Shattered Skies – The World We Used To Know

Shattered Skies low res

With their acclaimed first EP having escaped our radar when it came out around three years ago, The World We Used To Know is our introduction to Ireland  bred progressive metallers Shattered Skies, and have we been missing out. The band’s debut album is an enthralling and thrilling creative emprise which avoids all the self-indulgences and over blown excesses the genre can at times coax out of a band. Instead it creates an epic drama of passion and invention with a technical adventure and skill to match, leaving jaws dropped in awe and passions lustfully inflamed.

Formed in the earlier moments of 2011, the now London based band swiftly gripped attention and critical praise with the Reanimation EP that same year. The time between releases has been filled with a host of reputation growing shows alongside the likes of Machine Head, Dimmu Borgir, Alice Cooper, TesseracT, Scar Symmetry, SikTh, Animals as Leaders, Twelve Foot Ninja, The Algorithm, After the Burial and many more, as well as performances at festivals such as Holland’s ProgPower and Bloodstock in the UK, two appearances at Britain’s Techfest and a trio of visits to Euroblast in Germany. The World We Used To Know will be the biggest lure to the world from the band yet and like for us, it is hard to imagine many genre fans and beyond resisting the fiery imagination and seriously accomplished sounds tempting from within the album’s fascinating walls.

As aflame with inescapable hooks and grooves as it is with breath-taking exploration, the release opens with the short and emotive temptation of Collapse Of Man. A provocative caress of Albumcoverpiano, the instrumental piece draws ears and thoughts into the release with a sense of drama which simply explodes in the following The End And The Rebirth. The band’s new single too, the song dances on the senses with a vibrant electro smile before ruggedly spicy grooves and matching crunchy riffs join the vivacious tempest. Instantly enticing whispers of TesseracT and Circles, the track casts its own uniqueness as it expands and glows with enterprise and invention. The striking melodic vocals of Sean Murphy are an instant treat, his ability and expression as dynamic as the sounds and ideation around him. It makes for a scintillating kaleidoscope of adventure spun on the skills of guitarist/keyboardist Ian Rockett and the simultaneously savage and addictive rhythms of drummer Ross McMahon and bassist Jim Hughes, quite simply it is a stunning start.

Things only explode with greater potency and ingenuity when 15 Minutes takes over, vocals and melodies again a sure seduction against the slightly carnivorous breath of the djent inspired guitar predation and rhythmic stalking. As mentioned before, each track has an inventive and sonic theatre to its songwriting and sound, one which over the first song and especially this has a feel of early My Chemical Romance to it. The track is sensational, a cantankerous croon of an incitement within a whirlpool of unpredictable and fluidly flowing experimentation.

Both the gripping enticement of Haunted and the inflamed serenade of Elegance And Grace keep album and ears burning brightly. The first is an angst fuelled weave of acidic grooves and stabbing riffs aligned to ever mesmeric vocals and harmonies. Its rhythms equally impose their strengths with ease, intimidating rather than coaxing the same plaudits in thoughts and emotions. Its successor is a smouldering romance of charm loaded keys and impassioned vocal expression in comparison. The song simmers and boils across a climactic canvas of riveting Muse meets Dioramic like endeavour, and as the last song engrossing ears and imagination with increasing strength and drama.

The guitars are back snarling and abrasing the pleasures in the following Show’s Over, though as discovered in all always Shattered Skies songs, they only provide one moment in evolving landscapes. Their bait and Meshuggah like growl is never far from the frontline of the song though, just in a constant and seamless flux of fresh sound and inventiveness. The track is an inescapable contagion, so much so that it is hard to think of many progressive metal bands which can rock body and passions with such catchiness to their enormous technical prowess as Shattered Skies.

As The Sea Divides is a tempestuous turbulence of sound next, its blustery guitar bred climate and inhospitable rhythmic trap the scenery for siren-esque keys and the soaring tones of Murphy to poetically and magnificently colour. A little longer to draw similar lustful responses as other songs, it grows to new heights with every listen, though it still misses the top step found by the last song and the outstanding Flipside which follows. Almost bestial in its prowling gait and sonic tempting, the track manages to be savage and impossibly infectious with a melodic bloom of voice and sound to put any crooner and pop band to shame. The song is quite delicious, a must be second single to our minds and another irrepressible reason why Shattered Skies will take the progressive metal world by storm, well this and ten other great reasons on The World We Used To Know.

     The pair of Aesthetics and Saviours seduce senses and emotions next, the first exploring the scent of bands like Tool and The HAARP Machine in a magnetic tapestry of emotion soaked expression and soaring harmonics. Unafraid to have a raw edge too, the song is also ridiculously catchy, something emulated by the darker squalling presence of the second of the two. An antagonistic cage of riffs and drums from the first second, it scowls and teases with scarring tenacity whilst within the raw frame keys and the stunning vocals of Murphy roar and soar.

The track is exceptional but so is the closing eleven minutes plus of the title track which brings The World We Used To Know to a mighty close. An epic journey and creative escapade in its own right, the song seems to draw on all the hearts of its predecessors as it draws a mouth-watering and bewitching soundscape all of its own. Everything about it is sensational and its lengthy presence seemingly over in a flash thanks to its wonderfully busy maze of startling craft and volcanic enterprise.

2015 has already in its brief time seen some quite invigorating encounters, the new 6:33 and Cold Snap albums coming to mind, and on that frontline of excellence Shattered Skies sits looking rather sensational with The World We Used To Know.

The self-released The World We Used To Know is available now @ and digitally @

RingMaster 15/01/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Denim Snakes – Self Titled

Denim Snakes

Rock ‘n’ roll obviously comes with constant variety of unique riotous tendencies, and each twist of rock music has a pioneer and driving force which recruits equally impressing cohorts to their direction within the expansive scene. There are few bands though which manages to weave a tapestry from a healthy scoop of all that vast flavouring which is something new and in itself wholly individual. Step forward Welsh rockers Denim Snakes and their debut self-titled album. It roars rock ‘n’ roll with every note, syllable, and second of its resourceful stomp. It makes no demands, has no delusions of grandeur, but instead rampages through ears into the passions with a fresh sound which recalls and revitalises essences which have ignited a million hearts and inspired just as many imaginations.

For a debut the album is irresistibly impressive and striking, though maybe that really should be no surprise as Denim Snakes is led by vocalist/guitarist Russell Toomey. The former frontman of the criminally ignored sonic punks My Red Cell and the inexcusably overlooked garage punks Innercity Pirates, Toomey has a knack of twisting songs into insatiable predators of the psyche whilst leaving a lingering temptation others can only dream of in their music. His new band as evidenced by their first full-length is no different in that ability, songwriting as expressive and intrusively seductive as ever, and an instinctive rock ‘n’ roll ravaging.

Formed in 2013, the Barry quartet of guitarist Jake Ellis-Scott, bassist Matt Clarke, and drummer/backing vocalist Tom Hall alongside Toomey, soon explored and whipped up a sound to ignites ears and imagination, first single 21 earlier this year the proof of something exciting brewing from the depths of the “ghost-town pleasure park” from where he band emerged. It sparked an exploratory interest and appetite for the band which second single The Guard in September soon ignited again. Now the band’s debut album is primed to wake-up the nation and such its potency and sheer thrilling adventure there will be calls of a conspiracy at play if Denim Snakes is allowed to slip away as those previous bands mentioned.

The release opens with The Guard, bulging beats lighting up ears before a raw blaze of riffs and a throaty bassline joins the emerging rugged sonic dance. In no time the song is leading body and emotions on a virulent stroll, Ramones bred Denim Snakes coverhooks and grooves flirting with the passions as the distinctive tones of Toomey’s voice similarly and mischievously colours the contagion. A healthy whiff of garage rock and surf pop is brought into the mix of what is insatiable pop punk of the old school kind, whilst a classic rock spicing clasps the solo and melodic enterprise of the sensational opener.

The band’s first single 21 is next and instantly provides a different creative hue to the release. With a caress of harmonica leading to more melodic scenery vocally and musically, the song sways with folk rock glazed adventure. It is just as catchy as its predecessor, though it has a gentle presence and persuasion which at times is part Weezer and part Late Cambrian, and whilst it does not set a fire in feet and instincts as the previous protagonist, the song emerges as a warm and increasingly tempting offering showing why it made such a strong impression earlier in 2014.

The following It’ll Be Alright also moves with a mellow and breezy charm, though there is a devilry which is never far from its surface. It also finds a forceful prowl in the bass and beats which come more to the fore leading to and in the anthemic chorus, it adding a muscular spirit to another unique slice of melodic pop. In its reserved passages there is a definite Kinks influence which instantly sparks the imagination into greater life whilst it’s punchier exploits rings of Innercity Pirates, though that was always inevitable at some point. It too is a slow burner which grows into something formidable and addictive, the opposite on offer next with Party Hard. This is a song wasting no time in gentle persuasion, instead swiftly gripping ears and thoughts with spicy chords and hungry rhythms before venturing into a hook laden lure of busy riffs and vocal revelry. My Red Cell toxicity teases throughout the song to further colour the fiery rock ‘n’ roll canter, but as across the album though you can pick out similarity of previous exploits, song and album is something openly new.

From the lofty heights of the song, Denim Snakes take another step up in temptation and brilliance with The Runaways. Sinews flex in every aspect of the track from the first breath, riffs imposing and rhythms cantankerous as Turbonegro like punk causticity initially smothers ears. The track is soon exploring its infection drenched melodic side too though, another ridiculously contagious proposition leaping at the passions as riveting twists of guitar and rhythmic endeavour toys with the imagination. A core of hard rock drives the explosively enjoyable encounter, another slither of rock ‘n’ roll variety exploited for something enthrallingly new before the pair of She’s A Woman and Making Money step forward. The first of the two stalks the senses and thoughts straight away, a dark and heavy footed bassline aligned to jabbing beats challenging ears before the effect spiced vocals of Toomey lay their predacious tempting in the web of intrigue. A classic rock breeding smoulders throughout the sultry drama of the song but yet again flavouring is varied and fluid as it almost growls with impressive potency before its successor brings out the big guns in predatory riffs and thumping beats as blues grooving spreads through classic rock devilment. Though not a favourite amongst the pack on the album, the song increasingly convinces and is a sure fire appetite pleaser for fans of bands such as Aerosmith and Alice Cooper.

Don’t You Want Me finds seeds in similar beds but only to lay a canvas for the blues and acidic flames of enterprise erupting over it. Electric Woodland meets My Red Cell meets The Stooges; the track roars and raucously simmers with sonic ingenuity and incendiary expression. It is a fire of anthemic seduction inducing another wave of greedy hunger for the album, which the raunchy tone and energy of Happiness has boiling over with its maelstrom of classic, hard, and punk rock. The song also finds room to drift into a hazy melodic landscape of rock pop, unpredictability as prevalent as imagination and mischief.

Closing with the similarly bred but openly distinct Sex, Denim Snakes has uncaged a slab of rock ‘n’ roll which manages to provide something for everyone in each individual song without leaving one overwhelmed by the intensive brew. The final song is a salacious temptress which simply sums up the whole of the outstanding album. Fans of Russell Toomey’s past works will maybe not be surprised at the craft and invention running over in Denim Snakes but there is no denying the band has tapped into a new depth and maturity in songwriting and sound which is matched by the impressive qualities and imagination of its members. Quite simply it is a must have release for all rock ‘n’ roll fans.

Denim Snakes is available now @

RingMaster 26/10.2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Hollywood Heads – Self Titled EP


Sauntering out of Moscow, Hollywood Heads is a band with a swagger to their presence and lustful intention to their heavy metal exploit. Formed in 2011, the quartet has powerfully awoken the eager attention of their local underground scene but now with the help of their self-titled debut EP, the band is ready to break out into a wider spotlight. Inspired by the likes of Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Motley Crue, Alice Cooper, and Zakk Wylde, their sound is not one bursting with startling originality but it offers boisterous and dirty rock ‘n’ roll which easily lights ears and appetite.

Line-ups changes, as with many bands, has been part of Hollywood Head’s emergence but the EP finds the band at its strongest yet with founding members in bassist Yeti and drummer Dan Mark alongside vocalist Gine King and guitarist Cross_Cover_Hollywood_HeadsFox. The successor to the well-received single Blood City, the EP rocks without any thought of respect or restraint from its first rousing track, the feisty Hollywood Heads. It does not make the most dramatic start but with riffs stirring up air and rhythms prowling with predacious intent, the song makes a strong enough invitation before exploding into a fiery slab of rowdy rock ‘n’ roll with glam rock urges. The slightly wayward tendencies of vocals only add to the energy and excitement brewed in the track whilst guitars unveil a potent craft of sonic endeavour to add fuel to the fire. There are no surprises with the song but plenty to get feet and ears rigorously engaged.

The following Aerogrill is the same, not making shocking statements but igniting body and thoughts with its excellent punkish twang and feverish vivacity around more of those addictive unique vocals. The best track on the release it shows a riveting twist of adventure to the band’s sound. Hooks seduce and grooves bind the senses whilst the virulent stroll of the song takes a hold of the passions. It is not ground-breaking but wholly addictive as it awakens a greedy hunger for the band’s creative brawl.

The EP comes to a close with Game, a proposition showing yet another side to the band’s invention. It is the heaviest track on the release; riffs prowling with weighty enticement as rhythms crisply spear their intensity as vocals roar with lusty relish across their canvas. Lit with an additional blues hue, the song is an accomplished and magnetic close to a fine release.

Hollywood Heads are at the start of a potentially dramatic ascent and success. They have still to evolve their own distinct voice but the EP makes a highly satisfying and pleasing base to start from.

The Hollywood Heads EP is available now


RingMaster Review 12/09/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Follow the rabbit into the weird: an interview with Mr. Strange

Mr. Strange

Fans of UK musical mutants The Shanklin Freak Show have already been touched, inspired, and seduced by the creativity and psyche teasing craft of the band’s former frontman Mr. Strange whilst his solo work has equally gripped the imagination of a great many. Now though the songwriter/producer/vocalist/musician has taken it all to a new level with the release of this exceptional new album The Wonderful World Of Weird. A release walking the realms of insanity and artistic rapaciousness, it is a diverse and riveting exploration of sounds, invention, and dice into the weird persona that is Mr. Strange. Greedily wanting to find out more we had the joy and adventure to talk to the man himself with the adding pleasure of his artistic cohort Stench on top also sharing thoughts and time with us. Investigating The Wonderful World Of Weird, we talked origins, The Shanklin Freak Show, Marilyn Manson, the bright lights and much more…

Greetings Mr. Strange and thank you for taking time out to let us delve into your world of weird.

Mr. Strange: Greetings! Thank you, sir, I’m glad to be here. Smells funny though!

You are well known amongst fans for your founding and leading of The Shanklin Freak Show (TSFS) until recently but maybe less know about your solo exploits before and running alongside the band; could you give some background to those?

Mr. Strange: Before I started The Shanklin Freak Show in March 2003, I began learning my craft as a programmer / producer way back in 1998. I bought a basic music creation game for the original PlayStation simply called ‘Music’ and became completely obsessed with it! As laughable as it sounds, it was actually quite a competent music tool, and a great introduction to music programming. Before I made the upgrade to professional (real) music software, I made a whole album using just this game and my PlayStation. This album was completed in February 2003, although I did add some vocals and guitars to the final version of the album using my current studio set-up. The final version of the album was eventually released in late 2011 as Sounds From The Asylum, which is an apt title methinks! Anyway, back to 2003. As soon as Sounds From The Asylum was finished I went full-throttle into The Shanklin Freak Show project, greatly helped by the fact I could finally record guitars and vocals with my swanky new production software – which I could not do before 2003. The Shanklin Freak Show project pretty much had my full attention until late 2011. The only exceptions to this were my collaborations with Global Citizen acting as co-producer on two albums – those being Master Stroke and Nil By Mouth – as well as the Mr. Strange album The Fall which I made in late 2007.. But for the most part, my solo exploits only resumed once I stepped down from the forefront of The Shanklin Freak Show in November 2011. Now my Mr. Strange projects are my primary focus… and my cats.

From all the music and projects you have been involved with it is clear to see that your sounds and tastes are rather eclectic, what are some of the major inspirations which have spiced your own ideas over the years?

Mr. Strange: Well, being a rather flamboyant chap, nearly all of my musical influences fall in to the “theatrical” category. Bands and artists who present themselves in a very theatrical way tend to make more outlandish music, and that’s definitely what floats my boat, as it were! I’ll try to keep it snappy, so here’s a shortlist of some of my most influential artists: Danny Elfman, David Bowie, Mushroomhead, Dr. Steel, The Sisters Of Mercy,  Alice Cooper, Mortiis (only the ‘Smell Of Rain’ album), Krizz Kaliko, The Duke Of Stratosphere, Twiztid, Marilyn Manson, The Prodigy, ICP, Mr. Bungle (or almost anything from the mind of Mike Patton), Gary Numan, Tech N9ne, White Zombie / Rob Zombie, and Babylon Zoo. That last one’s not a joke by the way! Stop laughing.

Tell us about creating TSFS and its own unique and dark world?TSFS with Mr. Strange

Mr. Strange: I started The Shanklin Freak Show in early 2003, the first ever Freak Show song was written and recorded in March I believe, a little random fact for those who may be interested. The whole concept was meant as a home, a form of escapism, for those who felt rejected by the world. Basically the kind of outlandish, Tim Burton-esque world I wanted to escape to myself at that time. My failure at finding a place to belong in the world led me to try and make my own, both for myself and others who felt the same. The basic concept is articulated best in the song ‘Twisted Family,’ check it out if you want to get your noggin around what the whole Freak Show thang is about. Musically, it was born out of my love of some of the earlier Insane Clown Posse records and my disappointment with (the then newly released) Marilyn Manson album The Golden Age Of Grotesque – I was expecting a deeply engrossing, dark, twisted, circus-style cabaret show of an album, my dream record, but what arrived was an album of fairly standard industrial pop songs. I imagined it to sound far more intriguing and I found the idea behind the record a lot better than the end product, so I went about trying to create the album I imagined. That’s it really. It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Before we concentrate on your new album, you are still involved with TSFS but just not as the vocalist now? Why the decision to step down from that role?

Mr. Strange: Indeed, I’m still involved with the band, but just on the side-lines at the moment. I have to admit that my input has been very minimal since my departure, although that was not a conscious decision, that’s just how it’s played out up until this point. I may play a more active role in the band next year, songwriting and maybe doing the odd live shows here and there, but that’s all dependant on working it around what I’ll be doing with my own projects. There were many different factors contributing to me stepping down as the vocalist and retreating from the forefront of the Shanklin Freak Show, although the main factor was simply that I find performing live extremely nerve-wracking and didn’t want to do it anymore, at least not for a few years. I suppose the other main factor was that I was feeling burnt out with the project and my heart wasn’t really in it, at least not enough to knuckle down, overcome my nerves and keep playing live shows. I started the Freak Show in 2003, so I spent a full 8 years solely focused on that one project and to be honest, I think I just wanted to try new things, things that might not have worked within the context of The Shanklin Freak Show, if that makes sense?

You have just released the brilliant album The Wonderful World Of Weird, our favourite and one of the best if not THE best album this year, how long has it been in the making?

Mr. Strange: Firstly, thank you very much! Secondly, too damn long! I started the album in October 2011 and finished it in October 2013. The reason for this overly long development process was due to uncertainty as to where I wanted to go after the Shanklin Freak Show. I had loads of ideas, but for my first release after TSFS I wanted to make a record that would be fresh and also slightly familiar, that’s a very specific sound to try and go for, and one that was tricky to find balance for. I’d write a few songs, then over analyse them and come to the conclusion that I wasn’t heading in the right direction, so they’d gather dust for a few months while I procrastinate, then I’d become enthused with the Wonderful World of Weird project again and get a couple of more songs done, then doubt myself again. This process happened a few times, probably half of the two year development cycle was either spent doing nothing or writing material separate from the WWoW project! I’m currently working on developing and finishing those other ideas for my next record, needless to say it already sounds incredibly different to the Wonderful World of Weird and is even more of a departure from The Shanklin Freak Show sound.

StenchYou co-wrote many of the tracks and recorded it with TSFS’s guitarist Stench (Gary Mason to his mum); how easy was it to fit this in as I know the band is recording their own album too; are you to blame for the delay in the finishing of their album??? ;)

Mr. Strange: Having Stench work on the album with me has had no bearing on the speed of The Shanklin Freak Show’s musical output, don’t blame me! Haha.

STENCH:  I don’t think Mr Strange is to blame in the slightest. The delay has been down to a few factors. The Last Show mixing process has been troublesome and we were never completely happy with it and didn’t want to release something that would make us cringe, knowing that we could’ve done better. Obviously, we had the addition of Kronik on Bass, rehearsals, gigs, festivals and the continual cycle of writing and recording. Plus, we’ve had the steep learning curve of being responsible for our own production. We have lots of songs that we’re working on and which are at various states of creation/completion. Plus, very recently, Mr Foul became a Daddy again. All in all, I think we’ve done pretty well, considering.

Mr. Strange: Thanks for backing me up there, Master Stench! I’ll slip you a fiver later.

How did the song writing work for the album and at what point did Stench get to add his explorations to your ideas?

Mr. Strange: We began working together full-time in late 2012 (we’d done bits and bobs together for the album before then, but it was an intermittent thing) almost exactly a year after I began work on the record. At that time I probably had roughly half the album that you can hear today, albeit in a very rough state and with very little guitar work on it. I think ‘White Rabbit’ is the only song that I play all of the guitars on, the rest of the album is pure Stench! With regards to songwriting, it kind of varies as to the approach we took. A lot of the songs were already half written, so Stench worked his magic over what was already there, but a few songs were written in a much more free-form manner. The songs Psycho Surfing A Go-Go‘ and Metropolis 2984 were the result of me and Stench just jamming and coming up with crazy stuff, which I’d never done before, so that was a great experience! Sadly a lot of our random jam songs didn’t make the cut for the album, but they’ll appear eventually. A lot of the tracks we wrote were simply too damn off the wall for the Wonderful World of Weird!

How much did Stench evolve and twist your ideas into new sparks within songs or did you go all dictator on him in this area? ;) (We at The RR know he likes to be dominated…)

Mr. Strange: While there was indeed a fair bit of dictating going on, Stench’s guitar wizardry certainly evolved a lot of songs in many ways. Even songs which were mostly finished by my lonesome have changed in tone and texture considerably since Stench shot his load over them! Songs which may have been dead ends from my point of view (as in not worth finishing) were saved by Stench taking the tune in a new direction with his magical, distorted, electrically-powered stringed instrument. The addition of guitar solos to a few songs has also altered the structure of some of the arrangements, giving the whole album a more free-flowing and natural feel, a definite departure to the more rigid electro-industrial pounding of some of my earlier songs with TSFS.

The guitar work provides a bait of hooks and grooves across the release which seems to breed from the other exotic or should that be erotic melodies and lures at large; did these come after the heart of the songs were exposed or in their initial breeding?

Mr. Strange: Wow, that’s one very eloquently worded question! I want some of what you’re smoking, sir! Haha. Methinks I’ll pass this one over to Stench.

STENCH:  I have to say, Mr Strange is always a pleasure to work with and we seem to be able to communicate very easily musically. So, I suppose that both cases are true as regards to the creation of the tunes. Sometimes, Mr Strange will have an idea of what he wants beforehand and I’ll just add my guitar parts under his strict instruction. Thankfully, I no longer have to wear the gimp mask. Other times, we start completely from scratch. Either way, it’s always fun and inspiring.

The Wonderful World Of Weird is a roller coaster of styles and flavours including industrial, steampunk, surf rock, 555928_584429381594861_1695733989_npsychedelic and gothic rock and much more all merged into the narrative of the album. This is a true reflection of both your musical tastes and the way your creative imaginations works, or predominantly Mr S’s (Saul); the album truly a landscape of your ideas and musical psyche?

STENCH:  I think we both have very eclectic musical influences and appreciate each other’s tastes. This makes it much easier to work together and helps with communicating ideas. But, yes, the album is predominantly Saul’s genius and I add either the cherry on top or the fly in the ointment, whichever is required at the time.

It is fair Mr. Strange to say the album is very different from your earlier songs as on The Fall and those written across all your projects as collated in the Freakshow album, both of 2011. I will admit this was a little bit of a surprise considering your major input and dramatic style within TSFS, so has this been a natural progression or have you had to consciously veer away from anything sounding like the band?

Mr. Strange: Yes, it was definitely a conscious decision to try and move away from the sound of the Shanklin Freak Show. The more complex song arrangements, featuring less prominent/heavy guitars, changing the tone and pitch of my vocals somewhat, being more daring with mixing varying genres on one album, all of it was done with the sole intention of trying to not sound like a new Freak Show album. I’d done 8 years of the Freak Show; I wanted to see if I could create something a little different. With all that said, I also tried to not move too far away from the Freak Show sound as to completely alienate people who may be following me after hearing the Freak Show. You can hear echoes of TSFS on songs like ‘Fire’, ‘White Rabbit’ and on ‘Exile’.

As the album is lyrically and musically a journey through the mind of Mr. Strange did you have a definite step by step guide to the order of songs and their effect on the album in mind before everything was recorded etc.?

Mr. Strange: I did indeed! However, what I planned out and what ended up being the Wonderful World of Weird album are two very different things. The narrative you hear on the finished record was re-written to fit the finished songs only a few months before the album’s release. I originally planned something far grander and more complex, but it was sounding so overblown, silly and pretentious that the scope for the record was scaled back considerably. It’s far more personal now; I think that works in its favour.

We described the opening title track to The Wonderful World Of Weird as Dr. Jekyll meets ICP as early Marilyn Mansion helps Victor Frankenstein create aural life for them to toy with upon a set designed by Willy Wonka, a description which in varying ways applies to the whole album; how would you describe the album to newcomers?

Mr. Strange: Tim Burton and Danny Elfman taking an absinth-fuelled journey through a variety of pop and rock’s more outlandish genres.

I imagine this album might appeal to people who like quirky / alternative pop. I was inspired by lots of the 80’s goth bands and loads of steampunk artists while making this record, so perhaps folks with similar tastes would enjoy it, too.

Tell us about our favourite track out of a great many on the album, Psycho Surfing-A-Go-Go.

STENCH:  Now this song is an example of how suddenly things happen organically. I think this was the fastest tune that we’ve ever written together. The major bones came together in an evening and the riffs were written on an old 1960’s Burns bass. Suddenly, it began writing itself. It was great fun to play as it has a tongue in cheek feel to the guitar lines. Also, it was nice to get outside of the box and let rip on some retro sounds. Mr. Strange knew from the off what he wanted to do vocal-wise and before we knew it, job done.

Mr. Strange 4Can we get a brief glimpse of the man behind Mr. Strange, we get the impression he is a shy retiring type… a tea drinker ;)

Mr. Strange: Of course I like tea, and no, you can’t get a glimpse! Aha! Although your impression could be considered strangely accurate…

You both hail from The Isle Of Wight which seems like a small hotbed of talent right now, covering numerous styles?

STENCH:  Absolutely, the music scene here is great and vast. It would take up another couple of pages to name every great musician or band based here. Of course, we have our favourites and it would be rude not to give them a shout. *Deep breath* Pleasurade, Hentai Babies, When Prophecy Fails, Becoming The Leviathan, Born Ina Barn, Silencing The Voiceless, Puritan Slain, Kingz Of Vocals, Counsil Estate Supermodels, The Ohmz, Hollowdrone and Nately’s Whore to name but a few. So you have your Alt-Pop, Progressive Metal, Hip-Hop, Reggae, Grunge and Punk. But, as with any music scene, anywhere, it needs support.

You have not been tempted by the bright lights of the mainland for musical reasons?

Mr. Strange: Career wise? Yes, but many factors prevented that from happening. I haven’t thought about it for years. I’m happy where I am right now, so I have no plans to move closer to the action, there’s more than enough in my trousers to keep me entertained, although the career opportunities are limited.

What is next for Mr. Strange, you do not seem like an artist to sit back and take a rest.

Mr. Strange: Indeed, you know me too well, sir! Were we lovers at some point? I have two projects / albums planned for next year. The first album (which I’m writing at this very moment) is progressing extremely fast, possibly dropping in April 2014. I’d wager no one will see this one coming; it’s so completely different to anything I’ve done before. Once that album is out and people adjust to the new strangeness, I’ll begin work on the next album, the one that will usher in my return to live music and my inevitable conquest of planet Earth! I hope to have that second record ready by the end of 2014, possibly with live touring to follow in 2015. Don’t hold me to those dates though, I’m just speculating at this point. Both albums will have completely different musical styles and theatrical imagery to match, but I shall say no more.

Where can people treat themselves to all things Mr. Strange and especially The Wonderful World Of Weird?

Mr. Strange: I think it would be very spiritually rewarding for people to go to my website and gasp in ecstasy at pictures of my devilishly handsome face! Links to all of my music and whatnot are located there, but my sexy pictures are where it’s at.

www.mrstrangemedia.comMr. Strange 3

If folks are into the social media thang, I’m on most of the popular sites, too:

Once more thank you and of course to Stench for leaving your bedlam to talk with us, any thoughts to leave us with?

Mr. Strange: Expect the unexpected!

…and lastly please give us five records which shaped Mr. Strange.

1. Marilyn Manson – Portrait Of An American Family

2. Dukes Of Stratosphere – Chips From The Chocolate Fireball

3. Insane Clown Posse – The Great Milenko

4. Dr. Steel – Read-Along Album

5. Danny Elfman – Nightmare Before Christmas OST

Read The Wonderful World Of Weird review @

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 23/12/2013

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Death SS – Resurrection

death-ss (1)

    Resurrection the follow-up to the critically acclaimed previous album The Seventh Seal sees the return of Italian heavy metal band Death SS and their compelling tales and sounds of horror soaked devilry. Formed by vocalist Steve Sylvester with its first recordings as far back as 1988, the Pesaro band has been an ever potent presence within Italian heavy metal and to a lesser degree the world. Taking, one suspects a more than healthy influence from the likes of Alice Cooper, and possibly inspiring again on assumption the likes of current bands such as Houston! and Superhorrorfuck, Death SS create a blend of metal and drama inspired by horror movies and literature and apparently also this time around the Italian sexy-horror comics of the Seventies especially in the album art work. Resurrection is at times a riveting excursion through crimson red temptation but also has tracks where inspiration is lacking for song and listener, something which suggests that many of the bands they may have sparked life within have since surpassed their own creativity. Despite that for the main the album is a pleasing and easy to return to riot of familiar fun.

For the first half of the Lucifer Rising / Scarlet Records released album, Resurrection is a bit hit and miss, the alternating tracks bringing death-ss-coverrides of horror rock and more straight forward heavy metal, and the former much more thrilling than the latter style. For the first time Sylvester produces a Death SS album and does a great if unspectacular job whilst alongside guitarist Al Denoble, keyboardist Freddy Delirio, bassist Glenn Strange, and Bozo Wolff on drums, he leads the stirring passions through a disjointed but appealing journey of rock ‘n’ roll. The album certainly gets better the further into its body you go too, finding a stronger consistency to the variation working its devilment.

Opening track Revived opens on a pulsating heartbeat with a sinister ambience soon emphasised by the vocals of Sylvester. This menace is accelerated by the joining throaty bass and wide rhythmic punches all scored by sonic guitar lashes. Into its thumping stride with a blanket of refreshing electro temptation, the song is a rampant stroll of horror rock which instantly brings thoughts of Wednesday 13, Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13, and as mentioned earlier Superhorrorfuck. It is not bursting with originality but as the riffs and rhythms cast their contagious net around the senses and the vocals unleash their raucous grazing it is imagination capturing fun.

The following track The Crimson Shrine avails itself of a more classic heavy metal breath, riffs and drums a tower of sinews whilst the keys paint a symphonic picture upon the big boned canvas. The guitar work of Denoble is impressive and creates enthralling shards of melodic flames across the song whilst the additional female vocals temper things with grace and beauty, but the track is pale in potency against its predecessor and next up The Darkest Night. To be fair some of this is down to personal preference towards the two styles offered but it is an uneasy lie in many ways nevertheless. Its successor takes a mere breath before launching another muscular stomp of horror rock/power metal like persuasion. The electronic veins provided by the keys are like torches, lighting the thick shadows of the narrative which dance within the crushing frame of rhythms and hungry predatory riffs. Like the first song there is nothing unheard before but delivered in the accomplished and energetic style of Death SS leaves a very satisfied appetite.

The decent enough melodic charms of classic metal honed Dionysus lead into the rapacious growl and hold of Eaters, the track a bestial torrent of steely jawed riffs and mountainous rhythmic provocation driven by great vocal incitement, lyrically and in delivery. Again it is no coincidence that the song is a Cooperesque/Murderdolls like romp with lethal dangling weaponry disguised as guitars solo and bass lines to enslaved and tear the senses into bliss, and is the style exciting these ears.

The likes of the Ogre’s Lullaby, with its psychotic whispers and heavily laden vocal tempting, and the metallic swing/swagger of Santa Muerte both ignite thoughts and a little bit of greed for their sinew stretching and especially in the first, schizo charms, whilst The Devil’s Graal is a crawling provocative beast that leaves welcomingly entrenched sonic claws and dramatic teeth in the senses. As mentioned previously, Resurrection gets stronger and more perpetually appetising as it works nearer its climax, both the Manson like Precognition with its rhythmic juggling and carnivorous riffing and the bruising rock n’ n’ roller Bad Luck proof as they leave limbs and passions laying down an accompanying energetic escort. They make a thrilling conclusion to the album and compensates for the disappointment of songs such as the bland The Song of Adoration, certainly in comparison to this last pair. Wrapped in the great artwork of Emanuele Taglietti, an internationally renowned painter and author of all the covers of cult adult comics such as ‘Belzeba’, ‘Zora’, ‘Sukia’, ‘Cimiteria’, ‘La Poliziotta’ to name a few, Resurrection is a very enjoyable album even with songs which just do not ignite any heat for their presence included, and though there is nothing truly new here which has not been discovered and reaped elsewhere, it is hard not to like and want to return to.


RingMaster 31/07/2013

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Superhorrorfuck: Gore-Geous Dead


    The story goes that on October 31st 2005, a band known as Morphina was supposed to play a Halloween party in a dirty pub but disappeared after a mysterious car accident. In their place stepped forward four fresh corpses under the name Superhorrorfuck, and a trail of death and mayhem began from that night forth.

With that dark tale you can feel the essences which inspire the Italian shock rockers and give a rich mayhem to their insatiable and infectious sound. The quintet creates a tomb spawn noise heavily loaded with the loud whispers of Frankenstein Drag Queens from Planet 13 and Wednesday Friday, with further glam and heavy metal spicery to their horror rock eruptions. This rich mixture makes the band and their new EP Gore-Geous Dead, a delicious riotous party with a daring mischief and tongue in cheek irreverence, though it might be your cheek more than theirs which is ventured within.

Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Dr. Freak, bassist Mr. 4, guitarist Paghalloween, and Littlebomb on drums, Superhorrorfuck opened their recorded mayhem account in 2008 with debut album Horrorchy to a notable response within their local graveyard. The following year saw the addition of guitarist/vocalist Sgt. Anubys which allowed Mr Freak to concentrate on vocal duties and in 2010 the quintet unleashed second album Livingdeadstars, a release which showed the band with a stronger more defined sound as they grew into their death soaked craft. Across the years the band has shared their notable live decaying presence with the likes of Wednesday 13, Torpedohead, Vain, Sister, Buggirl, and Hardcore Superstar, the band continually gaining increasing acclaim. The Gore-Geous Dead EP is  without arguably breaking new ground but using already mined flavouring, the thrilling result from a band who has evolved into its most skilled and imaginative stature to date with a fusion of punk, metal, and wantonness which is sheer horror sleaze rioting.

Released via logic(il)logic Records, the release opens with the bruising encounter Death Becomes Us, a track which hits all the 205614_10151259604859250_893431619_nright spots without quite igniting any strong fire for its wares. It does and goes where you expect the song to venture but with a fiery attitude and sound which is wholly contagious and a spark for limbs and head to join its encounter. Maybe not a track to linger in the memory it is still a good bruising start to proceedings.

Things soon fire up from beneath the earth with the following Voodoo Holiday, the first single from the EP. Opening with a roll of heavy roll of beats and a compelling bassline the song is an instant irresistible tease with the coarse inciting vocals of Dr. Freak bringing the perfect growl to the sweltering seduction elsewhere. Into its stride the song wraps familiar yet refreshing melodic and anthemic flames around the ear alongside a sultry brass caress which just adds to the infection which has now a firm hold. It is a glorious brawl of rock n roll with marked invention and devilish imagination which leads one into a definite rapture for its easy to consume and be invigorated by aural virus.

Down At The Graveyard steps from the Alice Cooper crypt of sound with its own sonic interpretation and passion, another impressive track which declares punk and metal as two willing and compatible bedfellows. Like all the songs it uses existing tools to sculpt its own character and presence, its sonic scything and provocative melodic enterprise leaving an agitated and full pleasure within its victims. The same can also be said of the final track Ante Mortem Pictures, a song bulging with sturdy riffs, uncompromising rhythms, and once more an unrestrained revelry which is just addictive.

Gore-Geous Dead is a wonderful slab of aural debauchery, a release you just cannot stop from finding a passion for. Yes it and Superhorrorfuck are not bringing you anything particularly new but they are offering a blatantly thrilling and irresistible confrontation.

RingMaster 31/01/2013


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ToxicRose – Self Titled


The self-titled debut EP from Swedish rockers ToxicRose may not hold many surprises but it does offer plenty of bruising fun and sleaze soaked enterprise. Combining an energetic blend of hard rock and melodic metal the band unleashes a sound which parties with the essences of Crashdiet, Alice Cooper, W.A.S.P., and Motley Crue to the fore.

Formed in 2010, the Stockholm quartet of vocalist Andy and drummer Michael (both ex- Lipstixx ‘n’ Bulletz), guitarist Tom (ex-Gemini Five), and bassist Goran (ex-Sexydeath), took no time in combining their ‘veteran’ experience to create sounds drenched in eighties hard and glam rock, bringing it all up to date for a full and vibrant encounter.  They have garnered quite a buzz around their presence since which their first release can only enhance and drive forward. Admittedly their chosen genre is not one which excites our hearts here but it is hard not to find enough to be enthused about with the EP and find richly pleasurable.

Released via City Of Lights Records, the EP opens with the powerful and magnetic A Song For The Weak. Big thumping rhythms ToxicRose_cover_12and striking riffs  soon capture attention whilst the whispers of keys brings a warm and gentler caress from within the muscular engagement. The vocals of Andy are aggressive yet welcoming to match the array of guitar skill from Tom, his sinewy riffs and melodic invention impressive and engaging. The band look the part for a glam/hard rock band and as this song proves they sound the part too. There is nothing openly adventurous to discover but it is an infectious riot of accomplished invention and invigorating sound which can only be enjoyed and applauded.

From the strong start the following Set Me Free takes a similar path to its predecessor whilst matching in appeal and quality. The striding rhythms and towering riffs command the ear whilst the melodic wash of the keys and sonic teasing of the guitars leave their contagious mark on the senses. The bass of Goran is a pulsating shadow to the song bringing extra flavoursome to its compelling presence. Arguably the track is too much like the first to reach the same heights but still makes for a satisfying companion which gets the job done.

Follow Me offers a slight symphonic breeze from the keys, the track allowing them a more noticeable place in the energetic storm. It is a pleasing difference and adds something extra to a song which brings diversity to the previous tracks. Again the musicianship and songwriting is spot on ensuring another song of epic melodic stature and heated craft. Whilst not igniting the same depth of pleasure as the first pair its open originality to those same songs makes it probably the more rewarding on the record.

The release is completed by Black Bile and Fear Lingers On, two songs which are less accessible and immediate but with deeper depths and surprisingly more anthemic appeal. It is unclear who provides them but again the keys make a great feature on the pair whilst the heavy and intense rhythmic and melodic aspects of the songs share front spot throughout, the track switching focus between the two attacks seamlessly. The second of the two is the heaviest most formidable song on the EP and for that is our favourite especially with its scorched sonic flaring and ear chewing riffing and hungry energy.

As mentioned glam/hard rock is not the genre to bring great pleasure here but we would be lying if we declared that ToxicRose made the time with their release not enjoyable or unworthy. It may not ever be used in the same sentence as best or favourite by us but the EP will certainly find a happy acceptance whenever it finds itself before our more brutal personal tastes.

For fans of the bands mentioned and the likes of Hardcore Superstar, Crazy Lixx, and Faster Pussycat for sure.

RingMaster 11/01/2013

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