Steel Flowers – Kleptocracy

Steel Flowers_RingMaster Review

According to the press release, concept album “Kleptocracy is looking around and suddenly understanding what Orwell meant. Kleptocracy is mind control told by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World. Kleptocracy is the distaste ensuing and the attempt to destroy all, but it is also the final realization, just like an oxymoron, to be who you want to destroy.” What the words omit to mention is that the new album from Italian band Steel Flowers is also one fascinating and increasingly compelling proposition. Sculpted on a fusion of hard rock and alternative metal, to simplify things, the ten track incitement entices the imagination with an unpredictable bedlam of flavours and styles woven into a theatrical canvas. Initially it challenges ears and thoughts with that same off-kilter tapestry but over time builds into a lingering persuasion which draws keen attention time and time again. Kleptocracy will not be for everyone but if the thought of System Of A Down meets Turbonegro meets Dog Fashion Disco appeals then this just might be a thrilling way to end the year on.

Formed in 2002 by vocalist Riz, the Milan band quickly hit the live scene before releasing a series of EPs over time. Line-up changes ensued before Steel Flowers settled down to record and release debut album 12 Tales From The Life Of Mr Someone in 2009. Described as a mix of hard and street rock, its well-received uncaging led to the band appearing at Faenza’s MEI, an event for independent labels that same year. 2011 saw the band begin work on Kleptocracy and the emergence of a new direction and invention in the band’s sound as alternative metal influences, and more, began ripening within their imagination. Fair to say the fiercely diverse album had a troubled creation but finally it gets its unveiling via Red Cat Records to ultimately captivate and impress.

cover_RingMaster Review     It opens with Oxymoron 4991 and an initial tempting of electronic mist conjured by Uzzo punctured by a moment of distorted vocals. There is a portentous edge to that first coaxing, one which ripens as guitars and rhythms bring forth their own dark hues, though within a few more haunting moments a warmer light and energy erupts to change the shade of the song again. The guitars of Alex and Adriano are soon dancing and flirting with ears whilst still providing darker drama to the broadening sonic narrative of the track. Once fully into its infectious stride, attention and appetite are enslaved by the song, thoughts similarly bewitched as it proceeds to slip from spicy grooves and niggly hooks into mellow harmonies and avant-garde twists. The vocals of Riz provide variety to match the sounds too, clean croons and gnarly roars offered in numerous ways and backed well from elsewhere within the band. It is fair to say, as the album, the track took time and a few plays to really click in ears and emotions, but straight away had them fully enticed and wanting to delve deeper into its warped adventure.

The dirtier rock ‘n’ roll of Pauper comes next, the feisty beats of drummer Kiry potent bait alongside the throaty tone of Yano’s bass. The latter soon reveals its swinging moves though, a funk infused revelry flushing through the song with a touch of Red Hot Chili Peppers to its colouring, though the earlier heavier elements still court these tangy exploits. It all helps fuel a quickly contagious proposition with a virulence matched in kind by that bred in the punk ‘n’ roll stomp of its successor I’ll Kick Your Ass. Straight away the song’s tenacious and tempestuous roar teases with a B-52s-esque groove which reappears throughout alongside Sex Pistol like hooks, both inflaming the raw and brawling heart of the excellent track.

Hallways Of Illusions serenades ears with its melodic flames and emotive textures next, it a gentle croon but with a fiery nature as, like all songs, it involves an array of creative spices and evolves with perpetual regularity, though not as dramatically as other proposals within Kleptocracy, such as Break My Blues with its intoxicating sonic liquor around prowling rhythms. Living up to its name in tone, the track is an enticing engagement though also not quite escaping the shadow of others like the following Tired And Bored. A great grizzled bassline sets the song up; a web of voices and guitar spun endeavour then wrapping ears as another funk inspired intent infests the rhythms and the hard/classic rock enterprise of the song. Again it is a track which needs time to blossom in thoughts but only heads to the providing of rich pleasure for the listener to embrace.

Through the psychotic character and vaudevillian heart of the outstanding Ruled By Evil Men and the infectious dystopian predation of Workin’ Monkey, the album hits a new plateau of persuasion, both tracks casting their own unique and engrossing theatres of sound and suggestion with the first of the pair the show stopper on the album.

Variety continues as an electronic enticing welcomes R.I.P. next, that brewing into a seventies seeded progressive metal narrative swinging from big thrills to smaller pleasures but always wrapping ears in thick tempting before making way for closing track Tank Man. The song ends the album on a more classic hard rock offering with a touch of Extreme meets Ugly Kid Joe to it; a last slice of rock ‘n’ roll maybe undulating in its riches but undoubtedly leaving satisfaction strong.

Kleptocracy is not without flaws, at times its invention taking songs away from their best assets, but Steel Flowers has certainly conjured a release that excites with the potential of bigger and bolder things ahead for good measure.

Kleptocracy is out now via Red Cat Records.

Pete RingMaster 10/12/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Feral Kizzy – Slick Little Girl

Phote by Luke Fisher

Phote by Luke Fisher

The debut album from Californian dark poppers Feral Kizzy is simply an aural playground, a landscape of musical roundabouts spinning through modern tenacity and invention and creative swings whooshing across eighties new wave and jangle pop. Slick Little Girl is soaked in originality and nostalgia, a mix providing a riveting and thrilling treat ultimately cast as something unique to the Long Beach quintet; and something very easy to get addicted to.

Formed in 2010, Feral Kizzy consists of five musicians uniting a rich variety of inspirations in the band’s sound. References have been made to Patti Smith, Concrete Blonde, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and The Cure, though the one band which comes to the fore more than most, whether an influence or not, is eighties US band Pylon, especially their first album Gyrate. As suggested all spices and essences are evolved into something new but there is certainly a potent and enjoyable similarity in textures, sound, and unpredictable invention. With some guest contributions from bassist Hannah Smith Keller and Hannah Blumenfeld (Jail Weddings, White Murder) on violin and cello, the five piece of vocalist Kizzy Kirk, keyboardist/vocalist Brenda Carsey, guitarist Johnny Lim, drummer Mike Meza, and bassist Kevin Gonzalez perpetually explore their and the listener’s imaginations within Slick Little Girl, and fair to say they leave major pleasure in their wake.

Opener Lapdog Apparition needs little time to lure ears and appetite with its potent charms, a thumping initial beat casting the first hook swiftly assisted by a jangle of guitar and the saucy shimmer of keys. Quickly into a magnetic stride the song swings along with sharp twists, subsequently slipping into a more fluid and mellower enticement then just as easily coming out of it and starting the cycle again. A tinge of the Au Pairs flirts with thoughts as it continues to dangle bait and enterprise through ears, though it is the delicious B-52s like detour which seals a lustful deal with emotions through its Rock Lobster like tease.

Feral-Kizzy-Slick-Little-Girl-Cover__RingMasterReview   The track is creatively irresistible, a major flirtation matched by the band’s new video/single Community Service. A throbbing Cure like bassline sets things in motions, whispers of guitar lining the entrance of vocals with Kirk alone an enthralling invitation and in union with Carsey, inescapable tempting. The song proceeds to spin a web of tantalising vocals and hooks as its rhythms offer a shadowed prowl against the more celestial flight of the keys. It is captivating stuff, an inventive weave of textures and melodic infection, with the description of Xmal Deutschland meets Throwing Muses and indeed Pylon a canny hint.

The Way We Are has a fine line in guitar jangle and spicy melodic imagination backed by another addictive dark rhythmic baiting from Meza and Gonzalez, whilst vocally a Debbie Harry like whisper clings to the expressive roar of Kirk. Matching the invention and lures, Carsey breeds a pungent waltz of persuasion with fingers on keys too, it all colluding in a busy and thick dance of jangle pop before making way for the melodic caress of Sally and the Emcee. A gentle saunter equipped with rawer, incisive edges, the song is a provocative croon which thickens with every passing chord and beat until filling air and ear like dense melodic smoke. It persistently smothers the senses and seeps into the psyche, seducing with increasing effect over every play.

With a similarly sculpted canvas Lament comes next quickly breeding its own distinct character with a bluesy tang and citric adventure of spatial keys. The track is mesmeric but with a fire in its belly leading to a feisty rock tenacity driven by masterful riffs and hooks from Lim. Again sounds from earlier decades entwine with a modern invention and freshness, culturing something as much psyche pop as it is punk rock. From one album pinnacle to another with the scuzzier Life Associates which straight away is a more forceful and rugged proposition through the snarl of bass and guitar alone. Again there is a punkish element to the song’s roar and a sultry kiss to the melodic endeavour on offer, something like Siouxsie and the Banshees merged with Martha and The Muffins a strong reference, though as across the release, songs come with Feral Kizzy originality which argues against any comparisons as much as it sparks them.

More blues bred twangs grip the guitar enterprise in Not My Mind, the spicy coaxing quickly engulfed in the melodic poetry of keys and attention grabbing vocals. Though it does not quite light the same rich fire in ears and thoughts as its predecessors, the track reveals yet another side and depth to the songwriting and invention of the band, its body a volcanic fusion of sounds and textures which never erupts but is a constantly imposing and gripping incitement unafraid to unleash the heat of its heart.

The Dinosaur flirts and sways with sixties garage pop captivation and indie rock mischief next, flirting with body and thoughts from start to finish and never relinquishing its tight vivacious hold until passing the listener over to the just as ingeniously compelling tempting of The Skin Is Thick. A darker but no less boldly imaginative encounter, the song winds around ears like a lithe temptress, constantly stirring up shadows and deep rooted instincts through heavy seductive tones of bass and enchanted keys spilled drama. With vocals also on a resourceful intent to enthral and enslave, the song makes an impressive and exciting warm-up act for the closing show stopper What Are You Doing? All the lures and creative theatre of its predecessor is taken to a new level, every second of the song a controlled but rich blaze of skilled and impassioned endeavour. It is an epic bellow from the imagination and creative depths of the band only enhanced further by the sensational presence of Kirk and the intense incitement of the orchestral coloured strings, their spicy lure bringing echoes of Sex Gang Children back in the day.

Feral Kizzy is superb at uniting slim and often repetitive textures with thick tapestries of ingeniously woven enterprise, the last song epitomising that craft and success which flows across the whole of Slick Little Girl. The album is a thrilling adventure; one bred across the years in many ways but solely of the now, and Feral Kizzy a band surely looking at big things ahead.

Slick Little Girl is available from June 26th on LP/CD/Tape/Digital via eliterecords @!webshop/cst1

RingMaster 25/06/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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De Staat – Vinticious Versions


There is such an originality and warped invention to the music of Dutch alternative rockers De Staat that you wonder if they have any idea what is going to happen or know their intentions when starting on the journey of creating each adventure. It is what sets the band apart from the rest and makes them one of the truly and persistently unique propositions, as evidenced by their previous trio of acclaimed albums, and some of the most deviously memorable and lingering, psyche infecting songs. Now the band unleash new EP Vinticious Versions, a virulently addictive collection of re-worked tracks taken from those three albums, I_CON (2013), Machinery (2011), and Wait for Evolution (2009). The band twists and re-interprets the eights tracks making up the release, giving them new characters, fresh mischief, and mouth-watering devilry for another seriously compelling and fun proposition from the band.

Listening to Vinticious Versions is like venturing through secret doors and passage ways within familiar surroundings, finding yourself inside and at the heart of each proposition where you find an alter-ego or private fantasy of what the song would like to be just once in a while. Vocalist/guitarist Torre Florim sums it up best when he says, “the EP takes you on a trip down an alternative pathway with familiar surroundings…something that is a little more dark and delicious”. The concept for the EP came from the band being asked to play radio sessions and small in-store shows, this inspiring De Staat to imagine and craft different versions of their songs to play. What has emerged is a release which combining a ‘retro feel’ to its recordings, flirts and dances with the imagination like an old friend revealing their deepest kinkiness.

     Get It Together starts things off, an instant dramatic lure opening the door to an exotically populated dance floor of popping beats and sultry vocal harmonies courted by similarly heated sounds. An oriental air caresses each note and CGR7452sonic flirtation whilst bubbly melodies swing with the wiles of an insatiable temptress. It is as irresistible a seduction of sound as you can get, or so you think as its toys with the passions but then the pure intrusive lures of Build That, Buy That have not had their say at this point. A dulled vocal countdown is the lead into a ridiculously contagious stroll of almost childlike melodic simplicity and ingenious unpredictability. Even if new to the song it will be barely seconds before feet are leaping without mental direction and voice trying to join the ridiculously captivating call of the brilliant track. A creative shuffle where sounds and voices are as skittish and inventively lively as a backside on an ant hill, the song is an anthem to party though that applies to all De Staat songs on the EP and as a whole.

Input Source Select sways in next, its sultry curves rubbing seductively on ears as bulging beats and punchy vocals tantalise and spark the imagination. Reminding of nineties UK band Honky, the track is an old school hip hop seeded romp with a colourfully creative haze to its seventies fascination of sound. It is to be fair the norm that no one De Staat song is like another but no more so apparent than on the EP, as proven again by the next up Down Town, a noir hued climate of smouldering Tarantino like drama and melodic elegance. Every heat spilling note from guitarist Vedran Mircetic and keyboardist Rocco Bell comes with their own creative smokiness whilst the vocals of Florim are as dark throated and gripping as the heavy seduction of Jop van Summeren’s bass and the jabbing beats of Tim van Delft. Completed by a siren-esque breeze of female vocals, the song slips around ears and thoughts like a lover’s caress.

The humid reggae spawned swagger of All Is Dull comes next, its cheeky body swerving with the guile of a feline provocateur as vocals align their similarly magnetic and varied croons for an already greedy appetite filling incitement. It makes way for the slow funk fuelled sexually inflamed flight of Devil’s Blood, a track to make ladies swoon and men daydream. Again it has a rich and tasty sixties/seventies breath to sound and vocal persuasion, lighting senses and emotions ready for the glorious surf rock brilliance of Sweatshop. One of our all-time favourites songs, expectations were as excited as they were fearful on how the band would take on their classic. Within its opening distinctive twang doubts were banished as sweltering warmth of keys and guitar scythes swooped with as mentioned a surf bred temptation. Like B-52s meets Yello but still like nothing before or after it, the track like a psychedelically enhanced loner dancing intimately with themselves on the dance-floor, it pulsates and glows with celestial charm and inescapable teasing.

The release is completed by the sinew flexing pulsation of Wait For Evolution, another track hinting at hip hop inspirations whilst immersing its warped ingenuity with funk lined revelry and providing an enthralling end to a treat of an encounter. It is probably right to say that no track eclipses the originals but many come very close to equalling their might and all leave pleasure rampant and hunger for new De Staat fun as impatient and insatiable as ever.

The Vinticious Versions EP is available now digitally, and in CD and vinyl versions via Cool Green Recordings/Mascot Label Group @

RingMaster 24/11/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Otto Von Schirach – Supermeng

If you are going to become a ‘superhero’ to protect the earth you have to have the sounds behind you to make sure it is a valid proposition. This is exactly what Otto Von Schirach has ensured with Supermeng, his outstanding new album and the name of his new alter ego. Of course with this kind of schizophrenic eccentricity there are smiles a plenty bursting out at multiple moments as the release excites and ignites the body and senses at every turn but it is so perfectly crafted and wholly irresistible it is all part of the wondrous experience.

Half Cuban half German and from Miami, Otto Von Schirach rips up the manual of fusion to bring electro, dubstep, noise, orchestral gabber, and…well the list goes on, to forge his own unique world of sound and manipulation. At times it is like that ‘dirty’ little pleasure you keep secret, you know you all have one, and in others it is a trigger for the glorious pleasures only aural gratification can unleash. Supermeng the alter ego is a genetically enhanced super human, the result of years of experimentation by an anonymous group of aliens to be the only defence against and person able to triumph against the Annunaki reptilian order. Injecting a secret fluid into his third eye he has become the warrior to save the universe whilst the sounds of Otto soundtrack his life and also stand as a creation to save earth and galaxies from the Annunaki. Of course like with the best yet very suspect sci-fi films, mostly starring Will Smith, credibility and suspension of belief is essential here but give that and the sounds brought forth leave one breathless on a journey of explosive and hypnotic fun.

Released through Money Town Records, the album opens up the senses with the sexy filth and dark magic sensuality of Salpica (Miami). The track is like a drug induced house of mystery, at times nightmarish and in others fully surreal and a totally compulsive entrance into the world of Supermeng. One word of warning though, if you are going to watch the brilliant video which accompanies this track have a therapist on speed dial, it makes those legendary efforts of Aphex Twins seem normal.

The quite brilliant Ultimate Universe comes next and though it can be argued it is not the most original in sound it is easily the most riotous contagion track this year. Off a delicious hook which could grace any B 52’s song and straight into a Sigue Sigue Sputnik cloned rampage the song is quite simply a glorious stomp across the heart and senses. As its energy sizzles and starts boiling over there is a Mad Capsules Markets thrust igniting the air to enforce its refusal to let limbs and bodies stay still. An electro rock call to arms, the track is a storm of majestic enterprise which is almost impossible to move on from.

From there the release moves in to the sonic blistering of the senses with The Blob, a nasty and menacing track with its own built in warning system. The track envelopes the ear with its venomous sonic attack and disorientating electronic jabbing whilst the consuming predatory energy sucks the breath from lungs to leave one grasping for support. Already the album makes the use of the word diverse feel weak in describing the deep eclectic sounds on offers with the first three songs having already shown their individual distinctive characters though they are merely the appetizer to the further full variety ahead.

Breathe The Beat with its crystalline melodic spattering plays like the mutated offspring of Swizz electronic band Yello whilst the hip hop punctured Supermeng featuring CX Kidtronic and Mr. Feathers has a definite Devo feel to its air, both continuing the multi flavoured mesmeric aural fingering of the heart for the deepest response. Lyrically the songs tell more tales in the rise of the character and with a tongue firmly locked in place keep their comic book invention at the perfect level whilst the sounds colour and explore their surrounding world.

Further highlights in nothing but highs come with Diamond Eyes and When Dinosaurs Rule The Earth. The first takes romance into the most sinister of places, its distillery of distressing menace cored by near whimpering intrusive vocals is abrasive yet disturbingly seductive, well if psychotic obsession turns you on. It is a startling and excellent piece of composing and would easily soundtrack one of those obsessive horrors the Japanese film industry create so masterfully. The second of the two is another rampant assault of energies and intrusive sounds. It is a beast of a track, from bulk to breath its heavy and oppressive presence brings the fullest rewards.

Supermeng is pure pleasure and is right at the top in the list of most enjoyable releases so far this year. It and Otto Von Schirach might be crazed and undeniably in a field of their very own but it is one you will want to lose your inhibitions in and just let loose.

RingMaster 06/08/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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