Bitter Grounds – Two Sides of Hope

Hailing from Utrecht, Bitter Grounds is a Dutch quartet that has a sound which could be best described as Hagfish meets The Vox Dolomites wrapped in the heart and breath of Bad Religion and Dropkick Murphys. But as swiftly evidenced within new album, Two Sides of Hope, it is a proposition with a bold and individual character that just demands keen attention.

Entangling the attitude and aggression of punk with the instinctive and raw attributes of ska, Bitter Grounds first stoked potent attention with their 2016 debut album Hollowlands. It emulated local support and praise across a broader landscape which now its successor should only strongly expand upon. Since that first release, the band has played numerous shows across Europe alongside the likes of The Real McKenzies and The Interrupters and earned plaudits for their performances at festivals such as like Punk Rock Holiday and Nice ‘n’ Sleazy. It is easy to suspect that Two Sides of Hope will spark an even bigger demand and time for Bitter Grounds such its stirring and virulent nature

As with its predecessor, the new album was recorded with engineer and producer Menno Bakker and immediately gets down to business with opener Lost. Instantly a spicy groove entangles senses rapping beats, highly catchy bait simply reinforced by bass, riffs and in turn boisterous vocals. The infectious attributes of the band’s sound and enterprise is as swiftly evident, coursing song and appetite with a viral quality whipping up eager participation. There is a familiarity to the track yet as with the band’s sound overall, it is a welcoming hue to something wholly individual.

The following Two Sides (of Hope) has a just as catchy lilt and swing to its tenacious swing shaped by a more intensive attitude. There is a defiant edge to every twist and turn, a rousing wind fuelling its incitement as the track swiftly got under the skin; a success more than matched by the contagious antics of Let Me See Now. Another which has a sense of an old friend returning with a new identity and intent, the song quickly had hips and feet doing its bidding as melodic and imaginative endeavour nurtured its brief but highly manipulative exploits.

As with its predecessor, the ska side of the band’s sound fuels next up Bad Dreams; its gait alone enticing physical involvement while the band’s potent dual vocal temptation works away on ears side by side with the jangle of guitar and the moodier stroll of the bass. Instinctively Bitter Grounds seem to conjure hooks and grooves which know what gets the juices going, My Time another addictive example with its melodic revelry and vocal dynamics.

Through the relatively calmer but just as infectious and mischievously woven Faded and the raucous holler of Let Them Talk, the album just reinforces its temptation and the band the creative dexterity of their songwriting and flavour rich music, the latter sparking thoughts that if Angelic Upstarts had embraced ska in their sound way back it would have been something akin to this inescapable trespass.

The album concludes with firstly Seven Nights, a Rancid scented stomp needing mere seconds to command limb and spirit, and finally the punk ‘n’ roll defiance of FML. With compelling rhythms battering the senses and riffs careering through ears as vocals spew attitude, the track is a tenacious and rousing end to one outstanding release.

From first breath to last, Two Sides of Hope hits the punk greedy spot, hungrily proving itself one of the best punk indeed rock ‘n’ roll albums of 2018.

Two Sides of Hope is out now, available @ https://bittergrounds.bandcamp.com/

http://bittergrounds.nl/   https://www.facebook.com/BitterGroundsBand/

 Pete RingMaster 16/10/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Nika Riots – Set Fire

Having found the Norwegian hardcore scene a rather fruitful place to excite personal tastes, there was a definite twinge of eager anticipation when we found ourselves receiving he debut EP from Oslo outfit The Nika Riots, especially upon seeing it features members from bands such as Man the Machetes, Torch, and IEatHeartAttacks. The prospect of hearing something flavoursome to really get the teeth into was quickly confirmed by Set Fire and only reinforced across its six ferocious tracks.

Consisting of Christopher Iversen (Man The Machetes), Jørgen Berg (Torch), Kristen Fjeldstad, Morten Vikanes, and Noppers Myren (IEatHeartAttacks), The Nika Riots fuse their hardcore with voracious metal essences while drawing on the inspirations of bands such as Every Time I Die, the Dillinger Escape Plan, and Rise Against for its still individual character. It is a mix which grooves like a Bokassa, snarls like a Shevils, and has the irritable melodic punk fuelled fury of Bad Religion aligned to the unpredictable dexterity of Every Time I Die and all delivered with a defiant antagonism living up to the historical unrest behind their name. Those metal bred essences add yet another aspect to their sound, a hungry trespass which accentuates every other thread in its fractious web.

As soon as the rousing rhythmic invitation of Anti-Social Social Club was launched within a raw sonic breath attention was grabbed, the initial handful of seconds of the opener a welcoming intrusion which swiftly becomes a tirade of addictive grooves, thumping beats, and vocal argument. The track proceeds to swing along with intrusive hardcore tenacity, inciting ears and spirit at every turn with the imagination hooked by its melodic punk hues. Metal textures equally give it a diverse nature and potency as the song gets Set Fire off to a heady start.

A chest beating roar of defiance, it is pretty much matched by the following Knock ‘em Dead. Straight away it is sharing solicitous hooks, a touch of Billy talent in their spicing before its punk canter brings a great bend of throat scarring and melodically sandy vocals. As in its predecessor, attitude fuels every note and syllable, the melodies even carrying a slight toxic edge to their temptation but it all combining for another fiercely infectious affair before allowing the excellent Kill This Chaos emerges from its last sonic sigh on a rhythmic roll. This leads to another contagious intrusion equipped with hungrily anthemic rhythms, vocal irritancy, and caustic riffs. It is pure magnetism, especially when the incitement of drums and throb of bass only accompanies raw throated appeals, guitars accentuating the bait on their return with strains of heavy metal in their attack.

A melancholic melodic caress opens up Hanged Drawn & Quartered but all time becoming dirtier and unsettled before breaking into punk thrusting rock ‘n roll though that too is only another shade to the song as melodic metal essences take their moment to captivate. It epitomises the fluid resourcefulness of the band’s sound, a quality as open if not to the same prevalence within next up Skeleton Crew. Opening with an Avenged Sevenfold scented beckoning, the song soon rattles the cages with its hardcore guile and fury lined acuteness aligned to punk rock virulence.

All Hail the Queen completes the attack, its body breeding its own fusion of sound and enterprise. As the previous track, it did not quite light the fires as dramatically as those before them but with vines of grooves wrapping round the ears and a rich bluster of energy wearing the senses, it simply left pleasure and appetite hungry for more.

Set Fire is a striking introduction to The Nika Riots hinting at even bigger and bolder exploits ahead whilst stirring the passion and instincts for uncompromising punk rock; Norwegian hardcore continues to impress and excite.

Set Fire is released January 19th through Negative Vibe Records.

https://www.facebook.com/thenikariots/

Pete RingMaster 18/01/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Voice Of Addiction – The Lost Art of Empathy

This started out as a piece on one track from their new album, an introduction for us sent by Voice Of Addiction which was so persuasive the whole album had to instead be the focus of attention. A multi-flavoured punk rock roar from the Chicago based band, The Lost Art of Empathy is one rousing confrontation which has the body bouncing and spirit leaping with its boisterous escapades from start to finish.

Becoming a potent part of the Chicago punk scene through their explosive live shows, Voice Of Addiction have been stirring up ears and venues since 2004, with a handful of releases and a host of compilation appearances marking their way. At their centre is vocalist/bassist Ian “JohnnyX “ Tomele joined upon the latest Voice Of Addiction stomp by drummer Dennis Tynan, guitarist/backing vocalist Jake Smith, and backing vocalist Luke Ostojic. Listening to the treat that is The Lost Art of Empathy, it seems impossible that the band is not a more widely recognised proposition within the global punk scene; a prospect their new album just might trigger.

With politically and socially challenging lyrics matched by a sound which bites however it comes across it’s twelve tracks, The Lost Art of Empathy opens up with that first song heard here. Rustbelt instantly coaxes ears with a spicy hook which is soon joined by a grouchy bassline and jabbing beats. Together they surge at the senses, developing an infectious urgency as Tomele’s vocals with equally potent backing swiftly capture the imagination. In no time the romp is igniting ears and appetite, its drive towards one irresistible chorus just as manipulative as everything from hardcore, pop and classic punk seems to get involved.

The following Dead By Dawn has a rawer manner in tone and touch but is equally as contagious with athletic beats and the grumbling bass shaping the assault from within which a collage of vocals and the clang of guitar entice. Smith spins a web of sonic endeavour as unpredictable as his riffs are rabid before Unity brings its own belligerent defiance to the party. Tomele’s bass again whips up the appetite, its magnetic prowess matched by another potent mix of vocals across the band.

Petty Schemes swaggers in next with a knowing mischief before bounding into a snarling and keenly eventful melodic punk blaze while the soulful Corporate Pariah evolves into a ska punk canter before which feet and hips are leaping as thoughts are provoked by the tracks incisive words. Both songs hit the spot, the second especially persuasive before Lockwood uncages its sonic spiral and subsequent punk contagion to eclipse both. Across the album bands such as NOFX, Bad Religion, and Angelic Upstarts come to mind, this track especially hinting but there is no denying that Voice Of Addiction embrace all into their own individual furor.

The street punk fuelled I Can’t Breathe invitingly brawls with the listener next, the band merging US and seventies UK punk for its tenacious attack and triumph; a success matched by the visceral punk holler of Everything Must Go. It too is a collusion of styles within the punk banner; alternative and math rock flirting with hardcore tendencies to enthral and arouse.

Through the caustic yet melodically hued tear up of Ad Nauseum and the equally uncompromising and enticing Eviction Notice, the album continues to grip attention even if the songs do not hit the same level as those before them; a plateau Alcorn Queen definitely flirts with straight after with its Mars Volta meets Converge like adventure and animosity. The track is superb, stealing best track honours at the death though there is still time for the acoustic brilliance of Are We Even Human Anymore to shine with Tomele vocally luring ears like moths to a flame.

The Lost Art of Empathy is a moment in time not to be missed; indeed all punks should make it their cause to share its compelling sound as too the presence of Voice Of Addiction. America is catching on, now it is our turn around the world.

The Lost Art of Empathy is available now @ https://voiceofaddiction.bandcamp.com/album/the-lost-art-of-empathy-2

https://voiceofaddiction.com/    https://www.facebook.com/voarockers/    https://twitter.com/VoArockers

Pete RingMaster 09/08/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Authority Zero – Broadcasting To The Nations

June sees the release of the sixth album from US melodic punks Authority Zero and a riot for the spirit which shows the genre’s young bucks just how it is done. After twenty plus years, you could be forgiven for expecting the band’s obvious maturity in sound and craft to come with an aged controlled fire but Broadcasting To The Nations quickly sets the records straight. There is an excitement and energy to its body and heart which you would more expect from a band just starting out as well as a freshness and urgency bred in a newcomer’s hunger to make their first mark. Add that to the long established invention and infectious prowess of the Mesa in Arizona hailing outfit and you quite simply have one of the most rousing and seriously enjoyable punk offerings of the past few years.

Once again Broadcasting To The Nations is a proposition brought alive with the distinctive Authority Zero mixing of SoCal punk with reggae and ska and as ever delivered with a host of swinging hooks and anthemic dexterity which has lured persistent acclaim the way of their music and releases. Within the new album though, it all seems to have found a new appetite and imagination; like the quartet has reaped the best elements from previous successes and honed them into their keenest most rapaciously rebellious but fun adventure yet.

It launches with First One in the Pit, a baying eager crowd luring out the band and a stomp of brooding bass and swinging rhythms aligned with senses clashing riffs and rich vocal enticement. Within seconds ears are hooked on the vigorous anthem of sound and spirit, its vocal declaration matched in tone by the contagion of aggressive punk ‘n’ roll sound.

The galvanic start is quickly reinforced by the bold holler of Reconciliation where again the beats of drummer Chris Dalley splinter bone as they land and the heavy grumble of Mike Spero’s bass grips an already awoken appetite. Their predacious edge though is skilfully tempered by the melodic roar of frontman Jason DeVore and the spicy hooks and melodies thrown into the commandingly catchy affair by guitarist Dan Aid. As exceptional as it and its predecessor are though, both are still eclipsed by the stirring charge of the Bad Religion scented Destiny and Demise. Within moments it has its spiky attitude and bold tenacity into hooked into limbs and emotion, stoking the instincts with its raucous enterprise and bullish energy. Submission and involvement is quick and lusty, the track simply punk at its best.

The album’s title track is just as mercilessly compelling, its ska infested shuffle an infestation of body and heart leading the listener into a breath stealing bounce of air punching unity. Spero’s bass uncages a groove which devours the passions, Aid offering hooks which are more puppeteer than suggestion, whilst Dalley’s beats just bite; all together the band spawning an infectiousness which borders on rabid as DeVore anthemically roars.

 

Summer Sickness allows things to calm down a touch though its reggae nurtured grooves and hip teasing bait is swiftly in control and directing reactions alongside the magnetic presence of DeVore. Highlights have flowed since the first second of Broadcasting to the Nations, this another stunning pinnacle springing  in Latin brass flames and a punchy catchiness to get lustful over.

The band dives back into their more direct punk dexterity with Bayside next, the song giving an additional contagious coating its heavy bustle. It is the kind of goodness Green Day delivered back in their prime but with the devilment and heart of Authority Zero which has never wavered and now seems hungrier than ever as supported by the Clash meets Random hand like Revolution Riot, an inescapable stonking romping incitement, and Sevens with its melodic blaze of reflection and defiance.

There is a whiff of Strummer and co to next up La Diabla too, its festival of melodic sound and creative diversity a smouldering fire with more inventive flickers and magnetic exploits than most ferocious pyres of sound and energy. The track is sheer captivation with, as no doubt now you might expect, the listener’s physical participation at its finger tips.

The brassy stroll of Creepers has claws just as vigorously in feet and imagination straight after; its lyrical and musically feisty rock ‘n’ roll something akin to Russian punks Biting Elbows and an instinctive arousal of attitude and anthemic coupling while When We Rule the World simply hits the spot with its stylishly infectious canter. Certainly, like its successor, it is missing that little imaginative extra which set ears and album ablaze earlier but leaves pleasure rich and a greed for more slavering.

One Way Track Kid mixes all its shades of rock in its cry; hard, melodic, and punk rock as boisterous as the other in its dynamic bellow before No Guts No Glory brings things to a fine close with a punk assault as old school, raw, and incendiary as it is fresh, melodic, and galvanic. With a sniff of Flogging Molly to its glory, the song is a heady conclusion to an anthemically intoxicating release.

There is no escaping that as a band Authority Zero are growing physically old but equally it is more than obvious their music whilst impressively mature is lost in the rapture of youth; all the evidence in one of the essential punk roars of recent times.

Broadcasting To The Nations is released June 2nd via Bird Attack Records across most online stores and @ https://birdattackrecords.bandcamp.com/album/broadcasting-to-the-nations

http://authorityzero.com/   https://www.facebook.com/AuthorityZero/   https://twitter.com/Authority_Zero

Pete RingMaster 01/06/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Random Hand – Hit Reset

Random Hand_RingMaster Review

Hands up, who also raised an expletive or two in disappointment when British punksters Random Hand announced earlier this year they were going on an indefinite hiatus to pursue other challenges in life? Well we can tell you now that the pain is going to get simultaneously better and worse thanks to the release of one of the band’s finest roars, final album Hit Reset. Whether it is because the decision has brought a freedom to the band in some way or it simply inspired a no holds barred energy to the creation of the twelve track storm as a last offering, but Hit Reset sees Random Hand at their most diverse, explosive, and passionate best with a little something indefinably extra too.

It is thirteen years ago that the Keighley quartet leap onto the British rock scene with their energetic and dynamic fusion of punk, ska, hardcore, and metal. The time since, has seen Random Hand earn the reputation as one of the UK’s best live encounters at home and further afield, and a host of varied and generally fiercely impacting releases. Now following a final flurry of shows this past summer, it all comes to an ‘end ‘ with the PledgeMusic funded Hit Reset; a giant slice of non-stop anthems which goes with the adages, “go out on a high” and “leave them wanting more”.

Random Hand - Hit Reset_RingMaster Review     Day One is the first encounter upon Hit Reset, its opening tinnitus of percussion amidst a tangy melody tempting enough but the mere appetiser to the explosion of punk metal ferocity and riffs driven by recognisable hardcore energised vocals matched in virulent strength by their clean harmonic counterparts. The swings of drummer Sean Howe seem to have new tenacity and aggression whilst the bass of Joe Tilston could just be at its most grouchy and compelling ever. It might be that ears are interpreting things in hope’s and assumption’s desired way but as the guitar of Dan Walsh weaves a web of antagonism and infection with intense enterprise and energy, that sense of freedom is a swift wonder.

As great as the opener is, the following Death By Pitchforks eclipses it with its strolling ska swing and relentless bounce. Juicy flames of trombone from Robin Leitch shoot across the addiction whilst vocals from him and the rest of the band are again as inescapably persuasive an incitement as the sounds hugging their alluring tones. It is a track which has body, emotions, and soul in relentless involvement, much as its successor Protect & Survive with its growling fury of Bad Religion tinged punk metal and a climax to arouse an empty room, and straight after If I Save Your Back… and its adrenaline powered punk ‘n’ roll stomp. The latter song also slips into some evocative dub/ska imagination and hardcore ire to add extra spice to the bracing revelry.

After The Alarm steps up next and soon forges another pinnacle for the album, its brass seared blaze and riotous stroll instant infection whipped up to greater potency by the choppy texture of riffs and the raw Reuben like contagion flying through ears for another richly inciting chorus. The track is glorious, definite final single candidate and alone a massive reason why Random Hand are going to be sorely missed; though every track upon Hit Reset spawns that feeling, Dead No Longer with its raucous thunder and Maybe It’s A Prize through its again Reuben spiced rapacity swift confirmation.

Dragging an eager body to the floor again, Pack It Up leaps and bounds into the imagination and an already lively ardour with its ska/punk ingenuity next, it too a track to whip up old and new fans alike with its busy and eventful collusion of styles and open passion.

A Clean Slate straight after is rock ‘n’ roll plain and simple, a boisterous call to arms for thoughts and bodies but a song unafraid to suddenly whip the floor from under the listener and take them through a melodic oasis of sound and tempting before entering an even more agitated and fearsome storm. It is a seriously invigorating proposition wonderfully contrasted by the addictive ska swing and rock groove of Abide which in turn makes way for more variety in the rip-roaring alternative rock/punk ‘n’ roll of Shelter As A Verb, both tracks a quick making addiction.

Closing with the no less irresistible As Loud As You Can, a song as post-hardcore as it bluesy, as punk and ska as it is old school rock ‘n’ roll, Hit Reset is a band at the height of its game, a game now sadly being put away in mothballs for a distant or possibly no further outing. Random Hand has left us with a classic though, an album which will continue to incite and excite in their absence. What a way to go!

Hit Reset is available digitally and on CD now through Bomber Music @ https://random-hand.bandcamp.com/album/hit-reset

https://www.facebook.com/randomhand

Pete RingMaster 05/10/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Atlas Losing Grip – Currents

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Ten years in and unleashing their third album this very week, Swedish melodic punks Atlas Losing Grip just get better and musically broader. Currents is a treat of a confrontation and muscular seduction, a release bulging with explosive songs bred in imaginative songwriting and bound in just as magnetically resourceful sounds. As striking and highly persuasive as it is from the first listen, it grows into an even more rigorously compelling adventure over time, revealing new nuances and depths from play to play. Atlas Losing Grip has had no lacking of acclaim coming their way with their reputation growing show by show, release by release, but Currents is a new plateau of enterprise and maturity from the band, a certain game changer in attention and stature.

Hailing from Lund, Atlas Losing Grip upon forming swiftly stirred up appetites in the city’s renowned punk scene which had also spawned the likes of Satanic Surfers and Astream. Debut album Shut The World Out was unveiled to strong responses in 2008, its success followed by the recruitment of Satanic Surfers vocalist Rodrigo Alfaro into the line-up. The next year was marked by the release of Watching The Horizon on mini-cd and 10” vinyl record, an immediate indication of a potent growth in the band’s craft and metal infused punk sound and now with a striking voice to match. With shows with bands such as Bad Religion and the undertaking of many tours under their belts, Atlas Losing Grip uncaged their second album State Of Unrest in 2011. It revealed yet another open evolution and growth, a striking leap forward which has been repeated again between Currents and its predecessor. Driven by an even deeper and creative blend of heavy metal and the band’s distinct style of melodic punk, the fourteen track new proposition is a tapestry of spellbinding and explosive sonic colours around just as gripping and dramatic structures.

Lapping waves bring opener Sinking Ship into view and an instantly inviting weave of melodic endeavour from guitarists Gustav Burn and Max Huddén. Their evocative enticement is a thoughtful and melancholic coaxing behind which a brewing tempest builds before opening its thick arms to welcome pungent beats from drummer Julian Guedj and thick bass sounds from Stefan Bratt. Sonically too the song has grown more tempestuous by this point, but still with some restraint as the walls of the song loom higher and more provocatively over the senses. It is soon a feistily striding march of metal bred tenacity and punk energy though, subsequently coloured by the outstanding tones of Alfaro. A cauldron of passion and craft with an intensity and melodic enterprise to match, the song stirs up ears and appetite with consummate ease whilst proving just an appetiser for bigger things to come.

The following charm and fire of The Curse keeps the vivacious start of the album constant, the at times Greg Graffin like tones of Alfaro roaring over a canvas of sound just as hungrily alg_currents_CD_digipak.inddsimmering and at times boiling. Though the song arguably lacks the final spark to match the first, it ignites the imagination with anthemic ease before Cynosure flexes sinews and sculpts an aggressive melodic theatre. The song is somewhere between a romance and a brawl on the senses and virulently captivating. It also shows the ability to seamless slip between unbridled charges driven expertly by Guedj and an increasingly impressive bass sound and enterprise from Bratt, and mellow reflective calm superbly caressed by Alfaro.

Through the similarly melodically and vocally voracious Shallow and the creatively snarling Nemesis, Atlas Losing Grip kicks up another stunning gear, the first of the pair an uncompromising and thoughtful blast of contagious heavy weight pop punk. Its successor equally twists and erupts with an infectiousness to bait body and passions but with a raw and more imposing texture to its inventiveness and blistering sounds. Both though fall into the shadow of the brilliant Closure, an acoustically sculpted ballad showing, as if we needed any more proof, the strength and quality of Alfaro’s voice. Backed as impressively by the band his delivery is embraced in just as evocative melodic scenery woven by the guitars. Adding emotive strokes of strings to seduce ears further, the track fascinates with its mesmeric impassioned presence.

Both the rock pop catchiness of Kings and Fools, which has a slight feel of Living End to it, and the punk storm of Cast Anchor rouse ears and emotions in their individual and similarly tenacious ways whilst Unknown Waters follows with a contemplation of vocal and melodic design which provokes feet and thoughts equally to greedily embrace its fiery elegance and rhythmic incitement. Anthemic vocals and another irresistible predacious bassline stands out before the song stands aside for the drama of The End where bass and drums again steal early attention before sharing attention it with, as expected, the voice of Alfaro and the dynamic energy of the guitars.

One pinnacle of Currents makes way for another in Downwind, as potent a punk and heavy metal anthem as you are likely to hear this year, which applies to the album as a whole too to be fair. The song stomps with heavy booted beats and wiry grooves whilst vigorously rippling with addictive emotion and infectiousness. It is an epidemic of a persuasion and alongside Closure firmly taking top honours. Its might shadows the next up Through the Distance a touch though it cannot diminish the thrilling maze of thrilling imagination and electro whispers nor the turbulent lure of industrious and feverish rock ‘n’ roll shaping the track.

Variety is not absent for long at any point on Currents, the sheer atmospheric and melodic drama of Cold Dirt sending ears and release down new avenues with its harmonic poetry and epic orchestral bred heart. Another big highlight it leaves Ithaka to bring the album to a close with its tribal seeded percussion and sultry melodic climate. Eleven minutes in length, the song never outstays the attention span, only revealing further depths and originality to band and release.

Currents is a gem, one shining brighter with every listen. There is a surprise that not as many songs return in thoughts to nag attention whilst away from the album but this has no impact, not even a whisper, on the weight and glory of the album. As suggested at the start Atlas Losing Grip just get better and better, and even the news that Alfaro has left the band just before the album’s release cannot deflate the band’s certain ascent into the strongest spotlights, especially with a song featuring his placement Niklas Olsson sounding like the vocal department is in safe and accomplished hands.

Currents is available worldwide from 16th January

http://www.atlaslosinggrip.com/

RingMaster 16/01/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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The Vox Dolomites – Self-Titled

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British punk has been at a feisty high for a couple of years now and just gets more potent which each emerging band and release. At the heart and criminally not getting the attention deserved is The Vox Dolomites, a quartet which turns the seeds of punk rock and ska into lyrically and musically gripping dramas. Their songs and EPs have proven the band has an instinctive knack at inciting feet and thoughts with energy and skill. Just recently the Stockport based band released their self-titled debut album, a release which surely will finally draw the keenest spotlight upon their presence.

Formed in2011, The Vox Dolomites is a tenacious and voracious creative stomp driven by guitarists/vocalists Ant Walsh and Will Farley, bassist/vocalist Chris O’Donnell, and drummer Simon Dunnington. The band soon grabbed attention, including ours, with the release simply called First Demo 2012. Their introduction was a blaze of punk and ska revelry which instantly made with its raw and inventive presence, an instant and lingering impression. It was a success subsequently emulated by tracks like No Split Ends and the Down For Three / Joan & Frank single of 2013. Live too the band has earned a renowned reputation for their ferocity of sound and drive, playing acclaimed shows not only at home but across the globe where especially in Japan, the band is feverishly devoured. This was no more evident than in The Dirty Work Tour 2012 movie which came out last year. Filmed by Chalkman Video it honestly followed the band on tour out East, revealing everything about the connection between band and their fans. Working hard on their first album through the first half of 2014, The Vox Dolomites has now opened the cage to a stomping release which declares that the band has hit their sweet spot creatively and unleashed their most adventurous and eclectic songs yet.

Choppy riffs make an instant potent tempting as opener Backtrack steps forward, their lure accentuated by the stroke of piano which sparks a flavoursome stroll of shadowed bass and keys wrapped in expressive melodies. A breath is swiftly taken before vocals and songs rouse up the imagination with their spicy enterprise and punk tenacity. It is a riveting mix, raw punk and melodic rock colluding for an infectious proposition equipped with essences of Rancid and NOFX for extra flavour. Making a striking start to the album, the richly pleasing track is surpassed by the outstanding Battle Scars, a feisty roar with thicker sinews and predatory intent compared to its predecessor, cored by the gripping throaty bass of O’Donnell amidst an acidic blaze of guitar. One of the band’s early songs which graced a previous EP, the track has been revamped and given a new antagonistic tenacity so it stomps as a new beast

Both Down For 3 and Alone In Mexico keep the adventure and quality of the album flying, the first of the two a ska rock dance with the crisp beats of Dunnington coring a flirtatious bass enticement and the radiant devilry of keys. Vivacious and exhaustive for feet and emotions, the song is a virulent bounce infused with sixties garage rock seduction and insatiable melodic charm. The second of the pair explores a sterner old school punk attitude and sound, the switching of two vocal attacks an alluring graze to compliment the similarly harsh sounds. The song still develops an imposing catchiness though which is as irresistible as the brooding fury within its depths and narrative.

The brilliant No Split Ends comes next, a pop punk provocateur with ferocity to its jangling riffs and punch to its intimidating rhythms. Again the busy energy and intensity of the track is a breath-taking onslaught but also it is ripe with a seriously addictive lure and temptation which snarls as it seduces. As the previous older song, the track has been revitalised and twisted into an even greater slice of punk alchemy to take top song honours and reinforce reasons why those in the know wax lyrical about the band.

As mentioned there is strong and highly pleasing variety to the album as shown by the melodic and hard rock infused 6AM Rain. Fiery but simultaneously a gentler stroll, the track comes with skilled melodic endeavour and blues rock imagination whilst still showing its punk breeding. Whereas the previous song had a sense of Russian punks Biting Elbows and also [Spunge], this whispers a calm Turbonegro and Bad Religion fusion whilst still sounding distinct to the Brits. Without sparking as certainly its predecessor, the track is an intriguing and pleasing different side to the band’s evolving sound, as is the more ruggedly bruising ALA where again heavier rock riffs and that increasingly delicious carnivorous tone of bass bind attention and appetite. The stirring and muscular brawl of punk ‘n’ roll is an inescapable imposing setting up the passions perfectly for the impossible addictive Horrorshow. Ska punk with a growl to vocals and riffs tempered by the melodic seducing of keys, the track is one of those stomps which once infested by never leave thoughts and passions. Bands like Face To Face and Operation Ivy have helped drive the style of music employed, but whether either has crafted a track as potent and irresistible as this is debateable.

I Fought The Lawyer brings us back to old school punk fury with Clash like attitude within raw rock ‘n’ roll whilst the gnarly Kojak With A Kodak with stabbing riffs and a rumbling bass lining, takes ears into yet another new aspect in the band’s punk ingenuity and exploration. A slow burner compared to other songs on the album, even with its eager gait, the track reveals itself to be a fascinating and richly creative persuasion unveiling a little more to its depth and lure with every listen.

The album goes out with a bang through firstly the mouth-watering aggressive stomp of Break Down The Walls, the song another long-term lust in the making, and lastly the ridiculously contagious and body igniting Losing Hands. Punk does not come any better than these last two songs, well apart from the other tracks on this excellent rampage of an album. It seems we are praising The Vox Dolomites more and more with every release and there is no reason to change with this seriously impressive album. They are a band which deserves the keenest spotlight and hopefully now they have found the trigger to such attention and recognition.

The Vox Dolomites is available now via STP Records @ http://www.stprecords.co.uk/page4.htm on CD with a vinyl version scheduled for 2015.

http://www.thevoxdolomites.com

RingMaster 06/11/2014

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