Battlesword – Banners Of Destruction

As the band look forward to a potent 2018, appearances at the MetalDays Open Air Festival and Metal Inferno in Paderborn as support for Grave and Holy Moses already confirmed and in the midst of writing a new album, we look back at second full-length, Banners Of Destruction from German outfit Battlesword. Having missed it upon its release a fair while back and urged by the keen encouragement of our friend Markus Eck at Metal Message, we thought checking out what the fuss was about would be a smart move. This it proved to be, the release an imaginative and intense tempest of melodic death metal making a long overdue introduction for us to the Lower Rhine hailing quintet.

Formed in 1999, Battlesword has earned a rich reputation for their live presence and sound within the German metal scene, their 2003 debut album Failing in Triumph making a powerful statement in presence and sound. The years have seen the outfit earn plaudits sharing stages with the likes of Moonsorrow, Thyrfing, Suidakra, Warpath, Debauchery and many more alongside playing events like the Indoor Festival Battle of Otzenhausen and Slovenian festival MetalDays Open Air. It is also fair to say that Battlesword is a band which gives the time and effort needed to each step they make, a trait easily heard in their second album with its skilfully nurtured dynamics and enterprising textures. It is a sound which maybe evades true uniqueness, Amon Amarth easily coming to mind at times, but has its own character amidst enterprising adventure.

Banners Of Destruction is an album which simply grows in impressiveness and dexterity over time, each listen revealing fresh layers and dynamics maybe veiled upon initial visits. The same can be said for our ears about the tones of vocalist Axel Müller, his ursine delivery raw and centred on one attack to unsettle and scar ears yet with each listen his presence persuades that the album would not be as potent without his organic growl or indeed the specific craft of his companions.

The release opens with Spirit to the Flesh and an invasive yet enticing assault of heavy rhythms entangled in spidery tendrils of guitar. It is a strong invitation which soon breaks into an infectious saunter with a barbarous edge especially once Müller growls from its midst. The guitars of Christian Schmitz and Béla continue to encase the senses with predacious riffs and melodically lined grooves, the rolling beats of Andreas Klingen rousing and the grumble of Ben Bays’ bass taunting.

As the opener grabs attention, The Unnamed Magic similarly is a robust lure with its suggestive drama and portentous air around individual craft. It does not have the spark of its predecessor or seemingly the boldness but backs it up purposefully before the album’s title track winds rapacious grooves around the senses as rhythms pounce with matching character. The guitars continue to weave a melodic web as a great repetitious tinge lines their grooves, each adding to a suggestive tapestry of sound. Swiftly and firmly it eclipses the previous pair but itself is outshone by the prowling and imaginative presence of Grave New World. Müller’s almost corrosive style is a potent temper to the melodic spicing cast by the guitars, their union an effective conflict adding to the depth of song and sound.

The Silence of Victory continues the trend, one of the album’s very best moments an atmospheric instrumental which dances with the imagination as melodies seduce over a dark heartbeat while Tongues of Hatred brings carnivorous breath to the album’s experience with its intimidating air and touch. It is a trespass hungrily driven by the tenacious exploits of drums and bass but magnetically tempered by the spider’s web of animated melodies and venom lined but beckoning grooves. The track takes best song honours but soon equalled by successor Circle of Witches, a hip swinging, bone rattling stroll as flirtatious as it is predatory. Together they create the pinnacle of Banners of Destruction, a height prolonged if not quite to the same loftiness by the melodically mazy Bloodlust Symphony. It too is simultaneously a threat and enticement, Battlesword proving again they are adept at aligning contrasts.

Through the excellent Left for the Vultures where not for the first time on the album classic metal hues keenly lure ears and appetite and the tenaciously infectious and invasive There Will Be Blood, band and album hold attention with a firm hand, each of the two and especially the latter springing their own adventurous but enjoyably fierce and quarrelsome enterprise, aspects just as prevalent within the infernal temptation of Where Demons Awake, its charms woven by the ever alluring craft of the guitars.

Closed by the intensive examination sent across the senses by Enemy Divine and its hellish beauty, Banners of Destruction leaves pleasure rife. It maybe does not realise all of the bold adventure and individualism it persistently hints at but grabs the imagination from start to finish and nurtures a real anticipation for its successor.

http://www.battlesword.de/    https://www.facebook.com/Battleswordofficial

Pete RingMaster 09/01/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Shadowpath – Rumours of a Coming Dawn

Released earlier this year with a more recent and wider reboot, Rumours of a Coming Dawn is the debut album from Swizz metallers Shadowpath. It is also one of those encounters which certainly makes a strong impression first time around but grows in potency and pleasure as subsequent ventures into its depths reveals the true imagination and craft at its heart.

Originally called Wishpond, Shadowpath weave a multi-flavoured sound drawn from the attributes of power and symphonic to progressive and death metal, taking in inspirations ranging from Opeth, Dark Tranquillity, Everon, J.S. Bach, Katatonia, Lamb of God, Amon Amarth, Tesseract, Dream Theater, and Nightwish amongst many others. The band’s personnel  has changed a fair bit over time but by 2015, the line-up of vocalist Gisselle Rousseau, keyboardist/vocalist/songwriter Philipp Bohny, guitarist Stefano Riario, bassist Amos Zürcher, and drummer Samuel Baumann came together and proceeded to work on this first album across the following year.

Each of the eight tracks within Rumours of a Coming Dawn are individual slices of creative theatre in an overall play, many epic productions and all woven and cast upon the listener with an instinctive passion and imagination. Each also provides a web of layers and textures which unveils new twists and fresh aspects with every listen, a major reason why it grows in impressiveness over attentive time.

The opening introduction of Prelude to Agony is the most straight forward proposal of all within the album, its invitation an atmospheric overture to things to come. Its stormy entrance brings with it the elegant melancholy of the piano and as swiftly the vocal prowess of Rousseau. Her harmonic cries then spark the more portentous air of storm and track with rhythms imposing yet restrained and melodies funereal even in their liveliness as flames of guitar descend. It is an imagination stirring start soon spawning the tempestuous throes of Chaos Equation. Instantly guitars and keys collude in a magnetic tapestry, the grumble of the bass and senses clipping beats lining the heated union with darker almost predacious hues. Rousseau’s symphonic nurtured delivery is a glassy reflection of word and emotion and superbly contrasted by Bohny’s earthy growls; it all uniting for a captivating tempest as potent in its electronic invention as in its extreme metal bred trespass.

The following Seed of Hope makes a calmer entrance, Rousseau and piano aligning their melodic suggestiveness before a rise of dark drama erupts, settling down again to begin repeating the dramatic cycle. As its predecessor, the track has many familiar aspects to it and plenty of unique features which combine for a compelling and increasingly striking proposal. The individual craft of the band is inescapable; Bohny and Riario especially grabbing attention within the song though as it evolves everyone makes a rich impact.

Every track is an adventure never settling into one direction, perpetually unpredictable and as a result fascinating though none more so than the album’s best moment, The Impossible Chain. It easily outshines those around it, instantly stirring the passions with its outstanding start. The dark noir stroll of the bass within the dancing threat of drums is simply delicious, manna to personal tastes and things only escalate in pleasure as keys spread their suggestive wash and guitars spring their devilish almost salacious tempting. Once Bohny’s raw throated tones open with demonic intimidation, the track has an unshakeable grip. Then mellower twists and harmonic beauty comes with skittish rhythms, the climate change as beguiling as the aggressive trespasses are thrilling, as too is Rousseau varying her more expected symphonic metal delivery with more organic and grounded exploits, an excellent move hopefully she will explore further ahead as it equally stands out over the next pair of songs. A scenic break midway in the song is just a tempting breath before it returns to even more adventurous and surprising endeavours, setting a major pinnacle within the release by its conclusion.

Next up Another Inquisitor makes a thick attempt at rivalling its majesty, the song an intricately designed maze of electronic, melodic, and fierce metal dexterity with folk seeded progressiveness. Rousseau again pushes her range and adventure to fine effect whilst musically the song never gives a moment to settle in one flavour or style, again to rich success before Deny me opens like a relaxed bloom into a fiery display of sonic colour and creative magnetism. Though it does not quite match up to the previous two, the song simply enthrals from start to finish.

The album concludes through firstly For a Final Ultimatum, a cauldron of contrasting often battling textures and inescapably infectious enterprise, and finally Beta, a mercurial serenade of self-reflection and melancholic fire which ebbs and flows in volatility as it charms ears and imagination. It is a thunderous finale to the album, even in its calm flights having an instinctive power which lends to its vice like hold on attention.

Shadowpath create music which manages to be chilling and haunting as simultaneously it is warm and inviting, threatening and ravaging. The evidence is all there within Rumours of a Coming Dawn, a release which may not be perfect but has all the seeds to evoke real enjoyment and the anticipation of major things ahead.

Rumours of a Coming Dawn is available now through the band’s Facebook page and website.

http://www.shadowpath.ch    https://www.facebook.com/shadowpath.band    https://twitter.com/shadowpath_band    http://www.instagram.com/shadowpath_band

Pete RingMaster 01/12/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Nemaind – Eclipsi EP

cover_RingMaster Review

There is not a great deal we can tell you about Spanish melodic death metallers Nemaind though the most important bit of information you need anyway is that their debut EP, Eclipsi, is one heavily flavoursome and magnetically alluring incitement. Its three tracks do not break down boundaries or re-invent existing landscapes within the death metal scene, but it undoubtedly provides one potential fuelled, richly enjoyable sonic tempest to eagerly immerse within.

Formed early 2014, Nemaind hails from Barcelona inspired by bands such as Moonspell, Opeth, Death, Gojira, Insomnium, Caladan Brood, Sylosis, Emperor, and Amon Amarth. Created by vocalist/bassist Ferran C, previously of thrashers Rotten, the band’s line-up was soon enriched by guitarists David C and Gerard B, subsequently followed by drummer Martí F. Recorded in February this year, Eclipsi gives the first introduction to a broader expanse of ears of Nemaind, in turn offering a strong persuasion of their craft and potential.

Eclipsi opens with its title track and instantly has attention and appetite wide awake with a swarm of waspish riffery and fierce rhythmic intimidation. It is a masterfully magnetic start which continues to tempt and work on the psyche as the track breaks into and begins exploring a malevolent landscape of portentous grooves and sonic rapacity. The vocals are varied causticity, their diversity never merging major differences between tones and delivery but enough to ensure more fresh textures in the tempest of sound and the increasing adventure emerging within the outstanding and increasingly impressive encounter. The guitars especially spin an evolving web of intrigue and imagination within the volatile atmosphere and confrontation of the song, adding captivating hues and ideation in the face of barbarous intent.

The following Pareidoniria is similarly sculpted within its own individual character and ravenous air, addiction loaded riffs stalking with unrelenting persistence alongside rapier beats and a throaty bass groove. Musically the track conjures a soundscape Gojira like in rousing dexterity and technical imagination, Insomnium seeded in hostile and ravishing emotional trespassing whilst its melodic ferocity is Corbeaux like. It does not quite match up to its predecessor’s heights yet only leaves a want for more and helps build the intent to keep the band on the personal radar.

The EP is brought to an end with Les últimes llums de tardor, another predatory protagonist this time emerging from a primal sonic mist bristling with thickly flavoursome flavours and ear pleasing enterprise. Initially there is an almost eighties like gothic spicing colluding with broadening winds of sonic and extreme metal drama rippling with creative expression and highly provocative aural colour. It is the least physically corrosive of the three songs, though still showing no emotional mercy, weaving a fascinating design of warm and barren scenery which is always emotively lively and boldly adventurous as it scars the senses.

As the final song’s cold climate dissipates, Nemaind leaves only richly positive thoughts and full pleasure behind. As suggested, it is not the most original release yet every listen brings something fresh and individual against other encounters you may come across with a similar canvas of sound. We suggest taking note of the name and enjoying their debut with the promise of increasingly impressive explorations with the band another lingering aftermath.

The Eclipsi EP is available digitally now on Nemaind’s bandcamp profile.

Pete RingMaster 31/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

For more exploration of the independent check out http://www.zykotika.com/

Arbitrator – Indoctrination of Sacrilege

ARB_COVER

If you speak to the right people there are always good, often great things said about any new and emerging band. The confirmation is always only in the music of course and just as often as words are proven, anticipation is left in unintended deceit. Arbitrator since the release of The Consummate Ascendancy EP in 2011 has been a band often talked up and recommended from certainly Canadian and North American sources. Their debut album Indoctrination of Sacrilege is our introduction to the quartet and all promise and suggestions of their growing might have been convincingly proven.

Indoctrination of Sacrilege is a beast of a release, an intensively atmospherically soaked death metal bred proposition which from making an impressive first impression grows into one striking and fascinating theatre of imagination. Fusing in textures and essences from electro and industrial climates to progressive and ambient flavouring, the six track release engulfs and stirs ears and thoughts with skilled and increasingly rewarding adventure. The band itself is the brainchild of Robert Kuklaand, its emergence starting in 2010 and announced by the release of The Consummate Ascendancy the following year. It was an acclaimed proposal from the band but just a tester in many ways for the exploratory might of Indoctrination of Sacrilege. With a line-up of Myles Malloy (lead guitar), Connor ORT Linning (programming), and Soilwork drummer Dirk Verbeuren (ex-Devin Townsend Project, ex-Aborted) alongside Kuklaand (rhythm guitar, bass, vocals), Arbitrator put themselves forward now as one of the more intriguing and exciting progressive death metal prospects. They also still feel like they are still only just scratching the first few layers of their potential despite the weight and success of their album, a potential and prospect of even greater things ahead quite exciting.

The Sacha Laskow (ex-Divinity, Every Hour Kills) produced and Jens Bogren (Opeth, Katatonia, Amon Amarth, Arch Enemy) mastered album, swiftly has the imagination engaged as the entrance of opener They Will Worship This Fire of Agony comes through scenery of portentous bells and death feasting flies as church seeded chants seemingly offering final guidance as a dark pestilential cloud looms nearer and nearer. That sonic threat is realised a muscular wall of riffs and punchy rhythms veined by enchanting keys. It is an immediately incendiary and compelling persuasion enhanced by the guttural growls of Kuklaand and spicy persistent grooves. Samples are soon briefly mingling with the cavernous presence and intimidation of the song too but it is the infectious hooks and melodic winery which most captivates against the evolving and enlarging drama of the keys. It is an imposing and enthralling encounter, and as the album subsequently shows itself to be, a pleasingly unpredictable one.

The potent start to the album is solidly continued by Stillborn Bastard of The Nazarene, it straight away binding the appetite with intensive riffs and rhythmic swings whilst thoughts are provoked by its atmospheric colouring. Kuklaand again impresses as he binds words and syllables with a gripping impassioned tenacity which provides additional potent focal points amidst many on release and track. Samples and keys again paint additional inciting scenes in the ferocious and threatening landscape of the song, though it is the superb melodic enterprise of Malloy which steals more of the glory.

Through each song the album just gets better and creatively bigger, the next up For That Which May Appease Lions unleashing black hearted rock ‘n’ roll in a hellacious offering of grooved and addictive contagion aligned to corrosive and oppressive malevolence. The track transfixes from its first moments, the predatory nature and sound of the bass a delicious stalking within the maelstrom of rancor whilst clean vocals add a different shade of temptation to the voracious soundscape. Keys and guitar endeavour similarly vein the tempest with their own unique and engrossing narratives, everything seamlessly flowing and combining together to enslave ears and imagination. Unpredictability is rife across the track, and reveals more twists and subtle ideation with every listen, an exciting trait just as potent in Serpent of The Styx. The song’s electronic opening is a melodic drift of keys and radiant melodies yet it all comes with a solemn and melancholic charm courted by a slowly brewing dark side. An eruption of that heavy menace is eventually unleashed yet the song still continues to radiate melodic expression within a web of carnivorous grooves and enjoyably volatile rhythms. There is also a cinematic ambience to the track, its ‘warmer’ and calmer moments apocalyptic in suggestion as the track’s muscular and rabid side trespasses and challenges the senses. As its predecessor, the track is a mouth-watering incitement which just gets more addictive and anthemic with every passing minute, hook, and barbarous swing from Verbeuren.

       Profaned and Perfected whilst not quite matching the heights of the previous two tracks, has its own persuasive agenda of spiny grooves and spiky beats to contemplate, and an anthemic swing to drool profusely over. It is an out and out death metal ravishment but also one unafraid to explore warmer climes through the often spellbinding invention of the industrial spiced keys and climactic guitar. The song is still a bruising and commanding predator keeping body and emotions invigorated and fearful before the ‘epilogue’ like instrumental adventure of The Burning Sands of His Kingdom brings the album to a fine close. The electronically driven piece draws a cold and stark wasteland yet equally suggests hope with its melodically epic and intimately expressive tones within rugged scenery.

Over a handful of listens in and there is still more revelations coming forward within songs as Indoctrination of Sacrilege continues to reward, that in itself a strong reason with the diversity of sound and invention to check the album out. Wrapped in the excellent artwork of Colin Marks (Exodus, Scar Symmetry, Jeff Loomis), the release has been suggested for fans of Bloodbath, Dismember, and The Project Hate but also it is easy to suggest that those with a taste for bands such as Opeth, Mercyful Fate, and Escapethecult could do far worse than taking a plunge into Arbitrator and their first album.

Indoctrination of Sacrilege is available from February 13th @ http://arbitratorofficial.bandcamp.com/album/indoctrination-of-sacrilege

https://www.facebook.com/Arbitratorband

RingMaster 12/02/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from http://www.thereputationlabel.today

 

Iron riffs and heavy passions: Introducing Wölfrider Interview

Wölfrider

Hailing from Wrocław, Polish heavy metal band Wölfrider drew outside attention to match that at home with the release earlier this year of their self-titled debut EP via Goetic Records. Packed with four tracks which charge ears with tsunami like strength and sonic voracity, the release was a sign post to the broader emergence of the band. Grabbing the chance to find out more about the band we had the pleasure to chat with vocalist Rafał ‘Rambo’ Gębicki and drummer Bartek Dolewski.

Hi guys and thank you for talking with us.

Can you tell us about the beginnings of the band?

Rambo: The core of the band came out from previous project called Clairvoyant. Guys wanted to play something new under new name. This was the beginning of 2012 when I joined them. After a month of rehearsals we played the first show. A few months later with ready material we entered the studio to record our Wölfrider EP. Everything has happened in leaps and bounds.

You sculpt your songs with an energy and passion which recalls traditional heavy metal at its purest. What are the major inspirations to band and its members?

Rambo: Most of our influences come from Western Europe, Heavy Metal Gods like Running Wild, Grave Digger, Accept, Judas Priest, but you can hear also some of the ‘epic’ ones – Bathory, Manilla Road. Each of us draws from other sources, for example, it may be Iron Maiden, Exodus, Iced Earth and even Death.

What are the backgrounds and experiences Wölfrider members brings to the band?

Bartek: We’ve got quite big experience during our activity as Clairvoyant…lots of gigs, developing songwriting, improving process of managing a band, and so on. As we progress we started the new band with a blank card so to speak yet locked and loaded. Rambo comes from Deversor and he had lots of work to do, because his singing style and technique had to be changed to the new material. Since only vocalist changed we all knew each other very well and there were no surprises – just going further in music.

There is a great metal scene in Poland it seems from the outside but hard to find that wider recognition for bands there. How have you found it?

Bartek: Well you have to remember that most of metal musicians in Poland have normal regular jobs and it’s hard to focus on your job, paying attention to your musicianship, and any promotional actions at once. So you have to have really organised way of doing your things. The second important factor is of course money. And currency exchange. If someone wants to be recognised outside his/hers country most probably has to pay for publishers – in Euro, USD or GBP. That could be very expensive due to rate of exchange and that money could be spent on something else for band, like a good audio equipment to practice better etc.

Tell us about your debut EP which recently came out via Goetic Records.Wölfrider2

Rambo: Okay, so long story short. We recorded, mixed and mastered our EP in DIY style. Later on some kind of distribution was needed and we mailed to couple of indie record labels (major ones didn’t give a fuck about us). Goetic Records from Canada owned and ruled with pride by awesome guy – Kosta Bayss – he helped us with promotion and digital distribution. I guess we are the only one non-black metal band over there but it’s not a big deal for us – it’s more like an underground family. Back in the day – yeah, a couple of months ago, fucking ancient times – Goetic Records had nothing to do with releasing physical CDs due to some limitations. Now Kosta can sell his bands like a boss over the Internet on classic CD packs, you have to check it out.

Though all track stand out Hearts of Iron steals its extra share of the glory for us. Give us some background to the song.

Rambo: Our music mastermind – Kamil – is a huge fan of strategy PC games so guess where the name comes from. You can Google it. This one particular song was written by him, we just got music sheet, changed almost nothing at all – somehow it started to have its drive and vibe. Most of our stuff is done after many trials and errors on rehearsal room. Not this one. Maybe we shoot jackpot with Hearts of Iron.

Does the EP sum up your sound or are there already new surprises waiting to be unleashed in your next release?

Rambo: EP is just an introduction to Wölfrider’s realm. In the next album we’ll include a couple of licks for fans, not exactly new material – you can hear it already at gigs. First of all – we got our sound tuned way lower than typical Heavy Metal band…mostly due to Deceiver Of The Gods by Amon Amarth. So that’s quite unique for our type of music – tuning in B-Standard is common among extreme metal bands. On the other hand my singing style has changed – it’s much more modulated. Some ideas have to be re-visited and full album release needs more brainstorming but don’t worry, it’s gonna be shitting thunders and blasting metal – pure heavy as Polish vodka. You know, we are trying to be as honest in our music as possible. We have nothing to lose anyway.

What is the live scene like for you and metal in general in Poland?

Bartek: I think it’s about the other countries. There are really few people from seriously pro bands signed to major record labels that are making living from the metal music. Average, casual guys like us have to be as much accountants as musicians to make everything works. About metal scene in Poland? I may be wrong and controversial but I think that extreme metal bands and thrash metal guys have way more attention. Lots of independent indie record labels are interested in death/black metal bands and looks like there are more shows for that kind of metal. And thrash metal has its own renaissance – but it’s just mine opinion based on my observations. Hopefully most of metal heads aren’t strictly bounded to one kind of metal and you can see Cannibal Corpse fans at some classic heavy metal gig.

There is roar and power to the EP which suggests the songs live are real wall shakers. On stage is where the real magic happens for the band?

Wölfrider3Bartek: First of all thank you for really cool opinion about our music. It’s always pleasure to have that kind of description about the EP, this is what we intended you and other fans to feel.

We try to do our best on stage and work on our presence as much as on technical and musician skills. We play for quite a time and definitely can hear and feel band mates playing, correct something messed up – you know – and just have great time showing people that we love to play metal and have fun on stage. We work really hard to not just be another boring band with bunch of dudes that’s stay the entire show in one spot and not even look at the audience. Metal used to be – and still is – about aggression and playing loud. Most of all about raw energy, this is the root, the foundation of rock ’n’ roll music. If there is no Ultimate Power Armageddon on stage (in positive way) then you’re doing it wrong, son.

What is coming up for Wölfrider in 2015 and from you for fans?

Rambo: We plan to play as many shows as possible. Your band cannot be real and serious without gigging for real fans – world is not limited to Internet. We have booked a couple of events related to “tribute to Bathory” since we are huge Quorthon fans. More details should be soon. That’s about performing live. We would love to present just a little sneak-peak of our upcoming full album by releasing a single – maybe along with video clip. That would be a real killin’ teaser that will show just a little the way that we’re heading with our music.

Once again thanks for the interview, anything you would like to add?

Bartek: Yeah, whoring for views, subscriptions and likes on social media websites. Check us out on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wolfrider.band

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/wolfriderofficial

Bandcamp: https://wolfriderband.bandcamp.com/

Goetic Records: http://www.goeticrecords.com/

I want to add that we know that there are bunch of our fans outside Poland, even outside Europe. For those people and many others we have an idea to live stream our gigs on YouTube or other platform – so please, wait for news!

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 15/12/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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Laika – Somnia

Laika Press Photo

Though it ebbs and flows in the strength of its persuasion at times, there is no escaping that Somnia, the new album from Canadian melodic death metallers Laika is one compelling and thrilling encounter. It may not seemingly be bursting with open originality, the old school breeding of their style driving the creative tempests making up the album, but there is a specific drama and adventurous enterprise belonging to the band flowing through each fresh and seriously captivating persuasion that begs different. It is occasionally not as startling in places as it is elsewhere and maybe should be overall, but Somnia is certainly an impressive and lingering encounter ensuring that the name Laika will not just known for being that of the name of the Russian dog who became one of the first animals to travel to space.

Formed in 2009 with the name inspired by that hound, the then sextet soon drew strong local underground attention with the release of their full-length demo Crafting The Cataclysm the following year, and a live presence which has seen them play with the likes of All Shall Perish, Kataklysm, Necronomicon, Skeletonwitch, Abysmal Dawn, Septic Flesh, and Unleash the Archers over the past few years. The release of the Somnia EP in 2011 was subsequently followed by the band taking two years out to create and work on their debut album. Produced by the Winnipeg quintet, mixed and mastered by Ryan Forsyth, Somnia provides a striking and imaginative new assault for the band, one seeking and easy to see finding a more intensively crowing spotlight.

The release opens with Restless Mind, a brief instrumental which initially strokes the imagination with evocative piano drama against a ticking clock before expanding with a wash of similarly coloured keys and elegant harmonies. It is a laika 1-front cover- smallgentle and intriguing, if not startling, start which leads into the instantly imposing Escalation of Terror. It is a gripping entrance with riffs and rhythms offering hungry energy and intent straight away. Ears and appetite are ignited further as the bait intensifies with a muscular torrent of feverish grooves and vocal causticity crossing the intensive presence of the song. The keys of Steve Tedham bring rich and expressive hues to the great tempestuous intent of the track, their warm beauty a transfixing contrast to the raw scowls of vocalist Jordan Dorge and rhythmic provocation set by drummer Blair Garraway. It is a riveting blend which only grabs greater potency and suasion as ridiculously flavoursome and contagious grooves cast by guitarist Ian Garraway are matched by those throatily laid by the bass of Mike Mason.

It is a sensational incitement to body and emotions, a creative roller coaster which never dips below the exceptional on its way to setting up a hungry anticipation for the rest of the album. The title track is the first to feed that greed, its first touch rugged in riffs and beats but seductive in keys sculpted melodies. That evolves into a more expansive and less hostile landscape, though there is still a busy imposing air to the encounter. Guitars proceed to cast a sonic weave of enterprise and melodic tenacity across the still sinew driven terrain whilst the bass at times almost ventures into a post punk repetition and invention which, along with spicy grooves and vocal savagery, brings fresh character and intrigue to the enthralling track.

Both Fidelity and Caligae A Galea keep the creative and satisfaction levels high, the first stalking ears with a predatory attitude and gait but one fired in sonic invention and seductively inhospitable toxicity. As its predecessor, the track ripples with eclectic textures and imagination soaked ideation, defying expectations and binding eager attention from start to finish. It’s almost exhausting revelry and bold tapestry of sound is swiftly matched by the second of the pair. Opening on a heroic groove, its lure potent caped crusader like coaxing, the song growls and prowls with infectious charm and intimidation. There is a menace to it which Tedham’s craft can only wrap not defuse and Dorge’s grizzled tones easily accentuate. The song is soon providing an addictive canvas of sound which maybe is death metal based but just as pungently entwines a mass of flavoursome tendrils from the likes of noise and psyche rock to post punk and progressive metal. It is a stunning protagonist for ears and incessant lust for the passions.

The album’s pinnacle is followed by the enchanting instrumental Dream of Nothing, a magnetic and reflective slice of melodic beauty. Dark bass emotions lie easily with the sultry charm of keys whilst rhythmically the song walks with a firm and steady but restrained hand. There are also raw guitar crafted flames which intensify the expressive atmosphere and climate of the song, everything uniting for an immersive emprise of sound and imagination. The track also brings respite for the senses though they are soon under demanding pressure as the punk fired assault of The Immortal takes over. For all its ferocity and abrasing presence, it is another song unafraid to spring a web of melodic and expressive beauty in its successful trapping of ears and attention, and though in many ways it takes longer to persuade than elsewhere, it emerges as a simultaneously bitter and warm buffeting to devour with greed.

The final two tracks upon Somnia might not quite match up to their earlier companions, but each leaves no second or note unattended by the listener’s fullest attention. First up Predictions (Tide Bearer) rages and bristles with a merciless graze of sonic bad blood and vocal malevolence, a hostility which wears down the senses with its bruising but still flirts with the occasional melodic seducing. The tracks unrelenting pressure is followed by the exceptional majesty of final track Invaders, a song which sums up the album with its eclectic stock of sounds and spellbinding ideas within a virulent and concussive antipathy. The song is another intoxicating proposition leaving the listener basking in unique temptation and ready to share the glory of album and band.

Somnia just gets stronger and more impressive over time, shown by the fact that listening to it again whilst writing this, there are more reasons to argue against the earlier thought that the album is not as startling throughout as in particular certain moments. That gap closes with each venture, proving this is an album wanting more time than most to really reveal all of its consistent thick rewards and that Laika is a band with the potential to sit beside the ranks of Insomnium, Dark Tranquillity, and Amon Amarth.

Somnia is available now via Filth Regime Records and @ http://laikawpg.bandcamp.com/album/somnia

https://www.facebook.com/LaikaOfficial

RingMaster 23/10/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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From a rock and a hard place: an interview with Monte Pittman

Pic Jack Lue

Pic Jack Lue

The year may be young but it has already seen one of the most thrilling and inventively riveting heavy rock/metal albums likely to bless the year released. The Power of Three from Monte Pittman is a towering feast of adventure and multi-flavoured sinew driven rock fused to heavyweight metal. Renowned and acclaimed for his work with Madonna and the likes of Adam Lambert, Melanie C, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, the Texan with the Metal Blade Records released album unleashes his always eager creative and passionate metallic tendencies. Given the pleasure and opportunity to find out more about the magnificent triumph, we talk with Monte Pittman and find out about his early days and inspirations as a budding musician, songwriting, Prong and much more…

Hello Monte and many thanks for taking time out to chat with us.

Before we get into the meat of your excellent new album The Power of Three, can we get some insight into the background of Monte Pittman before the musician and what was the first spark or moment when music drew you to its bosom?

I grew up in Longview, Texas. I’ve wanted to play music since I can remember. I was always fascinated by it. I was very lucky to be a little kid and have bands like Kiss to bands like Pantera as influences. I was one of those kids who would stand on the bed with the door closed pretending I was Ace Frehley to my sisters Kiss records. My cousin, Jimmy, had a few different bands in Dallas and I would see him rehearse as a kid. That’s what started it all.

What have been the major inspirations on you musically and especially in regard to your guitar craft?

That’s something that always changes. The first song I ever learned how to play on the guitar was “One” by Metallica. “…And Justice For All” had just come out. That was an exciting time to get your first guitar! My guitar influences now are Jeff Beck and Freddie King. I’m also heavily influenced by John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk, but they’re not guitar players. As far as bands, a lot of fellow Metal Blade bands…Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, and Amon Amarth…also Holy Grail. Great guitar players! Great songs! Great bands!

Aged 24 you moved from Longview to LA; why, was it purely for music reasons?

My cousin, Natalie, lived there and I went to go visit her. As soon as I got there, it felt like home. When I went back to Texas I immediately started making plans to move there as soon as I could knowing the longer I took, the better the chance of talking myself out of it. I moved to LA to work as a professional musician one way or another.

You were already in the relatively successful, certainly locally, band Myra Mains at the time, what were the opportunities you felt could be lying in wait in LA which encouraged you to leave band and family etc. behind?Monte Pittman 1

It was hard leaving but I knew I could always go back if it didn’t work out. I didn’t know what to expect.

Jumping forward a bit and you became guitarist for Madonna; we covered it in our review of your album but can you fill in further for the readers how this came about?

I worked at Guitar Center in Hollywood. I quit and started teaching guitar lessons. One of my first students was Guy Ritchie. He was dating Madonna. Then I started giving her guitar lessons. From there, she asked me to play guitar for her.

You obviously are a heavy weight rocker at heart and creatively so were there any doubts about linking up with the Queen of Pop or was it a no-brainer decision?

No because we already knew each other and she was cool. I love all kinds of music and in her shows we play several styles of music.

As well as all the positives  from working, playing, and writing with the lady has there been any, not exactly negatives but may be doubts from people towards your solo work  before actually hearing it because of that creative union, their expectations making assumptions about your sound maybe?

I’m sure there would be some people who would be on the fence with just that information but hopefully the music speaks for itself.

As we mentioned earlier you have just released The Power of Three, a contagious rock ‘n’ roll beast of a record, what were your feelings about it and its possible reception compared to your previous solo releases?

I wanted to make an ultimate metal album with all the things I loved. I reached a point with my song writing where everything came together…the old with the new. People like different things. Hopefully that leaves something for everybody down the line. The new material has had the best response for sure.

The album is a multi-flavoured and genre varied inventive temptation which draws plenty of essences from your eclectic work and numerous collaborations over the past years; do you feel that yourself and was it intentional or just an organic evolution?

Most of it was an organic evolution. Sometimes you have to just forget everything and start over

I read somewhere that the album was originally going to be a three part release with acoustic, blues, and metal tracks? If so what changed in your thinking taking it into being an all-out metal and muscular rock adventure?

Monte Pittman bandI had written acoustic songs. I had written heavy songs. I had written blues songs. I made an acoustic EP with Flemming Rasmussen. We made plans to record the heavy songs and the heavy songs kept coming. The flood gates were open. I played what we recorded for Brian Slagel and he signed me to Metal Blade.

You also linked up with Danish producer Flemming Rasmussen for the album, a repeat from your earlier acoustic EP as you just mentioned; how did you first meet and what sparked your creative union?

I met Flemming on a day off when I was on tour in Copenhagen. We stayed in contact and eventually made plans to work together. We did the acoustic EP on another day off when I was back in Copenhagen again.

What is it in particular about the man that helps him connect so potently with your ideas and music to help guide it to the right final place?

He knows when to push you. He knows when to be invisible. He puts you in the right frame of mind for what he’s trying to get out of you. He becomes that next band member that’s there recording you.

Is there a general process you go through when writing your songs and music?

I’ll come up with some guitar riffs and then a melody will stick in my head. Then I find words to fit the melody. I can change one word and it changes the meaning of the song so it’s like you are writing a story.

How would you say your music has evolved over the years and specifically between last album Pain, Love & Destiny and The Power of Three?

I looked at what I needed for my live show. I needed faster and harder songs. That was in the back of my mind for everything I was writing at the time. It all started out with me playing solo acoustic shows on my own and that’s grown to what it is now.

Is there a particular moment or essence within the album which gives you an extra tingle?

Somewhere around “Away From Here”, you can really hear us get comfortable. The album was recorded in the order you hear it. The first song was the first thing we recorded. We all recorded at the same time in the same room. You can feel the excitement throughout the album.

Are you an artist who goes into the studio with finished songs or prefers them to either be born in that situation or certainly evolve into the finished article there?

There should be a little of both. I made a general demo of the whole album but we left room to do whatever we felt like doing right there and then in the studio.

Listening to certain tracks on The Power of Three you get the feeling there is a more carnivorous and heavier sound waiting Monte Pittman 3patiently to break out. Do you feel that yourself and is it a future exploration maybe?

This definitely paves the way to get heavier.

Will this upcoming year be a concentrated time supporting the album live and writing or are there already collaborations and varied projects lined up too?

Getting the word out about this album will take up all my time. (hopefully!) We’re playing the Whisky-A-Go-Go in LA February 22 and we’re about to start adding more.

One of our all-time favourite bands here is Prong who you have played, toured, and written with extensively these past years. How did you link up with the guys and is this an on-going thing including their upcoming tour?

When I first moved to LA, Ivan DePrume introduced me and Tommy Victor. From then on, I would wind up going back and forth between Madonna and Prong. Prong has a killer line up right now and Tommy is working on a new album. They are one of my favorite bands too. I’m happy I got to work with them and I’m always there to help if needed.

A big thank you Monte for taking time out to talk with us, any last thoughts you would like to leave us with?

Thanks for talking with me! Great questions! We did a video for “Before The Mourning Son”. Check that out if you haven’t seen it yet. There are some videos of some of our NAMM performances on YouTube at MontePittmanMusic. Keep checking in at www.montepittman.com

Lastly what are the five most important albums in your inspiration over the years?

– “Master Of Puppets” – Metallica

– “Vulgar Display Of Power” – Pantera

– “Pet Sounds” – The Beach Boys

– “Pink Moon” – Nick Drake

– “Shout At The Devil” – Motley Crue

Read the Power Of Three review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/monte-pittman-the-power-of-three/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 05/02/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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