ssSHEENSss – Strapping Stallions


It might be hard to be convinced by the band name but there is no such issue with the new album from Finnish heavy rockers ssSHEENSss. The band’s second full-length, Strapping Stallions is a compelling beast of a proposition, riffs and rhythms as cantankerous as they are aggressive yet there is an eclectic devilry across the release which aligns itself to a gripping inventive craft, it all resulting in an album which is resourcefully unpredictable, mischievous, and most of all great fun.

Formed in 2011, the Hamina sextet set to work on their self-titled but album at the tail end of 2012 with producer Billy Anderson (Eyehategod, Mr. Bungle, Melvins, Neurosis), before unleashing it on the world to eager reception in the February of last year on guitarist Harri Pikka’s own label Stabbing Records. It was an attention grabbing stomp and sound but one which between albums has evolved into an even more muscular and ferocious tempest of stoner bred sinew sculpted rock ‘n’ roll. Early this year the line-up of vocalist Mikko Kiri, bassist Edu Lethal, drummer Juho Harjula, and the triple strike of guitarists made up of Pikka, Porkka and Muhli, hit the studio with a new horde of songs. Mixed by Tomas Skogsberg (The Hellacopters, Dismember) and mastered by Brad Boatright (Sleep, Corrosion of Conformity, Beastmilk), what emerged was the riveting and virulently contagious Strapping Stallions.

The accompanying press release announces that the album and its sound is something fans of Turbonegro, The Hellacopters, and ZZ Top will want to devour, something easy to agree with though that is only one shade of the diverse flavouring of the encounter. Opening track Adios, Fucker! for example pungently reminds of Troublegum era Therapy?, and as the nine tracks come and flirt with ears and imagination plenty other references come to mind, though they cannot defuse the potency of originality also spewing from ssSHEENSss. The opener is an instant wall of thumping rhythms and predacious riffs, all sides of the song converging on ears with an irritable tenacity. Employing essences of punk and metal to its keen and voracious, the stormy treat as mentioned easily reminds of the aforementioned Northern Ireland trio but also with its melodic sultry swagger hints at the likes of Mondo Generator. It is a riveting and thrilling start to the release, honest rock ‘n’ roll with little need to add over the top flourishes but allowing guitars and rhythms to craft a compelling web of highly infectious baiting.

The excellent opening is not matched by a cover of ZZ Top track Concrete And Steel, though to be fair ssSHEENSss twist it into an individual incitement of their own with resourceful imagination. It is a more than decent encounter but ssSHEENSss_strappingstallions_800x800px_weblacks the spark and in the face potency of its predecessor, something the next up You And Your Daughters is more capable of. Bluesy grooves entwine ears straight away as beats jab powerfully across their fiery coaxing. With vocals and riffs joining the swift temptation on feet and emotions, it is a rigorously inviting opening accentuated by sonic flames searing the magnetic spine of the song. There is also a seventies hard rock breath to the caustic sound fuelling the proposition, a lure which easily secures full attention and appetite but it is the mid-way twist into a bordering on bedlamic post punk/garage rock venture reminding of The Three Johns, where a great track becomes an outstanding one.

The equally stunning Voice Distortion Call with its heady and weighty intimidation of air and power sparks another lustful wave of hunger for the release, its Queens Of The Stone Age like devilry a sonic toxicity impossible to resist. With grooves and a sonic colouring you can almost physically taste such its spicy twang, the song is a gripping slab of stoner bred ferocity; a track as volatile as it is creatively composed. Another lofty highlight of the release, it is followed by the more classic metal toned Wolf Street Blues where that earlier Turbonegro comparison comes in handy. It is an easy going and undemanding proposition but keenly contagious and enjoyable providing another flavoursome turn in the diversity of Strapping Stallions.

Shadow Animals with its anthemic rhythmic thumping and corrosive riffery sets the fires in the passions burning bright again, its virulent hooks and Kiri’s vocal prowess irresistible amongst nothing but inescapable enticements. Imagine Mastodon meets again QOTSA and you get a sense of the adventurous climate and canvas of the song explored and set ablaze by the band. Its successor Let’s Explode does not quite match its triumph but still provides a lively smoulder of stalking riffs and classic rock soaked sonic endeavour to eagerly embrace. With at times a southern lilt to chords and heated harmonies from vocals, it is an enthralling offering, though it and its predecessor come nowhere close to the brilliance of the next track.

It is rare to call a cover the best track in a seriously impressive release but the band’s version of Love Will Tear Us Apart is sensational. Easily the best version of the track since Joy Division’s own unleashing, the band turns it into a new depressive seduction giving riffs a more carnivorous growl and beats antagonistic agility which lies perfectly with the pulsating throat of the bass and the melodic toxins which seep from every chord and twist of guitar. Even the vocals make a dramatic statement, Kiri managing to hold onto the cold emotion of Ian Curtis’ unique delivery whilst adding further expressive twists. It is pure dark majesty leaving Saigon the unenviable task of following and closing up the album, which it does successfully with its own anthemic rhythmic lures and melodic rabidity creating a song which whispers Eagles of Death Metal and Kyuss meets Melvins.

It is a great end to an exciting release which in some ways might even have missed a trick or two to become a modern classic. Nevertheless Strapping Stallions is another firm treat for the year and ssSHEENSss a band with a dodgy name and a natural ability to create exceptional rock ‘n’ roll.

Strapping Stallions is available via Soulseller Records on 3rd October

RingMaster 03/10/2014

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Deathcrush – Lesson #16 For Beatmaster V /Fun


 Photo: Anne Irgens.

Photo: Anne Irgens.

   Deathcrush is one of those encounters for which anarchy and rebellion was invented so their riotous sounds could soundtrack their landscapes. The Norwegian tempest of noise and rhythmic antagonism has anthemic toxicity running through their veins, a seductive poison which enflames and invigorates their sounds, and thus all those eagerly submissive hearts coming across them. March 17th sees the release of the band’s new single, Lesson #16 for Beatmaster / Fun; a slice of incitement which ignites the imagination and riles up the body. The track is maybe their biggest and baddest yet, certainly their most wickedly compelling and deliciously mischievous, and one more slap around the senses from one of the most exciting new bands around.

   It was Lesson #13 For Nanker Phelge / Fire, a flexi disc double poster magazine debut single early in 2013, which put the music world on alert over the Oslo trio but their following Skool’s In 12” later in the year which really sparked an almost lustful intrigue and appetite for Deathcrush from the music scene. The four track temptress with devilishly seductive and merciless infectious weaponry in its hands ignited media and fan attention instantly, its raucous and contagious noise rock a feisty provocateur for the imagination. To be fair the band was already firing up passions before any release; shows and tours as well as festival appearances at the likes of Roskilde, Øya, and Way Out West drawing strong attentive gazes as the band shared stages with bands such as Battles, Melt-Banana, Vivian Girls, Sleigh Bells, Trentemøller, and The Dillinger Escape Plan.

    Recorded with Jørgen Træen (Datarock, Annie, Sondre Lerche), Lesson #16 For Beatmaster V /Fun sees the threesome of a0417735420_2vocalist/guitarist Linn Nystadnes, bassist/vocalist Åse Røyset, and vocalist/drummer Vidar Evensen in devilish mood from its opening seconds. Militant beats and antagonistic riffs immediately seize the ears whilst the vocals of Nystadnes accompanied by Røyset, add seduction laced with equally unmistakable intimidation. The rhythms of Evensen stomp and threaten with inviting revelry and predacious hunger whilst the guitar and bass cast a psyche infecting web of adventure and rapacious stalking respectively which is impossible to resist. There is the rawness to the proposition too which marked previous songs and again here adds an extra abrasive aspect to the song intensifying the menace and anthem clad lure of the involvement.

   A puppeteer for feet, arms, and emotions, the track is noise alchemy; a devil spawned maelstrom with aligning clarity and venomous provocation uniting for a primal antagonistic waltz. With further tracks recorded with Billy Anderson (Swans, Melvins, Mr. Bungle) and currently in the mixing hands of Nystadnes waiting to infect the world as well as an equally dramatic video for the new single, which has been selected for the Berlin Independent Film Festival, Deathcrush is well into their ascent towards world domination. It will be a dangerous and imposing ride for us all but a hell of a hellacious thrill too as shown by Lesson #16 For Beatmaster V /Fun…bring it on we say.


RingMaster 16/03/2014

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Deathcrush – Skool’s In

deathcrush pic

As instantly impacting as a right hook to the jaw, Skool’s In from Norwegian band Deathcrush easily shows what the buzz covering the band right now is all about and proves it is more than justified. A seamless collage of sounds and invention brought with a primal growl and uncompromising hunger, the 12” debut from the Oslo trio is a scintillating and passion gripping tour-de-force, and one you only feel is scratching the surface of the band’s depths and future.

Released on the back of their limited flexi disc release within a double poster magazine, Skool’s In is a four track vinyl temptress which is devilishly seductive and mercilessly addictive, and again that is only the tip of the sonically and rhythmically carnivorous bewitchment. Since forming the threesome of vocalist/guitarist Linn Nystadnes, bassist/vocalist Åse Røyset, and vocalist/drummer Vidar Evensen has garnered potent acclaim and fanbase through their live performances across Norway, Europe and beyond with their thick and magnetic noise rock originality. Recording a bundle of songs with Billy Anderson (Swans, Melvins, Mr. Bungle) and Jørgen Træen (Datarock, Annie, Sondre Lerche), the band is with Skool’s In starting off a much anticipated series of singles, this first a mighty scintillating beginning.

Opening track Lesson #3 for Gina Kikoine / You Now takes no time to unleash a bass snarl which preys on the ear whilst the drums stalk a1169124254_2with their own teasing design. Across it the vocals of Nystadnes and Åse Røyset either alone or together enchant with charm and menace whilst the guitar splits and sculpts the air with flesh singing sonic narrative. It is a powerful insidiously sirenesque persuasion which brews an intensity and smothering embrace which defies escape and breeds addiction whilst the electronic teases and taunts only excite the senses further into greater lustful submission. Like a mix of Melt Banana, Spinnerette, and 4 Non Blondes, but not, the track is a blistering almost disorientating sabre swipe of noise rock with acidic pop infectiousness and an exceptional start to the EP.

The immediate pinnacle is soon followed and matched by Lesson #4 for Wharton Tiers / Strauss, a track which explores even darker intensive shadows and the sonic creative destructive depths of the band and their craft. The first soundscape of the song is an apocalyptic like burning corrosive flight which takes a breather for the vocal almost childlike kisses to sooth and strap the passions in before making another fall through a synapse scraping imagination poking tempest. Nor as easily accessible as its predecessor but completely equal in impacting strength, aggressive persuasion, and unbridled excellence, the song leaves no doubt to the extensive intent and expanse of the band’s sound and ideas. It helps pile on the rabid anticipation for future singles and releases, something which is just as easily fed by the next up track.

     Lesson #13 for Nanker Phelge / Fire was the song which featured on the flexi-disc and within such immense company stands as potent and unique as before whilst increasing further the band’s reputation and stature. A track which from the start stalks and prowls the senses providing ammunition for heart and mind whilst feeding the senses and emotions with a slow romp of ridiculously contagious sound and imagination, the track just traps and enslaves with its ear bracing synapse eroding guitar and bass crawl within a rhythmic herding of the passions. There is a post punk charm and punk voracity to the song which reminds a little of the Au Pairs and The Raincoats whilst the noise slicing of the atmosphere is Pixies/ Valentiine like, yet again these are slight references  to something unique to Deathcrush.

The outstanding release is completed by the Fire remix of the third song by James Njie. It is a pop /dancefloor igniting electro stomp with a breath of J-Pop to its mesmeric and irresistible dance. Still managing to retain an element of the carnivorous side of Deathcrush the track is a crystalline treat which makes us almost reassess our thoughts on the point of remixes.

Released via Norway Rat Records, Skool’s In is just magnificent, a raptor of brilliance within a noise and mental examination, and the undeniable debut of a band which is going to coax and command our attentions and passions for horizons to come.


RingMaster 07/10/2013

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Obelyskkh – Hymn To Pan

pic by_MikeWiener_

pic by_MikeWiener_

With the exceptional 2012 album White Lightnin’ thrusting its creators upon the doom/sludge metal map it is fair to say that anticipation for its successor was hunger driven. The third album Hymn To Pan from German metallers Obelyskkh more than satisfies that craving, offering six expansive sonic and heavily boned consumptions which in some ways continue where their predecessors left off but have evolved and stretched their melodic abrasive teachings to new intense and hue drenched levels. It is an album which steals attention with ease and ignites the imagination for expressive senses scorching ventures, and though after numerous traverses of its impacting soundscape it arguably remains slightly in the shadow of the previous release, the record is a beautifully sculpted and inventively delivered acidic treat.

Founded in 2008 as a project for guitarist Torsten (ex- The Walruz and Vs. The Stillborn-Minded) to explore his ideas and invention with the help of friend Adi, the band nevertheless grew and took on its own expansive destiny. First came the addition of bassist Steffen from seminal German stoner rock band Desert Sun, who after time moved to the drums with multi-instrumentalist David taking over the four stringed exploits. Though still not intended as a fully operational band the release of debut album Mount Nysa in 2011 seemed to trigger something for Obelyskkh. Sold out within three weeks and covered in strongly positive responses, the album was just one fire erupting at the time as a 2-minutes live footage clip of the band on YouTube led the band to be inundated with interest and offers from promoters in Germany and other European countries and subsequently into an exhaustive period of shows and festivals appearances. Last year saw the Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Mr. Bungle, Eyehategod, High On Fire, Melvins) recorded White Lightnin’ unleashed to mass acclaim and fervour. It was a startling release which brought new blood and flavour to the doom/stoner/sludge scene, though as with the new album it offered plenty more varied appetisers for the passions too.

The second album through Exile On Mainstream, Hymn To Pan is an even more aggressive and cutting encounter compared to the last, EOM064_coverRGBits breath bordering a battle cry and its intensity warlike though equally the depth of melodic temperance and emotive depths are as evocative and enthralling as ever. The title track dawns with a morning song of birds and fresh air before horns call the attention and physical intent of the world. Slowly awakening with rhythms stretching their energy and invitation, the track soon has sinews fully flexed with riffs adding war paint to the experience and mass vocals combining in a feisty union. The sonic colour of the guitars brings greater imagery and intensity to the piece sparking the imagination to add its own potent additional narrative. As mentioned it all feels like an awakening to a riveting conflict not only of a violent nature but of a harsh and demanding realm, and makes for a mighty hook into the rest of the album.

The Ravens emerges from the shadows next with a much more predacious attitude and weight to its stalking, riffs oppressive and strikingly heavy as they encase the ear in inescapable menace before allowing a breath to be taken through a reassuring melodic temptation. It is short lived as the band continues their thick doom fuelled tsunami of noise and intensity. The vocals also find a rapacious snarl and intimidation to match the enveloping sound, the unrelenting toxicity of the track veined by seductive melodic teasing and sonic tales. It is a scintillating funereal prowl which offers enough to intrigue and keep things fresh but equally has the restraint to force its triumph deeper with repetition and drone clad beauty.

Littered with telling samples, The Man Within takes mere moments to spark greater ardour, its malevolence of sound and vocal attack fearsome and invigorating. The track has an insatiable rabidity which borders on brutality at times, certainly a ruinous intent, whilst the bass and guitars spin a merciless steel web of sonic and voracious violence within another uncompromising and thrilling rhythmic cage.

From the highest pinnacle of the album forged by the previous two songs, the likes of Heavens Architrave and Horse build upon the already entrenched satisfaction with their individual presences, the first a more merciful embrace rife with a tonic of melodic enticement and great vocal beckoning, though still skirted by the damning rapacity already scarring the senses, whilst its successor from opening with a sample from the movie Warriors, employs a leisurely hunt upon the ear before savagely adding further violation with barbarous hostility. With grooves scorching flesh and the throaty sonic poison seeping through every pore the song is a masterful tempest.

Final track Revelation: The Will To Nothingness is a twenty minute plus behemoth, an evolving beast which is in no hurry to explore its narrative and give the senses any form of peace. A raw and ravaging vehemence from the off with a death spawned growl vocally and musically, the song moves through its own unique and aggravated world. Heightened flames of melodic sultriness and sonic heat coax the imagination in further as they take over the journey before things further twist and change throughout the lengthy soundscape. For personal tastes the track does out stay its welcome in parts and in a condensed state might have made a stronger impact, though equally it could lose the potency it has. It is nevertheless an enriching conclusion to another triumph from Obelyskkh. Admittedly passions are still lit up more by White Lightnin’ to be honest, but Hymn To Pan is undoubtedly one of the finest doom fuelled stoner lit metal exploits this year and more everyone’s full attention.


RingMaster 05/09/2012

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The Lumberjack Feedback – Hand of Glory

The Lumberjack Feedback 2013 - © Mathieu Drouet

Dramatic and compelling, the Hand of Glory EP from French instrumental metallers The Lumberjack Feedback is a masterful journey through cavernous shadows and depths, a tension packed encounter of doom and sludge metal. Consisting of two tracks lasting seventeen minutes between them, the EP is a stunning debut from the Lille based quintet, a provocative apocalyptic soundscape exploring its own darkness and that of the listener.

Consisting of the twin dual attacks of guitarists Simon Herbaut and Arnaud Silvert plus drummers Nicolas Tarridec and Christopher Poirier, with bassist Sebastien Tarridec adding his terrific presence into the mix, The Lumberjack Feedback has earned strong praise for their live performances which has seen them alongside bands such as Crowbar, Gojira, Kylesa, The Oxbow, Wolf Eyes, Spacemen 3, Grey Daturas, Acid King, and Hangman’s Chair. It will be their first release though which will undoubtedly set them as a potent fixture in the acclaim and vision of the widest audience such the power and creative might of the Kaotoxin Records released and Billy Anderson (Neurosis, Cathedral, EyeHateGod, Cattle Decapitation) produced EP.

Opening track A Whisper to the Thunder takes mere seconds to entice the ear with a guitar beckoning soon joined by that 760137002529_TOX025_The-Lumberjack-Feedback_Artwork_600x600-72hypnotic twin drum assault, their craft and temptation measured yet instantly enslaving. There is an energy and hunger to the beginning of the song which makes for a contagious sludge drenched call, riffs carving out a virulent persuasion whilst rhythms and bass define their own enthralling menace to combine for a primal seduction wrapped in a fluid evolution of imaginative and evocative melodic and sonic narrative. Thoughts of bands such as Neurosis and Sunn O))) come to mind but as the piece moves through a piercing sonic tunnel into a heavily weighted and rapaciously intensive dark doom landscape the sound takes on something distinctly unique to the band and visually provocative. The skies have a villainous hue over the track at this point as it lumbers purposefully with a predatory stalking and proceeds to claim any thoughts of escape as it climaxes with a simple but intrusive and lingering sonic breath.

It is an immense start soon matched and evolved further by second track The Dreamcatcher.  Again riveting rhythms from the drums make an earlier invitation which is instinctively impossible to resist, their sinews pacing along the developing wash of guitar brewed sonic mist and the continually thrilling bass provocation. As with its predecessor there is not theatrical invention or awe inspiring technical wizardry going on but the atmospheres and imagery spawning textures as well as melodic emotional painting being created by every skilful and clear but connecting aspect given clarity by each member is scintillating and impossibly powerful. The mesmeric stroll of the first third of the song comes to a point where the brewing climate entices an unleashing of intensive sonic flames and mutually fierce rhythms before flexing even further muscle in an even paced and exhausting investigation of its deepest corners and those of the listener too. The climatic conclusion to the piece towers over the senses, first marked by a flurry of striking punches before closing on one last enriching fire of intensity and sound, and leaves thoughts and passions suddenly alone within their own stark dark world.

Hand of Glory is an outstanding debut and release, but one which in some ways even at its length does not offer enough to really get the teeth into. This is because you only feel you are getting part of a much larger and incredible story or journey. Whether these are teasers to a full length time will tell but as impressive as it is the hunger and expectations on an album will be excited and demanding. The EP is a daunting adventure which inspires without ever using demanding intimidation and as such makes itself a must investigate introduction to a band we will be hearing much more of and one suspects fawning over in the future.


RingMaster 04/07/2013

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Obelyskkh: White Lightnin’

Creating slabs of majestic and impactful thunderous doom/sludge metal with the riches of stoner and classic metal oozing from every breath, White Lightnin’ from German metalers Obelyskkh is a mighty and formidable release which ignites primal and deep pleasures within. It is an oppressive weighty avalanche of sonic manipulation with a leaden presence firing up satisfaction and increased adrenaline.

Formed in 2008, Obelyskkh was initially just a vehicle for the ideas of guitarist Torsten (ex- The Walruz and Vs. The Stillborn-Minded), to be explored alongside his friend Adi. It was never the intention to make it a fully operational band but as the addition of Steffen of seminal German stoner rock band Desert Sun joined first on bass before moving to drums and then multi-instrumentalist David on bass, things took off especially in 2011 which saw the release of the well received debut album Mount Nysa which sold out within three weeks of its introduction to the world via now defunct German label Droehnhaus. Alongside this the band found interest in them go viral on the web as from the seed of a 2-minutes live footage cut on Youtube, the band was inundated with interest and offers  from promoters in Germany and other European countries leading the band to an exhaustive time of clubs and festivals appearances. Recorded with Billy Anderson (Sleep, Neurosis, Mr. Bungle, Eyehategod, High On Fire, Melvins) and released via Exile On Mainstream, the new album is now set to place the band to the fore of the thoughts and lips of all genre and metal fans, with its white hot sonic invention and intensive caustic beauty an impressive rub.

The album opens with the deeply mesmeric and senses burning instrumental The Enochian Keys, a piece of composing to scar and blister whilst igniting raptures. The track teases and provokes the ear with a restrained yet greedy groove and smoking guitar riffing as incendiary as the heated ambience wrapping each and every note.

From the deeply magnetic charms of the starter the following Elegy is a more methodical lumbering beast of a track, its intensity as weighty as its elements are raw and abrasive. The guitars scrape flesh with their sonic acidic tones throughout with additional flares of sharp melodic rock enterprise sparking at times whilst the bass and drums powerfully frame the thick tar like atmosphere which envelopes from the start. The vocals add further depth to the track with their guttural urging alongside muscular group harmonies making for another weapon to the malevolent dirge like assault.

The great start is built upon and furthered with the excellent title track and the likes of Mount Nysa and Amphetamine Animal. All in their varied ways a blistering upon the senses through incessant taunts of oppressive might and ear rupturing sounds. The vocal harmonies of the title track are a highlight of the song with their almost Pixies like discord whilst the other pair add a psychedelic progressive lined consumption and corruptive malevolence respectively to the album. The latter is a disturbed maelstrom of constricting intrusions and flailing sonic venom which steals the honours on the whole release, its nasty insidious presence a glorious destruction.

Completed by the ravenous crawl of Abysmal Desert Cavern and the unhinged Invocation To The Old Ones with its wonderful bedlam of textures, atmospheres and sounds, White Lightnin’ is one of the most impressive doom/sludge releases this year. It is a venomous feast which offers another poison and distressing companionship with each listen. Though probably not an album to rest easily within every ear it and Obelyskkh themselves, are one of the most satisfying experiences within the musical year to date.

RingMaster 09/09/2012

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