Voyager – Ghost Mile

There is no denying the eager grin which broke upon faces here when the new Voyager album was sent through, having been seriously tempted by the band since their second album uniVers in 2007 and lustfully hooked through their fourth and fifth in the acclaimed shapes of The Meaning of I and V. The later in 2014 set a plateau it was easy to wonder if the Australian band could eclipse thereon in. Hopes and a quiet confidence have just been realised with the release of Ghost Mile, an album which brings a truly fresh breath to progressive metal as instinctively catchy and virulent as it is technically and inventively imaginative.

The success of the Perth quintet’s last album saw the band invited to perform at major festivals such as ProgPower USA, Euroblast Festival in Germany, and the ProgPower Europe Festival in The Netherlands as well as sharing stages with the likes of Deftones, Opeth, Leprous, Protest The Hero, Nightwish, Epica, Oceans of Slumber, and Coheed and Cambria. Voyager ended last year touring Australia with Deftones and Karnivool and being further invitations to play Euroblast and Progpower EU this year, the latter as headliners. Now with Ghost Mile driving things, it is hard to imagine 2017 being anything other than a really busy adventure, one no doubt littered with praise lured by their stunning new album alone.

Mixed by Matthew Templeman and mastered by Simon Strutters, Ghost Mile opens up with Ascension. A golden melody kisses ears first with the warmth and intrigue of a dawn sun, its suggestive air tempting the imagination before bolder rhythms add their bait. Djent teased enterprise is soon joining the blossoming affair, their steely tenacity paving the way for another caress of elegance around the radiant tones of Danny Estrin. As magnetic as ever, his presence is swiftly joined by sturdier textures whilst being the ringleader to an irresistible infectiousness soon fuelling the chorus and body of the evolving encounter. With the suggestive heat of his keytar matched in craft and magnetism by the guitars of Scott Kay and Simone Dow, the song is pure captivation, only increasing its potency as breaks of predacious intent and aggression escape.

The quite stunning start is quickly continued by the equally outstanding Misery Is Only Company. From the off, it has a harder core to its presence, a latent but open intensity which lines jagged riffs and the brooding air of Alex Canion’s bass. There is no containing the instinctive catchiness within songwriting and imagination though, the swinging beats of Ashley Doodkorte inciting similar boisterousness in the resourceful and technical enterprise across the band. Deftones’ Chino Moreno recently likened Estrin’s voice to Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon, something at times easy to agree with and indeed at times the song has something of the British outfit to its pop sensibilities, infectiousness aligning with more predatory essences to masterful effect.

Next up Lifeline initially lays another sunny shimmer on the senses, its progressive aptitude soon courting metallic rapacity though as melodies radiate and vocals warmly croon. Relaxing into a gentle stroll, there is still a constant snarl to the guitars and bass which breeds alluring unpredictability and waiting volatility, the latter never truly having its moment but keeping the calm honest whilst giving the progressive/ pop rock adventuring a threat. As with its predecessors, physically involving the listener is a quick given and with increasingly lust.

The provocative nature of Fragile Serene seduces next, its climate a mix of melancholy and joy with one addictive hook at the heart of a fusion of rich temptations which almost swarm over the senses into the imagination before To The Riverside carries the same fantasy off in its evocative piano led flight towards the waiting more capricious embrace of the album’s title track. From the first second, Ghost Mile has an agitated eagerness which infects body and spirit, the carnivorously laced bass growling beautifully within the fiery but composed roar of the track. Like sonic and melodic alchemy, the song turns four minutes or so into a cauldron of heavy and light, dark and luminous adventure; contrasts uniting rather than battling for the album’s pinnacle.

What A Wonderful Day pretty much sums up the feeling during its three minutes plus, its pop nurtured rock ‘n’ roll as contagious, additive, and arresting as anything heard this year so far. Its warm dance though does have predacious overtones lurking in its shadows, their semi-vocal presence more realised in the tenebrous texture of the following Disconnected, though it is never devoid of the light and vibrancy instinctive to the Voyager imagination. With industrial breath seeping into the track’s progressively nurtured and invasive metal challenge, there is nothing to deter a quick and full submission to its rousing and often caustic incitement.

The enchanting fascinating of This Gentle Earth simply beguiles next, the union of piano and vocals alone sheer seduction and only escalated as rhythms probe and drama floods every rising texture and tendril of contagion sharing sound; an infectiousness belying the emotional reflection of disconnection.

The album finishes with the fiercely charismatic As The City Takes The Night, a track growing from an absorbing tango into a blaze of heart and intensity which smoulders, simmers, and boils across its eventful reflection without ever seemingly taking the same route twice. As the album, the song is a fascination giving more and more with every listen, rewards including pure pleasure.

Expectations of Voyager are always high because of previous triumphs but again left short by an album which will take some shifting from being one major contender for this year’s greatest moment.

Ghost Mile is out now via Nova Distribution across most stores.

http://voyager-australia.com/   https://www.facebook.com/voyageraustralia   https://twitter.com/voyagerau

Pete RingMaster 17/05/2017

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hAND – Kintsugi

Hand Online Promo Shot

UK progressive rockers hAND unveils their third album Kintsugi this week, a mixed bag of an encounter but a captivating and pleasingly unpredictable proposition which ignites the imagination if not always the passions. It is an adventurous and diversely flavoured tapestry of creative imagination and inventive ideation which musically hits the spot more often than not.

At times compromising this creative emprise though are the vocals of bassist Kat Ward. The lady has a solid and potent presence vocally, but whether it is the production which makes her tones lie uneasy on the sounds or the style of delivery she rigidly sticks to, providing an almost Chino Moreno like ‘moan’ to her presentation, there is a dampening of the fiery energy ripe within the release . It works superbly at times but across the whole release lacks the spark to ignite ears and tracks. Variety and a regular snarl in that department is arguably the missing ingredient to fully round off what is a potential embraced encounter, the thought that maybe another voice to back up and share the frontline with Ward is a move to contemplate.

As we mentioned at the top though, Kintsugi is a compelling and intriguing proposal for ears and emotions which bubbles throughout with a cauldron of invigorating and riveting flavours. This our introduction to the 2004 formed band, we cannot say how hAND has evolved their sound from predecessor Breathing, but that release certainly drew well-received responses and there is no expectation of Kintsugi not doing the same. From the start the Sussex quartet has awoken increasing attention with early EPs Chapters and Shadow: Word Pain, debut album Deadroom Journal through to its 2011 successor, and the band’s live presence. The year of the last album also saw a line-up change which seemingly only increased the band’s impetus. Taking 2013 out from their live aspect, hAND set about writing their third full-length, recording it earlier this year with, as on their previous albums, producer Nick Hemmingway. What has emerged is an album which enthrals and grows in strength and creative expression with every listen but one with that tempering factor talked of earlier.

The album erupts in a mesh of transfixing sonic dazzling from the keys of Tom Johnstone as Level 1 sets things off. With firm beats spearing their lure and the guitar of Kieren Johnstone dancing as magnetically and imaginatively as the synths, it is a delicious start to song and album. Progressive rock with a healthy soaking of pop, the track continues to seduce as Ward’s vocals radiantly add to the tantalising textures enveloping the senses. Riffs and melodies almost prowl with revelry at times whilst bass and drums make a potent if understated frame upon which the song lays its flood of engrossing hues. Persistently lively and towards its conclusion finding a more aggressive urgency, the song is a feisty and appetite sparking beginning.

From its vivacious charge, the band explores an evocative landscape with Windlestraw. Its entrance is a chilled but mellow coaxing which lures the imagination before exploding with a tempest of predatory riffs and growling bass 1959703_10151965258567263_1347529515_nantagonism. It is a fiery mixture which is reinforced by the flames of synth enterprise which also erupts. The storm is the start of an evolving and fluctuating climate pitching together provocative calm and furious sonic turbulence aligned to rhythmic hostility. Though it does not flow as smoothly as its predecessor, the track is a gripping drama of creative endeavour and imposing imagination which as the album, grows and persuades with greater strength through every partaking of its journey.

The forceful yet gentle caress of Anthem (Ode To The Giddy) comes next, bass and guitar casting a web of resourceful intrigue as keys and vocals colour the sparkling ingenuity with their own provocative wraps. Revealing more of the busy invention and open adventure within the bands songwriting and sound, it merges essences which reminds of bands such as Opeth and KingBathmat to firmly hold attention before making way for the outstanding Volcanic Panic. Raging and mischievously flirting from its first breath, the track is a growling hotbed of sonic unpredictability and spatial majesty, as home careering voraciously through ears as it is melodically flirting with the imagination.

The funky festivity of Nebula continues the new plateau of the album, its infectious devilry amidst melodic escapades providing a richly flavoured and thrilling shuffle of jazz, synth pop, and electro rock. A temptress for feet and emotions, the song lights up the album with ease before the emotive balladry of Amazing Burn and the sinister lures of Hide You offer their different persuasions. The first is a decent enough call for ears and thoughts but it is its successor which brings another peak to the release. Smouldering with every syllable and note, the song makes a restrained start which is soon parading tenacious scenery of sonic exploration and melodic flaming to engulf and engross ears on to the passions. Though not stealing away best track accolades from others, the track is the band’s most intense and inventive exploration providing more evidence of their potential.

Straight away the superb Through The Big Door, Up The Stairs And Out hits ears with its towering inventive and incendiary tapestry of progressive and sonic intrigue locked into mouth-watering drama and imaginative colour. This seriously challenges for top track, its spiralling wind of melodic temptation through a provocatively sculpted maze of energy and enterprise exceptional and mesmeric. The band at the top of the game it is a breath-taking close to the album though it is the highly pleasing jazz funk seeded instrumental Words To That Effect which actually has the last enjoyable say on the album.

For the flaws and concerns Kintsugi raises, it cannot be denied that it is a rather appetising and enjoyable release which is easy to keep coming back to. hAND has the promise and invention to make big musical statements ahead, though they might need to make a tweak or two.

Kintsugi is available digitally and on cd via Brutal Elite with an additional Gold Edition version also available.

http://handtheband.com/

RingMaster 03/11/2014

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Voyager – V

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Breath-taking and ravenously compelling, V the new album from Australian metallers Voyager, is one of those releases which just steals thoughts and emotions from the surrounding world, enslaving ears and imagination with no respite until its incitement is done. It is a powerful and intensive encounter, one demanding attention with a creative rabidity which fuels the thumping rhythms and raging riffs which sculpt the thirteen designs of the album. Equally though a mesmeric beauty radiates and shimmers with a kaleidoscope of sonic colour and melodic emotion across the release in riveting invention to consume everything from ears to passions. The album is a magnificent beast, which puts most other offerings in the shade.

As you can assume from its title, V is the fifth album from the Perth quintet and finds in our humble opinion their unique fusion of melodic and progressive metal with a wealth of other essences at its finest yet. Following the rigorously acclaimed The Meaning of I of 2011, the new album shows Voyager ascending to new heights not only in songwriting and sound but also in the way they texture and align every essence of a song into a flaming tempest which has the unbridled contagion of pop linked to an exploratory progressive imagination metal and locked into the predacious voracity of metal. Fan-funded via Kickstarter and recorded with producer Matt Templeman, V leaves similar genre clad bands in the starting blocks, though to be honest few if any come to mind as comparisons to the rich colour and sound of Voyager right now.

The release opens with its two singles from the album, and through the pair alone rapture and devotion for the release is virtually 654367989302 UPC-Vguaranteed. The new single Hyperventilating instantly soaks ears in an electro mist which is secretive of things ahead, though the wait to find out what is pending is mere seconds as djent bred vivacity strides through ears. The guitars of Scott Kay and Simone Dow prey on the senses right away as the rhythms of Ashley Doodkorte jab and puncture with just as intense voracity. Around them though it is the keytar seduction of Daniel Estrin which is mesmerising the imagination ready for his equally impressive vocals to charm and infest thoughts. Less than a minute in and the song is in full command; its earnest and dramatic stance magnetic whilst the climactic chorus is pure virulence. It is a gloriously anthemic merger of antagonism and seducing, dark and light, the bass snarl of Alex Canion, who also provides excellent backing vocals, a pronounced protagonist. Veined with an Eastern mystique well onto its adventure, the track is aural alchemy, an enslaving epidemic to which there are no cures.

The following Breaking Down continues the outstanding start. Featuring guest vocals from Daniel Tompkins (In Colour, Skyharbor, ex-TesseracT), the song from an orchestral caress launches into a fiery and enthralling blaze of heavy metal riffs, progressive enticement, and melodic expression. As it predecessor there is an uncaged hunger to the charge of the song but urgency cloaked in pungent emotive melodies and immersive enterprise which again isolates ears and mind from any outside interference. It is a monster of a song swiftly matched by A Beautiful Mistake which hosts another guest in UK born, Perth living vocalist Zemyna Kuliukas. A sinister gurning of sound opens up the song before again gnarly guitar endeavour casts their bait as the continuing to truly impress vocals of Estrin explores ears. Only three songs in and it is hard not to think the musician is providing his mightiest moment yet as a singer. There is a snarl and belligerence to the under belly of the song which is translated in the rhythms and jagged riffing, but under the elegance and evocative flames from vocals and keys it is just another rich texture to a delicious weave, within which Kuliukas potently shines.

The very brief rhythmic and atmospheric narrative of the excellent Fortune Favours The Blind leads into the just as imposingly dramatic and thrilling You, The Shallow, the track a rapacious predator cloaked in the robust hues of a blazing sunset which dance emotively over the senses. Thumping rhythms build a towering intimidating frame which the sonic drizzle and blistering enterprise of the guitars hangs absorbingly from, but it is again the ravenous almost savage agitation of the riffs and the exceptional vocal qualities which brings the deepest submission.

The diversity of the songs from each other also makes a mouth-watering tempting across the album, the roaring pop flames of Embrace The Limitless within a swirling pool of electronic light and the electro rock marauding of Orpheus straight away adding to the rich landscape of the album. The pair permeates every pore and synapse with their simultaneously raw and polished beauty before making away for another major pinnacle in nothing but mountainous highs. Domination Game is a warrior of a song, its sinews charged and rippling on the rhythms and battle hardened riffs which bring the track to bear on senses and imagination. Within their cage the vocals stalk and light thoughts with their own specific intent. It is a confrontation in many ways but one where the fire of passion and searing melodies temper any pungent emotion poised to unleash its venom. It is an outstanding slice of ingenuity with not for the first or last time, an eighties synth/indie pop breath within its metallic canvas.

The pair of Peacekeeper and It’s A Wonder impress instantly but take a little longer than other songs to reveal their full hypnotic beauty and toxicity, though there is no particular reason why it is so. The first of the two reminds in small ways of fellow Australians Circles as well as UAE band Absolace as it explores its deep emotional depths with a slow expansive wash of heart sculpted reflection whilst its successor stakes its narrative out on another raging surge of crushing rhythms and senses entangling riffs and bewitching grooves. The song is another stunning spike in an unrelenting line of pure brilliance across V, a track which casts its own unique epic tale of light and shadows within the triumphant broad narrative of the album. It has an unrelenting evolution to its premise too, a horde of styles and flavours unleashed so that as many songs, it feel so much bigger, longer, and lingering than the mere five minutes it needs to capture the passions.

The industrialised air of The Morning Light around a symphonically embracing melodic bathing of invention is followed by the brilliant piano and vocal incitement of Summer Always Comes Again. Poetic strings wrap the song in their evocative flourishes as the song grows into another major treat of the album. Estrin has been likened to Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon by Deftones’ Chino Moreno, which you can understand but here song and vocal style is sheer Julian Cope, both aspects a pleasing resemblance of the great arguably undervalued man. It makes the song glow as a piece, and that essence also seeps vibrantly into the closing metallic pop excellence of the closing Seasons Of Age. It is an inferno of pop majesty and metal causticity, combining for a final exceptional summit of a sensational album.

To be honest only ears not words can truly relay the quality and brilliance of V and everyone behind it, so a recommendation to go explore a definite album of the year contender just cannot be forceful enough. In fact you might as well give the title to Voyager now as it is going to take something very special to eclipse their triumph.

V is available now digitally and physically via Bandcamp at: http://voyager.bandcamp.com/

http://voyager-australia.com/

10/10

RingMaster 03/06/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Deadfall – Sentinel EP

deadfall

When releasing their five track EP New Light two years ago Massachusetts band Deadfall easily impressed and set up strong anticipation of things to follow with their djent carved progressive instrumentals. It was a release which sparked a real appetite for the creative explorations  of duo Eddie Kim and Sean Dusoe. It also came with areas which you hoped they expanded further as well as elements where the release suggested it could benefit from investigating, like adding a vocalist and live drums. The Sentinel EP finds the band, now a sextet, has indeed experimented with and brought in those aspects as well as pushed their imagination and invention on, and the result is quite magnificent. The three track release is a thrilling and inspiring slice of progressive metal, the band still seeded in its initial sound but a fuller, healthier, and more potent beast.

Now alongside Kim (guitar) and Dusoe (bass), the Watertown based Deadfall consists of vocalist Chris Greene, guitarists Kyle Brennan and Keith Dusoe, and drummer  Marc Brennan. Taking inspirations from the likes of Periphery, TesseracT, Meshuggah, Cloudkicker, and Animals As Leaders into their own adventure, the band has with   Sentinel laid down a declaration of an emerging impressive force which can only improve to greater stirring heights. The release is a teaser to a debut album scheduled for later in the year and it certainly has hunger licking its ravenous lips in anticipation.

The title track opens up the release and immediately has attention snapping in its direction especially when the vocals and organica2385053675_2 feel of the drums make their early declarations. Initial contact comes from gnarly riffs picking and chewing on the ear whilst beats crisply lay their sinews across the instantly eager senses but it is the smouldering expressive tones of Greene which make the biggest statement for thoughts to leap upon and passions ignite to. His delivery is a Chino Moreno like wrap around words, a warm seductive tone emotively washing the intensive riffing and spiralling sonic invention of the guitars. The song is a startling and enthralling encounter and for those aware of the earlier release an exhilarating evolution. The persistent gnawing from riffs and rhythms adds riveting shadows and menace to the contrasting temptation and when vocals take on their own caustic growl later into the track, the union is sealed with rapacious majesty.

The other two songs are re-workings of two of the instrumentals on New Light, and it is fascinating to hear and see their progression from exploratory and open promise into intense and scintillating pieces of carnivorous beauty. The first Shades Of Inception takes no time to wind the senses into its muscular knot of sonic manipulation as brawling coarse vocals rage against their walls. Whereas the original version took its time to ignite its predatory passion now it is more urgently into its attack, softening up its victim for the following melodic voice of Greene and the atmospheric caressing keys to colour a tempering ambience against the rabidly tinged riff fired confrontation. Again there is nothing but lustful satisfaction ignited by the eagerly shifting blend of aggression and resourceful elegance. Deadfall have discovered the perfect alchemy to merging spirited spitefulness and incendiary incandescence, a result which leaves the listener basking in hot-blooded imagination.

Final track The Divergence shimmers with melodic crystalline warmth and light bursts before being cored by another torrent of voracious djent honed riffs, once more the union irresistible and skilfully brought to bear on the ear. Bruising and alluring in the same and every breath it takes, the song escapes into every pore, synapse, and esurient thought rife before its enterprise, whilst conjuring another unique and contagiously evocative blaze.

The Sentinel EP, as impressive as it is straight off the bat reveals more of its triumph with each additional venture, the already renowned guitar craft of Kim creating stunning paintings of sound aided and matched by each element and member of the band. Deadfall has arrived at its full sound but the EP still only suggests they are scratching the surface of their promise which is undeniably exciting. As a name your price release their Bandcamp page, there is no reason not to make the first step in joining their sure rise which has its next major landmark one suspects with the forthcoming album.

www.facebook.com/deadfall1

9.5/10

RingMaster 17/06/2013

 

 

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Static Plan: Self Titled EP

So far 2012 has delivered some little unexpected gems and to that growing list you can firmly add the forthcoming release from UK rock band Static Plan. A promo copy of their forthcoming self titled EP, to be released April 14th, came our way and to be honest we cannot remember how, where, or from whom (so forgive us if it was you and remind us please), but the important thing is that it did and that it gives us the pleasure of reporting how impressive it is.

Static Plan is a Guildford based quartet consisting of vocalist Kyle Mackenzie, guitarist Jonno Lloyd, bassist Ben Martin, and Greg Webber on drums. They create a sound that rifles and entrances the senses with a fusion of alternative rock, industrial, and grunge. That is a simplistic description as the songs within the EP offer a sound that has much more and merges those spices into something strikingly unique yet wholly familiar. It is a skilled craft they possess and they seem to know how to use it to the full. Influenced openly by the likes of Nine Inch Nails, A Perfect Circle, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Deftones and Queens Of The Stone Age, they enforce these flavours with a metallic edge and determined intensity that is constantly intriguing and never predictable.

Opening song Will has a little of everything within its bulky mass, a rippling beast that flexes muscles and melodic charm to equal effect. With an AIC vein running through it and vocalist Mackenzie finding an expressive Chino Moreno delivery the song has a perfect rock base. Add the grumbling riffs of Martin and the belligerent guitars of Lloyd who backs up vocally too and you have a more than formidable creature ravaging the ear. Once the excellent drum skills and imagination of Webber pushes everything through further and deeper you are talking something special. At times the song is unsure which way it wants to go, to full rock or something much heavier and intense and this works perfectly, the shuffling between the two a continually surprising teasing of the ear.

Your Type kills Me begins on an electro/industrial questioning  before erupting into a full blooded atmospheric groove, all the while the electronic sounds are either niggling behind the guitars or openly dazzling with spotlight like radiance. A heady flavour of QOTSA pulsates throughout the song with a Stone Temple Pilot like thunderous energy and contempt wrapping itself around the core. Again unexpected in every aspect the song excites and ignites the need for more.

The starker Blockhead takes on the task with similar satisfying results, its NIN dark electronic growling preying on the senses as the band flow into more melodic and emotional areas than on the first two. With Martin added his darkened riffs to the harsher shadowed keys the song combines and restrains its more aggressive tendencies with an engaging melodic rock ease and confidence. Not quite on the par with the previous two the song still hits the spot and shows the diversity the band has in their invention and songwriting.

   Coil closes up the release by swaggering in on another electronic beckoning. The song takes a more subdued path to the senses, its pulsating melodies and consuming flow preferring to manipulate rather than go straight for the neck, though there is always the darkened heart of the band lurking behind just waiting for an opportunity to size hold.

Being a promo the production on the tracks we received is not the best and it is proof of how great the songs are that they deliver all they do so impressively and effectively. The fully mastered release for sure will stop you dead in your tracks with excitement and awe; the sounds that good and Static Plan a band that has a very promising future ahead of them.

https://www.facebook.com/staticplan

RingMaster 29/03/2012

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Static Plan – Will

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