Mausoleum Gate – Self Titled

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Though the band’s self-titled debut album does not grip the passions as rigorously as it might, there is plenty about the new release from Finnish metallers Mausoleum Gate to recommend and breed a healthy appetite for. Spawned in the inspiration of the seventies/eighties heavy metal scene, the band’s release and sound is a skilfully accomplished and magnetic proposition which from an underwhelming start grows to be a potently enjoyable and intriguing encounter within their captivating release.

Formed in 2008 by guitarist Count L.F. and bassist/keyboardist Wicked Ischianus, Mausoleum Gate recorded their debut EP Gateways For The Wicked in 2010, with vocalist V-P. Varpula part of the band’s line-up by this point. After playing that year’s Metal Warning Festival alongside the likes of Sarcofagus and Cloven Hoof, a change in personal saw the current line-up in place with the addition of guitarist Kasperi Puranen and drummer Oscar Razanez alongside the founding pair and Varpula. Last year the band released the well-received Obsessed By Metal 7” with a cassette version of Gateways For The Wicked following whilst 2014 has seen Mausoleum Gate sign with Cruz Del Sur Music for the release of their debut album.

It is a release which makes an impressing statement for the band but starts off with a less than convincing offering in Magic of the Gypsy Queen. To be fair it is more likely personal tastes dictate its failure to persuade but from the gothic caress of keys with haunting child spawned chuckles, the track makes a strong but unsure proposition. Its full entrance grips ears with ease, riffs stirring up attention as grooves flirt with their own baiting. With a heavy bass lure and crisp rhythms and a flourish of keys on board too, it is a captivating engagement but soon losing its edge and tight hold as the vocals of Varpula come in. It should be noted that the singer is an impressive presence but the mix sets him apart from the rest of the song to disrupt the fluency and potency of the song. The music is compelling, especially the excellent guitar enterprise colouring its lure, and vocals alone are strong but together they clash more than work. It is a shame but something which finds a much better balance from hereon in.

The following Demon Droid prowls the senses and imagination with an intimidating pose and ominous breath, riffs and beats predatory before it all erupts into a fiery and antagonistic blaze of heavy metal contagion and adventure. 8032622210712Punchy and with hooks which are as addictive as the melodies are fiery, the song explores its own depths with a progressive breath exploited by the searing invention of the guitars. It is an instant step up for the release which is not quite maintained by the power ballad Lost Beyond the Sun, though it too is equipped with an atmospheric radiance from the keys and the continuing to impress craft and imagination of the guitars. Again there is little to dismiss but just the absence of the spark igniting its predecessor and the next up Mercenaries of Steel which leaves it in their shadow.

The fourth track emerges from rhythmic shadows and a cold ambience to crawl through ears with an intensive examination from riffs and a binding of sonically scorched grooves. This in turn is just a passage into the adrenaline fuelled heart of the song; an Iron Maiden/ Rainbow like weave snarling over and seducing ears. Vocals croon and roar with refreshing expression and harmony as the bass tempts with a throaty growl whilst a seamless switch into a slow progressive exploration by the guitars just bewitches ears and emotions before twisting back into an insatiable and thrilling rampage.

The Kuopio quintet closes the album with its title track, almost twelve minutes of old school heavy metal ingenuity which merges classic genre balladry with a raw and hungry intensity. It is an appealing canvas brought to stronger life by the rich vocal hues and individual musicianship of the band, all combining for a tapestry which spreads and evolves with every minute into an epic and deeply satisfying journey.

Mausoleum Gate, song, album, and band are propositions which worm themselves pleasingly into the passions with every partaking of the accomplished offering. It is not a classic but a release to invite and inspire good attention to a band which has the potential to strike bigger and major heights ahead.

Mausoleum Gate is available now via Cruz Del Sur Music

https://www.facebook.com/MausoleumGate

RingMaster 08/10/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

 

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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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Darkest Era – Severance

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Taking the inventive promise and striking quality of their acclaimed debut album to another creative level, Northern Ireland band Darkest Era unveil their sophomore release Severance. It is a weighty and potently persuasive encounter sure to replicate and intensify the reception and success of its predecessor, eight tracks which spark the imagination with persistently captivating and distinctive Celtic infused heavy metal. Musically the album has a slightly lighter climate than before but still the emotive fire and melodic passion of the band comes in a fusion with raw textures and imposing intensity. It is a compelling mix which never leaves a minute of sound lacking in punch and inventive voracity.

The seeds of Darkest Era began in 2005 with when teenage school friends, guitarists Ade Mulgrew and Sarah Wieghell. Starting to write together, the pair linked up with vocalist Krum as their songs, taking inspiration from the historical and mythological tales from ancient Ireland, emerged with a Celtic essence. The following year a demo appeared under the name of Nemesis which soon held the attention of the European metal underground. 2007 saw Darkest Era step forward, a change made in relation to the darker presence and voice of their evolving music. Across the next three years, the band released a couple of EPs and played plenty of shows including festivals appearances in Germany, Greece, the UK, and Italy. Debut album The Last Caress Of Light was released in 2011 via Metal Blade Records to strong and eager responses from fans and media alike. The years between releases has seen Darkest Era undertake European and UK tours with bands such as Alestorm, Arkona, and Gloryhammer alongside their own shows and the creation of Severance.

With a line-up completed by bassist Daniel O’Toole and drummer Cameron Åhslund-Glass, the Belfast based quintet recorded their new DarkestEra_coverCruz Del Sur Music released album with producer Chris Fielding. It is a proposition which makes an instant impact as opening track Sorrow’s Boundless Realm seduces ears and senses from its opening caress of guitar as throaty bass bred shadows lurk in the background. It is an intrigue lit coaxing which soon unveils rhythmic sinews and richer sonic colour which only reinforces the initial lure of the song. A rampant urgency is careering through ears from there as the outstanding voice of Krum parades the narrative of the song. Fully expanded, the song is a fiery and caressing mix of energy and enterprise veined by gripping bass and drum intimidation and a sonic weave of seduction from the guitars. It is not a song which startles and has jaws dropping but with every twist and turn of sound and ideation, the track as the album captivates and lights thoughts along with emotions.

There is also an enveloping emotion and drama to every aspect of the song which is swiftly emulated by the following Songs Of Gods And Men. Its entrance also makes a gentle touch but takes less time to open the cage to ravenous riffing and rhythmic stalking. Krum is again masterful as he rides the sonic flames pushing the walls of the song, his voice backed as potently by the rest of the band within the anthemic stride and expressive premise of the encounter. There is a melancholic air to the song, an essence permeating each track in varying degrees, which graces the melodic elegance and grandeur of the song and casts an enthralling hue for the vocals and lyrics to colour their emotions with. It is a vibrant captivation which in its distinct way The Serpent And The Shadow repeats but with a darker and more rapacious presence. There is a deeper snarl to the bass and stronger rigorousness to the riffs setting a coarse and hungry tone to the heart of the song, a predation which intimidates but is a perfect foil and instigator for the dynamic fire of sonic flames and vocal adventure which burn and roar respectively across the song.

The following Beyond The Grey Veil is an evocative ballad with its own specific dark shadows and intimate emotional reflection, a song which croons with vocal majesty and melodic seducing whilst still managing to bring a predacious intent to certainly the breath-taking latter part of its enthralling body. It is fair to say that many of the songs are slow burners in finding their fullest persuasion, this definitely one but it is a song emerging as one of the most impressive and impacting. Its successor Trapped In The Hourglass is another to need more examinations than others and though it fails to live up to the previous track again makes a convincing and enjoyable proposition.

The Scavenger has little difficulty in grabbing attention and appetite, its early grooves leading to an intensive gallop of rhythmic tenacity upon which hooks and melodic enticement catch ears and thoughts at every flexing of the song’s spine and inventive ideation. A blaze of creative fertility and contagious power metal like vivacity, it is a tremendous exploit straight away matched by the equally powerful emprise of A Thousand Screaming Souls. As the song before, the listener feels like a warrior riding on a nostril flaring steed as a spellbinding landscape opens up and engulfs the imagination. The two songs encapsulate everything potent and riveting about Darkest Era and their music, emotionally epic and inventively broad but a companion which is intimate within the larger tales it spawns.

The album closes with the towering and melodically pungent Blood, Sand And Stone, an intensely evocative croon within climactic tempestuous scenery. It is a great conclusion to an impressive and skilfully presented album, a release which reinforces Darkest Era as one of the increasingly potent melodic metal bands in Europe. There is very little if anything to hold up against the undeniably fine album but personally it is honest to say that Severance did not leave passions as excited as hoped and expected. Individually there are songs which ignite a real hunger and as a whole the album is an engrossing and strongly pleasing experience, but somewhere we missed that fuse to the strongest reactions. Most will not have that issue though we suspect so it is very easy to recommend Severance to all.

Severance is available in digital, CD, and Vinyl options via Cruz Del Sur Music now in the US and from June 13th in Europe.

http://www.darkestera.net

8/10

RingMaster 04/06/2014

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Battleroar – Blood of Legends

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The six very quiet years since the release of their third album To Death and Beyond… in 2008, has seen Battleroar deal with line-up changes which has seen half of their key personnel change. Whether it is merely that which has brought the lengthy absence we cannot say but certainly with the release of new album Blood of Legends shows that the Greek heavy metallers have not lost any of their passion and creative fervour. In fact it has been intensified in many ways with the new release proving to be the band’s most potent encounter yet. It is fair to say that the album is not quite an unbridled success offering moments which only simmer in attention and emotions but for its main Blood of Legends with its anthemic weaves of epic and power metal with undertones of folk evocation, leaves imagination and satisfaction alive.

Formed in 2000, Battleroar has become one of the most notable bands within the Greek metal scene, from their self-titled debut album in 2003, through its well-received successor Age of Chaos two years later and the acclaimed To Death and Beyond…, the Athens hailing sextet has forged a reputation and fanbase spreading far across Europe. Taking inspirations from bands such as Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol, Manowar, Jag Panzer, and Heavy Load into their own adventures, their sound has evolved and stretched to encompass richer flavours and depths across their releases, Blood of Legends providing the most expansive offering yet. As mentioned earlier changes in members occurred between releases; the loss of guitarist Manolis Karazeris and vocalist Marco Concoreggi hitting the band in 2009. Temporary replacements in Stelios Sovolos on guitar and John Papanikolaou (ex Innerwish) on vocals though filled the gaps alongside band founders Kostas Tzortzis (guitar) and Nick Papadopoulos (drums), and violinist Alex Papadiamantis. The following year saw guitarist Antreas Sotiropoulos permanently take over from Sovolos with bassist Stavros Aivaliotis and new vocalist Gerrit Mutz joining the band in 2011 and 2012 respectively. All the changing has not tempered or defused the rigour and invention of the band in songwriting, sound, and simple presence; as stated previously seemingly it has only put a fire in the belly of the beast which roars quite captivatingly across Blood of Legends.

Finding lyrical fuel from again Greek mythology, the album opens with the atmospheric scene setter Stormgiven. Opening within a cruz67_300dpibrewing tempest, the instrumental is a bewitching piece of acoustic endeavour and emotive ambience, guitar and violin graceful caresses which awaken attention within crowding shadows and awaiting intensity. The song immerses the imagination into the scenery of the impending adventure, cold and warm textures coaxing thoughts with an emotive enveloping cast by the riveting strings of the band. The track makes way for the immediately gripping The Swords Are Drawn, a feeling of passion and flexing sinews coring the riffs and rhythmic framing round the sonic call to arms. With an urgent canter and insatiable appetite to its epic breath the song seduces with ease, the vocals of Mutz backed forcibly by the band adding to the inescapable bait.

The uproar of the track is instantly tempered by the harsh and cold atmosphere of Poisoned Well, its touch portentous especially with the melancholic croon of the violin which joins the shadowed ambience. Once the heavy weight of rhythms, bass, and riffs slowly stroll around the landscape of the premise a merger of hope and intimidation converge provocatively on thoughts. The prowling intensive beats of Papadopoulos add stronger enticement to the rapacious presence and edge of the narrative but it is the bewitching flames bred by the violin which colours the inciting canvas most vividly. With flaming flights of sonic enterprise and contagious expression to the vocals, the track lays down an early pinnacle to the already impressing release.

The following title track brings a thick and healthy drama to proceedings though it fails to match the early successes in stirring up the passions. Once again though the infectious canter which the band spine their songs with its irresistible whilst the individual skills of the band conspire to weave a bold and muscular picture for mind and appetite to eagerly indulge in. From its incendiary finale the song makes a gentle farewell as next up Immortal Chariot dawns on another epic impression, horses and carriages of war driving across the entrance of the track before it surges with energy and emotion across blazing celestial skies. As its predecessor the track is an absorbing proposition which just fails to rouse a storm in the emotions though that is soon taken care of by both The Curse of Manea and Valkyries Above Us. The first of the pair unleashes a menace and danger to its rigid stride of riffs and intimidating percussive beckoning almost instantly; its pressure and imposing bearing a thrilling provocation and diversity within the album. The dark intent of the track though is perfectly veined by and blended into a sultry seduction of violin and the impressively descriptive vocal tones of Mutz whilst a mystical toxicity flirts with and enlivens the passions further. It is a glorious encounter which ensures the senses are treated to an antagonistic climax. An outstanding carnivorous bass growl and ravaging riffery punctuated by bone splintering rhythms assaults the ears for an ardour drenched reception befitting the best track on the album though it is soon rivalled by its melody washed successor and its soaring epic breath and equally towering sounds equipped with piercing sonic hooks and virulently infectious almost siren like melodic design.

In many ways the rest of the album lays in the shadow of those two songs though the battle hardened Chivalry provides an appealing clash of venomous shadows and scorching melodic light whilst the highly emotive and engrossingly layered Exile Eternal places thoughts into a cauldron of tantalising aural scenery. Neither sparks a major outburst but both ensure album and band retain an inspiring and lingering grip.

Closing with Relentless Waves, an instrumental epilogue to the emprise enjoyed, Blood of Legends is a powerfully magnetic encounter which draws you back into its venture time and time again with consummate ease. Battleroar has not returned with the true epic you just feel is there inside them but undeniable have provided a rich and compelling appetiser which pushes them further towards the summit of epic invention.

Blood of Legends is available via Cruz del Sur Music now!

http://www.battleroar.com

8/10

RingMaster 07/05/2014

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Vestal Claret – The Cult of Vestal Claret

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Brewing up a dark and increasingly compelling mix of heavy and doom metal with occult metal bred toxins, US death rock/metal project Vestal Claret unleash their first release since recently signing with Cruz del Sur Music. The Cult of Vestal Claret is a deviously addictive encounter which revisits older songs alongside new and leaves the imagination blissfully corrupted and appetite alive for the band’s subsequent conjurations.

The album brings recorded tracks from the band’s split with Ungod in 2012, a reworking epic encounter which made up the band’s split with The Kissing Flies in the same year, and four new songs including a Black Sabbath cover. It is a mixed bag but one which leaves appetite hungry and pleasure invigorated as the release casts its intensive and imposing weighty design over the senses. Released as a nine track CD or a six song vinyl, each offering one encounter exclusive to itself, The Cult of Vestal Claret is a potent entrance into the dark spawning of the band for newcomers and a pleasingly rewarding addition to the passions of existing fans.

Vestal Claret is the creation of vocalist Philip Swanson (Hour Of 13/Seamount) who met Simon Tuozzoli (bass, guitar, organ, vocals) CRUZ66_COVER_300DPI_RGBwhen recording his occult heavy metal ideas at the studio the latter ran; linking up the duo emerged as Vestal Claret. A couple of demos in 2007 led to a split with Atlantean Kodex the same year which itself was followed by a couple of EPs, Worship and Lost Loved Ones in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Debut album Bloodbath two years later drew stronger and eager attention the way of the band with its CD release last year raising extra appetite for this, Vestal Claret’s first offering since signing with their new label. As ever theming their songs with the dark side of the human psyche employing references to Occultism, Satanism and other uncompromising imagery, you would understandably suspect that The Cult of Vestal Claret coming with a multitude of old already released songs would have a disappointing edge to it but it is fair to say that the pair, with Michael Petrucci providing the drum work, infuse plenty of refreshing aspects to the songs to make them it a sizeable reward.

Looking at the CD version, the album opens with the immediately captivating Never Say No. Its initial touch is a drizzling melodic haze veined by distant whispers but is soon smothered by a rigorously coaxing wave of sinewed riffs, crisp rhythms, and enticing sonic endeavour. Into its feisty stride the vocals of Swanson bring appealing expression to the emerging narrative, the restrained chorus with both artists united in voice, especially potent anthemic bait. The track is a nagging proposition across the bulk of its magnetic body with irresistible grooves and flares of melodic enterprise infesting ears and thoughts for a thoroughly contagious start to the album. One of the new songs on the album it alone reveals the potential and maturing invention of the band ensuring future horizons are as keenly anticipated as this release was.

The following Three and Three Are Six is a touch of an anti-climax, though the great throaty bass tones and seductively gifted hooks soon have emotions on board with the infectiousness of the track. The song continues to swagger and stomp purposefully with its metallic lures and muscular intent but the dramatic spark which lit its predecessor is a more dormant fuse within the cloudier presence of the track. All the same it is an excellently crafted and catchy blaze of intensive metal endeavour leaving a hunger for more, which the title track next tries to offer. The Cult of the Vestal has a raw and darker essence to its rapacious prowling of the senses, lyrically and musically reaping malevolence for its invasive premise. Again there is a niggling repetition to the focus of the track which only increases its temptation though it is the heavily breathing intensity which awakes the imagination with its provocative smothering most forcibly.

The exclusive song to the CD comes next and steals the honours within the release. Great Goat God is a thrilling incitement with a reined in rampancy which threatens to slip its chain throughout and a bewitching venomous coating to grooves and deeply scything hooks which insidiously worm under the skin. From the excellent vocals to the stalking riffs skirted by antagonistic beats, the track seduces and enslaves the passions; its blues soaked imagination flirting with the inventive sculpting of the guitar whilst adding to the insatiable and impossible to refuse toxicity of the song. It is the pinnacle of the album and almost alone the reason to grab the album.

Both The Demon and the Deceiver and Piece of Meat which were originally on the previously mentioned EP with Ungod, keep ears and appetite contented though neither can step up to the same plateau as the previous track. The dramatic air and emotive shadows in the first of the two makes for a mouthwatering proposition which leads the imagination into exploring its depths to the excellent acoustic accompaniment of the guitars within a threatening squall of ambience. The track is a real grower and really benefits from the fresh brushing up for the album whilst the second of the pair rampages with addictive jagged grooves and fiery sonics as it spreads a heavy metal fuelled smog over ears. Again it is a song which takes time to fully grip but with the great incessant groove which cores its flare it was never really in doubt, especially with the distant but alluring keys adding extra tempting.

The sixteen minute plus Black Priest is masterful and epic journey through the skills, songwriting, and creative vision of the band. The track is an intensive journey in itself, a perpetual evolution through dramatic sceneries amidst sonically coloured landscapes with psychedelically kissed melodies and stirring intensive hues hinting at intimidation and danger. The track is simply enthralling, if a little too long so that intrigue for the following songs before their time shows its face at times, and just adds more depth to the promises of richer things ahead.

The closing pair of Who Are You, that Black Sabbath track and new song The Stranger are decent enough but to be honest after the last epic encounter and the other impressive moments of the release are a bit of a damp if enjoyable squib. That may be a touch harsh but certainly they lack the wares to light up the room and emotions as shown on other tracks though still give the album a skilfully presented and appealing conclusion.

The Cult of Vestal Claret is a very solid and at times scintillating encounter which can only drew a new hungry crowd into the arms of the band’s potent sound.

The Cult of Vestal Claret is available via Cruz del Sur Music now!

Vinyl album listing

Never Say No Again

Three and Three Are Six

The Cult of the Vestal

The Stranger

So Mote it Be

Black Priest

https://www.facebook.com/VestalClaret

8/10

RingMaster 07/05/2014

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Bible of the Devil: For the Love of Thugs and Fools

Returning with their sixth album For the Love of Thugs and Fools, Chicago rockers Bible of the Devil bring nine slabs of honest and eager rock n roll which cruise the senses with a scorched exhaust plume of impressive guitars and a blistering hook laden tread. Looking for a release to soundtrack your whiskey soaked, rock fuelled party than you could do a lot worse than sticking on For the Love of Thugs and Fools.

Formed in 1999 Bible of the Devil has taken their classic rock powered sounds from their volatile environment Chicago around the US and Europe as well as bringing them to the world through their previously acclaimed albums and releases. The new album, their first since the 2008 release Freedom Metal has its unleashing on May 8th via Italy based label Cruz Del Sur Music. With songs inspired by and a ‘document of the many characters they have encountered through the life of the band, whether it be in love, loss, friendship, or hatred’, For The Love Of Thugs And Fools is a boisterous and openly accessible collection of songs that lifts the emotions and raises the spirits with ease. There is nothing new to the music offered; nothing to leave one opened mouthed but for feel good rock n roll this is a definite go meet release.

From the excellent Overture which with its wonderful atmospheric welcoming leads invitingly and seamlessly into the first full track Away, the album takes the ear on an eager ride. As the track evolves a beckoning riff pulls one into its meaty and pumping heart of fine guitar play from Nathan Perry and Mark Hoffmann, whose vocals like the music are straight forward, honest, and there to rile up some fun. The song is in many ways what one expects from a rock band, not offering anything too different but it still takes a firm and satisfying grasp on the ear which pleases consistently.

Many songs on the album are like this, not particularly surprising or unexpected but all with impressively inventive guitars and rhythms from Greg Spalding which intimidate and slap one on the back like an old buddy. The bass of Darren Amaya is equally as formidable with his at times grouchy basslines determined to enthral and with all the elements combined each song is a dirty and full rock n roll pleasure. From the likes of the infectious Out For Blood, the strutting Can’t Turn Off The Sun with its sharp guitar piercings and strong vocal combination between Hoffman and Perry, and the pure rock n roller Yer Boy, the album never has one ever less than within its anthemic charms.

Yer Boy wears the obvious Bible of the Devil love for and influence of Thin Lizzy on its sleeve and it is this that brings the biggest highlights within the best songs, (I Know What Is Right) In The Night with an excellent seductive sax added to the mighty drive of the song and the strolling addictive Anytime, though they are just eclipsed by the Motorhead flavoured Raw And Order. All three songs hit the spot with familiar and respectful spices from their influences whilst adding them to the strong and insistent sounds from Bible of the Devil.

For the Love of Thugs and Fools is a fine album which makes for 45 minutes of very satisfying rock music, and though to be honest the release lacks a consistent spark to make it something one will have difficulty tearing themselves away from it also brings plenty of enjoyment to make it a persistent and welcome returnee to the ear.  The return of Bible of the Devil and their album is a definite burst of energy and quality which can only add to the rock music around right now and will please and find approval from all who take a listen to its strong and rewarding sounds.

RingMaster 01/05/2012

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