Crimson Blue : Innocence

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Russian metallers Crimson Blue are tagged as nu art metal, another arguably unnecessary musical label which has popped up in recent times as bands try to find a unique corner of their very own from where they can be noticed. It is not the most inspiring of terms to be honest but if you dismiss the band because of it then you would be making one mighty mistake as the Moscow quintet has released one of the best releases of the past twelve months. Fusing the most essential nu-metal grooves with the dazzling splendour of symphonic metal and the bewitching majesty of art rock, the band has created an album where imagination and inventive originality is a raging passion. It is a sensational release which at times is a familiar heart borne friend and in other moments sheer innovation igniting aural rapture whilst leaving a stirring sonic balm over the senses.

As well just having released their album Innocence the band has signed a management deal with GlobMetal Promotions and you can only feel things are primed to explode into world recognition for a band which has its seeds back in around 2007. Formed by vocalist and keyboard player Dominica “Dani” Hellstrom and guitarist Iggy Hans the band started out under the name Tragic Raven. The band merged the musical interest and passions of the members to forge a new and adventurous style with early songs holding a Tool like sound to their presences. The first couple of years saw instability with many line-up changes until the spring on 2009 where the found that constant to their core and re-emerged as Crimson Blue. As interest in the band grew across the internet and from their strong live performances, the band set about working on debut album Innocence. As a self-released CDR and download, the album came out in the closing eyes of December last year leading the band to even greater interest not only from fans but labels too. Summer of 2012 gave the album a proper CD release as recognition fired up further and with the new management deal in place the band are set to turn 2013 their own shade of hue.

Taking sounds and styles across the seventies through to the nineties with plenty of modern energies and thoughtfulness, the five piece of Dani Hellstrom, Iggy Hans, Stan Lee (guitar), Andrew Barique (drums), and Alex Verge (bass), the band since the recording going through another line-up change, s created a release which echoes the likes of Korn, Devin Townsend, Audioslave, and Nightwish with strong whispers of classic art rock bands. It is a stunning sound which plays in the heart so much more powerfully and enjoyably than it looks in print.

As soon as the cold kisses of Iceland crystalize on the ear soon speared by a dramatic piano, attention is focused in only one 1608197713-1direction and as soon as the melodic flames and immediately jaw dropping bass sound of Verge prowls within the brewing sonic weaves nothing comes between thoughts, emotion, and song. Settling into an emotive breath with the wonderful and potent vocals of Hellstrom covering the still formidable basslines and melodramatic keys, the track just mesmerises whilst caressing tenderly with symphonic beauty and warm melodic elegance. It is an exceptional entrance into what emerges as an unpredictable and eclectic release. The song at times makes muscular suggestions through rhythms and riffs to ensure an air of confrontation is never too far away setting one up perfectly for its successor, especially with its closing Halloween like tingle of keys and inciting acidic guitar rub.

L.M.A. is outstanding; a track which though challenged throughout holds ‘best of’ honours. Its initial scorched rock swagger is soon ripped up into a raptorial encounter of bruising riffs and a groove which gnaws at the senses like those classic ones Korn used to unleash. The vocal storm of expressive vocals and oppressive heavy chewing riffs and thumping rhythms plays like a mix of Animal Alpha and The Faceless for further irresistible flavour to the staggering recipe.

Tracks like the sinew twisting Flax and the masterful Nagual with its progressive enterprise wrapping around the persistently pulsating growl of the song transport one into further thrilling and unpredictable diverse fiery engagements. Each and every song can be acclaimed with those same qualities, the blend of melodic imagination and creative invention breath taking at times and always enthralling. Further pinnacles come with the sinister and hypnotic H.U. Lab, a track bringing the key essences of Meshuggah, Opeth, and Karnivool together for thoroughly compelling rewards, and the epic emotive force that is Haesitatio. Every song deserves a mention though, each rippling with immense craft, inventive songwriting, and pure skill from the surging and glorious vocals of Hellstrom and her senses wrapping keys, the continually adventurous guitars, and the guiding rhythms of drums and that permanently  delicious bass.

Innocence is aural excellence and Crimson Blue only deserving of the fullest acclaim. The recommendation that all should go and discover this triumphant release cannot be shouted loud enough.

https://www.facebook.com/crimsonblueband

RingMaster 17/12/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Duel – Soundtrack To The End Of The World (The Zak Splash Story)

Last year London punk band The Duel set the pulse rate racing with their impressive feast of nostalgic yet completely fresh sounds on the album All Aboard The Crazy Train. Now they return with an adventurous and intriguing release Soundtrack To The End Of The World (The Zak Splash Story), an album no less impressive or captivating. Admittedly it does not have the more instant engagement which marked the previous release, its songs like old friends with a modern outlook, but the new album is arguably a deeper and more expansive creature. It takes its time to seduce and charm the senses, its sounds at times surprising and ideas refreshingly inventive, but the end result is the same, the captivation of the heart with the fullest pleasure given along the way.

Since its beginning in 2001 when vocalist Tara Rez and keyboardist / bassist Andy Theirum linked up, The Duel has gone from strength to strength. From its debut gig supporting the Dead Kennedys, through the supporting of the likes of Buzzcocks, The Vibrators, Vice Squad, Peter Hook, UK Subs, The Slits, Sham 69, and Angelic Upstarts, festival appearances and across its albums Let’s Finish What We Started and Childish Behavior, 2007 and 2009 respectively,plus of course All Aboard The Crazy Train, the band has reaped and incited enthused acclaim and a growing loyal fan base. The new release arguably will have many stepping back a little as its sounds sink in fully but it is imaginable that many will not be fully enamoured by it.

The track simply called Intro immediately lights up the senses, a fiery instrumental with a sharp melodic enterprise and steely attitude which is a delicious treat for the ear. Sounding like a cross between the instrumentals Rondo (The Midgets Revenge) by The Dickies and the Buzzcocks track Late For The Train, the piece is an absorbing and infectious companion and sets one up eagerly for the following song Invincible.

With guitars flashing their sonic sparks and a heavy bass swaying in between, the song lifts off with the vocals of Rez, her tones as pleasing and compelling as ever. The production means the strokes of guitarist Thanos Oscar Pap dominate the sound of the track though not to any real detriment. The vocals and bass of Chris McDougall, as well as the keys of Thierum and drums of Pumpy, are meshed together to create a grazing intensity yet still hold their clarity. It takes a second play to understand how it works but it does, the slightly bruising energy of the song leading the ultimately electric charge.

Less Everyday is the first song to venture away from expectations in sound, whereas its predecessor was a punk cored gem this song has a more teasing new wave caress to its still bristling breath. There is a resonance which appears throughout the album to the vocal sound of Rez offering a warm and mesmeric flavouring. To be honest one did not expect to say this but there is a definite Altered Images feel to this song and other moments later on in the album. It is a great aspect to the sound though, the glowing pop charms aligning easily and skillfully with the bristling attitude driven heart of the band.

The magnetic Fake Like You has the same gait to its swagger whilst sitting between the two, You Can Do It is a rock n roll stroll which flares with tight melodies and belligerence. As these and subsequent songs light up the senses, and the slight surprise at the evolution of sound from the band ebbs away, the pleasure only goes deeper. Songs like the excellent Love Me Do, bringing a brew of Penetration and Animal Alpha to its midst, and the slightly abrasive and raw Splash On You featuring Max Splodge (Splodgenessabounds), ensure the treats keep coming, whilst the closing gem of When The Fire Goes Out is sonic radiance. It burns but soothes the wounds with crafted rays of melodic warmth musically and vocally. Infectious and vibrant with coaxing whispers upon the ear, the track is a delicious smile of post punk invention and pop punk grace.

Going back to the beginning of the album and it is not the track Intro; it opens with Zak Splash Story. A forty minute tale of the fictitious Zak Splash narrated by Max Splodge, the track merges all the songs on the album into the narrative proving the songs work as part of dare one say a ‘punk opera’ or individually, though one suspects the latter is how the majority of eager listens will be made.

Soundtrack To The End Of The World is a credible piece of imagination with its tracks nothing less than satisfying and enthralling. The Duel has been to the fore of UK punk for the past few years and shows no signs of leaving their position to anyone else as the album proves.

https://www.facebook.com/thedueluk

RingMaster 28/09/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Bambi Killers: The Invisible EP

Want to meet the best punk rock band in the UK? A big claim to be laid at the feet of a band for sure but using their debut EP The Invisible as evidence, that is what Welsh band The Bambi Killers is at this point in time. With the wicked wantonness of Karn8, the sexy attitude of The Objex, the mischief of Dirt Box Disco, and the snarl of The Duel and L7, the quartet from Swansea have it all to go down in punk history. Big swinging riffs, raw energy, and vocals to send tingles where tingles have no right to be, The Bambi Killers is a riot in every sense and pleasure.

The band consists of Cluffy on vocals and rhythm guitar, guitarist Pumba and bassist Muppet with both providing backing vocals, and Bom on drums. Together they are a vibrant and action packed unit which leave nothing in the locker in their songs and we are reliably informed neither in their riotous live shows. They have the heart and essence which made the likes of Vice Squad, X-Ray Spex, Ruts, and The Adicts so important back in the day but fire it up with rock n roll which is instinctive and driven by the energy of today. Combined it makes for, certainly in the case of The Invisible EP, sounds which ignite all the passions and feed all the insatiable needs of any rock heart.

The release opens with the song of the year, Don’t Be Invisible. A confrontational taunt to the apathy of gig attendees and the no risk lone easy life attitude of people as a whole, the song is simply glorious. The song immediately erupts in suggestive riffs and growling bass lines whilst Cluffy challenges with word and intent.  Persistent and combative without delving into violence the track is a prowling devil which leaves nothing in doubt and provokes a reaction in all. The voice of Cluffy is a sultry mix of Dominique Lenore Persi (Stolen Babies) and Agnete Kjølsrud (Animal Alpha, Djerv) and sits alongside Kirst of Karn8 as the sexiest voice in UK rock. The ironic thing about the track is that those it is poking a finger at will be caught up in and aiding its anthemic might, safely from their bedrooms no doubt.

The following Get Up Get Out Get Off slams into the ear with immediate energy and enthusiasm. A more directly driven track it is a storm of feisty riffs and jabbing rhythms speared by a catchy addictive chorus and scorched guitar strikes. Like many punk classics it is simple and to the point whilst igniting the deepest satisfaction. Less intricate and varied as its predecessor, the song shows that The Bambi Killers can deliver rock n roll in any form with accomplishment and passion.

The Weight Of The Morning swaggers up next with attitude to the fore and forceful sounds to back it up. Like Spinnerette meeting Bikini Kill, the song crawls all over the senses like a lustful teenager though with more restraint than they can ever find. With an almost hypnotic lure the track is a feast of thumping beats and ear stripping riffs but when it drifts into a slow seductive aside it triggers ferocious fires and it has to be said the soaring sounds of Cluffy at this point brings a sign not only to the lips.

Hmmm moving on….. the release is completed by the outstanding Lights Out to complete a four point slab of excellence. With the urgency and melodic flavouring of early Clash or Vibrators, the song is another sing-a-long treat of style and skilled energy, and like its partners in crime another which one cannot resist desecrating with their own voice.

The Invisible EP is stunning and its creators a band set to turn UK punk rock, if not further afield, on its head. Watch out world The Bambi Killers are coming to get you.

http://thebambikillers.com/

RingMaster 04/09/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Kontrust: Second Hand Wonderland

 

As much as music delights, surprises and fuels our lives it can frustrate just as it has with metalers Kontrust.  Frustrate in the fact they have somehow managed to evade our attention here until now. Deeply eclectic, wonderfully eccentric, and extremely brilliant, the Austrian sextet unveils their new album Second Hand Wonderland to set the predominately lacklustre world of rock music on a collision course with inspired ingenuity. The album is amazingly impressive, perfectly unpredictable, and most of all complete fun.

Kontrust are classed as a crossover band though that term can be applied to the majority of bands these days, the new breed openly taking influences and missing multiple genres in to their sounds. Kontrust just do it better and from the widest palette available to create sounds that light up every thought, sense and part of the body. They are an infection there is no cure for, a contagion that one only wants to be consumed by. So how can we describe them for others still not aware? For this album take a healthy chunk of Skindred/Dub War and boil it up with chunks of Djerv, spices of Rammstein, Mike Patton, and Guano Apes and then pipe some Yello, 12 Stone Toddler and Shaggy through it and you are on the right recipe at least.

Second Hand Wonderland is the follow up to the previous acclaimed 2009 album Time To Tango which gave the two singles The Smash Song and the Dutch chart hitting Bomba. In between that and this third release (their debut album Welcome Home coming in 2006) the band received an Amadeus Austrian Music Award in the Hard & Heavy category as well as playing numerous shows and events including the Przystanek Woodstock festival in front of a reported 300,000. Now with the new album one can only see and hope that they hit the largest and widest attention, music needs the likes of Kontrust, the world needs them.

From the moment the album opens and charms it flies like a wild exhilarating wind across the senses, the songs though not particularly brief simply breeze past with the most open of pleasure and fun. They say time flies when one is enjoying oneself and Second Hand Wonderland is the strongest proof. Led by the brilliant dual and contrasting vocals of Stefan and Agata who is Polish, the songs sizzle and stomp with each and every note. With music that rages and bruises through to hypnotising and serenading to sirenesque effect and brought by the rest of the band in guitarist Robert, bassist Gregor, drummer Roman, and percussionist Manuel, the album is a sonic festival that wraps its manic arms around the body whilst drizzling mouth watering invention and bedlam into every pore.

The first single from the album Sock ‘n’ Doll opens the unforgettable experience with initial vocal melodies from Agata before Stefan brings his best Benji Webbe impression.  Within a few eager breaths the track erupts with a deep predatory bass and crushing riffs led forth by thumping rhythms. From a Skindred/Djerv rampage the song suddenly steps aside into a beautiful melodic pop moment from the stunning voice of Agata backed with crystalline melodies. Glittering electro sounds then sweep over with an industrial nip to them and in a little over a minute we have been turned inside out magnificently. The song ripples and pulsates to its end continuing the interchanges and already the incisive hooks of the band are in and attached deeply especially from the explosive metal/ska lead into the climactic end.

Every song could be mentioned in immense detail but to save a review running into pages let us just say each and every song is as inspiring and majestic as they are wonderfully crafted and delivered. The likes of Falling with an metallic Animal Alpha like infusion, the De Staat toned electro pop addiction that is Monkey Boy, and the energised rap/melodic grooved U Say What simply leave one grinning from ear to ear whilst the magic engages fully. If you have not begun joining in by the fourth song a check of the pulse is needed.

The peaks of what is a constant elevated high include the songs The Butterfly Effect, Bad Betrayer, Raise Me Up…… ok basically everything. The Butterfly Effect is a definite highlight and a song that Bow Wow Wow might be making if the band was starting out now, its tribal instinctive rhythms and flow awash with warm and gracefully beckoning vocals from Agata. The wicked sinister stomp of Rasputin and the punk thrusting Adrenaline showing Agata can be as harsh vocally as stunning, not to forget the aggressive maelstrom of intensity Hey DJ! leave one just as desperate to dive back into their depths as those songs mentioned and those left for your investigation.

     Second Hand Wonderland released on Napalm Records (yes a surprise here too but they know great music) is easily one of if not the best album heard so far this year. It is magnificence at its most impressive and sets up Kontrust to be your new favourite band.

Ringmaster 10/04/2012

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Djerv – Self Titled

Distinctive, maniacal, and slightly disturbed in places that one never knew existed, the self tiled album from Norwegian band Djerv has filled the hole left by the demise of Animal Alpha in 2009. The dark vaudevillian touch that fuelled the fellow Norwegian band’s sound was left in the more than capable hands of the likes of Stolen Babies, The Shanklin Freak Show and Creature Feature , but still there was an empty corner of dark discontent from their absence. Djerv have filled that gap and how, though as the band is led by the same vocal powerhouse Agnete Kjølsrud it should be of no surprise, her visual and skilful vocal eccentricities and creations coming full force with a harder and more aggressive intent and sound from within her new home.

Kjølsrud has teamed up with drummer Erlend Gjerde (ex- Stonegard) and guitarist Stian Kårstad (ex- Trelldom), to bring a sound that employs the influences of the other two’s heavy metal and black metal past and abilities into the inspired variations and melodic probing hooks that made Kjølsrud’s previous band stand out so strongly. Djerv are direct and powerful, and with the unforgettable and always irresistible voice of Kjølsrud, is an extremely impressive original and diverse rock band.  

The album consists of nine compelling and varied pulsating tracks, from the simple but strong punk metal attack of the opener ‘Madman’ to the intense and shadowy tones of closer ‘Immortal’ the album ripples and bulges with big riffs, pounding rhythms, sonically teasing melodies and addict making hooks.  The album and band revel in finding new and inspired ways to satisfy and treat the senses and no track within the album does less than is musically possible.

There are so many moments that one wants to shout about but a few to point out are the prowling and growling beckoning riffs of ‘Headstone’ and the dark recesses of the mesmeric ‘Gruesome Twosome’, a song that like a sinister puppeteer has one dancing on its musical strings. Adding the wicked groove stomp of ‘Only I Exist’ and ‘Abmuse’ with its consuming black gothic heart the album is already an essential listen.

Though it can almost already be labelled as so it is the track ‘The Bowling Pin’ that tips the album over into a classic category, it’s incessant rapping on the senses with a superior air backed up by scorching riffs, throbbing rhythms and the never failing imperious vocals of Kjølsrud makes the song is a masterclass and masterpiece in making intense and addictive music instinctively and eagerly. To be fair though that applies to the whole album.

Djerv the band and the album is a glorious pleasure and deeply satisfying release. Intensely powerful and stunningly melodic, darkly tainted and caressingly loving, and strongly direct whilst insanely addictive the album has it all to make the world disappear as you fall into its hypnotic charms. This is an album that will satisfy and inspire in equal measure and appeal to audiences of any genre and as for Animal Alpha fans they will rejoice in another band with eccentric originality and forthright musical intent screaming out with unique smooth and stirring grace.

RingMaster 30/09/2011

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