartet is creating an intricately involved, fiercely imaginative, and wholly contagious incitement.

Etched in Stone takes over next with an orchestral air to the creative intimacy of its persuasion, again the band skilled at mixing contrasting layers and depths of sound as Naro reveals the lyrical heart. The bass of Mickleson is seriously compelling, its dark grouchy tone a predacious edge to the captivating maze conjured by Speelman via guitar and keys. The further into its adventure the imagination goes the more cosmopolitan and mystical the song becomes, a middle eastern flavouring joining the endearing bait offered throughout and though it is an eleven minute flight, such its rich and busy invention, the track seems over in a flash.

It is a fascinating quality to all tracks, their meaty lengths more like fleeting moments as busy adventure grips ears from within the whole emprise of Shifting The Equilibrium, the slightly shorter Peace Remains in the World another example as its Tool meets Porcupine Tree meets Pink Floyd like tempestuous calm, hooks and seduces ears and appetite from start to finish. A carnivorous funk tempting from Mickleson especially hits the spot, its creative belligerence matched by the resourceful swings of Tassone as melodies, acidic and warm, entangle around them.

The instrumental majesty of Deviation from a Theme (of Harmonic Origin) transports the listener into an exotic labyrinth of suggestiveness and provocative sound, proving that it is not only the addition of Naro which has been a blossoming aspect to the Unified Past proposal.

The album is completed by the vast soundscape of Today is the Day, a bewitching enticing of melodic scenery and evocative textures in a constantly evolving experience for song and listener. Like a link-up between Yes and Voyager, it is an enthralling and gripping end to a mighty temptation.

It is weird to say after the length of the time that Unified Past has been around and frequently impressing so many, that Shifting The Equilibrium is a coming of age to the band’s sound but in some ways it is though. Bottom-line though is that it is a highly flavoursome and skilfully varied slice of progressive rock hard that even more are going to get a potent kick out of.

Shifting The Equilibrium is out now digitally and on CD via Melodic Revolution Records @

Pete RingMaster 24/11/2015

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Arcade Messiah – II

John Bassett _RingMaster Review

Though time wise it has been around a year between releases, it feels like a mere breath in sound and relationship between the self-titled debut Arcade Messiah album and its successor II. Continuing in adventure where its acclaimed progressive rock predecessor left off, the new encounter is an emprise of instrumental majesty and incitement reconfirming John Bassett as one of Europe’s finest songwriters, composers, and musicians.

An artist no stranger to garnering thick attention and praise through his band KingBathmat and acoustic offerings under own his name, Bassett’s solo instrumental project Arcade Messiah is another unique proposition from him. Weaving strands of highly varied styles from metal to math rock, stoner to post rock with further diverse and progressive flavours soaked in stirring ambience, the first Arcade Messiah album was a riveting exploration of sound and emotion through individual incitements. Each song worked on the listener’s senses and imagination and as mentioned, II carries on in the same vein but further experiments with textures whilst stretching the fusion of styles and essences to richer and deeper extent. Basset himself neatly sums up II, saying “after the surprise success of last year’s original Arcade Messiah album and after receiving feedback from fans of that album I decided to make a sequel, a continuation of that album, that is hopefully bigger, better, more refined and more dramatic, but which didn’t lose the vibe and atmosphere that was created on the original album“.

Arcade-Messiah-II-Cover_RingMaster Review   II opens with Moon Signal and straight away thoughts drift on the breeze of melodic and atmospheric coaxing. Keys whisper suggestively with their calm caress whilst a guitar emotively entices before sparking a broadening into a thicker and more volatile landscape. The celestial air which painted the start continues to ebb and flow within the spatial yet tightly woven invitation of the track, its journey hinting at vastness and intimacy simultaneously whilst twisting through varied realms as the song explores new avenues of calm, tempestuousness, and imagination.

As expected, Bassett bewitches and provokes ears and emotions with his writing and craft, each piece of music a tapestry of clues and persuasion for the imagination to run with greedily, Red Widow another swift example and success. The second track has a more sinister air to its tone and presence which starting from a sonic mist is soon opening up layers of equally intimidating and seductive expression. The arousal of ear and thought also evolves through many guises within the full umbrella of sonic temptation, a creative travelogue shaping all tracks with the compelling Black Dice Maze a prime example as it glides through sonic intrigue and emotive calm as well as tenacious rock ‘n’ roll and ravenous volatility within its gripping theatre of sound and invention.

The next up Gallows Way seduces from its first touch. Initially it is a surf rock infused ambient hug on the senses, soon spreading out with evocative melodies and reflective sonic shimmers as guitars and keys align with shadowy but restrained rhythms. The skills and invention of Bassett across the instrumentation is a perpetual doorway into the heart of the music, guitars especially descriptive and suggestive across the album but just as potent are the rhythmic contrasts and darker hues that can either ripple or erupt in more forceful intent to temper or enhance the adventure around them. In the fourth song beauty dominates though whereas Fourth Quarter involves rugged scenery of riffs and dynamics within a sonic radiance which immerses the listener with a climate of invitational sultriness and tempting danger. The track is a gripping fascination and rich aural temptation matched in might by the sultry mystique of Via Occulta. The short piece is a maze of shadows, a lure into secrets and hidden depths, and a spellbinding flight even with its brevity.

Across both Read The Sky and Start Missing Everybody, artist and album continue to be a kaleidoscope of aural ingenuity and temptation; each of them evocations which transfix and incite the senses and imagination into unique interpretation of the sonic palette on offer. The closing pair of the two is a melancholic kiss but just as potently fuelled by hope and energy to create something emotionally anthemic.

The CD version also includes the bonus track The Four Horsemen, a striking cover of the Aphrodite’s Child song which was also Arcade Messiah’s contribution to the recently vinyl released compilation album by Fruit De Mer Records called Side Effects. Alone it is worth the purchase of a CD, Bassett giving the track fresh life and suggestiveness, though the cream of II is undoubtedly his original and thrilling tracks.

John Bassett as mentioned is for us one of the UK’s most potent and stirring songwriters, let alone musicians, and II another thick slice of pleasure.

Arcade Messiah II is out now digitally as a name your price download @ via Stereohead Records and on CD from November 27th.

Pete RingMaster 23/11/2015

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