Hacktivist – Outside The Box

Photography and editing by Perry Westphal

Photography and editing by Perry Westphal

It has been a fair time in the coming but the highly anticipated debut Hacktivist album is finally about to be uncaged. It is a rage living up to the heights and promise of the UK band‘s previous self-titled EP whilst pushing further the band‘s imaginative distinct fusion of nu/alternative /progressive metal with extreme and electronic textures aligned to rap/hip hop fuelled incitement. In some ways it is not bold enough in its exploration and creative drama. Occasionally there is the feeling that the band missed opportunities to create a landmark proposition, but truthfully from start to finish Outside The Box leaves an already established appetite for their sound more than thickly satisfied.

Emerging in 2011, it is fair to say that the Milton Keynes quintet has been leaving deep marks on the British metal/rock landscape whether through their ravenous live presence or that aforementioned EP and surrounding singles. They have been devoured by fans and media alike even with a sound naturally which is going to make as many enemies as long term friends such its unconventional and unpredictable character. Festivals have equally have embraced the band, and Hacktivist them by lighting up the likes of Reading, Leeds, Sonisphere, Rock Am Ring, and Rock Im Park these past years. So as suggested, Outside The Box has bred plenty of intrigue and expectations in the wait for its eventful arrival, a pressure it more than deals with, if without quite realising its own potential at times.

The album opens with Our Time; a track featuring Marlon Hurley which lays out a dystopian atmosphere as an emotive climate springs from keys and spoken vocals before the muscular weight and intensity of the band bears down on the senses and imagination. It is a stalking rather than an assault but with djent spicing to its teeth, the track is a waking up of attention for the following tempest of Hate. An electronic coaxing entices ears initially, though its touch is as sinister as it is magnetic, especially once the subsequently duelling and colluding vocal rapacity of J Hurley and Ben Marvin steer the descending storm. Like a cantankerous cousin to The Kennedy Soundtrack, the track lures and berates the senses; eventually unleashing its full animus with intrusive grooves from Timfy James and predatory rhythms spawned in the creative venom of bassist Josh Gurner and drummer Rich Hawking.

art_RingMasterReviewThe track is a gripping affair followed by Deceive & Defy. It is the first in a trio of re-recorded older tracks amongst eight new provocations, and features Jamie Graham from Heart Of A Coward as guest vocalist. With ambience soaked smog around a rapped narrative, the song’s entrance is restrained yet dramatic, increasingly so as firmly swung beats and agitated riffs build towards an open almost carnal hostility of sound and tone. The track swiftly and increasingly pleases yet it is one which maybe holds back and never quite delivers the raw intensity and explosive adventure hinted at and expected.

It is something Taken certainly offers; its snaky steel lined tendrils of guitar and combative mix of melodic, raw, and spat vocals firing up the passions for antagonistic confrontation alone. The band builds on that with imaginative slips into harmonious vocals and warm melodies shared by James, moments which surprise and reveal the blossoming invention of the band’s songwriting. With Rou Reynolds from Enter Shikari guesting, the song leaves ears and thoughts eagerly involved as does the instrumental, The Storm. It is an evocative moment in time reflecting the physical and emotional aspect of its name, time giving the listener time to regroup before No Way Back launches its dissension. With a scent of Heart of a Coward and Monuments to it, the track badgers and tears into the senses with its jagged stabs of guitars and barbarous rhythms, soothing the wounds with the sighing caress of keys whilst a triple threat of vocals keeps ears consumed and eager to embrace the volatile textures being blended.

A re-working of False Idols comes next, the song moving from an opening romancing to a mountain of groaning rhythms and gnarly riffs bound in viperish grooves. The track certainly pleases without making a big stir in its opening moments but as each passing minute uncages more creative and intimidating adventure, the song blossoms to impress in a way fresh to its original version, even though the differences are not as dramatic as they might have been. The track is a standard bearer all the same but eclipsed by Rotten which sees Astroid Boys and Jot Maxi involved. Weaving essences reminding of Tech N9ne and Twizted into a progressively atmospheric climate, the track simply seduces the imagination as it provides a new strain of invention and diversity to the album.

Elevate has been re-tuned for its place within Outside The Box, given new sonic oil and vocal attitude as it builds build on its first outing in the band’s earlier EP. It is a dogfight for ears and a showdown for emotions as it attacks and stirs up a bedlam of carnivorous textures and electronic trespasses. Melodic and harmonic caresses add a great tempering but they never subdue the thrilling discord and friction of sound and voice.

Lyrically the band is as sharp and incisive as expected but at times they seem to carry a chip on their shoulder which does not lie quite as well as their more politically incited targets. It is something which can be said about the album’s title track where, even with the broadening investigation of its narrative, it captivates most potently in sound.

The album is brought to an exhilarating close by firstly the volcanic and bestial enterprise of Buszy, a deft entangling of contrasting textures in a maelstrom of ire and creative intensity, and lastly by The Storm II, a melodically elegant and sonically ravenous flight into uniting emotional resonance and turbulence. Both provide a climactic and impressing close to an album which itself is only striking.

Whether Outside The Box could have been even more impressive and impacting will surely be debated, our thought being that maybe it missed a trick or two knowing the invention and craft of the band. From start to finish though, it had ears and emotions enthralled and greedy for more; a success no one can turn their nose up at.

Outside The Box is released March 4th via UNFD / Rise Records through most online stores and @ http://www.hacktivist.uk.com/store/products/outside-the-box-cd-2/

http://www.hacktivist.uk.com   https://www.facebook.com/Hacktivistband

Pete RingMaster 03/03/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

Networks – Enough To Save Us EP

Networks_RingMaster Review

There is a bit of a buzz brewing up around UK metalcore band Networks and though we are not ready to yet add majorly enthused voices to the rising roar, intrigue and attention for the Portsmouth band has certainly been sparked thanks to their debut EP Enough To Save Us. It is a tempest of sound and ire fuelled emotion which sits easily within expectations of the genre inspiring it but dig deeper and there is an underbelly of invention and imagination which incites closer inspection and a want to know more.

Formed in 2014, Networks was soon stirring up ears and support across shows and a handful of festivals like Redfest, Edgefest and Messtival. From there opportunities to share stages with the likes of The Blackout, Slaves, and Astroid Boys have arisen, 2015 being a thick nudge of broader attention by the band. Seeing a couple of personnel changes early on this year, they set about writing new songs whilst playing with artists such as Palm Reader, Zoax, and When We Were Wolves and at the Crossroads Stage at Butserfest with HECK, Fathoms, and Shields. Now they attempt to whip up more of us with Enough To Save Us, a try easy to imagine leading the band to some potent success.

Networks ETSU EP Front Cover_RingMaster Review   Wires gets things off and running, its opening a worldly bred flavouring infused with samples and a brewing turbulence which soon drives the heart of the raw fury and enticing sonic tempting gripping the track. In no time the guitar of Joe Soar builds a web of engaging grooves and sonic enterprise, they a less hostile tempering to the heavy growling vocal antagonism of Sean Kelly and the hefty swipes of drummer Harry Fielder. The main body of the track is potent and persuasive if without springing any surprises but it is the twists of sound and imagination, at times only in slithers, which turn a good track into a keenly appetising one.

A melodic caress opens up the following End Of An Era, though soon jagged exploits from the guitar step forward in tandem with the dark menace of Josh Slade’s bass. Within a few more breaths, the track is stomping with energy and irritable emotion, though again things evolve as all the creative tendrils and facets of the excellent track collude and entwine. Once more it is fair to say that Networks are not breaking free from established metalcore scenery and hues, but with bright imagination and a good level of unpredictability, the track provides an increasingly enjoyable incitement.

The rugged and challenging Darker Truth steps up next, vocals a rasping provocation against barbarous rhythms. As the lure littered sonic weave spun by Soar breaches ears, the bass brings a great bestial voracity to the song’s tone, it all uniting in an appealing trespass on the senses with again surprises low but enjoyment thick.

The EP is completed by its title track, a proposal carrying a similar and satisfying template to its predecessor. There is an open degree of similarity across all songs in varying ways, the admittedly strong and pleasing vocals of Kelly one such area which might blossom further with a touch more diversity. More than most, the final provocation suggests this closeness but nevertheless it still enlivens the appetite whilst confirming the prowess and potency of Networks in songwriting through to sound.

Enough To Save Us suggests there is plenty of potential and quality which will see Networks emerge from the crowd in time and coax strong attention and support along the way. Fair to say that the band’s opening gambit is a strong and fiercely solid introduction providing ears with a potently enjoyable slab of confrontation, a sign of things to come we suspect.

The Enough To Save Us EP is available via on Viper Trail Records, digitally now from most online stores and as a physical copy from December 3rd when it will be launched at the EP’s release show at The Edge Of The Wedge in Portsmouth.

https://www.facebook.com/networksband        https://twitter.com/networksband

Pete RingMaster 30/11/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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

Virtue In Vain – For All You Know Is The Mask I Wore

Virtue In Vain Promos

Virtue In Vain Promos

Though it makes a strong impact first time around, it is with further intensive attention that For All You Know Is The Mask I Wore from Welsh progressive metalcore band Virtue In Vain wins out and defuses any initial doubts or uncertainties. To be fair there is little about the band’s debut EP which raises any major disagreements between ears and proposition from the start, but being as brutal as it is creatively uncompromising, there is plenty to try and take in which needs time to explore and appreciate. The potential of the band within the release is especially exciting, and fills any moments which do not quite work as well as other elements, with assumptions of greater things to come.

Hailing from Cardiff, Virtue In Vain began in 2012 sparking and spicing their sound with inspirations from the likes of The Devil Wears Prada, Napoleon, Whitechapel, and August Burns Red. Their impact and sound has led the quartet to be regarded as one of the strongest upcoming bands in the UK metal scene, backed impressively by shows alongside bands such as Napoleon, Demoraliser, Dead Harts, Astroid Boys, Ready Set Fall, Lock & Key, Fathoms and many more. Now they are poised to explode upon the nation attention with For All You Know Is The Mask I Wore, a release with more than enough to leave a hungry appetite in its ferocious wake.

virtue in vain     The EP opens with Prologue, a decent enough short instrumental soaked in drama and portentous ambience. Its dark tones do have the imagination supposing something predatory and intensive coming to examine ears, and so it proves to be once Martyrs emerges. A heavy snarling riff is first point of provocation, backed swiftly by uncompromising rhythms and a winy sonic lure of guitar. It is a gripping entrance, enticing bait which subsequently gathers its opening elements together to forge a more direct and slimmer raw incitement growled over by vocalist Hywel Thomas. Venom and antagonism spill from his gutturally bred syllables whilst the guitar of Emyr Thomas dances over the hellacious attack with sonic endeavour. Additional squalls of vocals add good variety whilst the guitars scythe through their attack and the corrosive potency of rhythms with addictive and acidic enterprise. The vicious swings of drummer Luke Sullivan bruise and tenderise the senses whilst the bass of Ryan Jones is a perpetual stalking of song and listener. Continuing to twist and show plenty of imagination in its varying gait, sonic trespass, and creative hostility, the track is an impressive full start to the release.

In Faith, In Ruin leaps in next and immediately has a great almost swinish texture to the vocals to shuffle things up there, whilst riffs and grooves again snarl with almost toxic intent. The more formula tones of Hywel Thomas provide the rawest challenge but variation again ensures that their alluring violation matches the persistently shifting landscape of the song. The intensive and busy nature of the track, as across the EP, means the technical and deeper layers within the encounter are often smothered but given time reveal the strong depths to songs, as shown again with the erosive persuasion of Left Behind. Its more restrained opening subsequently kicks up a gear though still reining in the violence and unleashing an addiction forging groove which lures the listener swiftly into the sonically cancerous and turbulent heart of the song. Aspects like that simply bewitch as does an unexpected and calm passage of melodic beauty which leads to a tempestuous climate, though the more expected sonic raging in the song does feed expectations and enjoyment equally. The potential even in the less striking elements though is inescapable and only adds to the anticipation for what comes next.

My Heart Is Bruised But Never Broken is another which takes longer to reveal all of its persuasion. Its technical and imaginative layers within the less attention sparking storm raging around them, are again the song’s major potency but once more needing time for ears to explore and revel in. It is nevertheless an intrigue and satisfaction igniting offering revealing more of the inventive songwriting within the band and their ability to skilfully create ruinous and inhospitable landscapes or scenery of pure melodic beauty as evidenced by the brief instrumental Relapse which follows. Like the oasis within the savaging of Left Behind, the piece is enthralling, spreading its elegance and charm into the EP’s title track which evolves out of its embrace.

The closing track is soon slipping into the darkest, ravenous depths of despair and sonic confrontation with a rhythmic battering to match, but still blending in the transfixing invention of its predecessor. The song slips from fury and violence to gentle seducing impressively and seamlessly, another aspect to the band’s creativity which it is easy to expect greater exploits from.

For All You Know Is The Mask I Wore is a strong and impressive introduction to Virtue In Vain, not one which declares the band as the future of British extreme metal but certainly with the potential to suggest they could make that kind of impact as they grow and evolve.

The For All You Know Is The Mask I Wore EP is available from May 11th through all digital platforms and at http://virtueinvain.bigcartel.com/

https://www.facebook.com/VirtueInVain https://twitter.com/VirtueInVain

RingMaster 11/05/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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