Lucid Skies – Hounds EP

Credit - Tyler Frith

Credit – Tyler Frith

Though seemingly tagged as metalcore, Canadian fury Lucid Skies has a presence which primarily forges ferocious hardcore with metallic spite and melodic enterprise, the resulting sound which not only grabs attention but gives it an exhausting uncompromising examination which veers from imaginative seduction to unbridled and bruising antagonism. The Hounds EP is the impressive second release from the Edmonton quartet, following the Grudge Match EP of last year, and though it is not faultless it is promise soaked and strikingly invigorating.

Formed in 2009, Lucid Skies took little time in drawing notice their way with a sound inspired by the likes of Hatebreed, Comeback Kid, and Holly Springs Disaster. Started by guitarist Jesse Berger, the band was soon at full complement as Berger enlisted vocalist Nick Ogden, bassist Sam Jackson, and drummer Justin Smith. With impressive live performances seeing the band share stages with bands such as with Fall City Fall, Blind Witness, Fall In Archaea, and Breaking Fourth Wall, the foursome has continually enhanced their reputation, the debut EP sparking additional  keen attention which Hounds can only accelerate as the band continues its emergence.

The self-released Berger produced EP, opens with Shotgun Mouthwash and immediately has ears and senses up for its raucous Lucid Skies - Hoods Album Artworkconfrontation. A guitar grazing behind a vocal sample makes the first move before expelling a sonic breath around inviting crisp rhythms and the snarling vocals of Ogden. Group shouts pounce to back up the frontman to great effect and with riffs grilling the senses and rhythms building their punchy commanding presence the track sears the air with metal bred sinews and punk spite. Musically the song sees the band play with their intent and ideas to make for an appealing if restrained adventure, certainly compared to other tracks on the release, whilst the breakdowns and predacious attack of the riffs only add to the lure of the strong if unspectacular starter.

As soon as Left Hook makes its presence known you sense that something extra is at work, an indefinable essence maybe but one which adds an experimentation and bravery absent from its predecessor. The artillery of drum invention from Smith is an instant contagion whilst the grazing riffery only adds to the developing drama and intrigue. Into its muscular and provocative stride, grooves mark the heavy charge of the song whilst the vocals bring the expected venom with relish and power. The bass of Jackson is a throaty bestial stalking within this mix adding to the impressive incitement, though the breakdown to the back end of the song is clumsy but as the promo used was digital one wonders if it might have been a glitch in the transfer. Nevertheless the closing straight hardcore rage brings a great track to a healthy finale and a certain hungry appetite awoken for the EP.

With Eyes is the best song on the release and the most inventive, its body a continual movement of ideas and bold design. Its opening is straight forward enough, a decent hardcore raging but once it drops into a djent inspired prowling of the senses with the guitar a savage provocateur it ignites, grooves and hooks taking us on a keener escapade. Like in the previous songs things wait until the second half to whip the ground from under the feet and light up the imagination with unexpected skilful quests of exploration. The bass is unleashed to intimidate the ears alone, apart from the corruptive influence of the excellent beats of Smith, it developing a delicious groan to its notes which is matched and accentuated by the guitar to addictive effect, so much so that as the track returns to its initial fiery foraging of the ears it is at first a disappointment, but one soon forgotten as the track unloads the rest of its excellent bruising.

Hounds does not venture into the unknown or the band’s imagination enough for personal tastes, that shown up by the third track and its success when doing so, but also the vocal delivery of Ogden is something needing some enterprise too. His attack is excellent and tones as nasty and corrosive as you would wish but also needing some variation to really shine. It is a genre thing, hardcore and metalcore, to unleash one directional squalls so it is hard to be too critical but it is no accident that the best bands do find a vocal diversity to join a musical variation, something Lucid Skies certainly owns.

Completing the EP is Count Me Out, a track with mountainous rhythms and a spiralling sonic beckoning which is soon badgering the ear with intensive and merciless voracity. A metal seeded antagonist with a tempestuous appetite and combativeness, the song like the opener does not sparks the fires as the other two making up Hounds but undoubtedly continues the marking out of Lucid Skies as a stirring force to keep a close eager eye upon. The potential and existing promise of the band is impossible to ignore and their suspected ascent one which will have a hungry audience in times ahead with the Hounds EP, a name Your Own Price release at the band’s Bandcamp profile, an excellent place to climb on board the ride.

http://lucidskies.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/LUCIDSKIES780

8/10

RingMaster 03/12/2013

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Chariots of The Gods: Tides of War

Chariots of the Gods -Tides of War official (group)

     Exploding out from the depths of the underground, Tides of War the debut album from Canadian metallers Chariots of The Gods, is quite simply sensational, a metal album of the highest order. It offers no indulgency or pretences to mislead on paper or aurally, but openly knows what it is good at and delivers those aspects with a passion and force which few other bands certainly recently have matched. Fusing diverse textures and sounds from melodic metal, thrash, and death, their music and album is simply a tour de force of metal.

Formed in 2007 by guitarist Mathieu St-Amour alongside bassist Christian Methot and guitarist Christian Carrière, the Ottawa band grew into a quintet with the addition of drummer Rich O’Neil and vocalist Renaud Jobin. Soon impressing live, the band released to very strong responses their Reverence EP in 2010. The release pushed them onto another level locally and sparked better opportunities live for the band, though the end of the same year going into the next saw the departure of Methot and Carrière. Moving forward though Chariots of the Gods brought in long-time friend and guitarist Dimitri Gervais and bassist Payam Doryani and set about laying waste with their towering sound. The band has bruised stages alongside the likes of Misfits, Voivod, Despised Icon, Kataklysm, Blind Witness, Misery Index, Martyr, Fuck the Facts, Blackguard, Neuraxis, and The Agonist, over the years and now burst into the world with their triumphant first full length release.

The Glen Robinson (Gwar, Annihilator, Queensryche, Voivod) produced album is a thrilling tempest of insatiable riffs, rhythms Tides of War - Cover - High Reswhich make demands no one should be forced to take but do willingly, and deliciously confrontational vocals. Spread throughout there is also a melodic and sonic enterprise which burns like an invigorating furnace and combined the result is one of the most impressive metal albums in recent years. Self released, Tides of War immediately from its dramatic and compelling opening instrumental Overture has a hold over the ear and thoughts. It is brief yet the perfect atmospheric lure into the epic intensity and drive of the album starting with the ravaging Seventh Weapon. The first seconds consists of thumping beats and sizzling guitar twists around the ear before expelling a ferocious breath through the squalling scowls of Jobin and an avalanche of rhythms. Now settled into its fearsome charge the track towers over the senses with the intensity and expansive reach of a storm. Across its bristling sinews and colossal breath, the track unleashes a whip lash triggering attack from O’Neil, exceptional and fiery melodic persuasion from the guitars of St-Amour and Gervais, and an irresistible raptorial vocal devouring.

As in the first full song, Blind Assassin reveals the prowling might of bassist Doryani; it is not always an aspect with as much clarity as the other elements but removed would undoubtedly leave a big gaping hole and when the heavily consuming notes find clarity of voice, the songs just bulge with impressive shadows. The third track is a less forceful entity than its predecessor with a sonic elegance which lays rough caresses over the ear, though it is not lacking any demanding spirit or heart either. It arguably pales a little against the previous track but outshines so many efforts from other artists.

Each and every track is immense and in varying degrees offers hints of the influences which vein the sound. Within the likes of Ambrosian Wings, the Russian Revolution inspired pair of the crushing Revillusion (1905) and the voracious Severing the Bloodline (1917), and the violently smouldering Red Skies, as examples, essences of the likes of In Flames, Norther, Testament, Lamb of God, and August Burns Red are apparent and add extra spice to the rich sonic menu of the band. As to be expected some songs reach the highest pinnacles and the biggest highlights on Tides of War come firstly with the title track. It is a thunderous rampage of sizzling guitar magnetism and invention driven by again the tumultuous and outstanding rhythms of O’Neil.  It is the perfect blend of aggression and melodic persuasion which chews up the senses whilst treating them to a fine dining of sonic imagination. Further lofty heights come with the senses grasping and obliterating Collapse of an Empire with its delicious spearing flames of melodic intrigue, and the corrosive and glorious Unbound which also features Aleksi Sihvonen from Norther.

The album is not just intensity and brawling aggression though as to perfectly break up the onslaught there are a couple of compelling instrumentals in the enthralling shapes of Snow Falls On The White River (1914) and Nebula, both beautiful pieces of music in their very different guises and far from interludes and fillers.

Tides of War is an exceptional creative ambush for the heart with a rage of the fullest rewards and an expressive depth of unbridled undiluted metal. You may not have heard of Chariots of The Gods before now but that is sure to change very soon as their album is exposed to the wider world.

http://www.chariotsofthegods.net/

RingMaster 29/01/2013

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