The Bendal Interlude – Reign of the Unblinking Eye

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Attempting to build on the reputation and acclaim earned through their previous clutch of EPs, British metallers The Bendal Interlude unleash their debut album; a cauldron of sludge, stoner, and blues with psych and thrash metal to sear and ignite the senses. The release is a beast of a proposition; an attention grabber reinforcing and pushing the already firm stature of the Liverpool quartet but maybe one not quite seeing the band going far enough with the new bold elements of flavour and imagination to steer them away from similarly designed offerings over recent times. Nevertheless Reign of the Unblinking Eye is a fiercely enticing and enjoyably rousing slab of predacious riffs, salacious grooves, and thumping rhythmic aggression.

Drawing on inspirations from bands such as Melvins, Crowbar, and Cathedral, The Bendal Interlude have increasingly drawn fans and attention through a quartet of releases, starting with an early Demo followed by the Foal Recordings EP in 2010, a Self-Titled EP the following year, and the Odourama EP in 2013, as well as a ferocious live presence which has seen the band share stages with the likes of Sunn O))), Earth, Orange Goblin, COC, Church of Misery, Red Fang and more. They have also made highly successful appearances at festivals like Hammerfest, Sonisphere, and Desertfest to persistently lure keen spotlights to their emergence.

For Reign of the Unblinking Eye, The Bendal Interlude took a new tact in its creation; guitarist Stu Taylor explaining recently, “We took a shift in direction when writing for the album Reign of The Unblinking Eye. The songs are much more elaborate and have a lot more going on sound-wise than previous releases. We played with time signatures, guitar harmonies, key changes, even laying down a 10-part resonator guitar part. It is by far the heaviest but also most dynamic thing we’ve written to date.” His words are quickly backed up by the album and a collection of songs which in contrast to the “abstract collection of ideas and imagery based around loose themes” which coloured previous releases, lyrically carry a more “autobiographical approach”.

art_RingMasterReviewBuckfast For Breakfast opens the album, an easily relatable repetitive vocal sample the spark to a wall of cantankerous riffs and rapier like rhythms. It is a senses trespassing confrontation, swiftly bound and veined by wiry grooves with richly engaging toxicity to their wandering sonic hands. The raw vocal squalling of Nat Gavin adds to the intrusive hostility tempering the melodic flirtation and the instinctive swing to the track’s stalking gait. It is an ear gripping start firmly backed by the blues intoxication and fiery rock ‘n’ roll of Losing Things. With Gavin’s caustic delivery, tracks are inevitably going to challenge with attitude loaded animosity yet as proven here, The Bendal Interlude merge it skilfully with a melodic/stoner prowess and addictive sonic contagion which gives every assault a captivating and inviting personality.

Next up is The Unblinking Eye and its initial electronically atmospheric suggestiveness which the track evolves into its own individual stomp of classic/groove metal fuelled ferociousness. It recruits body and imagination with consummate ease, the virulence of the grooves and infectious swing and lead hook of the track swiftly installing it as a major highlight within the album. The Bendal Interlude are rocking like a beast on heat in song and album, sparking similar reactions in the instincts and spirit of the listener.

Efram’s Hands provides a brooding groove entangled landscape of ravenous shadows and barbarous energy straight after whilst Pint of Bodies grumbles and rumbles with sonic and rhythmic rabidity whilst infusing a scent of enterprise not too removed from glam rock. Subsequently descending on the senses with a Down meets Cathedral like animosity before shifting again into an evocative melodic calm, it and its predecessor both whip up more greed for the album’s trespass before Creeks Gigantic prowls in with a thunderous rhythmic swagger led by the bass groove of Tommy Lloyd quickly matched by the resourceful craft and adventure of Taylors’ invention on guitar strings. Given further incendiary bite by the spiky beats of Dave Archer, the track is an imposingly catchy and intrusive weave of contrasting and dynamic textures finding kinship in the tracks’ vocal irritability and tempestuous air.

Anthemic and tenaciously delivered rhythms again lead an addictive and predictably groove infested persuasion as Triumph of Fortitudo steps in with bruising intensity and Cancer Bats like punk lined antagonism before stepping aside for the more merciful but equally commanding rock ‘n roll of The Block. Drama fuels every crawling riff and the doom coated breath which soaks a track layered with acidic grooving and vocal rancor. Maybe not as striking on personal tastes as other tracks within Reign of the Unblinking Eye, it still leaves satisfaction full; success sought and easily found by the closing emotional and creative animus of R.I.P.  An at times corrosive venture through varied styles and flavours within a core heavy rock storm, the song is a fascinating and increasingly impressing end to a similarly impacting release.

As suggested earlier, The Bendal Interlude could have dared to push their imagination even further but every play of Reign of the Unblinking Eye certainly reveals new twists within the all-consuming invasion of sound. Time and attention only benefits an appreciation of an instantly pleasing album which has the psyche and passions enslaved by crucial grooves in no time; a success no one can avoid or dismiss.

Reign of the Unblinking Eye is out now via Black Bow Records @ http://blackbowrecords.bigcartel.com/product/the-bendal-interlude-the-reign-of-the-unblinking-eye

https://www.facebook.com/THEBENDALINTERLUDE   http://thebendalinterlude.bandcamp.com/

Pete RingMaster 01/04/2016

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Desert Storm – Omniscient

Photo by Matt Winyard.

Two years on from their acclaimed second album Horizontal Life, British heavy blues metallers Desert Storm unleash a new cauldron of ridiculously addictive temptation in the ravishing shape of Omniscient. Before listening to the new release we would have been ecstatic to announce that the album was an equal to its brilliant predecessor. But it is not; just like the last album was a fascinating and thrilling step forward from the band’s outstanding debut full-length Forked Tongue, the glorious Omniscient is a leap to new plateaus. Everything about the encounter is a gripping evolution of adventure and maturity; riffs are dirtier, grooves keener edged, and it has a contagion which borders on slavery, all without losing any of the blistering uniqueness and raw power which has always soaked Desert Storm’s sonic invention.

Where many similarly styled bands seem like servants to the riff, in that it predominantly consumes their songwriting, Desert Storm enslave that feature of their sound and twist it into a web of just as forceful and potent grooved and melodic exploration. As proven by their previous album it means each track has a distinct character and creative emprise of its own, and in Omniscient all songs come from an even broader canvas of imagination and craft. Since forming in 2007, the Oxford quintet has challenged and lit ears right through to the passions with their persistently gripping releases. Equally they have earned a formidable reputation for their live presence through shows and tours with the likes of Karma To Burn, Nashville Pussy, Peter Pan Speedrock, Honky (ft. members of Down/Melvins/Butthole Surfers), Orange Goblin, Red Fang, and American Head Charge, not forgetting igniting festivals like The Bulldog Bash, The Desertfest, Brisfest, and Roadkill. Their stature and reputation already goes before them but now with Omniscient global recognition and spotlight has to be on the cards.

The band’s fans are sure to break into a broad smile as opener Outlander instantly collides with ears through excited rhythms and imposing riffs. As spicy grooves swiftly join the revelry it is prime Desert Storm psych blues flavouring, intent on seducing senses and imagination with concussive beats and intoxicating sonic temptation. Already there is a sense of new adventure though, OMNISCIENT_FCbackground melodies and atmospheres adding their suggestiveness as vocalist Matt Ryan roars. His voice is as bracing and gruffly coated as ever but also seemingly carried on a new clarity and variety. As expected it is impossible to escape the lures of guitarists Chris White and Ryan Cole or their weave of sinew driven riffs and toxic grooving, every note spilling temptation and virulence to match the similarly seductive dark throated tones of Chris Benoist’s bass and the anthemic heavy footed swipes of drummer Elliot Cole. It is an enthralling and incendiary start to the album, body and emotions already aflame from its creative bait and blues spirit.

The following more predatory Queen Reefer is just as irresistible. The source of the band’s new video, it is a ruggedly charming temptress with bulging beats and acidic invention. Far heavier and threatening compared to its more devilish predecessor, it casts a darker more volatile demonic air in its breath around a corrosive touch. In saying that though, the song is still irresistibly catchy and commanding, and with a mesmeric slip into a gentle embrace of expressive melodies and low key drama cast by guitars and bass at one point, mouth-wateringly adventurous.

Horizon continues to spread thick almost doomy textures of intensity and emotion next, drums creating a clash of percussive disorientation which only adds to the power of Elliot’s swings and the tangy blues grooving binding song and senses. It is just one part of the track’s scenery though as halfway it explodes into an explosive rhythmic tango which in turn seems to incite greater energy and venom to flush through the brawl of vocals and sonic enterprise. The track never quite ignites into the fury you suspect it might but is the better for it, the relative restraint adding to the dramatic tension of the song, a scintillating theatre which again turns Sway of The Tides into a battlefield of hostility and contagion, and Home into a folk ballad of sheer beauty. The first of the pair comes with flared nostrils and a rhythmic blood lust as heavy metal and stoner-esque blues rock clash in ears. The song is breath-taking, especially when it switches to a folkish pasture of cleaner vocals and a simple but expressive melody midway. It only impresses more as the scene and sounds start building back up to another fire of intensive emotion and searing grooves. Its successor is even more tantalising and enslaving. Voice and guitar again align to create a mesmeric smoulder of blues folk and southern tinged melodic rock which simply delights. Whereas the last album had the transfixing unexpected melodic delights of Gaia, Omniscient has this absorbing treat to wrong-foot, surprise, and thrill.

Not that the album has a moment where it does not do all those things in varying degrees anyway, as proven by the boozy swagger of House of Salvation which stomps in next. The track with its bar room like blues grooving and abrasing riffery reminds of N Ireland band Triggerman in some ways, especially in the melodic toxicity veining the devilment and the magnetic flame of a groove which has the appetite licking its lips and body swerving in subservience. The excellent temptation is matched straight away by the funk nudged stroll of Night Bus Blues. Making the perfect soundtrack to those times after a show where the cold flirts as you wait for the over-due conveyance to take you home and that is only part of the recognisable drama, the track proves humour is never a missing ingredient in the recipes Desert Storm conjures. Obviously it is not lacking addictive sounds either, an adjective which perfectly fits both Bandwagon and Blue Snake Moan which follow.

The first revels in a seventies blues rock seeding, spawning its sonic tempting from a psychedelic scent as fresh as it is familiar. The song provides yet another shade of colour and striking originality to the album, Omniscient easily the bands most excitingly and enjoyably diverse and expansive offering yet. The second of the two bristles and bellows with the heavy rock ‘n’ roll sound that the band has always bred its imagination through. Again though, it is widely spiced and commandingly robust with an array of rock bred flavours inviting feet and soul to roll with its rigorous devilry.

The album closes with Collapse of The Bison Lung, a summing up of things in a way as ripe grooves and intimidating riffs collude with rampant rhythms and snarling basslines to bind attention and light fires in the passions. A masterful end to a mighty release it reinforces and confirms what Omniscient suggests and we declare, that Desert Storm should be mentioned in the same breath as bands like Black Tusk, Red Fang, The Sword, and yes maybe even Mastodon.

Omniscient is released worldwide via Blindsight Records on January 26th.

Following the album’s release Desert Storm will be going on a short European tour:

Fri 6th Feb – Antwerp Music City, Antwerp BE w/ Atomic Vulture

Sat 7th Feb – Rock Cafe Jinx, Zaandam, NL w/ Millstone

Sun 8th Feb – Bassy Club, Berlin, DE w/ Samsara Blues Experiment

http://www.desertstormband.com/

RingMaster 22/01/2015

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