Aliases – Derangeable

Aliases_RingMasterReview

Obviously, it is too early to suggest what will be the best of 2016 but amongst album contenders we suggest you can expect to see Derangeable flirting with the top spot. The new and second album from British progressive tech-metallers Aliases is simply majestic, inescapably irresistible, and a proposition more than living up, in sound and imagination, to its title.

The brain-child of former SikTh guitarist Pin and fellow six-string maestro Leah Woodward, Aliases quickly whipped up attention and eager appetites from the first steps of its emergence in 2010. The band’s first year saw ear exciting single We Never Should Have Met create a potent buzz; an introduction quickly backed by the band making their live debut at Euroblast Festival in Germany and subsequently signing with Basick Records. Highly acclaimed debut album, Safer Than Reality, was uncaged in 2011 to swiftly make the band a potent presence and protagonist within tech metal and suggest the potential to rise to the stature of Pin’s former band. With a new vocalist and drummer bringing their prowess to events, Aliases easily live up to that promise and indeed have more than matched, and arguably surpassed, anything previous exploits have offered with Derangeable.

The album is a non-stop, often exhausting kaleidoscope of sound and invention; a release as technically beguiling as it is infectiously compelling and creatively mouth-watering. It is also an openly individual and unique proposal which at times borders on the loco in its dance of craft and imagination. It all starts with Find Where You Hide, a track which leaps at ears with a wall of imposing rhythms and spiky guitar coaxing as new vocalist Joe Rosser springs with equal attention grabbing zeal. From his initial dirty tones, he swiftly gives a glimpse of his melodic and harmonic diversity which increasingly shines across song and especially album. If ever a voice was perfect for an unpredictable and fluidly eventful sound, Rosser’s is it; his delivery and invention seeming to flow and prowl the inventive discord and flirtation lining every twist and turn in sound with their own striking adventure. The song itself continues to seduce and incite; the sultry addition of sax, antagonistic beats, and finally classical keys, just a few strands in the enthralling tapestry of the song.

art_RingMasterReviewEverything Is Upon Us is soon dazzling ears and thoughts with its instant busy weave. Entangling varied metal bred lures with funk, avant-garde, and nu-metal devilment, the track enslaves in seconds. The guitars of Pin and Woodward simply dance with almost schizophrenic invention whilst Joe Heaton’s bass prowls through it all like a predator equipped with resonating groans and salacious grooving. As with all songs, it is impossible to reflect the emprise of senses twisting and psyche captivating exploration going on, every second seemingly a new cascade of adventure as shown again in the beefier and equally melodically alluring Back To The Start. Shaped by the crafty swings and beats of Jof Walsh and coloured by the impressive vocal exploits of Rosser, the song emerges like a mix of The Kennedy Soundtrack, KingBathmat, and maybe unsurprisingly SikTh on the way to being something distinct to Aliases.

The pair of Smile All You Like and Deep Sea Avenue keeps attention tight and the imagination stirred; the first with its intricately woven exotic bedlam of guitar and rhythmic ingenuity ridden by the great vocal resources of Rosser and band. It is a fascination of sound and imagination emulated in an even more strikingly unbalanced way by its successor, a track that growls and leers at the listener whilst taking them through its sonic psychosis. It is an outstanding and virulent treat of sound and temptation pretty much matched in success by the lighter yet just as frenzied tango of Uncontrollable Desires. There is a touch of Korn and System Of A Down to the song; spices which simply add to the irresistible web of creative alchemy infesting body and spirit.

The commandingly intensive and barbarously engrossing Callous comes next; it a merger of contrasting shades of aggression and intent bound together by the band’s ever riveting casting of unhinged innovation in sound and idea. It completes a quartet of unmissable favourites at the centre of Derangeable, though through the agitated maze of Face For Lust, where the bass is instinctively flirtatious, and the similarly dynamic and left-field bearing Seen It All, the album and pleasure are locked closer together than ever.

The album comes to a mighty close with the grooved beauty and psyche bending resourcefulness of the wonderful Untangled Mind and finally the warm harmonic charm and mischievous eccentricity of Above The Sky. The pair provides a quite glorious and lingering conclusion to not only one of the year’s major triumphs so far but one of the most enjoyable and impressive adventures in the history of tech and progressive metal. Derangeable is one of those releases which are destined to become an inspiration to others and the best friend to ears and imagination; the tag of genius is already on the lips in reference to their glorious triumph.

Derangeable is out now via Basick Records with buying options @ http://www.basickrecords.com/releases/derangeable

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Pete Ringmaster 18/04/2016

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Create To Inspire – Home Is Where My Heart Dies

 

CTI_RingMasterReviewBuilding on the success of their debut EP, British melodic hardcore quintet, Create To Inspire, are poised to release its successor in the rousing shape of Home Is Where My Heart Dies. It is the band’s first offering since signing with Basick Records at the turn of the year; a pungent roar of emotion and imposing sound showing potent depths of invention and imagination beneath its impressing surface.

There are no major ground-breaking moments in the band’s new EP, the release more of a confirmation and expansion on the potential already offered by predecessor Halfway Home, yet predictability is noticeable by its absence while freshness in confrontational textures and accomplished craft is a persistent persuasion. From emerging in 2012, it is fair to say that the Essex hailing band has perpetually and increasingly drawn attention and praise their way; a success, it is easy to expect, set to reach another pinnacle with their latest release.

2014 saw the band win the Red Bull Studios Live At Download competition, subsequently playing alongside the likes of Aerosmith, Linkin Park, Avenged Sevenfold, and more, before the Halfway Home EP really stirred up ears and appetites. Since then they have toured alongside While She Sleeps and Giants, they particular highlights of a busy 2015, and following the release of Home Is Where My Heart Dies, Create To Inspire are set to make their debut tour into Europe in support of Skywalker, before returning to again hit the road with While She Sleeps. 2016 is looking another eventful year for the band starting here with Home Is Where My Heart Dies.

art_RingMasterReviewThe EP opens up with History and immediately has ears under a rhythmic cosh with predatory riffs for company. Thereafter the song uncages a tide of hungry riffs amidst the vocal ire of Sean Midson, subsequently expanding and blossoming its catchy rhythms and melodic endeavour with every lyrical snarl and sonic scythe.  The hefty swipes of drummer Luke Taylor continue to punctuate the track whilst inciting ears alongside the similarly intrusive tones of Dan Fuller’s bass. They also make a forceful impact on the senses whereas the imagination is held by Midson’s potent mix of attack and the web of enterprise cast by guitarists Jack Morris and Connor McLeod. The track is a potent start to the release; an ear grabbing proposal lining familiar hues and flavours with the band’s own stirring invention.

Counting Days steps forward next and instantly reveals its punk origins with its hardcore bred opening, a bracing bellow of voice and sound. Forceful as it is, the song also keeps one hand on the reins so melodic endeavour can flow seamlessly from within its brooding tempest. As aggressive and abrasive as it is melodically and harmonically infectious, the track is a striking roar of volatile and emotive intensity, and the EP’s strongest moment.

A gentle melodic caress brings Don’t Let Go into view next, its melancholic charm joined by the rawer expression of Midson’s vocals as beats land with determination. It is a highly suggestive start which is only accentuated by the infectious hooks and swinging energy which follows before the process is repeated with an even more irritable air coating the song’s subsequent energetic expulsion. It is another memorable encounter, maybe the one which lingers most from the EP though it’s title track has plenty of creative and catchy moments to its storm that hang around in thoughts and enjoyment.

It is another inflamed proposal of sound and emotion which masterfully shows off the vocal variety and sonic resourcefulness of the band , and the rhythmic imagination which steer the songs. As the EP generally, the closing track is not rich in ear catching surprises but has a multitude of alluring sounds and ideas in its equally pleasing body. Home Is Where My Heart Dies as a whole is an impressive continuation of the first Create To Inspire EP and confirmation that this is a band with the potential to make great strides within the UK music scene.

The Home Is Where My Heart Dies is released March 25th via Basick Records.

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Pete RingMaster 23/03/2016

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No Consequence – Vimana

No Consequence press shot

It is probably not too far from the mark to suggest that Vimana, the new album from UK progressive/tech metallers No Consequence has been one highly anticipated offering, and right on the money to say it is one strapping beast of sound and creative attitude. The release takes an already highly flavoursome and attention grabbing sound to new pastures of imagination and voracious intensity, aligning the established technical and aggression of the band to a more concentrated brew of melodic and expressive adventure. It is their most rounded and gripping proposition yet with just the hint that they and we are still nowhere near the finished article of their potential and sound.

Renowned as one of the most impressive live acts on the European metal scene, listing the sharing of tours and stages with the likes of TesseracT, Chimp Spanner, Carcer City and just recently Monuments and Murdock on their CV, No Consequence follow up their previous acclaimed albums In the Shadow of Gods and IO, of 2009 and 2013 respectively, with an incitement which seduces as it tears strips of the senses and relentlessly fascinates as it casts a roar of uncompromising aggressiveness.

NC-Vimana-packshot   Vimana begins with the short persuasion of Acala and an immediate hint of dramatic climates and textures within a harmonic embrace. An intro come scene setter, the appealing opening is soon departing for the more rugged and emotionally intensive Our Time Has Come. Restrained yet rich grooves wind around ravenous riffs and a sonic turbulence as the rawer aspect of vocalist Kaan Tasan comes to the fore. He too though is soon showing an adept range as a cleaner presence entwines with his dustier snarls. As the guitars of Dan Reid and Harry Edwards flirt and abrase ears with craft and enterprise, the song’s tempest provides a persistent challenge and enticement of progressive and technical tenacity. It is equally a weave of varied metal and melodic toxicity, it all colluding in one magnetic lure holding attention and appetite firmly in its hands alongside enjoyment.

The following Is This A Way To Live has a calmer if no less energetic presence, though vocal squalls and cantankerous riffs as well as a grooved taunting offer disagreement. Subsequently the song slips into a mellow reflective passage within a still tempestuous atmosphere, the bass of Tom Parkinson a prowling shadow in the growing web of wiry grooves and hooks whilst the rhythmic animosity of drummer Colin Bentham is barbarous in the norm and bestial, like the bass, in the track’s most agitated state. With a Middle Eastern suggestiveness emerging in its thick ambience and unpredictability driving every twist and turn, the track has ears and thoughts thoroughly captivated before making way for the more rigorous examination of Resistance and in turn the cyclonic energy of The Turning Point. There is a carnal essence to the savage riffs and technical predation of the first of the two, but countered by and aligned to a constantly evolving landscape of immersive melodies, heart driven vocals, and a blustery fury. Virulently contagious and intrusively dynamic, the track is the first major pinnacle within an already seriously impressing album and quickly matched by the inventive theatre and hostile temptation of its successor. It is another song which merges contrasts and contradictions in sound and energy in a riveting emotional and breath-taking physical turmoil. Though arguably not as technically busy as previous releases but certainly as skilfully dynamic and inventive it, as all the songs within Vimana, reveals new corners and depths with every listen, ensuring every flight of the album’s raging adventure is increasingly rewarding.

The elegant caress of brief instrumental Half Light comes next, its evocative beauty courted by a vocal sample before Citizen with a similarly warm charm and presence takes over. Of course things get more heated and agitated soon after, guitars spinning a trap of sonic predation matched by heavy rhythms though almost as quickly, a melodic tempting returns to seduce once again. The vocal variety of Tasan leads an eventual merger of both aspects as the song becomes a bewitching trespass on ears and passions.

There is something familiar about the following Speechless especially when vocals and song are in full roar but ultimately it casts a uniquely inflamed presence rife with emotional ire and sonic adventure. The lead track from the album and another highly satisfying encounter, it still does not quite take ears and emotions on the same thrilling ride as other tracks upon the album or indeed Disconnect which straight after unveils a worldly melodic emprise within a creative bellow and an imposing persistently evolving incitement.

Vimana is drawn to a close by firstly the cauldron of diversity and extremes that is Signs and finally its title track and its mellow croon on ears. Also equipped with a rhythmic stalking, the last song increasingly spawns brighter and bolder voracious flames throughout but without ever catching ablaze; a restraint which you have to say superbly works.

Both tracks bring Vimana a fine and absorbing finale, the album ending as potently as it began. There are moments where personally there was a wish for the band to go further with its melodic explorations or inhospitable endeavour but no moment when No Consequence just do not seriously impress. Bottom-line is that Vimana is an unbridled recommendation for not only technical/progressive metal fans but for the broad attention of metal itself.

Vimana is available now via Basick Records digitally and on CD @ http://music.basickrecords.com/album/vimana and http://basick.supplies/collections/no-consequence

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RingMaster 09/06/2015

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Heights – Phantasia On The High Processions Of Sun, Moon And Countless Stars Above

HEIGHTS_shot1

As in the size of its title, Phantasia On The High Processions Of Sun, Moon And Countless Stars Above is an epic proposition, an atmospherically expansive offering which is simultaneously an encounter of emotional intimacy. In similar fashion whilst being technically intricate and involved there is an organic and almost simple flow to the whole thing. The new creative emprise from UK band Heights, the album is the host of many contrasting things entangling in mesmeric majesty, combining and aligning for an irresistible adventure of aural beauty.

The trio take rich sonic threads from varied styles such as post and progressive rock, jazz and more classically seeded flavours, weaving them into instrumental explorations which invigorate ears and fascinate the imagination with a sublime creative seduction. Formed in 2006, this has been the way of the trio since day one. It is a flavour and imagination ensuring that previous releases like 2008 album Salvation and Trepidation and its 2010 successor From Sea to Sky, have been irresistible lures for the senses and magnets for acclaim. Now guitarist/composer Al Heslop, bassist John Hopkin, and drummer Jay Postones, also of TesseracT, return with their finest most transfixing creative emprise yet, a release which simply immerses the listener in unique and invigorating explorations of sound and sonic suggestiveness.

Phantasia, as we will call the album from hereon in to save space and time in your lives, opens with Universe Forming and swiftly entangles ears and thoughts in a gentle but evocative melodic embrace. A celestial atmosphere and warmth soaks the air of the emerging song, kissing the thickly enticing groove and sonic colouring which is soon filling the song’s spatial canvas. A melodic seducing lights up the now energetic stroll of the encounter but just as potently lays an emotive hue over more calmer, almost solemn moments. Each move within the song, and in those to come, are seamless twists in the landscape whilst rhythms provide a wonderful shading to the prowess of Heslop’s fingers and ideation. That shadow becomes a more vocal, almost predatory tempting further in the track, in turn sparking sultry and Latin spiced enterprise in the melodies. The track is a glorious start to the album instantly matched by its outstanding successor.

4PAN1T  The eagerly prowling incitement of guitar and bass ignites Solar Bringer of Chaos Lunar Bringer of Light into life, their intriguing and beguiling venture springing a new greed in an already fully awoken appetite for what is in offer. Their bait takes ears into another flight through a vast soundscape of universal expanse but also veined by intimate and provocative tendrils of guitar and rhythmic imagination. It is impossible to project everything which goes on in a single moment upon Phantasia, let alone within whole songs themselves, but it is easy to say that the sonic persuasion and ingenious tapestries cast simply take body and emotions into sensational realms away from reality.

Through the climactic smoulder of Aeolus with its jazzy rhythmic enticing and the more agitated lure of Time Dilation, band and album engage and further involve the listener in sonic scenery which is as visually potent on thoughts as it is aurally stimulating. The first is an elegant romance of melodies and those unpredictable rhythms but with more danger lined shadows whilst the second of the two aligns feisty, bordering on volatile mini crescendos with emotively stimulating caresses. It is the darker essences which in many ways spark the emotional side of things for album and listener, ears certainly seduced by the flair and imagination of the guitar but it is the darker drama surfacing around this, especially in bass and drums, which trigger the cinematic stimulus pervading the release.

New Star explodes in a fresh dawn of infectious melodic light next, again the bright air nicely tempered but more so complimented by the throatier tones of bass, before the outstanding Centrifuge turns into an unexpected avenue of discord lined jangles, wiry grooves, and unbridled unpredictability. There is a free flowing essence to the whole of the album, an improv like suggestiveness which at times hints but in this riveting encounter simply engulfs ears and pleasure. Of course it is a planned and again superbly sculpted incitement but worming into the psyche with an organically flowing instinct.

That almost riotous enterprise continues in Perseids, a similarly bewitching encounter with a great grizzle to the bass and expansive textures to its invention whilst Heliograph and the following Astronomer explore more personal and creatively intimate emotions in their individual ways. That is another potent key to the success of Phantasia, though over an hour of in many ways intensive imagination and technical majesty, every song reveals a wholly unique character and presence within the growing and glowing soundscape of the release.

Emotions and thoughts continue to be enthralled as the virulently compelling Ballad Of The Space Time Continuum and the more low key but inescapably enticing On The Wings Of Astral Projection bring their own absorbing aural theatre, whilst ears are especially spellbound by the closing excellence of Everlasting. Rhythmically addictive from its first breath and sonically enchanting throughout, the pure captivation posing as a song brings the album to an intoxicating conclusion.

Whether taking tracks alone or the album as a whole, Heights have created a place to escape to and bask in whilst evading the trials of life and the shadows of the day. There is nothing grand in the intent of the band and their creative thoughts but everything majestic and epic in the results. Phantasia On The High Processions Of Sun, Moon And Countless Stars Above is a must for all progressive/post rock fans, heck melodic rock fans in general.

Phantasia On The High Processions Of Sun, Moon And Countless Stars Above is out now via Basick Records @ http://music.basickrecords.com/album/phantasia-on-the-high-processions-of-sun-moon-and-countless-stars-above and all online stores.

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RingMaster 28/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Murdock – Dead Lung

MURDOCK-Promo1

How to describe Dead Lung, the new album from Dublin trio Murdock? Well quite simply it is a BEAST! In sheer power, ferocity, and primal instincts the album is a devourer of senses and psyche. Similarly though it has all the creative wile and lithe characteristics of a predator and once it has its claws in there is no escaping the savaging of hardcore, noise, or the technical trespass assaulting ears and igniting the imagination. Dead Lung is just immense.

Since emerging Murdock has earned an increasing and devoted following to go along with the reputation bred of being one incendiary device live. It is a devastating experience which in the words of the band has the attitude, “If you are not bleeding or exhausted, what is the point?” The band has ignited stages alongside the likes of Every Time I Die, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Unearth, Sick Of It All, Lower Than Atlantis, Coilguns and numerous more, either on tour or at individual shows but now it is their debut album Dead Lung, released via Basick Records, that is poised to be the detonator to greater intensive climes, and with little to surely stand in their way such its might and hellacious alchemy.

The album opens with the first single taken from it, Deer Noises. It is a track going for the jugular from its first breath, riffs gnawing the senses whilst rhythms venomously batter them, and it is fair to say that the sonic spicing wrapping both is up to no good either. It is a magnetic entrance enhanced further by the raw vocals of guitarist Aidan and the contagious elements flaring up in the tempest of sound and emotion. It is not just an infectious essence emerging either, an inventive unpredictable flurry of fierce and melodic twists adds to the gripping turmoil too. Coilguns comes to mind listening to the song but equally spices of bands like The Ghost of a Thousand and Kunz tease thoughts, all mere whispers in the roar though as the album gets off to a thumping irresistible start.

Albumcover   The band has so many weapons that impress, that unpredictability a major one outside of the sound itself and it continues to seduce across the album starting with I Am Not A Continent next. This also has the listener’s throat in its sonic jaws from the first second, guitars and bass snarling and ravaging the senses whilst the beats of Ronan show more restraint yet still unload with a punishing intent. Slips into mellow scenery equipped with sultry harmonies and progressive beauty virtually flirt with the listener inside the encounter too but always they have to submit for the similarly riveting fury fuelling the proposition.

A lustful appetite is already brewing by the time What You Don’t Like takes over; its psychotic character and agitated rhythmic bait a swift proposal to be feared and embraced. It is even angrier than the rages before it but also in some ways lacking the same addictive quality, though this is more to do with personal preferences across Dead Lung. The track seems to lean deeper in the hardcore side of the band compared to its more evenly sculpted predecessors but also arguably more experimental ideation with its Deftones like detours. It provides another fascinating incitement though but one soon surpassed by the band’s latest outstanding single Erk. An avalanche of rhythms bruise and inflame ears first, riffs and sonic ferocity just as toxic from within the storm. The bass of Rob lays down a mean throaty lure throughout the increasingly anthemic and volatile brute of a triumph also, but the song is a success again unafraid to slip into melodic beauty and evocative caresses. Its hooks are sheer addiction on top of it all and the band gets more accomplished in ability and imagination in three and a half minutes than most others will across a whole album.

Narrowcasting finds a post punk coldness and monotone elegance to its prowling presence next, the song managing to sound like a hybrid of Palms meets late seventies band Artery. It is just as intimidating in its doom lined mellowness as it is in the outbursts of pent up vocal and sonic vitriol and takes album and listener on a completely new direction to what came before whilst continuing in the same vein as the previous provocations. The track is mouth-watering stuff matched by Brainface which explodes in the face after the brief jazzy and progressive instrumental seduction of 51 West 95th St. This leads straight into the sonic windstorm and blistering inhospitality of Brainface, a relatively short punk brawl clad in noise rock devilry and furious dissonance.

Neither The Signal In The Noise nor Leave Me Here For The Crows take any prisoners, the first a scorching and scarring sonic consumption speared by magnetic rhythm invention, warped slithers of unconnected styles, and rabid vocals. Once feeling in the senses returns, there is only pleasure for the might and thrilling violation of the track, the same applying to its successor. This takes a more controlled assault to the senses yet is still a volcanic maliciousness which intensifies its potency and weight with every passing swipe and grazing riffs, whilst its core groove just makes the tongue pass over lips.

Juices spill again with the cyclonic Old Blood Dead Lung, a glorious beating with convulsive rhythms and a bass sound you can only describe as demonic. The guitar enterprise and vocal vehemence of Aidan strip ears of their stability magnificently and in no time the track is locked in as a favourite across the increasingly impressing album.

It should be noted that every glimpse of the song we are trying to portray is as just that, choice moments in the ever evolving and twisted landscape of the tracks, each conflicts you can make assumptions and have expectations over but will never get a full handle on until heard, as Vebalectomy next. It is hardcore and punk in its heart but a broad and constantly shifting diversity of sound and ideation in presence, and arguably this is one of the more straight forward tracks in its make-up.

      Dead Lung comes to a close through firstly the portentous doom seeded Nineteeneightyfive, a sinister and almost meditative soundscape as hypnotic as it is threatening and lastly Monographia which blooms from within its predecessor and returns to the post punk hued atmosphere and persuasion glanced over previously in the album. The vocals of Aidan and Rob are smouldering caresses within the raw and caustic but similarly reserved sounds, though in time it all becomes a turbulent and bracing proposition.

It is a superb end to an engrossing and simply thrilling album. Even the pair of singles put out just before Dead Lung barely gave a true picture of the variety and scintillating depths of songwriting and adventure of sound to be found within it. The list already is getting long for possible album of the year contenders but there is no other option than to add Murdock’s name to it.

Dead Lung is available now via Basick Records @ http://music.basickrecords.com/album/dead-lung

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RingMaster 17/04/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Skyharbor – Guiding Lights

© Naki Kouyioumtzis. SkyHarbor, on a roof top with London skyline behind them

Whilst Guiding Lights did not exactly blow us away as it might have, there is nothing but praise and recommendations which can be offered over the new album from progressive metallers Skyharbor. The successor to the band’s acclaimed 2012 debut album Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos, the new ten track exploration reaps all the essences which made its predecessor standout and explores even richer and more adventurous landscapes of technical and imaginative invention aligned to impassioned creativity. Taken individually, the tracks within Guiding Lights tempt, enthral, and impress without exception but as a whole for whatever reason, the album becomes one thrilling immersive journey but which loses the definition between the different exploits, tracks often blending in without very intensive attention. It is a personal issue we came up against and will not apply to all, and to be fair still could not stop the album standing out as a remarkable and seriously appetising next step in the striking evolution of the band.

Formed initially as a studio project by songwriter/guitarist Keshav Dhar, Skyharbor, the India based band has grown to become one of the rigorously captivating propositions in world progressive metal, in the studio and as the live touring band it evolved into. Starting its line-up growth around 2011 with the linking up of drummer Anup Sastry (Jeff Loomis, Intervals) and Another Vertigo Rush bassist Nikhil Rufus Raj, the band soon emerged as a potent and persistently intriguing presence, its first shows seeing Skyharbor as an instrumental trio. Signing with Basick Records led to the release of the double-disc album Blinding White Noise: Illusion & Chaos, the album seeing Sunneith Revankar (Bhayanak Maut) the vocalist on one disc and Daniel Tompkins (TesseracT), who had previously contacted Dhar with the suggestion of collaborating, on the other. Soon after confirming Tomkins as permanent vocalist, the band with second guitarist Devesh Dayal joining the line-up found themselves sharing stages with the likes of Lamb of God, Bass Monuments, and TesseracT as well as going on to play numerous festivals up to the latter part of last year when the band took time out to write and create Guiding Lights. With Goddess Gagged bassist Krishna Jhaveri replacing the departing Raj, the crowd-funded new album also released via Basick, has stepped forward as a dramatic and riveting next step in the band’s ascent.

Opening track Allure instantly transfixes; melodies and sonic enterprise vibrantly rippling across the song’s fluid canvas like warm summer rain on a clear stretch of water. Almost as swiftly though there is an intensity of passion and GuidingLights_Coverrhythmic incitement which with an agitated beckoning, streaks across the immersive embrace of the track. It is a masterful lure of a song, the outstanding vocals of Tompkins, as across the whole album, smooth and clean with engrossing expression to their narrative. Every aspect of the track and band impresses it is fair to say, the dark toned shadows of bass excelling in the clarity given and guitars bewitching whether laying down elegant designs or brewing up a more tempestuous persuasion.

The impressive start is emulated by the following Evolution, the track a rawer fiery proposition than the opener. The imposing beats of Sastry which commanded attention in the first song take an even more grievous pose in their swings here, though they are unafraid to temper the attack in the more temperate passages of the song. Though not a violent storm, the track still blusters from its rugged start with rigorously heavy scything riffery before finding a mellow and reflective emotive calm to explore, not quite the eye of the tempest but a temporary peace in a gripping maelstrom.

Both Idle Minds and Miracle keep ears and thoughts firmly engaged, the first taking on a poppier breath with its contagion without drifting from the raw emotion of its provocative exploration and a sonic endeavour where the throaty predation of the bass and sensuous melodies from guitars align for another intriguing captivation. The second of the two tracks soars through a celestial atmosphere, vocal and resourceful invention from guitars a radiant and acidic beauty which flares perfectly across the more vigorous traits of the song. As across the release, both are as excitingly unpredictable as they are skilfully sculpted and a potent continuation of the rich creative parade already unveiled.

Through the mesmeric and dramatically flavoursome scenery of Halogen and the more tenaciously challenging adventure of New Devil, the album whips up further greed in the appetite; the second of the two with its provocative and ferocious energy an irresistible incitement and with its intrigue drenched ingenuity, another peak to the album. Both leave thoughts and emotions bound in their creative emprises as does the Porcupine Tree like elegance and resonance of Patience which is subsequently followed by the long mystical temptation of the album’s title track. From its haunting opening ambience, the track brews up into a stormy flight merging rhythmic and emotional turbulence with thought encroaching melodies and vocal passion. As with so many of the tracks, once departed the song is a slim memory but in its hug the track steals ears and thought from the outside world with ease.

Guiding Lights is completed by firstly the excellent seduction of Kaikoma, a song exploring electronic and sonic temptations within an infectious and lingering progressive immersion of the senses. It is a thrilling investigation, one of the major pinnacles of the album which sets up the expansive realm of the finale. The Constant is an undulating terrain of thick and subtle structures, sublime and concussive textures, and gripping creative drama. It is a powerful and thrilling encounter which epitomises the album in that it is absorbingly and bracingly enjoyable as company and inspiration but whether it is its length or there being so much going on, it loses attention at points within its impressive landscape.

With every member of the band mouth-wateringly exploring their stunning individual technical and creative depths, the bottom-line is that Skyharbor has not only created another exceptional proposition to bask in, but one pushing them to the forefront of progressive metal. Guiding Lights is an outstanding journey which challenges for all the right reasons and though for us it works better taken as individual trips in its extensive emprise, it is nothing to complain about and only something to enjoy.

Guiding Lights is available now digitally and on CD via Basick Records @ http://music.basickrecords.com/album/guiding-lights and http://store.basickrecords.com/home/products/guiding-lights-cd/

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RingMaster 11/11/2014

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Alaya –Thrones

Alaya2

Now that US progressive metallers Alaya have unveiled their debut album we can confirm that the feisty buzz and acclaim for the Chicago trio is more than just for their powerful sound and presence. Thrones is a formidable adventure of technical prowess and passionate endeavour funnelled into a ferociously compelling and imaginative experience. Anticipation for the band’s debut has been as eager and fiery as the sounds it offers and it is easy to say that no one will be disappointed by the encounter just awe inspired.

It is fair to say that Thrones took longer than some to unveil its intensive persuasion though that was nothing to do with accessibility issues just the richness of depth and invention waiting to be discovered. It is a dramatic and demanding listen with its never ending twists and persistent evolution and unashamedly rewarding every step of the way. There are times where arguably the landscape of melodic fire and unrestrained technical ingenuity suffocates the chance of memorable moments within some songs preventing them being as strong a lingering temptation as they deserve but in their hands senses and emotions are invigorated playthings for a thoroughly riveting proposition.

Consisting of vocalist/guitarist Evan Graham Dunn, bassist/vocalist Michael Brandt Rinkenberger, and drummer David Jacob Robison, Thrones_CoverAlaya has forged a formidable reputation which has caught the imagination of fans and musicians alike as well as the media. Offered comparisons to the likes of Periphery, Muse, and Protest The Hero, the band has still forged its own distinct identity which bursts from Thrones like a corona ejection. Over two years in the making, the Basick Records released album is a soulful and soul filling tempest of melodic beauty, intrusively confrontational technical rhythms, and exploratory incisive grooves all under deeply evocative atmospheres and similarly sculpted lyrical narratives. It is easy to see why Alaya have been smothered in strong plaudits and easy to join the queue.

The expansive adventure of the album begins with Inside, its initial coaxing of sharp grooves and punchy rhythms a restrained yet eager pull which once stepping aside for a gentle caress bursts forward again with sinews flexing and colours blazing. The vocals of Dunn ably assisted by the tones of Rinkenberger throughout are as immediately impressive as the sounds, his delivery adding spice to the tale and texture to the already shifting scenery. The track twists and veers down unpredictable and intensively investigated avenues, rhythms a constant heavy provocateur and guitars a designer of the most enthralling incitements.

The impressive start is taken to another level by the following White Noise, its first acidic strike relaxing into a seducing enticement of melodic crooning veined by a rhythmic virulence, both courting the continuing to impress vocals. It is a relatively gentle absorption of the imagination but one which infuses an intimidating threat to its mesmeric landscape. Forceful and restrained, open and intriguingly deceptive, the track continues to reveal extra corners to its imposing beauty and appetising shadows which fascinate and envelop.

Both Sleep and Screaming Still tighten the hold of the album, the first with its emotive breath and drama clad rhythmic framing around an expressively engaging melodic painting and the second with its simply virulently gripping enterprise. A definite Muse like lilt casts its spice to the thrilling and tantalising technical waltz of the song, flavoursome bait which accentuates every muscle and creative hue of the exciting endeavour. Its intensive suasion is matched by the more melancholic Poor Gloria, an emotive hug which whilst filling the ears on a slow canter has a flame to its passion and expression reinforcing the diversity of songwriting and sound. It does not quite light the fires within as other songs but still leaves a greedy appetite and hunger concentrated on Alaya and album.

Haunted Pt. I is a delightful brief instrumental which is as emotive as it is elegant, lighting up the imagination ready for the outstanding Grace to rummage through shadows. Thrones seems to take on a darker intensive intent at this point, the track bringing a more rapacious snarl to its riffs and antagonistic punch to its rhythmic manipulations. The vocals also gain a slight growl to their expression whilst around them the song resonates across the senses with angular strikes of guitar and jagged spears of beats aligned to similarly predacious bass surges. It is an exceptional track, one which does linger long after the curtains close as does the next up Day of the Dead, its opening swarm of sonics an instant scar for thoughts to hang on to before a celestial melody cast grace falls over the ears. The song soon explores its provocative beauty in strong emotive detail before the title track launches another contagion soaked exploration of sound, textures, and thoughts.

The pair of Paths and Entropy keep the engrossing nature of the album in full flight even if neither quite steal the same rich responses as other tracks. Both ensure the album continues to hold the tightest grip on body and mind though with their fluid transformations and irresistible technical craft, which allows the closing two parts of Haunted to exploit and send the imagination off to explore and draw its own premises.

Thrones is a scintillating encounter from a band making existing claims about them pale against the reality. As mentioned there are maybe too many tracks which drift in the memory away from their captivating embraces to push the album into the terms of a classic debut but it is certainly an immensely powerful and stunningly inventive one declaring Alaya as one of the most exciting emerging forces around.

http://www.facebook.com/AlayaOfficial

8.5/10

RingMaster 28/03/2014

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