Zebedy – Set The Pace

British alternative rockers Zebedy have been on a steady and upward climb since emerging in 2008, previous releases alone establishing the North Wales outfit as one of UK’s most promising propositions. Now they have new EP, Set The Pace doing the persuading; a release which sees the band pushing their sound and invention to new heights to make the biggest nudge on major spotlights yet.

From Conwy, Zebedy initially comprised of guitarist/vocalist Jonny Harding-Smith, bassist/vocalist Dave Harding-Smith, and drummer Tom Dyson and through their jams created progressively nurtured instrumental soundscapes. Subsequently adding vocals, the trio also expanded ranks with the addition of guitarist/vocalist Ben Chamberlain. 2011 saw the release of debut album Exist, its release supported by an extensive UK tour. Its well-received outing was followed by the This Is My City EP which only increased their reputation with second album Marionette subsequently making an even bigger impact. Embracing inspirations from the likes of Karnivool, Reuben, Fightstar, and Biffy Clyro for a multi-flavoured rock and metal bred sound as unpredictable as it is rousing, and coming off successful shows alongside the likes of Psychostick, Soil, Closure In Moscow, COMA, and Brutai, Zebedy look ready to take things to the next level with Set The Pace to the fore.

The EP opens up with its title track, distant vocals running to ears with emotive urgency before guitars spin their wiry web and rhythms rumble with boisterous imagination. Pretty quickly it is easy to see where those Reuben and Karnivool influences come in, though in many ways the song offers a lively enterprise more akin to At The Drive In meets The Martini Henry Rifles. The track continues to twist and turn keeping the listener hooked and guessing, every change an organic shift from what was before. Vocals singularly and together impress as potently as the sounds and craft building the EP’s striking start with the antics of the bass a particularly appetising essence to personal tastes.

The following Of Revelations has a more controlled and restrained body compared to the tempestuous character of its predecessor but equally its blend of metal toned grooves and heavy rock riffs build a highly tempting canvas for the track’s progressive and melodic enterprise to conjure greater adventure. It is a slice of muscular rock ‘n’ roll which also swings from one imaginative endeavour to another, never staying in one style of attack or flavouring for long but making each a memorable moment to greedily lock on to.

The brief instrumental of In is pretty much the lead into final track Bloom, its melodic suggestion a stirring appetiser for the compelling drama of its successor where a tempest of rhythms trespass as sonic espionage grabs and twists the imagination. Within that trap ears bask in a cauldron of technical dynamics and impassioned energy and fair to say, as with all tracks, the more time they spend with the proposal the greater richness of its layers and the fresh nuances they bring are discovered within another truly captivating experience.

For all their bold moves and rich textures, the songs are also virulently infectious, the band sealing a real catchiness to their enterprise which has the body bouncing as ears explore. The thoughts of others are that Zebedy is about to break into the biggest attention and we can only say that Set The Pace offers nothing to derail that suggestion.

Set The Pace is available from September 15th @ https://zebedy.bandcamp.com/album/set-the-pace


Pete RingMaster 15/09/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Cauls – Recherché

It has been five years since UK alternative/progressive rockers Cauls delighted and impressed with their EP simply called 2. It turns out it has been a time which almost saw the band call it a day just as it was beginning to make a major impact on the UK music scene. Thankfully they pulled out of the nose dive and after a line-up change found the energy and inspiration to go again. That thankfulness even more pronounced now with the release of their debut album Recherché.

An atmospheric, provocative, and continually rousing blend of alternative/progressive and post rock with earthier post hardcore intensity, the band’s sound and release has evolved into a fire of imagination and enterprise. You would expect and hope each release outshines the last and pushes things on again, something which does not always happen as we all know, but Cauls have taken a big leap in building on the success of that last EP. Recherché is a compelling web of sound and suggestion fuelled by melodic and harmonic elegance and driven by a climate of rousing and often aggressive atmospheric imagination.

From the short instrumental flight of opener De Novo Quincunx, the quintet of Michael Marwood, Chris McManus, Graham Morris, Douglas Redfern, and Kye Walker entice and involve ears and imagination with increasing creative drama. That first piece is a slow developing mist of sonic calm and darker intrigue, guitars gently entangling as darker hues occasionally moan; it all leading to the instantly kinetic presence of Peace Paean. Around the ever impressing vocals of Marwood, a relative calm while engaging guitar woven tendrils smoulders and builds into a more boisterous roar. Descriptive melodies continue to entice and flame in the rousing breakouts, adding to the bolder fire of the song and its captivating Mars Volta meets Muse like landscape.

The track is pure captivation, sparking a keen intrigue and appetite for what is to follow; that adventure soon in full flight through firstly Radio Johanne / Said Molineux. From its initial low key peace with an alluring tingle of melody, the track also simmers and grows in presence and intensity, building into an unpredictable web of sonic and melodic imagination punctured by the adventurous jabs of McManus’ beats. With at times a resemblance to the raw tenacity of At the Drive In, the song consumes ears with fiery charm and rousing energy before the first part of the three-track Wide Opus Abyss awakens in ears.

Amusia is a secret smog full of suggestive essences and evocative sounds as it blossoms into the corporeal body of Vapours. Rhythms quickly provide a bold spine for its harmonic and sonic flames to erupt and unite around the striking draw of Marwood’s voice and the combined prowess of Redfern and Walker alongside the poetic finesse of Morris’ guitar. It is a resourceful blaze which eventually becomes Tide and Bye, an even more agitated yet controlled melodic clamour sharing Radiohead/ Far like spices in its eventful recipe.

The technical sprightliness of COQ8 dances eagerly in ears before mellowing into a reflective serenade. It is a plaintive cry though carrying its own instinctive tempest, a highly strung excitement bringing fiery exchanges of textures and band around the thoughtful vocal led calms. Its second part, Retentive Anamnesis adds greater volatility to that scorching heart, providing a fibrous sonic weave to its wired atmosphere and pleasure for ears and thoughts.

Épée brings things to a close, strolling in with bass and guitars merging dark and surf rock like hues in its tranquil swing before things bubble and boil around ear captivating vocals. Jazzy and sultry yet melancholic, romancing and seducing with a boldness exploring a diversity of rigour, the track is just mesmeric and another fresh detour in the album’s diverse soundscape.

Cauls are back with a whole new heart to create and a sound which grabs that intent with adventure and beauty, Recherché offering surprises and provocative enticements at every turn. We can only sigh with relief that the band did not buckle to that feeling of bringing things to an end.

Recherché is out now @ https://cauls.bandcamp.com/


Pete RingMaster 09/05/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Brightlight City – Our Future’s Not Dead

Having impressed with debut EP, Adventures in 2015, British rockers Brightlight City now reveal the blossoming invention and increasing maturity in their sound with successor Our Future’s Not Dead. Hinted at by a pair of singles last year, the new release is evidence of a band building on an impressive start and potential with stylish adventure whilst nurturing a whole new promise for continued growth.

Surrey bred, Brightlight City weave in inspirations from the likes of Hundred Reasons, Million Dead, Yourcodenameis:milo, At the Drive-In, Biffy Clyro, and Jimmy Eat World into their sound; indeed sparking comparisons to the former and others such as Thursday and Hell Is For Heroes with their melody rich and harmonically honed songs. Equally there is a fresh and potent catchiness and steel to Our Future’s Not Dead which as suggested was first glimpsed within last year’s singles Gravity and Thieves. It is a growth in sound which has come with an increasing reputation and praise for their live shows through the quintet sharing stages with Max Raptor, Fizzy Blood, Bad Sign, and Blood Youth and playing alongside Rise Against and Millencolin at Envol et Macadam Festival in Canada in 2015as well as their own shows.

Recorded with Matt Hyde (Funeral For A Friend, Bullet For My Valentine, Slipknot), Our Future’s Not Dead is likely to spark another bout of attention and hunger for Brightlight City, setting out its persuasive strength with opener It Depends On You. Skittish beats alongside vocal and guitar offered temptation bring the song into focus; their low key yet agitated attitude soon a full roar as vocalist Jamie Giarraputo heads a web of melodic enterprise from guitarists Jonathan Staunton and Justin Giarraputo, the latter adding his own potent vocal expression to the mix. Anthemic in heart, imposing in rhythm as the hefty jabs of drummer Ben Bell court the brooding lines of bassist Tom Stock, the track roars with energy and passion.

With a mellower air Leave A Light On follows, wiry melodies swimming round a throaty bassline as emotive vocals entice with distinctive expression. Once again there is an instinctive catchiness at work, never wavering as fiery textures evolve and unite in a livelier blaze of sound and emotion. In some ways it is a less intricate proposition than its predecessor but only to its strength as each element is a flame of craft and drama before making way for Heart Stops. The third track comes coated in the infectiousness of the opener, its swinging body almost pop punk like and relentlessly coaxing listener involvement with its vocal harmonies and controlled but boisterous swing; a tenacious essence just as open in the calmer moments of a song taking best track honours.

The EP is brought to an end by Past/Future, a track epitomising the evolution in the Brightlight City sound with its rounded fusion of melody and energy amidst a new depth of contagiousness and invention. As all the songs within Our Future’s Not Dead it is a memorable and lingering encounter going to make a thoroughly enjoyable and impressing release. The Brightlight City sound has yet to become something truly unique but as the EP shows, it is well on the way and providing some rather tasty encounters along the way.

Our Future’s Not Dead is out now through Undead Collective Records.

https://www.brightlightcityofficial.co.uk/   https://www.facebook.com/brightlightcityofficial   https://twitter.com/blcband

Pete RingMaster 12/04/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Wax Futures – The Museum of Everything

Photo by Jonathan Dadds.

UK band Wax Futures to our mind has never fully fitted their post hardcore tag with their flavoursome sound but it has never been less applicable than with the bands new mini album The Museum of Everything. Boasting a virulent contagion of sound as indie, post punk, and new wave as it is math and punk rock, the release is a refreshing and inimitable slice of rock ‘n’ roll revelling in the new maturity and imagination fuelling the trio’s songwriting and music.

Formed in the final breaths of 2011, the Telford hailing band soon made their mark on the local live scene. With a growing support and reputation they released the Breadcrumbs EP in 2013, before tempting bigger attention with debut album A History of Things to Come; it like its successor a seven track offering with a more post hardcore heart to its enterprise. With their live presence taking in the UK, sharing stages with the likes of Limp Bizkit, Bear Makes Ninja, &U&I, Tall Ships, Alpha Male Tea Party, Castrovalva, Bad Grammar, The JCQ, and Idles along the way, the band have spent their time working on The Museum of Everything, evolving and pushing their creativity simultaneously. It was a concentrated effort now easily and swiftly heard in the album and greedily enjoyed twist by turn.

Recorded with Ryan Pinson (God Damn, Bad Grammar), produced and mastered by Tom Woodhead (ex-¡Forward, Russia!), The Museum of Everything gets down to infectious business straight away as a lone riff squirrels itself in ears, a lure soon joined by a vocal count and controlled swipes from Simon’s sticks. As they all enjoyably collude, Sandcastles in the Snow comes alive, a scuzzy hook reaching out as rhythms slip into a controlled canter while vocals further capture ears in tandem with the groove escaping Graham’s guitar. With the easy going meander of Kieran’s bass teasing feet, the song becomes busier, heading into an equally undemanding but inescapably catchy chorus. Never quite igniting but with a neat whiff of early Kaiser Chiefs to its subsequent enticement, the song is a compelling start to the album setting out an appetising canvas of invention soon taken to bigger and bolder heights.

Demographics is next and instantly with its opening melody alone, brings a Young Knives feel into play, one only accentuated by the vocals and the subsequent web of sonic intrigue and infectious collaboration across the threesome. Hooks grab attention throughout, littering the aural drama and flirtatious energy combining like a mix of At the Drive-In and Swound! but only creating its own distinct adventure. A constant nag on body and pleasure, the song makes way for the just as impressive (My Body is a) Landfill. Instantly, more boisterous in energy and just as enticing in contagious endeavour as its predecessors, the track strolls along with a knowing and inventive swagger; its hands on receptive hips and tenacious feet teasing and taunting them into action with its creative zeal. As all tracks there is also a meatier, raucous edge and air which coats it all, the band’s punk instincts adding to the increasingly tenacious and imposing treat.

From one major highlight to another and Wreck of the Hesperus. As soon as it lays down its first line of bait, the song becomes a tapestry of seductive espionage woven from deceptive hooks and devious grooves, neither seemingly as intrusive and enslaving as they really are. With every passing second, the band’s rock ‘n’ roll heart becomes bolder, closing in on a volatile, increasingly menacing psychosis of a finale to leave an appetite hungry for more.

That heavier, irritable essence is still hanging round as next up The 90s Called, It Wants Yr Misspent Youth Back rumbles in ears. It is a ravenous bordering on rabid incitement from which a smiling groove and teasing stroll breaks free. Now with its relaxed but irresistible swing wrapped ingenuity fondling the senses, the song simply traps and chains the passions with something akin to We Are The Physics meets The Futureheads.

The cosmic twittering of { } leads in the evocative pastures of closing track Brittle Bones and an epic and increasingly dense rapture of melodic suggestion and angular jangles around rhythmic trespass. Holding its own lively groove led saunter, the song sees Wax Futures push their emotive intensity and creative designing yet again; both intensifying as the song brews and boils up into a powder keg of sonic turbulence eventually sending the album off into spatial unknowns leaving the listener lingering on keen anticipation for what comes next from the band.

The Museum of Everything is Wax Futures upon a new lofty plateau in songwriting and sound. At times it might not ignite as it hints it will and maybe lacks a final bite to its most agitated moments but only announces the band as a real player within the UK rock scene and a stalwart in the passions of certainly our personal soundtracks, something hard to imagine being alone in.

The Museum of Everything is out now @ https://waxfutures.bandcamp.com/


https://www.facebook.com/waxfutures    https://twitter.com/waxfuturesuk

Pete RingMaster 05/04/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Union Jack – Supersonic


It has been twenty years since Paris hailing Union Jack first stomped around with their anger fuelled, ska infested punk ‘n’ roll, a celebration marked by the release of a brand new slab of infectious aggression. Supersonic is the trio’s seventh full-length, a stonking riot driven by the band’s familiar yet individual sound which simply hits the spot dead centre.

Across six albums and a host of EPs, Union Jack have honed their sound into one intrusively virulent proposal, a strain of punk rock with catchiness as potent as its irritability at the world. Live it has ignited hordes of fans, earning the band a big reputation across their homeland, into Europe, and Canada while sharing stages with the likes of The Damned, DOA, UK Subs, Leftöver Crack, Swingin Utters, Subhumans, The Aggrolites, The Movement, Inner Terrestrials and many more. Even so, they still may be an unknown quality to a great many, something that Supersonic should amend.

Recorded at Sofa Studio with RomTomCat, mixed and mastered by Mike Major ( At the Drive-in, Sparta, Coheed And Cambria, Gone is Gone), and with additional contributions on certain songs by Thomas Birnbacher (upright bass/organ), Phillipe Cattafesta (piano/organ), and Joe Robinne (organ), Supersonic grabs ears from its first breath. Cynical Sound Club starts things stomping, a brief introduction urgently loaded with wicked hooks and punchy rhythms as the band gathers all its wiles ready for next up Oh Boogie. The second track bounces around with attitude and aggressive energy tempered by the warm touch of an organ. The mischievous bassline is irresistible, riffs spice for the ears while the twin vocal attack of guitarist Tom Marchal and bassist/pianist Rude Ben are intrusive ringleaders in the magnificent raw and wild melody hooked romp.

Wordaholic has an even rawer air to its character and presence, Antoine Sirven Gabiache’s swinging beats leading the way as vocals and grooves leave lingering imprints on the senses and psyche. Like a mix of  Swingin’ Utters and Faintest Idea, the song brawls and flirts with the listener, showing recognisable essences while uncaging its own antagonistic delights before Blackout unveils choppy riffs and slapping beats as again the excellent unity between the band’s contrasting vocals bring their own magnetic clamour to the catchy ire pumped mix. Both tracks use the body like a puppeteer, resistance to their swinging rhythms and wicked hooks pointless though each is over shadowed a touch by the punk rock roar of Boomerang. Stalking ears with a predacious bassline, enslaving them with the tangiest hooks as vocals entangle participation in their physical and emotional affray, the track is glorious; a Billy Talent like spicing added pleasure.

art_RingMasterReviewNext up Purple Pride offers a melodic core not too far removed from its predecessor’s and indeed the track lacks the same incendiary spark but still has pleasure and appetite greedy with its raw punk ‘n’ roll belligerence while the bubbly but sonically raw assault of Human Zoo straight, also just missing out on the heights of earlier songs, is still nothing less than fiercely enjoyable with its unpredictable nuances and twists.

Bitter Taste shows a calmer nature as keys and melodies swing with a summery energy though still Union Jack drive it with an instinctive aggression which commands attention. Another song which easily has feet and hips in tandem and the spirit railing against the world; it is one fun and impressive warm up for the album’s best track. Don’t Look Back swiftly steals favourite spot, laying the seeds with its psychobilly nurtured bass slaps and sealing the deal with its Tiger Army like groove. From there the band’s punk heart drives the thrills; ska licks and senses rapping beats as well as elements reminding of bands like The Vox Dolomites and The Peacocks treats in the track’s heady swing.

Through the raucously catchy skirmish of Summer Waves, a song with a Buzzcocks like hook to lick lips over, and the ska infested rock ‘n’ roll of The Globe, the captivating aural roughhousing only sparks new waves of pleasure. The underlying variety in the album’s sound is also further highlighted though You and I returns to the more expected Union Jack musical ruckus with no complaints offered. It still springs a smart web of melodies and hooks though to stand apart with a Biting Elbows like rock/punk invention adding extra spice to its scrap.

It is an essence which also infests the excellent Bones, a coincidental similarity to the just mentioned Russian band no bad thing as the song twists and turns with quarrelsome anthemic chest beating before slipping away for Hate To Say Goodbye to close things off, the slither of music a reprise to that first welcome by Supersonic.

The album is a real joy deserving the attention of all those with an appetite for ska punk and punk rock in any guise.

Supersonic is released February 1st on Beer Records in collaboration with Guerilla Asso, Old Town Bicyclette, and Riot Ska Records for the UK, and through https://unionjack.bandcamp.com/


Pete RingMaster 01/02/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Twisting sounds and textures; exploring the sonic roar of Fero Lux

Fero Press_RingMasterReview

Casting their own fusion of math and hardcore upon the senses, Fero Lux is a South Florida quartet beginning to spark richer attention. The release of latest album No Rest has played a big part; the raw but addictive sound it shares demands attention as in infests the imagination. Live the Broward County hailing band has similarly earned a formidable reputation so we thought it was high time we got to discover more about the band. With big thanks to vocalist Victor, we look at the heart of Fero Lux, its beginnings, that latest album and more…

Hello Victor and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Yo! Thanks for talking TO us.

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started and what brought you all together?

We’re a band called FERO LUX from south Florida. When we started, we all played in other bands. Our guitarist, David, wanted to start a heavy, mathy band. So he recruited us all. I was in something else at the time that I wanted to take seriously, and realized this was more fun. So…over five years later, here we are.

So you have been involved in other bands before so has that had any impact on what you are doing now, in maybe inspiring style or change of direction?

Oh yeah. We’ve all been playing in bands for 12+ years. I think FERO LUX is a HUGE melting pot of all of those bands combined. Our sound certainly has an overall heavy theme, but we’re all over the place if you listen to our latest record from front to back.

What inspired the band name?

We were huffing the smell of 100 unwashed turtle tanks. And boom…FERO LUX.

art No Rest_RingMasterReviewWas there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?

Yeah, like I mentioned we started with a sound in mind, but after half a decade we certainly found what we were aiming for all along. I think it shows on NO REST.

Do the same things still drive the thoughts of band from when it was fresh-faced or have they evolved over time?

I think we’ve become more socially aware. We always wanted to be a band with something to say, and I think we’ve harnessed that a little better over time.

Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

It’s more refined. The song writing is far more structured, but there are still a lot of riffs you have to hear more than once to kinda fully understand; still heavy, still mathcore. Also, this line-up–myself, Ben, David, and Nick are the most cohesive we’ve had to date.

Has it been more of an organic movement of that sound or plenty of moments where the band deliberately wanted to try new things?

It was certainly organic. We just lock ourselves in our warehouse and jam until new songs come out. We don’t really vocalize how we want them to sound. They just…sound.

Presumably across the band there is a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?

At The Drive-In is one we all say we can agree on musically. They pushed it like no other. They mesh all sorts of ideas and themes into each record…and ALWAYS had something to say. We consider them a very brilliant and selfless band.

Is there a process to the songwriting which generally guides the writing of songs?


Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?

Global strife.

Give us some background to your latest release.

NO REST came out on March 25th, 2016. It’s about a bunch of different things happening all over the world and locally. There’s heavy stuff, and not so heavy stuff. I personally like to think it has something for everyone.

Can you share some insight to the themes and premise behind it and its songs?

The opening track is called No Insignia. It’s about the war crimes committed on Ukraine and Crimea upon the invasion from Russian soldiers who wore no identifying insignia. People were forced from their homes, people were killed, and we here in America cared more about what was taken off Netflix that month.

Are you a band which goes into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

They’re finalized beforehand. I’d say the lyrics are usually 85% done beforehand and I just top it all off whilst in the studio.

Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably the favourite aspect of the band?FL_RingMasterReviewn

It’s certainly my favorite. Live, we like to jump on people and have them jump on us. What fun is a live show if everyone is just standing around? And when we’re tuning and whatever, I like to try to make people laugh. We’re a “serious” band who tries to not take ourselves too seriously.

It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it your neck of the woods?

It’s hard in south Florida. We have to drive over 6 hours just to leave the state. We’re always envious of the north eastern states that can cross three or four borders in the time it takes us to get to Georgia. We’ve found the cities we do well in down in Florida, so it’s been cool to revisit them. But we’re planning some longer stuff for Fall and Winter and we’re very excited to share these dates with everyone.

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date? Do you see it as something destined to become a negative from a positive as the band grows and hopefully gets increasing success or is it more that bands struggling with it are lacking the knowledge and desire to keep it working to their advantage?

It’s honestly crazy. Bands that seem to know how to manipulate Tumblr and Instagram get huge. Unfortunately for us, we don’t know how to do either of those things. We also don’t know how to sign unfair record deals. So I feel like we’re destined to remain the size we currently are. But who knows…maybe Myspace will come back?

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

Thank you again! Check out our music and videos at https://www.facebook.com/feroluxmusic and http://fero-lux.bandcamp.com

As far as a reveal, not yet! But we’re doing a small run in August, so if you’re in the south east, come check us out!

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 21/08/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Astral Cloud Ashes – Too Close to the Noise Floor

Album Art_RingMasterReview

With three attention grabbing and imagination sparking singles under the belt, Astral Cloud Ashes unveil debut album Too Close to the Noise Floor. It is a collection of songs which arouse and serenade the senses, often simultaneously as the project’s mesmeric songwriting and emotive melodic elegance seduces.

Astral Cloud Ashes is the new project of Jersey bred songwriter/musician Antony Walker, previously better known as one half of the Channel Islands hailing Select All Delete Save As. Having already created music under the name ALPA, amongst other monikers, Walker quickly sparked attention to his latest project last year with first single Too Close To The Noise Floor, the now title track to the new album. Primarily a solo project but with backing vocalist Jason Neil a permanent fixture in the band, Astral Cloud Ashes draws on inspirations ranging from The Cure, Bloc Party, Interpol, At the Drive In, Mars Volta, and Say Anything as well as flavours bred in indie and alternative rock/pop. Equally though, the album shows bold ventures into more progressive and post rock pastures without losing the instinctive catchiness and melodic romancing found in those earlier propositions.

Mixed across its tracks by Gareth [The Fold], Edd HartwellPaul Miles, Daniel Szanto,  and Walker himself, with the mastering undertaken by Tim Turan, Too Close to the Noise Floor opens with The Man I Had To Become. Instantly a temptation of bubbling guitar captures ears, the coaxing quickly joined by a wave of rhythmic jabbing and a thicker weave of melodic guitar and harmonious vocals. It is a gentle yet boisterous affair easily whipping up the imagination and spirit with Walker’s distinctive tones the mellow flame within a more combustible web of enterprise. It is a great mix which marked those early singles but already seems to have blossomed within the album into a more adventurous and confident entangling of the listener.

The great start is followed by the album’s title track, Too Close to the Noise Floor showing a rawer, more imposing energy as it takes the imagination into the intimacy and adventure of cosmonautics but equally involves “family values and unwanted first-world paranoia” in its energetically hugged theme. Punching its rhythmic and contagious essences home, it also carries a hazy climate to its atmosphere with the bass a deliciously throaty lure amongst nothing but virulent temptation. Embracing a XTC feel and Melvins like revelry, the track has body and appetite eagerly involved in swift time.

Grateful for the Ghost In Our House steps forward next and as the last track showed a more formidable presence to its predecessor, this song reveals a fiercer predation to its opening and subsequent invention within another wash of suggestive melodies and smouldering dynamics. Though not in the actual sound, it is easy to see where an influence of The Cure comes into play, Walker creating an emotional and musical drama which has the senses riding a roller coaster.

Recent single Get Real follows, strolling along with the ever present catchiness which Walker conjures with seeming ease across every track. Guitars pop and bubble throughout the song as rhythmic tenacity creating an anthemic frame to the vocal and melodic ingenuity before Flashback takes over. A calmer and mellower engagement but even more emotively forceful, the song caresses ears with a lone guitar melody before being joined by a heavily shadowed bassline aligned to a broader floating melodic enterprise. Vocally, Walker provides an introspective narrative as provocative as the poetic almost volcanic fuzziness of his guitar. Adding another individual shade and hue to the album, the track shows the broader landscape of Walker’s songwriting and an intimacy, whether personal or observational, which fuels his words.

With drummer Max Saidi guesting, Avant Blah! strolls boldly in next, its lo-fi pop ‘n’ roll blending Weezer infection with Pavement-esque invention while its successor Lites almost lumbers into view in comparison with the brooding bass and irritable riffs to the fore. In all songs there is a great repetitious quality brewed by Walker, here almost coming over drone like to great effect around the solemn melody and the similarly melancholic vocals. As it expands though, a wave of rich textures and rousing energies flood the song, returning throughout the low-key yet thickly enjoyable, almost imposing encounter.

The excellent This Once Great Place has an air of The Cure again with its atmospheric landscape, reminding of the A Forest/Pornography era of the trio across its own captivating journey before the equally impressive Housing in a Bubble makes a grab for best track with its more punkish/grungy roar of sound. Everything about it has a snarl not heard on the album previously; revealing more of the diversity the release carries whilst stirring up a fresh greed in ears and pleasure.

Our Holiday brings Too Close to the Noise Floor to a sombre and enthralling close, the track initially a dark sigh but soon building its own catchy canter loaded with spiky hooks and spicy melodies around another slightly foreboding and compelling bassline. Once more thoughts of Robert Smith and co are sparked but again as a flavour in something individual to Astral Cloud Ashes. It is a riveting end to a striking and increasingly impressive first album from Walker.

The clues to the project’s potential were there in its first trio of singles, and now confirmed and partly realised by Too Close to the Noise Floor. The feeling is that there is plenty more to come and to be explored within that promise, and going by the strength of this thoroughly enjoyable offering, we are all in for many treats ahead.

Too Close to the Noise Floor is released July 11th @ http://apple.co/1RFvoL8

https://www.facebook.com/astralcloudashes   https://astralcloudashes.bandcamp.com/   https://twitter.com/AstralCloudAsh

Pete RingMaster 08/07/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright