Huata: Atavist Of Mann

If witchcraft ever needed a suitable soundtrack for its presence than it should look no further than Atavist Of Mann from Huata. A mightily formidable consumption of the senses, the debut album from the French band is a concussive mixture of stoner, sludge, and Doom metal brought with a blackened Occult breath. Not an easy or comfortable listen but the album is persistently rewarding and is without doubt one of the best releases of its ilk this year.

From the old Celtic part of France, Brittany, Huata first drew attention with their first EP Open The Gates Of Shambhala of 2010. Their creativity finds inspiration in music and films of the sixties and seventies and deals with things as the accompanying promo says like ‘the initiation and hidden workings of secret societies, Luciferian pacts, extra terrestrial forces, inner earth mysteries, the quests for the holy power of mighty relics, Vril power and the ancient knowledge from dead kingdoms.’ Lyrically, musically, and in its overall presence their sound is intense and merciless bringing an oppressive unstoppable weight upon the senses. Taking and creating sounds which remind of the likes of Electric Wizard, Goatsnake, Church Of Misery, Black Widow, Black Sabbath, and Goblin, their music and album leaves one gasping for air under the power but completely mesmerised by the accompanying drone laced absorption.

Released through Mordgrimm, the album is just six songs but is not short in any other way, its overall length, mass, and intent a sonic swamp of angry muscle and predatory instinct. From the opening Lords Of The Flame, the release ruptures synapses and scrapes nerves without` mercy. This album has to be listened to at full volume to fully feel its might but of course that makes the destruction of the senses even more acute. The song is a crushing mass with blistering melodic imagination and burrowing energy. From its initial assault the track tempers the damage with glorious Hammond organ melodic weaves and a growling rippling bass but it is not long before the aggressive claws return to overcome the atmospheric climate that had evolved and leave one again crawling breathlessly under the assault.

The excellent following Operation Mistletoe is an even coarser grizzled obliteration of nerve endings. Dirtier, caustically vicious, and with a stoner flavour brewing underneath the bristling surface, the song is quite simply aural abrasion, a sonic enema for the senses. As in the previous song the vocals are a mesmeric contrast to the noise ripping through every pore. They are immersed within the heavy claustrophobic tones but add a soulful melodic light, thought that is not to say they are submissive as they offer a gruff delivery to pierce the doom swamp more often.

Atavist Of Mann is unrelenting with the likes of Thee Imperial Wizard and Fall of the 4th leaving the emotions pulsating from their intrusion. To say the album leaves the ears ringing after its departure is just touching the surface of the effect of the album. Inside and out every inch of the body, nervous system, and thoughts are left reeling but wholly satisfied. Huata have no mercy or wish to relinquish their hold of the listener whilst it overwhelms their bodies. They have also created one of the best and most exhilarating releases in their genre heard this year so there are no complaints here.

RingMaster 12/06/2012

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Stone Axe: Stone Axe II Deluxe Edition

Released a couple of years ago Stone Axe II is given another outing as a special deluxe addition on Ripple Music and is a vibrant treat for not only fans of the band Stone Axe but for rock music lovers in general. If you have not yet felt the majestic power and heart of Stone Axe and their sounds then this release of their second album complete with a second CD of fifteen tracks only previously available either upon their vinyl releases, as part of compilations, or are just rare tracks previously buried deep within their vault, is an essential for your ears. The package bulges with blues and classic rock fuelled rock n roll, the band dipping into the past and soul of the genres with flavours from the likes of Free, Deep Purple, Bad Company, The Faces, Thin Lizzy and Led Zeppelin the catalyst for their own absorbing sounds.

The band was formed in 2007 by multi-instrumentalist T. Dallas Reed in Bremerton, Washington who upon leaving previous band Mos Generator and its different direction to what the band was set up upon, worked swiftly to set up Stone Axe to continue his hearts calling, Seventies rock preservation. Alongside Reed in the studio there is vocalist Dru Brinkerhoff and live the pair is aided by bassist Mike DuPont and drummer Mykey Haslip. Since forming the band has become an important part of the current rock scene for an ever rising fan base with their impressive live shows and their two albums, as well as splits and EPs which show so sigh of slowing, constantly grabbing eager acclaim, attention and enthusiasm. The nostalgic music influences strike a firm partnership with the band invention to offer a fresh and powerful mix that has a versatility and variety to satisfy persistently.

The first CD as mentioned is the complete ten track second album of the band, a release that with an enthused attitude, heart, and energy combines the flavours of blues rock, stoner, and seventies rock into a stirring and fresh homage come reinvention of classic rock without losing its passion and soul. With songs like the hit Chasing Dragons and the excellent Thin Lizzy spiced Those Were The Golden Years where Brinkerhoff sounds like the reincarnation of Phil Lynott through to the Free inspired Ain’t Gonna Miss It and the stunning Procul Harem tinged Turned To Stone, Stone Axe II is an essential release for all old classic rock favouring fans.

Very often these types of packages offer very little for the passionate fan that has much of the output of a band already, the release riding on the desire of the fan to simply want everything a band releases for their collection. With this special edition those who already have the second album are more than provided for with the second CD and the wealth of tracks within, though if a truly ardent fan you may still have everything already of course. The disc includes a cover of the Cream song SWLABR, an early version of Black Widow, as well as a thrilling live cut of Taking Me Home to name just a trio of the excellent tracks within. With the majority of the cuts now unavailable the CD alone makes the release a virtually new one for most and a very rewarding package with more than just something for every rock fan.

Stone Axe has taken classic rock forward without losing the essence and purpose they and the genre strive by. From the excellently crafted sounds and lyrics through to the perfect and impassioned delivery the band and this release sparks up all the senses and emotions easily and impressively. Many bands are trying to create music with a soul and breath seeded from the early fires of rock, Stone Axe just do it better than most.

RingMaster 05/03/2012

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Blood Ceremony – Blood Ceremony

There has been plenty of re-issues of debuts and albums from bands finding  a resurgence in popularity or simply the re-release of recordings that originally had a limited presence and were lost and out of circulation for many years. A varied collective in sound and quality they have been too but even the best of them will find it hard to match the essential quality and vibrancy of the latest from Metal Blade Records / Rise Above Records in the shape of the self titled debut from the Canadian folk/heavy rock band Blood Ceremony. The release is a gem that pulsates and bewitches with a startling array of elements that sees them as part homage to their influences and distinctly unique in the current metal/rock world.

Originally released in 2008 Blood Ceremony is a wonderfully colourful blend of psychedelic/folk/doom and stoner rock punched through with the audacity and attitude of heavy metal. There is so much going on that it is a mesmeric and beguiling release that is mischievous and also deceiving at the same time. The nine tracks within this psychedelia influenced doom rock beast offer up numerous recognisable elements and sound, riffs and melodies that you may think it is just a band wearing their influences openly on their sleeve, which in many ways they are, but without anything more. A focused listen though and you soon realise there has been and is no one fusing these things into their own unique sound like Blood Ceremony, and whether their sounds take a hold of you or not you will not have heard anyone exactly like them.

How to describe them is not a swift thing to do, imagine a bubbling cauldron of the likes of Electric Wizard, Black Widow and Pentagram spiced up with the psychedelic sounds and freedom of The Doors, the downtuned heaviness of Black Tusk, the meaty riffage of Black Sabbath, and the folk inspiration of a Jethro Tull or a Horslips without the Celtic sound, and you are in the vicinity of what Blood Ceremony weave together. With songs inspired by the heart and soul of witchcraft movies, the occult and magick, and Satanism, the quartet from Toronto conjure up fascinating and unavoidable imagery and emotions with their stirring songs and imaginative themes. As the album plays you can just see them playing to a back drop of a modern day Wicker Man ceremony or numerous covens and satanic festivals, their sounds uniting pagan and witchcraft inspired intent.

Formed in 2006 Blood Ceremony carry a heavy 60’s/70’s rock sound borne of sterner modern intensity and as their second album Living With The Ancients of 2011 confirmed it is a sound that whatever your preference in rock music one will find plenty to feast upon. From the opening concussive intro to opening track ‘Master Of Confusion’ on the debut, the band swoop upon and gather up the senses taking them on a part theatrical and wholly absorbent experience. That is one thing about the album, it has a showman feel in a way, the dark themes and sinister tales lacking venom and fear, but offer up glorious fun. The track provokes the ear with belligerent riffs and attitude as it winds its way through the ear to menace and tease the senses, especially from the lovely grumpy bass and expressive keys.

The album is perfectly varied, from the heavy opener ‘I’m Coming with You’ muscles in with a well crafted blend of militant riffs, throbbing energy, and Lucifer spawned pan pipe like flute from vocalist Alia O’Brien. This is the harshest of the tracks keeping a deliberate muscle throughout despite the wicked ‘pipes’ that whip around the bulky energy. Guitarist Sean Kennedy and bassist Lucas Gadke give real heavy fibrous intent to the sound on the album perfectly supported by drummer Andrew Haust, all allowing O’Brien to light up torches of exquisite melodies and add incisive breaks to the weighty atmospheres.

The album is impressive from start to the last devilish wink of its closing note, with tracks like the shadowed ‘Into The Coven’ , the spirit raising necromantic celebration of ‘The Rare Lord’, and ‘Hop Toad’ with its insatiable preying riff and siren like melodic beckoning, rifling through and engaging the senses completely. If you have not found Blood Ceremony yet then here is your chance to jump in at the beginning, time to immerse into their earthy dark world with more burning flames than you could wish for.

RingMaster 30/01/2012

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