ASG – Blood Drive

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It may have been five years between last album and the new one Blood Drive, but North Carolina rockers ASG have made up for the gap with their finest release and sound to date. A welcoming storm of hard rock, stoner, sludge and more than a whisper of metal, the album is a compelling and invigorating expanse of invention and enterprise. You can debate whether it offers anything truly new across its enthralling length but there is no question it feeds the widest appetites possible for fire fuelled, passion bred rock.

Formed in 2001 in Wrightsville Beach, ASG has evolved from an instrumental trio at the start to one of the more engaging yet potently powerful rocks bands in the American underground, though with this their debut Relapse Records release, a place at the widest table of awareness and recognition surely beckons. Moving from a threesome, which came about as the band could not find a dedicated vocalist, ASG eventually had guitarist Jason Shi stepping up to handle vocals too. Completed by bassist Andy Ellis and drummer Scott Key, the band released debut album …The Amplification of Self Gratification in 2003 followed two years later by Feeling Good Is Good Enough which was recorded with producers Matt Hyde and Phil Caivano. Strong responses were earned by the album and followed by the band expanding to a quartet with the addition of second guitarist Jonah Citty. Impressive shows and tours alongside the likes of Motorhead, Fu Manchu, Saviours, The Sword, Torche, Dwarves, and CKY followed before the band returned to the studio with Hyde for third album Win Us Over. With a sound which had been evolving all the time since forming, the 2008 release took the band to greater heights which Blood Drive builds upon and pushes to a greater impressive plateau.

Again with Hyde (Slayer, Fu Manchu) alongside the band, the album is a fascination of ripe and impacting riffs, gripping rhythms, grigliaand grooved melodic temptation honed into twelve anthem dressed slabs of masterful persuasion. Opening track Avalanche steers through a sonic lure into an expressive and warmly enticing wash of fiery riffs and melodic persuasion. The stoner groove which spines the heated embrace has a barbed surface which ensures focus and satisfaction whilst vocally the outstanding tones of Shi shine and embellish the lyrical and musical narrative with passion. He is a vocalist who plays with variety and harmonies with ease to offer any song what it wants and needs.

It is a pleasing and strong if unremarkable start soon followed by greater triumphs such as the title track and the excellent Scrappy’s Trip. Both continue the perfectly crafted merger of mellow melodic and mesmeric charm with feisty and impacting sinews rhythmically and in heavy toned riffs. The band has drawn comparisons to the likes of Torche, The Sword, Kyuss, and Queens of the Stone Age, and even  the promo accompanying the release offers up the same examples, but equally in many tracks such as the first pair on the album, thoughts of Yes with the progressive elements washing the release and Jane’s Addiction make their claim too. The fascinating grooves and swagger tracks such as the second of the just mentioned two have spark a definite comparison to the Californians, often through the vocals alone.

The album continues to impress and captivate through songs such as the excellent fevered punk tasting Castlestorm and Blues For Bama, a smouldering entrapment of the passions which sees the vocals bring out a Bowiesque breath to the magnetic kiss of the song within electrified beauty from the guitars. It saves its greatest pinnacles though for the last stretch of the release in the sensational shapes of Hawkeye and Stargazin’. The first is an aggressive and fiery tempest of instinctive rock ‘n’ roll. Vocal squalls light up the contagious yet restrained groove whilst harmonies soak the chorus with insatiable ease and grandeur, it all within a frame work of tight and gripping drum muscle and bass prowling which pulls out virulent shadows to the addiction being ignited. The second of the two also has a hunger to its energy which recruits full subservience from the passions, but replaces the more demanding intensity of its predecessor with more Jane’s Addiction like funk seeded grooves and incendiary enterprise. Wholly appetising and furthering the expanse of ideas and sound already upon Blood Drive, the songs as if needed, make the final cementing of the new levels the band have explored and ignited in thoughts and reactions.

The Ladder and Good Enough To Eat finish the album, a sludge gait and blues breath unveiled by the first and an acoustic led encounter from the second. To be honest neither makes a big impression but then the heart was still locked in with the couple of songs immediately before them. Nevertheless Blood Drive shows that the time waiting for another ASG release was well worth taking and it just might take the band to a level of attention long deserved.

https://www.facebook.com/asgnation

8/10

RingMaster 27/05/2013

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Desert Storm – Horizontal Life

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If like The RR you thought the debut album Forked Tongue from UK heavy blues metallers Desert Storm was the dogs meat and two veg than their new album is going to excite places you never knew existed. Whereas the previous album from the Oxford quintet also boasted an avalanche of heavily boned riffs and sludge thick blues grooves not forgetting equally demanding rhythms, Horizontal Life expands it all to hungrier heights whilst drenching the results in a fire of passion and striking invention. The band has grown so impressively between albums, the new release holding a maturity and enterprise which makes its excellent predecessor look almost lightweight in comparison.

Formed in 2007, Desert Storm took little time in finding a greedy appetite locally for their formidably pressing sounds going on to breed a similar and larger following and hunger across the UK through their impressive live performances and festival appearances. They have also shared stages with the likes of Orange Goblin, Taint, Weedeater, Zoroaster, CKY, Winnebago Deal, Firebird, and Black Spiders across the years to ever increasing acclaim and swiftly growing fanbase. Forked Tongue added its impressive weight to their sturdy rise but with the sheer quality and brute force temptation of Horizontal Life you can only assume the widest recognition is waiting to embrace the thunderous quintet.

Released via Blindsight Records, the album opens with the charismatic and contagious Word to the Wise Man, a track which desertstormtakes off from where last album left off, its care free swagger and magnetic lure of inciting thick riffs and crisp rhythms instantly addictive. The vocals of Matt Ryan are as grisly and throaty as ever whilst the bass of Chris Benoist brings its own primal breath to stalk the ear within the fires of sonic excellence from guitarists Chris White and Ryan Cole. The blues fuelled lining equally excites the senses whilst the potent call of the guitar within the song is a French kiss for the ear.

Both Shadow of an Eagle and Astral Planes leap upon the passions with stirring craft and exciting melodic flames, the first off of a impacting spike of drums from Elliot Cole which sets up the strolling blaze of searching riffs and sonic temptation all again with a hooked persuasion which ignites energy and captivation. It is a scintillating romp with a familiar air to its curvature of infectious sounds and rich grooves as well as compelling enticement from its thoughtfully sculpted variation to gait and direction. Again the vocals of Ryan bring a rich whiskey breath to the encounter whilst the guitar solo sears the senses gleefully. The second of the pair again holds the ace card of being new yet a returning friend to the passions in many ways and like the previous songs commands hungry affection and commitment to its tremendous provocation.

The following No Slave to Master increases the heaviness and rapacious sound, its Orange Goblin/ Down like stance an air sucking beast coated in shadows and venom musically and vocally which has the need to devour the listener without offering the easier to digest swing and grooves of other tracks. Instead it unveils a light sucking intensity which is just as fascinating and magnetic, as does its successor Mr Strongbatch, a track equipped with carnivorous riffs and punchy rhythms. Its inviting groove does ignite a heat and barbed welcome which is impossible to be ignored and again has a confidence to its stroll which borders of aural cockiness which is irrepressible.

Both Enslaved in the Icy Tundra and Lunar Domes unleash corrosive riffs and an intensity which plenty of metal bands can only dream of, with the energy and vocal spite to match, whilst the second of the two from a bass driven aside, creates a passion exploiting mesmeric and abrasively smothering ending which is outstanding. It also marks the point where there is a shift in the album, Desert Storm exploring more of their progressive/psychedelic side than ever before. Firstly Titan steps forward within a sludge toned swamp of sound which shifts into a cavernous beckoning of noise Ryan growls the narrative with even stronger shadows in tow. The riffs still dictate the course of the song whilst a slow burning groove makes its declaration but once things slip away into a haunting evocative ambience, a wonderful exploration of band, imagination, and sonic beauty is unveiled. It is a startling and enthralling joy with a muscular finish to cement its impressive contribution to the now in place rapture for the album.

The release does not stop there as the serpentine treat of Shenzhen next twists and writhes all over thoughts, emotions, and the senses with reptilian chills, sonic ferocity, and wolverine rabidity before handing over to the best track on the album in Gaia. The song is pure sonic alchemy, a pungent soak of southern heat, eastern shimmering, western harmonies, and tribal instinctiveness. It is glorious, a masterpiece of aurally expressive songwriting and exhilarating imagination, and the undeniable proof of just how far and expansive Desert Storm can push themselves  if they so wish.

Closing with a return to the uncompromising energies and trunk thick riffing in the Mastodon spiced Hofmann and the mercilessly contagious Scorpion to ensure further exalted satisfaction, Horizontal Life is a major triumph not only for the band but UK melodic metal/rock. It is explosive and impossibly impressive with Desert Storm putting a great many established signed bands to shame, long may they continue. A must have release.

http://desertstormband.com/

10/10

RingMaster 23/04/2013

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Interview with Comron Fouladi of Athel

Though there is a strong and decent wave of melodic punk bands around there are not many which stand out from the crowd consistently. One exception comes in the vibrant and unique shape of Chicago band Athel. Recently the band dropped their debut album Open Your Eyes To Society, its impressive tracks a blaze of vibrant and completely infectious rock/punk sounds. Needing to know about this aural contagion and the band itself we had the great fortune and opportunity to fire off questions to bassist Comron Fouladi to learn more.

Hi Comron and welcome to The Ringmaster Review, many thanks for talking to us,

How did you all meet and when did Athel emerge?

I met Cristian in middle school and Justin just from the local band scene we were in. I introduced the two.

Who are the biggest influences to you as a musician and maybe for the Athel sound?

My favorite band of all time and inspiration is CKY.

In our review of your great debut album Open Your Eyes To Society we said the band and release was one to stand out from what seems plenty of good new punk bands but generally uniformal in sound. What is it you have which you feel sets you apart?

The CD doesn’t stick to one mold. It’s not cookie cutter music. One song will be really punk or metal, then we have something like a classic rock song come then something like modern music mixed with 90s vocal melodies.

Did the band evolve into something more than maybe you expected or reach to where you exactly envisaged?

Definitely, we started working on some of these songs when we were first starting out. I was hoping to build a local following and have some fun with some small tours. I didn’t know we would later be signing a deal and releasing them in stores worldwide. I think my kids will all think I’m a liar with all the tour stories I will tell them.

As we have already mentioned it tell us about the album and your hopes going in to its creation?

I was hoping to put out something different, I don’t think there has been many good bands to come up in the past few years and I’ve just been really pissed about modern hits so we tried to create something different haha.

How long did Open Your Eyes To Society take to make?

We started writing this in 2009. We started recording in November 2010 and finished Feb 2012.

Was it already primarily composed and written before going into the studio or grew within those creative walls?

All the songs were done before the studio with multiple demos other then These are the Times, Kara’s Carousel, and Me, Myself, and I.

How does the songwriting work within the band?

Justin will write a guitar part and vocal melody, then bring it to the table and it evolves into a full song with many ideas front here.

What predominantly inspires your songs and lyrics?

Appreciation of life is something we always talk about in our music. So many people say they want to kill themselves all the time but really the chance of life happening is a trillion to 1. You’ve came this far and are now alive might as well try and make it the best you can.

The album is your first release since signing with Mortal Music. How did the link up with the label come about?

From building a local following of 500+ kids at every hometown show and then spending 300 dates on the road one year helped as well meant a few labels took attention to Athel but I felt Mortal was right and I’m extremely happy to work with those guys.

We called the album…Mildly aggressive, vaguely intrusive, and wholly infectious…fair comment?

Definitely! We wanted this album to be our angsty album.

You previously released a couple of EPs which drew strong acclaim too but how has your sound changed if at all since starting out?

Our sound hasn’t changed much just the writing sounds like it has matured.

The album marks the band as one which is intent on giving full pleasure and riotous fun, one imagines your live shows are exactly the same?

I’ve always been a fan of putting on the best show possible. If you ever come to an Athel show I promise you won’t be let down!

What makes a great show for you?

Seeing the people unite at a concert to have fun and enjoy life. It’s an escape from the modern bullshit we have to deal with.

You have shared stages with the likes of Chris Cornell, Gwar, CKY, and The Audition. Anyone you would sell your grannies to play with?

I would love to tour with Escape the Fate. They have always been so awesome and our fans love each other.

Any chance we might see you guys over this side of the big water in the near future?

I’m hoping in 2013. We need to be there soon!

What is next for Athel?

Rob Zombies guitar player Riggs has a new band called Scum of the Earth, we will be doing an East coast tour with them August 31st through almost all of September.

Once more thank you for sparing time for us.

Any last words to end on you would like to share?

Thank you guys. Please have us back again soon. As for last words, no one ever settle for anything less then what you want in life.

Read the review of   Open Your Eyes To Society https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/athel-open-your-eyes-to-society/

The RingMaster Review 10/07/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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