Acid Reign – The Age of Entitlement

Formed in 1985, British thrashers Acid Reign went on to shares stages and tour with the likes of Nuclear Assault, Dark Angel, Exodus, Flotsam & Jetsam, Death Angel, and Candlemass as well as release mini album Moshkinstein in 1988 and subsequently full-length The Fear and Obnoxious. A final show at the London Marquee saw the band come to an end; that was until 24 years later when Acid Reign returned with a rebooted line-up. Now they have a new album ready to ignite the UK thrash scene, an incendiary device leaving most other offerings this year exposed to its rousing wake.

Like a great many we never had the pleasure of experiencing the band first time around but look set to devour its exploits this time around if The Age of Entitlement is just the beginning of things to come. Led by original vocalist Howard H Smith, Acid Reign thrust a fresh voracious breath upon the metal landscape through their new encounter. Instinctively, thrash metal and its protagonists share a core flavouring as seed to their individual exploits and Acid Reign are no different but they have embroiled it in a host of other rapacious flavours and imagination bred adventures which makes it easy to be greedy for more.

With a line-up completed by bassist Pete Dee, guitarists Paul Chanter and Cooky, and drummer Marc Jackson, Acid Reign quickly gripped attention with the drama of album opener T.A.O.E., a track pushing the senses with its war tempered wall of riffs bound in barbed acidic guitar wiring. With drums banging their own confrontational trespass and melodic flames further igniting its pure temptation, the inspiring instrumental leads to the ravenous jaws of The New Low. Immediately, the second track surges through ears, rhythms a punishing incitement as guitars and bass uncage their own ferocious catchiness. Wired hooks vein the tempest as Smith’s equally manipulative tones further inspire participation in a feral roar which had us quickly and fully locked in.

NewAgeNarcissist equally made brief work of recruiting neck muscles and fiercely flung limbs, Smith’s fierce tones and lyrics riding the insistence with similar dexterity. The swarm of grooves across the song devoured as they sparked the appetite, rhythms just as uncompromisingly fertile before the track unleashes a chorus only the deaf could ignore. Every moment within the ravening song though is pure virulence and creative prowess, qualities just as rampant within next up My Peace Of Hell, a track galloping through ears with nostrils flared and breath aflame. A punk ferocity adds to the theatre of persuasion as too the web of enterprise cast by the ever agile guitars with another galvanic chorus a viral topping to it all.

As mentioned there is plenty that is familiar to the thrash instincts of the band and its songs yet each merges them into a slab of individual confrontation and endeavour as shown yet again by both Blood Makes Noise and Sense Of Independence. The first springs a persistently infectious trespass of groove metal infused, punk dusted, rock ‘n’ roll; essences of bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Infectious Grooves adding to the song’s gloriously insatiable holler while its successor growls with a barbarous grin as more extreme textures infest thrash rapacity. Even so melodic intimation and felicity bare the evocative heart of the song within one tempestuous climate of sound.

The hungrily swung antagonism and contagious face-off of Hardship and the demonic consumption of Within The Woods as ravenous as the Evil Dead themselves simply escalated the grip and impressive presence of the album, the latter eight minutes plus of creative adventure and pleasure nagging sonic acumen while Ripped Apart with carnal intent ravaged and devoured senses defenceless to its almost arrogant catchiness.

The album departs with United Hates, a predacious thrash scourge erupting from a scene of melodic beauty to remorselessly consume and ignite the senses. A deviously crafted yet primal assault of viral thrash brutality, it brings The Age of Entitlement to a close as exhilarating as its beginnings and indeed whole body.

It feels like British thrash is sowing the seeds to another heyday with the strength of releases this year alone, something surely even more certain if others can aspire to the bullish magnificence of Acid Reign and The Age of Entitlement.

The Age of Entitlement is out now via Dissonance Productions; available @ https://acidreign1.bandcamp.com/

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Pete RingMaster 11/10/2019

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Toxik – Breaking Class

As the number of metal bands returning after extensive breaks or simply break-ups often decades earlier keeps going up so are the amount of impressive releases emerging from these reunions. Adding to the list and almost heading it is the new EP from US thrashers Toxik. Offering three tracks of the genre in its old school breeding, Breaking Class is everything that is irresistible within thrash metal with a healthy freshness linked to experience that newcomers can only learn from and be inspired by.

Subsequently one of the most potent forces with thrash once emerging in 1985, New York hailing Toxik released a pair of increasingly recognised as classic albums in World Circus (1987) and Think This (1989) as well as built a potent live stature which included sharing stages and touring with the likes of King Diamond, Testament, Dream Theater, Exodus, Pantera, Candlemass and many more. Disbanding in 1982, interest in the band was clearly evident with the release of a pair of live DVDs in 2007 and 2010. Announcing their return three years after the second DVD with Shadows Fall’s Jason Bittner replacing original drummer Tad Leger, Toxik very successfully toured Europe and South America showing the lingering support for the band. Since then the line-up has seen James D’Maria of Generation Kill replacing Bittner and vocalist Charles Sabin (from the band’s second album, Think This) taking over from original frontman Mike Sanders as well as bassist Shane Boulos linking up with band founder and guitarist Josh Christian. It is a unit which seems to be a perfect fit as Breaking Class ravages the senses, an organic roar driving its rapacious sound and intent from the EP’s opening seconds.

Those first moments come courtesy of Stand Up, the track spiralling from an initial sample woven lure with wiry guitar swirling around senses jabbing beats. Straight away instincts for anthemic metal are awoken, vocals a rousing incitement backed by hungry riffs and a brooding bass line which almost dances with an established appetite for its flavours. There is a great Anthrax like tenacity and tone to the track around its chorus but equally a modern crossover essence bringing whiffs of bands such as Suicidal Tendencies and Municipal Waste into play but all spices assimilated in a proposal familiar, new, and distinct to Toxik.

The outstanding start is more than matched by the EP’s title track, Breaking Class a devilish surge of riffs and whipping rhythms fuelled by an energy and devilment just as evident in Sabin’s instinctively persuasive vocals and tenacity. Christian similarly has ears and imagination hooked with his aggressive and inventive web of riffs and sonic enterprise, never allowing the listener to settle without adding a new twist then another then….

As compelling as it is riotous, the track is itself more than matched by the closing Psyop; that healthy brew of flavours within the opener uncaged again within its more predatory climate and gait and again involved in an adventurous and almost challengingly unpredictable proposal. It maybe old school nurtured but the song, as its companions, show that does not mean things have to be restrained in boldness and imagination and they certainly are not in the hands of Toxik.

With hints of a new album in the works, it is as if Toxik has never been away just taking their time to create what is one of the most enjoyable thrash stomps of recent years.

The Breaking Class EP is released August 4th with re-ordering available now @ https://toxik.bandcamp.com/album/breaking-class

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Pete RingMaster 18/07/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

King Goat – Conduit

KG_RingMasterReview

Two years ago, UK progressive doomsters King Goat more than impressed with a self-titled EP; a release awakening a new horde of eager ears and appetites to their dark and invasively invigorating metal exploits. Now two years on, give or take a week or two, the Brighton quintet unleash its successor in the compelling shape of Conduit. The five track album is an imposing pyre of atmospheric drama and psychedelic intrigue for ears and imagination, a dark mystery wrapped in a thickly immersive doom bred challenge and seduction which quickly leaves its impressive predecessor deep in the shade.

Formed in 2012, the band first made their mark beyond a swiftly eager local scene with the Atom EP in 2013. Its success was followed by a slight change in personnel and eclipsed by the band’s aforementioned eponymous EP. The time between old and new release has only seen King Goat build a stronger and broader reputation as they successfully went on to play festivals such as Bloodstock Open Air, Mammothfest, and Doom Over London over the past couple of years and shared stages with the likes of Enslaved, Grand Magus, Witchsorrow, Alunah and many others.

As suggested, Conduit is King Goat at a new plateau of songwriting, imagination, and raw captivation of ears with Flight of the Deviants opening up the swiftly impressing collection of tales breeding unseen spirits, enslaved worlds, and death and rebirth. A spoken sample lays the seeds to the quickly engaging and provocative embrace of the first song, its immediate captivating bait led by the impressive tones of vocalist Trim. Almost like a carnival barker he shares the track’s dark narrative and mysterious nature, his tones a great blend of clean and grizzled textures within an emerging sonic web of melodic suggestiveness cast by guitarists Petros Sklias and Joe Parson. Increasingly sultry and macabre bordering on occultist lit, the track rumbles and infests ears and imagination with increasing potency and success. It is not hard to offer Candlemass and Ghost as clues to the heavily shadowed and thrilling track, and indeed across the album, though the individuality of King Goat dominates as found here; originality only being replicated song by song.

Artwork_RingMasterReviewThe outstanding start leads to the just as gripping and enthralling Feral King where almost toxic grooves bind the passions as chimes deal a portentous air around them. If the bass of Reza G was predatory within the first, it is almost gloriously primal in the second song while the rapier swings of drummer Jon Wingrove leave a lingering mark and persuasion to match the again immense vocal presence of Trim. The track’s dark story winds around the listener as masterfully as the sounds colouring it; King Goat showing them as alluring lyrically as they are in conjuring adventurous doom spawned incitements.

The album’s title track comes next and quickly sets about eclipsing its predecessors with ultimate success if by small margins such the impressive and dramatic might of all. Again Trim is as impressing in his clean cut enticing as his squalls of raw throated ferocity whilst the bestial predation of bass and riffs provide a stalking of the senses which only adds greater intensity and resourcefulness to the perpetually evolving drama and progressive ingenuity of the track.

Through the epic and climactic landscape of Revenants and the beguiling intimidation of Sanguine Path, the release comes to an absorbing and memorable close to match all before with unique ventures of their own. There is a touch of KingBathmat to the first of the pair, a track sculpting a host of crescendos and intensity soaked pinnacles within another persistently changing canvas of suggestiveness and absorbing enterprise, whilst the closer is simply as salaciously ravenous in invention as it is apocalyptically bewitching in temptation.

As much as it mightily impresses initially, Conduit just gets bigger, more striking, and inspirational with every listen. The King Goat craft and songwriting has come of age with Conduit, and in turn so has their sound though it still suggests we have yet to get below the first few layers of the band’s creative depths. That potential can surely only mean even bolder creative times to come, though whatever comes next will have to go some to eclipse this gem of an encounter.

The self-released Conduit is out now @ https://kinggoat.bandcamp.com/album/conduit

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Pete Ringmaster 29/03/2016

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King Witch – Shoulders Of Giants EP

KingWitch_RingMaster Review

It looks like there is new sorcery in town and it comes in the shape of King Witch and their rich and thickly captivating sound. An Edinburgh quartet which only formed last year, they have provided one tasty introduction to themselves with debut EP Shoulders Of Giants, a three track roar of seventies heavy metal and classic rock with a more than flavoursome lining of stoner/doom lit rock ‘n’ roll to its body. Since emerging, the band has lured comparisons to the varied likes of Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Mastodon, and High On Fire, to which we would suggest Mount Salem and Blood Ceremony in varying degrees, but whoever is offered as a clue King Witch and their EP provide one exciting prospect and success respectively.

Consisting of vocalist Laura Donnelly and guitarist Jamie Gilchrist, both formerly of Firebrand Super Rock, alongside bassist Simon Anger and drummer Tam Dickson, King Witch has taken little time to awaken keen appetites and support for their fiery music. It is no surprise with Shoulders Of Giants, aside a well-received single, as their opening bait for ears. It has a creatively accomplished body and thick imagination which only sparks the thought that if things are this good at the start what a thrilling horizon is surely before us with them.

KingWitch-EP-Front_RingMaster Review   The powder keg of sonic fire and heavy brew of classic intoxication opens with its title track, Shoulders of Giants an initial shimmer with instant intensity and drama that only grabs attention and imagination. Gilchrist is soon spinning a web of melodic intrigue as the swiftly impressive voice of Donnelly blossoms in sound and narrative. Straight away she is a focal point but through the strength of the flavours and craft surrounding her soon the song as a whole is in command again, the rhythms springing a mix of anthemic intimidation over which the guitar casts a tonic of grooves which at times finds a Skids like tang. The track is a mighty start to the EP, full of striking textures and enterprise that alone needs numerous plays to fully explore with increasing rewards.

Full Moon King comes next, immediately seducing with its warm melodies and exotic air. The heat is raised in no time as grooves and bass resonance collude in tenacious revelry within the crisply landing frame of Dickson’s beats. The temperature and roar of the song is equally lit by the soaring tones of Donnelly but tempered skilfully by the melodic calms and elegant breezes which drift across the track’s enticing landscape between its skilfully stretched out dynamic crescendos. As much as the opener had attention eager, its successor has the appetite drooling before departing for the final track to make its claim on the passions.

As the others, the epic adventure of Lucid needs little time to entangle ears and emotional involvement in its heavy romance and sultry seduction. Vocals and spicy swathes of guitar simply caress the passions as the climate warms and boils with every passing second. Donnelly again shows her striking prowess with every syllable and musically the band theirs across very pluck of a string and swing of a stick. The finale is breath-taking, a hex all on its own bringing a thrilling release to a mighty conclusion.

There is no doubt you will be hearing a lot more of and about King Witch over coming months and with increasing acclaim and ardour if the Shoulders Of Giants EP is a sign of things to come.

Shoulders Of Giants EP is out now @ https://kingwitchband.bandcamp.com/releases

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Pete RingMaster 07/01/2016

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Black Inside – A Possession Story

blackinside_RingMaster Review

Initially starting out as a band playing Black Sabbath covers, Italian heavy metallers Black Inside have grown into a strongly accomplished and captivating proposition as evidenced by new album A Possession Story. Casting a classic heavy metal sound with numerous dark flavourings embroiled in doom toned imagination, musically and emotionally, the album is a potent step from a band looking forward to having a very healthy presence within the European metal scene.

Formed in 2009, the Napoli hailing quintet soon moved from playing other’s tracks to writing and performing their own mix of infectious classic, eighties, doom, and epic metal. Autumn 2011 saw the band release the Servant Of The Servants demo which down very well with fans whilst garnering very positive media reviews. Across the December of the following year and the January of its successor, Black Inside recorded debut album The Weigher Of Souls which also upon release via Underground Symphony Records, earned rich praise and attention. Recorded towards the end of last year, the Neil Haynes mixed and mastered A Possession Story pushes the band’s name and sound to loftier heights and easy to expect broader spotlights on Black Inside.

cover_RingMaster Review     The Red Cat Records released proposition opens with Man Is A Wolf To Men, a stirring slice of metal taking little time to awaken ears and appetite with its thrash lined riffery and ravenous mix of rhythmic and aggressive tenacity. There is a definite Metallica feel to the track, an inviting tone which is only accentuated by the guitars of Brian Russo and Eduardo Iannaccone, as well as the grizzly voice of Luigi Martino. Across its length, those same strings also spill tantalising sonic and melodic tempting and a dark drama which is carried deeper into the song by the bass of Vincenzo La Tegola. As you can say about the album overall, there are few major surprises with the encounter yet it has a fresh and powerful presence which only invites involvement.

The Siege Of Jerusalem follows and straight away has a heavier prowl to its gait and doomy air to its nature, guitars spinning a sinister web around the initially spoken vocals and portentous rhythms led by the spiky beats of Enzo Arato. Once setting the scene, the song twists into a more power metal bloomed canter, which maybe does not quite live up to the promise of its entrance but spins a captivating theatre of sound and words. Imagination is also a thick element of the encounter, slips into melodic caresses with impassioned vocals and a tapestry of skilled enterprise from the guitars for the main mesmeric.

The song Black Inside also makes a beguiling introduction, guitar seducing and dark vocals entwining before the song comes alive with sonic flames and a brooding tone of bass, all subsequently attributing to a heavy metal roar with a fusion of inventive unpredictability and sparkling melodic expression. It is a template continuing in both I’m Not Like You and King Of The Moon, though both cast individual and dynamic proposals of their own. The first has a spicy blues rock lining to its fiery rock ‘n’ roll whilst its successor, as in all songs to varying degrees, openly wears the band’s Black Sabbath seeding in its power balladry.

Things get heavier and more sonically flirtatious with Too Dark To See, tangy grooves and anthemic tendencies potent persuasion from early on and only increasing their temptation as the band evolves and twists them with further magnetic resourcefulness across its riveting body. The bass of La Tegola reveals a repertoire of sinister tones and invention alone, superbly and imaginatively backed by the theatre and adventure of the guitars. The best track on the album it is as good as matched by the album’s title track and its own haunted maze of sound and sinister imagination. It is almost imposing with its doom spawned breath and initial elegant collusion of instrumentation and resonating sounds, but it is also another which cannot quite keep its scintillating start consistently going across its whole adventurous landscape. Nevertheless the track is a cauldron of intensity and creative ingenuity which only leaves a healthy greed for more.

The mellow seducing of Forsaking Song with the excellent additional vocals of Sara Shade continues the by now hypnotic lure of A Possession Story whilst the creative stalking of Jeffrey from yet another irresistible introduction, swings into a lumbering beast of incitement. Its doom’ heritage’ is an open predation and persistently swaying the intent and tone of the track as it broadens its creative shoulders and thick mesh of sound with every passing minute and idea. Like Iron Maiden meets Candlemass, the song is eight minutes of provocative resourcefulness which every time it begins to labour in flavour or style manages to sculpt and whip out another thrilling and unpredictable twist.

The purest slice of classic metal rock ‘n’ roll on the album brings the album to a close, Pharmassacre an anthem to swing fists and vocal chords to, and though for personal tastes it is the weakest song, it still creates a lively and enjoyable close to a highly satisfying release.

A Possession Story is a grower too, a release sparking stronger pleasure as every listen reveals more of its more understated but potent qualities. It is fair to say that Black Inside is not ready to turn the heavy metal scene fully its way yet but their album certainly gives it a very inviting nudge.

A Possession Story is available now via Red Cat Records.

RingMaster 14/08/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Decaying times and self-evidence: an interview with Ade Mulgrew of Darkest Era

DE Ade Mulgrew

The recent release of their new album Severance showed that Northern Ireland metallers Darkest Era has not only evolved as a band with a new flush of blood to its line-up but also pushed their potent sound into new emotively fired and imaginatively compelling proposition. Providing another exploration of the band’s Celtic infused heavy metal in a greater voraciously flavoured and intensive proposition, band and album reinforces the stature and impact of the developing force whilst thrusting Darkest Era upon a new dramatic plateau. Taking the chance to find out more we took some of guitarist Ade Mulgrew’s precious time to talk about Severance, the difficult time around its creation, inspirations and much more…

Hi Ade and thank you for taking time out to talk with us.

Please tell us about the beginnings of Darkest Era and the inspirations or spark to forming the band.

We formed the band while still in school, about 17 years old. Myself and Krum had played together in cover bands, but wanted to form a metal band. We started playing some covers by Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest…but soon we were writing our own songs. The inspiration was, as ever, just to be in a metal band; to write songs and express ourselves. The same reason we do it now.

Was the Celtic influence in your songwriting and music an immediate flavour to your ideas?

It was, yes. The first song we ever wrote came about after I was noodling on a particular riff in ¾, not even thinking about it and Sarah added a guitar harmony. It happened to have a distinct Celtic vibe which we really liked and things just went from there. We didn’t really think about it so much…it just happened to transpire that way and the kind of Celtic atmosphere in our music isn’t contrived really, it’s just how we write.

Where did the Celtic inspiration come from, other metal/rock bands exploring that vein of sound or from a more traditional influence?

I guess you tend to take influence from things around you so growing up in Ireland obviously there is a rich heritage of folk music. We were already to an extent influenced by the folk rock band Horslips, and also the kind of sound on Thin Lizzy’s material. Something about this kind of vibe just came naturally to us. We’re a heavy metal band though at the end of the day and it’s those influences that were the most prevalent and the most important to us.

Initially called Nemesis, why the change to Darkest Era as a band name?

Things started to pick up for us and get quite serious rather early on, so we needed a name that wasn’t taken by 100 other bands. Our sound had started to take shape and we wanted something to reflect this. Candlemass were originally called Nemesis for example and changed their name for the same reasons.

It is fair to say that the second of two EPs opened up a new spotlight on the band and led to signing with Metal Blade Records. Is there something you can point to or say which specifically pulled the trigger to that recognition?

I don’t think so, apart from we are at the right place at the right time. You need a little luck to get noticed sometimes and the fact that we have the Thin Lizzy influence helped a lot as Brian Slagel is a massive Thin Lizzy fan. The band had a bit of buzz going from the demos which helped but I would say to be honest that we were a wild card signing for Metal Blade. We were the first of a few bands brought to their attention by Alan Averill of Primordial, but were an unknown entity by and large. I guess it was a testament to the quality of our demos that Slagel was impressed enough to offer us a deal.

With the label, The Last Caress Of Light, your debut album was unleashed in 2011 to great acclaim and reactions. How did that impact on the band and its emergence beyond having your first full-length out? DE

Joining a label like Metal Blade meant there was a lot of press surrounding the album; we were definitely exposed to a wider audience than we had been before. We had reviews in tons of printed magazines, websites and ads in the right places – so it was a big step up in terms of the amount of people paying attention to us. However the band was still quite pro-active in pushing itself using its own resources. But simply having an album out at last meant we could then go on tours, play festivals and so on so it was a big milestone, as it would be for any band.

Can we turn to new album Severance now; it feels like the band has found a new depth and potency to songwriting and sound, tapped into a stronger vein of invention…

Yes I would agree with you. A lot of it is simply down to maturing as people and as songwriters. The band is on a creative journey, we had no intention of writing the first album over again. We always want to push ourselves and move forward artistically, and on this record we had a much, much stronger idea of what we wanted to do and how to bring our own identity to the fore. It’s also a little darker and more aggressive, which is probably down to the circumstances surrounding the band at the time of writing. It was a fist clenched, teeth bared, back to the wall kind of scenario…

How do you see the evolution in your sound from not only early days but from the first album and Severance?

As I said it is a darker, heavier and generally a lot more focussed. We create a certain sweeping melancholy with our sound but we wanted to bring this into a much more focused heavy metal framework this time around. We cut the fat and went straight for the throats of the listener. We have a lot of different influences in the band, individually and collectively, and we fine-tuned this to bring more of our own identity to the mix and I really think we succeeded. People are having a hard time figuring out what to call us, but the reviews are very positive so that speaks volumes to us.

Did you take a determined or particular course with the new album or let it organically unfold in the writing and recording?

Myself, Sarah and Krum sat down after coming back from one of our tours and talked about what we wanted to do with the album, and we agreed on very general ideas which I said above, for example a general trimming of the fat in our sound. But at the same time things we written in such a short space of time that we didn’t really have time to stop along the way and think too much about things. There was definitely a significant element of letting things unfold naturally. You kind of just have to trust yourself that you have the songs somewhere inside you, and go with your instincts. Too much thinking can hinder creativity, I find.

So how long did the album take to make?

We wrote the album in about 10 weeks, during a very intense period of writing where the band was pretty much falling apart. We then entered the studio almost straight after, and recorded the album in 16 days. We were still writing quite a bit in the studio, although we had the songs more or less there. There was a lot of lyric writing, tweaking arrangements, vocal melodies and so on in the studio. It was intense also but a different kind of intense. Lisa went home after she recorded her drums but the rest of us knuckled down and worked together to push it over the line. The 10 weeks writing, in comparison, was quite bleak and isolated for me at times as I was shouldering the task of getting most of the ideas off the ground.

You were touring heavily leading up to Severance, it must have been less easy to sit down and write songs, certainly in comparison to the creation of its predecessor?

Yes absolutely, as the cliché goes you have your entire life to write your first album, and with album 2 suddenly there is pressure. Even more so when it’s difficult to put time aside to write. To be honest we gave ourselves a deadline because we knew that otherwise we would never get round to making the album. Things will always get in the way, especially when you aren’t playing music as your job, so we said ok this is the date, let’s just do it. We did not foresee the line-up instability however, which definitely made things a lot more difficult. We did two pretty big tours in 2012, and in the middle of it all we were trying to keep the band from falling apart…So yeah, very difficult circumstances to try and write an album in.

de coverYou mentioned there that the band had line-up issues before the album, how big an effect did that gave its making if at all?

As above really…We had no permanent bassist in place, and Lisa was in the process of leaving the band. Things were often at boiling point during some of the writing sessions, and as I mentioned Lisa went home when her drum parts were done so there was a serious atmosphere. Things could easily have fallen apart but we had far too much determination and belief in the band to let it crumble.

How does the writing process work within the band generally and specifically this time around with Severance?

Generally the songs start with myself or Sarah; we’ll have a guitar part, or perhaps a few riffs and ideas put together and we go from there. We’ll normally have a fair idea of where the song is going before bringing to the rest of the band and there it changes shape, gets arranged, pulled apart and the guys add their parts and ideas. Occasionally someone will noodle on a riff in rehearsal and we’ll jam it out over and over and work it into a song, but there was very little opportunity for this on Severance. Mostly it was stuff that I had come up with, and I would send it to Sarah and Krum and we would exchange thoughts and ideas. I did a lot of home demos on this album as I had to have the bones of songs ready quite quickly so the guys knew where I was coming form. Sarah probably had more material on this album than the debut as well; particularly Blood, Sand and Stone. We’ve always had kind of a songwriting partnership but it really came to fruition on this record.

There is a passion and freshness to the album which obviously was not affected by the stronger pressure of getting songs ready for its recording?

I think the passion that people pick up on with this record is a result of the stormy emotional climate that I mentioned earlier, and an unwavering iron will to make a really killer metal record regardless of the circumstances. Some people crack under pressure but it has always been something that I have thrived under, thankfully.

How about in the studio, how did that pan out and did you learn lessons with the first to help with the recording of Severance?

We had a fair bit of studio experience with our previous EP’s and demos, but I guess after doing our first album we knew exactly how the recording of an LP worked and prepared us somewhat. This time around we had a better idea of how to get the sounds we wanted for the album. Drum sound and guitar tone were something we wanted to shift around a little compared to the first album, and I think we’ve done that. We stripped the guitars back to just one rhythm track each for myself and Sarah, as opposed to the double tracking on the first record and I think that’s helped give the album a darker and grittier tone overall. You can really hear the bite of the guitars on this one.

Give the readers some idea of the themes behind the album and particular songs.

Decay of all things physical and metaphysical, Cormac McCarthy-esque post-apocalyptic dystopia, the unstoppable force of time hauling us further to the ground, and the philosophical concept of Solipsism.

Severance is released through Cruz del Sur Music, a label with a great pedigree and a striking array of releases especially over the past year or so. How did that link-up come about?

I’d been a fan of Cruz Del Sur for many years, since I first discovered Slough Feg and started trading CD’s with Matt from Pharaoh. Enrico was aware of our stuff and when it came to searching for a new label they were an obvious choice really. As you say they have an absolutely killer back catalogue so we’re in very good company.

It is a home more fitting for Darkest Era you feel?

Yes I think so, with Metal Blade we got totally lost in their roster and the sort of stuff we’re doing is never going to be a priority for them really unless it’s selling 30,000 copies or whatever. Maybe 25 years ago things would have been different but the days of a label nurturing artists and helping them grow into worldwide forces over the course of 2 or 3 albums are sadly gone. There just isn’t enough pie to go around anymore.

From the outside watching the intensive work you guys put in with shows and tours we wonder if there has been time to reflect on the journey of the band so far, if so thoughts at this point in time? DE2

Not really, we’re constantly looking forward and are a very ambitious band. We have many milestones we’ve yet to reach and don’t feel like stopping to smell the flowers until we’ve achieved a lot more. The band is entering a new phase now I guess; we’ve done our first album, did our first big tours and festivals and come through the line-up changes that often occur when a band starts to step up through the gears. Now we have our second album, a steady line-up and are looking to the next touring cycle and writing album 3 so I think the best we have to offer is still ahead of us.

Talking of shows, we can assume Darkest Era will be supporting Severance intensively around Europe and elsewhere in the months ahead?

Yes we have our first headlining tour of the UK starting this September, hopefully Europe in the spring and who knows after that. Touring and playing to as many people as possible is our number one priority right now.

Did you have any particular aims or hopes for the band starting out and if so have they been realised or replaced with new intentions?

We’ve always wanted to push the band as far as it can go from day one, but first and foremost we aim to write albums that satisfy our creative needs and that people will enjoy and get something out of. We’re on course so far I think.

Thanks again for chatting with us, is there anything you wish to add?

Metal or death!

And lastly give five of the most important releases in your record collection which you could never be without?

Iron Maiden – Powerslave

Queensryche – Operation Mindcrime

Judas Priest – Painkiller

AC/DC – High Voltage

Fields of the Nephilim – Elizium

 

I should point out though these 5 albums will change each time I am asked! 🙂

http://www.darkestera.net

Read the review of Severance @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/06/04/darkest-era-severance/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 15/07/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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Destructive landscapes: an interview with John Gaffney of Sinister Realm

JG of Sinister Realm by Maria J Photography

Driven by an open creative passion and equally potent craft, World of Evil the recently released new album from US metallers Sinister Realm, emerged as one of the most refreshingly striking heavy metal genre releases of the year. Thrusting the listener into a world of muscular anthemic temptation and fiery melodic enterprise, the impressive confrontation from the Allentown, Pennsylvania quartet takes the bar for modern classically sculpted heavy metal up a few more levels. World of Evil certainly ignited a fire inside of The RR so we jumped at the chance to find out more about Sinister Realm and their Shadow Kingdom Records released album, as well as inspirations musically and lyrically, with the kind assistance of band founder and bass player John Gaffney.

Hi John and thank you for taking time out to chat with us here.

Thank you for the interview and for reviewing our CD!

Firstly could you give us some background to the members of Sinister Realm and what was the spark which brought the band to life?

Our singer Alex and drummer Chris used to be in a local original alternative metal band called Type 14.  John Risko and John Kanter are local guitar heroes that have played in a bunch of metal cover bands; Risko at the moment is playing in a metal tribute band with James Rivera from Hellstar.  I use to play in a doom band called Pale Divine.

The spark that brought the band to life was just a desire to make music influenced by the bands that really inspired us when we first discovered metal, like early Ozzy, Dio era Sabbath and Dio solo, Maiden, Priest, 1980-1984 classic metal basically.

How did the band founders originally meet?

Our original drummer Darin McCloskey and I use to play in the doom band Pale Divine.  I played with them for a few years and played bass on the “Cemetery Earth” album.   I landed up leaving due to some logistical issues and Darin called me up and suggested we work on some original ideas I had brought down to Pale Divine but never got to use.

What are the biggest inspirations to band and your personal musical creativity?

Classic early 80s metal like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy, Dio solo and with Sabbath, Mercyful Fate and Candlemass.  Personally, outside of music I’m influenced by the bands mentioned above as well as 70s horror movies, art and photography.

Traditional 80’s metal seeds and cores your sound and intent, do you feel there is still a wide expanse for the genre to explore without losing its original identity or is more about improving and revitalising existing scenarios within the scene for new and established bands?

I think there is still plenty of room for people to interpret traditional metal in their own way and add some of their own stamp on it.  With Sinister Realm we realise that we are not really inventing anything  per say but just putting our own spin on it.  We are not reinventing the wheel, we’re just blowing the dust off it a little and giving it our own spin.

I believe the band runs alongside real life for you all, does that bring the biggest obstacles to try and overcome, or is it a grounding for Sinister Realm by Maria J PhotographySinister Realm which helps keeps the adventure fresh?

Sometimes real life can be very inspiring and depressing all at the same time.  Even though our lyrics seem to have a lot of fantasy style subject matters, often the inspiration comes from real life experiences or observations I’ve made on the sometimes really messed up human race we belong to.  I enjoy fantasy imagery so often I cloak the meanings inside the lyrics so they can be interpreted however the listeners want.  Whenever I need some inspiration and need to keep things fresh, taking a look around at the world usually does the trick.

How easy is it to merge the live aspect and passion of the band into everyday life, especially one like yourselves which predominantly drives and works most of its own promotion?

The business end of the things can certainly wear you down, we have a lot of support from our record company Shadow Kingdom Records but we don’t have a manager or booking agent so we have to do a lot of that ourselves.  Playing live and getting an immediate reaction from people can be very inspiring so that along with the emails we receive from fans is what keeps us going.

You have just released your third album World of Evil, a release which for us is “a world of muscular anthemic temptation and fiery melodic enterprise” offering a riotous fun and passion fuelled enterprise which arguably has been lacking in the majority of recent heavy metal releases. I am not expecting you to disagree, ha-ha, but what were your hopes for the album and its effect on fans whilst writing and recording it?

With everything that we do we always hope that it will be received well but  when I’m writing the songs I try not to think about what other people would like, I try to just make sure it’s something that I like and in my gut feel is good.  We always try to make the best record we can at that time.  As for the effect on the fans, I hope that the music means something to them and bring a smile to their face and maybe a raised fist in the air.

How would you say your music and craft has evolved over the three albums to this point?

I’ve gotten better in the song writing and lyric department and the band has gotten better at playing together and bringing the songs to life.  Just like anything else in life, the more you do it the better you get at it.   I think in general the band has gotten better at bringing our vision to life.

Did you approach the writing and recording of the album any differently to your previous releases?

Not really but I always strive to get better and move forward.  With “World of Evil” I wanted the lyrics to get better and explore some different themes and I wanted to add some more epic moments like the songs “Ghost of Nevermore” and “Four Black Witches”.  As for the recording, we did it the same way as the first two albums; get the tracks down as quick as possible so we can spend as much time as we can on the mixing end.

392798_10151531206200851_1286640089_nThe album and song titles seem bred from the shadows and less savoury aspects of this earth and its inhabitants. This is the main inspiration for your ideas and songs generally as you touched on earlier?

Yeah I would say so; you don’t have to look very far to see evil in our world.

How does the song writing work within the band, and is there plenty of room for band interpretation and progression of songs and ideas or is it a more singular approach that you all run with?

I write all the music and lyrics then I demo everything out for the other guys, they take a listen and add their own personality onto the songs.  We bang them around in rehearsals until we feel comfortable with it and usually try to play the songs out live a few times as the final test.

Do you enter the studio with songs generally ‘finished’ or do you all like to stretch them further once in that environment?

Everything is completely worked out and basically finished before we get to the studio.  Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to leave anything to chance.  The only things that get added at the last moment in the studio tend to be keyboard overdubs and effects and things like that.  Sometimes I might get inspired in the studio and add an extra vocal harmony or something but for the most part everything is worked out in advance.

Some bands like to write songs and introduce and test their appeal live before recording and others the other way round. What is the usual routine for songs with Sinister Realm?

Well, like I mentioned above, we start with a demo, work it out in the practice room and then take it to the stage for the final adjustments.   In my opinion, playing live is how you really learn songs and make them your own, that’s why we always try to play new songs out live because you really learn them that way and they will sometimes take on a new life when you play them in front of a live audience.

Was there anything which emerged whilst bringing World of Evil to life which you intend to explore further in future releases?

The epic nature of songs like “Ghosts of Nevermore” and “Four Black Witches”; that is a direction I would like to continue in and explore more on the next record.

It is probably fair to say that you guys are more established in the US than in Europe, do you feel like us that World of Evil has the ammunition to remedy that?

I hope so; I would like the record to reach as many places as possible.  Traditional metal is really strong in Europe so I would of course love it for us to make a strong mark there.

What comes next for Sinister Realm once the mighty World of Evil has stopped lighting up the world?

Playing live and some touring to support the new album.  We also have an EP that we plan to release ourselves early next year then we will start working on the next record.  I would like the next one to be out rather quickly, maybe late next year.  Kind of like in the old days when bands were releasing albums once a year, I would like to be able to do that.

Once again big thanks for talking with us, anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Thanks a lot for the interview and for supporting Sinister Realm and heavy metal.  Get the album at any of the Amazon stores, Shadow Kingdom Records or your preferred online metal distributor.  For more info on the band go to www.sinisterrealm.net

Thanks and long live heavy metal!!

 

Check out the review of World of Evil @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/08/06/sinister-realm-world-of-evil/

Questions Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 17/09/2013

 

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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Sinister Realm – World of Evil

SINISTER_REALM_Promo

With an air of doom to its open classic heavy metal heart, World of Evil the new album from US metallers Sinister Realm is one of those releases which just grabs you by the emotions and thrusts you into a world of muscular anthemic temptation and fiery melodic enterprise. It is an exciting and pulse racing encounter which leaves senses and appetite alert and hungry for more, something you can argue few bands in the heavy metal genre has achieved in recent times. The Allentown, Pennsylvania quartet has no problem in recruiting the passions and hunger though, certainly on this their third full length release, and without necessarily breaking down existing walls they offer something refreshingly different.

The eight track album has an imagination and depth which also takes in the essences of rich flavours outside of its core sound, this fusion rising to songs that use open influences from the likes of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Dio, Ozzy Osbourne, and Mercyful Fate in a shadows clad intensive union that sparks off of essences from bands such as Candlemass and Memento Mori. Formed in 2008 by ex-Pale Divine member John Gaffney (bass, guitar, backing vocals) and Darin McCloskey (Pale Divine, Falcon), Sinister Realm followed up a four-song demo with the well-received self-titled album in 2009, followed two years later to good acclaim its successor The Crystal Eye. Released through Shadow Kingdom Records, World of Evil takes the band to another plateau of accomplishment and one suspects acclaim, the quartet of Gaffney, vocalist Alex Kristof, guitarists John Kantner and John Risko, and drummer Chris Metzger, raising not only their own bar but that on modern classically sculpted heavy metal.

The first thing to say as we delve into the release is how impressive and deliciously imposing and creative the bass work of Gaffney is, 611-228x228throughout the release its throaty steely tone revolving through seductive  to carnivorous but perpetually darkening the shadows, breath, and creative presence of songs wonderfully. It is a bestial predator which gives an intimidation and menace to every second of the release taking the listener into hidden dangers tempering the melodic flames which equally enhance and fire up the release.

Opener Dark Angel of Fate escapes from a stark threatening ambience, exploding into an eagerly paced romp of crisp rhythms and that instantly calling bass sound. Riffs too grip attention with their unspectacular but directly invitational attack whilst the excellent vocals of Kristof parade the song’s tale with expression and strength. As becomes apparent across the whole album, the anthemic lure of the song is dramatic and potent, a power metal like charge fuelling the imaginative engine for the melodic invention to flare off from. It is an excellent start soon backed up by the following pair of Bell Strikes Fear and the title track, even if they fail to quite live up to the impressive welcome of the album. The first of the two holds more of the expectations you would assume from a classic metal song but with good backing vocal shouts and the excellent guitar play not forgetting the bass threat expanding its presence, the track is a rewarding encounter equalled by  its slower intensive successor, the song a more than decent companion to thoughts and imagination.

The grooved enticement of The Ghosts of Nevermore with its familiar yet undefined touch marks the epically breathing song as another major highlight. As guitars coax the appetite with those acidic grooves the bass unveils its own predatory but simultaneously beckoning lure, the union bringing greed into play towards the rich weave of the song. Hunger for it is accelerated by the fine craft of the guitars and the rising symphonic atmosphere infusing the air. The captivating track is just the start of a scintillating passage within the album, Prophets of War stepping up with its confrontational rhythmic sinews and antagonistic riffs next to lead the listener and thoughts into a battlefield of climactic emotion and riveting endeavour. The bass again steals the biggest share of the passions, but every aspect of the track recruits full eagerness and instinctive subservience to its towering inventive declaration, the melodic and adventurous exploration of the initial dark premise as it moves towards its climax especially enthralling.

The pulsating and deviously addictive Cyber Villain has blood surging around veins with irresistible ease, the song a thumping example of choice heavy metal whilst the instrumental The Forest of Souls calms down emotions and energies with enchantingly creative poise before evolving into the vibrant key for final track Four Black Witches to unlock its brooding malevolence and doom like gothic presence. Approaching nine minutes of classic genre fare it is a captivating if slightly overlong conclusion to an excellent release.

World of Evil is a thrilling fascination brought by a band in Sinister Realm which is giving an arguably well-worn genre a new kick of creative adrenaline.

www.facebook.com/sinisterrealm

8.5/10

RingMaster 06/08/2013

 

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Void Moon: On the Blackest of Nights

On the Blackest of Nights is one of those albums which does not truly light any fires, raging or otherwise, within the heart or its passions but still finds a welcome and contented place in the ear. Void Moon its creator, is a band which is openly accomplished and skilled in ability and songwriting, but arguably the album offers more promise ahead than a realised height of triumph in the now. But the album is a welcome and pleasurable companion to spend time within, even if the urgency to return is not as elevated as with many other metal releases.

Formed in 2009 by bassist Peter Svensson, drummer Thomas Hedlund, and vocalist/guitarist Jonas Gustavsson, Void Moon creates an undemanding melodic expanse of doom metal. It is not a sound which extinguishes light or labours with heavy intensive shadows, as there is perpetual melodic warmth which offers an escape from the desolation and emptiness inferred, but it is music to draw strong imagery from. The line-up is completed by lead guitarist Erika Wallberg who joined the band after the release of debut demo EP Through the Gateway in 2010. The album which is released by Cruz del Sur consists of re-recorded tracks from that demo and its successor The Mourning Son of the following year, the band evolving and revitalising those tracks to take their place alongside new songs on their first full length offering.

The tracks sees influences in the likes of Black Sabbath and Candlemass as well as Solitude Aeturnus and Hammers of Misfortune flavouring the music which transports themes of death, philosophy, heathen rituals and the teachings of Crowley through the ear. It makes for at times an evocative proposition lyrically which arguably the sounds do not always quite match or rise to. Despite that the album certainly engages throughout and reveals within its sombre presence some stylish play and impressive craft.

The album opens with Hammer Of Eden, a track which even now leaves indecision as to how good it is and how much it is liked. It is one of those songs which alternate between alienating personal taste and preferences to thrilling those same barriers with strong ideas and invention. The opening sweeps of classic metal guitar and plodding rhythms are decent yet uninspiring though the bass does offer a slight snarl. The track then slows even more to further raise eyebrows but then the already okay vocals of Gustavsson find a declaration and delivery which is unexpected and compulsive. Being extra critical the song feels like its cohesion of elements and shifting passage is struggling to stay together but it works and by the end the song has argued its case with a lingering satisfaction even if it never fully convinces.

The likes of the title track with its slowly winding sharp melodic breath, the intriguing and magnetic The Word and the Abyss, and the slowly stomping Through the Gateway, all capture the imagination without dazzling expectations. There is a thrash metal gait to many of these and the album which certainly keeps one fully engaged and determined to find out more. It is not an adrenaline driven aspect, its energy toned to lie with ease within the doom wrapped skies and intensity of the songs, but as in the latter of this trio it makes for an at times quite infectious lure.

Along with Through the Gateway, the track which stood to the fore was Among the Dying. It is a gentle and heated pleasure with a raw edge to the vocals which makes a firm compliment to the heated mesmeric melodies and caressing sounds. The song does dig into a feisty bag of energy at times to keep the track unpredictable and captivating and apart from the brief image painting instrumental Psychic Bleeding; it was the one time no persuasion to its glories was needed.

On the Blackest of Nights is an album without doubt is worth checking out especially if melodic metal lines your passions, but whether it will ignite greater flames than for us only time in its overall pleasing company will tell.

http://www.void-moon.com/

RingMaster 09/11/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Sorrows Path – The Rough Path Of Nihilism

Greek metalers Sorrows Path are classified as doom metal but listening to their satisfying new album The Rough Path Of Nihilism, they cover a lot more ground than that. Certainly their core is a slow and deeply plundering dark hearted wrap offering despair, demise, and death, but it is fused with some fine gothic, heavy, and power metal traits to make for a fully engaging and captivating release. Though not a ground breaking album sound wise it has a heart and strength which sets it apart from many other similarly driven releases.

The journey of the band to this point has been fraught and marked by tragedy. Formed in 1003 by Takis Drakopoulos (bass) and Kostas Salomidis (guitar) with the shared inspiration of bands like Memento Mori, Solitude Aeturnus and Candlemass, the band grew to a quartet with vocalist Angelos Ioannidis and drummer Kostas Farmakis. 1995 saw the band playing plenty of local shows as well as the release a well received demo. That same year also saw first the search for a replacement on drums but also tragically the death of Drakopoulos of a serious brain disease. Shell shocked the remaining pair eventually resolved to carry on and with a new line-up continued to gig and went on to record material though it was never released.

Mandatory military service put the band on hiatus for a couple of years in 1998 but on its return to performing disaster struck again with Salomidis almost becoming paralyzed because of a neck problem caused by a devastating motorcycle accident a few years before. Five years of pain, courage and determination followed as he began the road to partial recovery and being able to play his guitar once more in some capacity. 2005 saw the band finally rehearsing again, working on old songs and writing anew. The band after another line-up shift released their remastered first demo along with the ’96 promo tape they had recorded to try and get label interest, through Eat Metal Records as Resurrection. Shows continued at pace and in the summer of 2008 the band entered the studio with known Greek metal producer, musician and composer Vangelis Yalamas to begin recording what was to become The Rough Path Of Nihilism.

With a current line-up of drummer Fotis Mountourism, bassist Stavros Giannakos, and guitarist Giannis Tziligkakis alongside Ioannidis and Salomidis, Sorrows Path released the album through Rock It Up Records and their long journey to their first true debut album was over, a rewarding release for all it is too.

Opening on the warm ambience and acoustic/voice introduction of All Love Is Lost, the album draws one in immediately, though not with the sound initially expected. It is a gentle caress with a heated atmosphere to revel in which eventually evolves in to an emotive insurgence with spears of gothic metal and a doom laded breath. The perpetually shifted start sets one up perfectly for what is to come, the song itself a slow burning pleasure which excels further with every listen.

Not every song hits the spot due to personal tastes but all left a captivation in their wake and an invitation to return which will not be declined. The likes of the destructively thrilling Dirty Game, with its twisted groove and infectious tease, the magnetic Mr. Holy, and Queen Of Doom, a song of shadowed seduction, wash the ear with skilful and impassioned invention, each unpredictable  without straying from its obvious intent. The best song though is without doubt Prostitute, another gothic lined track which prowls with a wanton heaviness and taunting air. With scorched yet sultry guitar play lighting up its dark corners the song sears itself upon the senses and mind, a lingering wickedness to endure time.

Sorrows Path captures the imagination throughout The Rough Path Of Nihilism and will no doubt reap the rewards for their strength and determination over the years from their very satisfying release.

www.sorrowspath.net

RingMaster 26/09/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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