New furies and raw bruises: Talking Riwen with band founder and Cult of Luna guitarist/vocalist Johannes Persson

Riwen Johannes Pic by Henrik Wiklund

Pic by Henrik Wiklund

 

There is little to compare the sound of Cult of Luna and hardcore band Riwen but they are both soaked in the craft and passion of vocalist/guitarist Johannes Persson. His new project prowls a whole new landscape of sound and invention, creating an intensive and brutally imposing provocation unique from but no less gripping and impressive than those cast by he and his Cult of Luna band mates. Having the chance to look into the heart of Riwen thanks to Johannes himself, we asked him about his new exploit’s seeds, approach to writing and recording compared to his ‘day job’, and much more…

Hello Johannes and thank you for sharing time to talk with us.

Can we start with the spark which brought Riwen into existence and what inspired the exploration of the hardcore bred sound of the band?

I love what we do with Cult of Luna and that we have spent a lot of effort to make our live show what it is but it can be frustrating with all the hours of preparations each day on tour. I felt like I needed something less complicated than the Cult of Luna Juggernaut. I just wanted a band where I could show up with a guitar, crank up the volume and just play. So last fall I wrote 14 songs in 14 days, inspired by bands that I listened to during my teenage years such as Judge, Integrity, Battery, Chain of Strength and so forth. When I had the music I started to call a bunch of friends. The end result is Riwen.

Hardcore is a style which has gripped personally over the years?

I wouldn’t say that. I listen to all kinds of music and I haven’t kept any track on what is going on in the hardcore scene after the 90’s. Everything I hear that I think is what hardcore is today sounds like over produced pro tools cut and paste start/stop metal and does not appeal to me. But the punk/hardcore bands that I got into when I was a teenager still sticks with me and I still love that kind of music.

riwen1

Pic by Henrik Wiklund

What have been the inspirations which fired up your taste for hardcore and which maybe tipped some influence into Riwen and a sound which is more than simply hardcore in many ways we feel?

I have always had a leaning to band that took it seriously whether they were writing about political or personal stuff. So there are too many bands to mention (more than in my answer above) but the important thing is that I never got a vent for my love of fast and aggressive hardcore and that is why Riwen is what Riwen is. I know we are bringing something new, or at least, unconventional to the table and I am who I am and my personal writing has probably bleed over the classic hardcore that I wanted to write. For good or for Ill, that’s for the listener to decide.

You have just released your three-track self-titled EP; did you have any specific hopes for it?

No, we just wanted to get a few tracks out there so we could start playing shows.

You are joined in Riwen for the EP by Christian Augustin and Fredrik Lindkvist. How did you all originally meet and was there much persuasion getting them on board for the band?

I have known both of them for many years since they were playing in a band from my area called Totalt jävla mörker. Christian has been playing live as a stand in drums for Cult of Luna for the last couple of years so we know each other very well. I actually didn’t plan to ask Fredrik since I knew he quit Totalt Jävla Mörker and I thought he didn’t wanted to do any more screaming vocals but Christian convinced me to ask and I am so glad I did.

I am right in thinking that the line-up is different now?

Since we recorded the EP we have been joined by Christoffer Röstlund on bass and Marita Jonsson Mätlik on guitar.

Your sound and release is obviously something very different to Cult of Luna, did this make or dictate a different approach to songwriting and the recording of the EP to that general with the ‘day job’?

It is totally different but it is hard to explain. This might sound strange but with Riwen I have much lower standard of what I let slip through the riff writing conveyer belt I have in my head. With Cult of Luna I keep 1 out of 100 riffs but with Riwen I just write and whatever comes out I keep. The music is no less important to me but it is a very different outlook on the writing and a very cleansing experience.

The EP is raw and aggressive, brutal at times with an energy and primal intensity which suggests it was recorded live in the studio. How were the songs recorded?

We recorded the songs in a small mouldy DIY studio in Umeå. We recorded it during 6 hours in a cold and dark winter night. I told Fredrik (that recorded the whole thing) that I was going to give him two takes on each instruments. If I screw up then that is what is going to end up on the record. A few of my favorite albums of all time are a few of the worst recorded and played records of all time. If you play with sincerity it will come out on the recording even if you do some mistakes. I also love the idea of catching a moment. If you do something wrong and keep it you have caught the moment in where you recorded the song. If you spend days on a song and make sure everything is perfect you have killed the emotional life of it. If everything is fixed so it sounds spotless there is no way you can tell if the recording is 10-20 years old but if you keep the mistakes you have recorded a ”now” moment.

riwen coverDid you go into that process with specific goals or rather it was letting something new for you evolve organically?

My only goal was to write music that interests me. Whatever happens here on is totally unknown for us as for anyone else.

The caustic sound which ignites the release has an honesty and personality which for all its raging also seems to fuel songs with an intimacy or personal connection to the band. What inspired the songs and their lyrical premises?

It’s a hard question to answer since I have only written the songs for myself and no one else. So of course they are very personal but that is the nature of song writing. When it comes to the lyrics it is Fredrik’s contribution so I don’t have much to say about that.

How has the EP’s release been received and looked at by especially Cult of Luna fans?

I honestly don’t know. It hasn’t been reviewed in any major magazine as I know but that is nothing strange since EP’s doesn’t usually get that much attention. Haven’t heard anything from any Cult of Luna fans yet…but this is very different music than CoL and I don’t expect that people will like Riwen just because they like another band I’m in.

Do you think it took them and the music world’s expectations by surprise, their assumptions coloured again by your Cult of Luna successes?

I don’t think it is a secret that we came from the Umeå hardcore scene but I have no idea of what people expect from us as musicians. I am a very diverse person and I want and need to do a whole lot of different things to satisfy my creative lust and this is one of them. Next time I might turn 180 degrees and do something completely different.

Being just a trio initially, is there a form of freedom and maybe even excitement live and creating music which is especially for the former of the two things more restrained by the bigger size of your other band?

We are not a trio anymore even though we were at the time when the EP was recorded and I must say that it was very tempting to keep it that way. Creatively it is much easier but in the long run I think that it is good for a band to have many members. Tension is always going to be created and I think it is better to have many people to be able turn to when you feel aggravated. If you only are three and somebody is getting on your nerves it might create an infected situation for the group. The more people the more diluted the conflicts are.

Tell us about the live side of the band, again it is a different beast being just the three/five making a vat full of compelling and furious noise?

Pic by Henrik Wiklund

Pic by Henrik Wiklund

Again, we are five now and we have only done one show so far and to be honest I didn’t feel it any different from Cult of Luna. Even though a live situation is a collective effort en responsibility I always play for myself and hardly know that the other members are there, except for the drummer.

Can we expect Riwen to be an on-going presence when other commitments allow?

I don’t know. Cult of Luna is always going to be my first priority musically and I have many more things that I want to do. Apart from that I am a parent and my family comes first. But it feels great to have this vent and even though we will not keep this pace of writing 20 songs in a year we will be able to tour and do shows every now and then.

What is next for the band and yourself?

We are just about to go into the studio to record our album. Hopefully we’ll be able to record about 15 songs but we need to have some bar of quality so I don’t know how many that will end up on the album. We have a few shows coming up but nothing booked outside of Scandinavia yet but I hope that we can get out in Europe next summer for a couple of shows.

Thanks again Johannes for taking time out to chat with us.

Thank you for the interview.

https://www.facebook.com/riwenhc/

Read the review of Riven’s debut EP @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/10/13/riwen-self-titled/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 03/12 /2014

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Fleshworld/Gazers/Viscera/// – Split CD

Split_cover art

This October seems like it is the month of split releases, many compelling link-ups sharing some striking sounds and bands. Unquiet Records are releasing one of the more notable encounters in the shape of a split release between Polish hardcore bred post metallers Fleshworld, French blackened post-hardcorers Gazers, and Italian psychedelic metallers Viscera///. It is a gripping collection of songs which come from different angles of sonic consumption but unite in a mutual heavy and depressive examination of senses and imagination. It is an enthralling proposition, a release which can devour ears and emotions in a nihilistic landscape of intensity and sound but also treat them to contagious and just as toxic refreshing enterprise.

The first three tracks are provided by Kraków quintet Fleshworld, a band drawing on inspirations from the likes of Opeth, Neurosis, Cult Of Luna, and Deathspell Omega in their sound. They have already awoken attention through previous 6-track release Like we’re all equal, also released on Unquiet, and here get the split off to an imposing and potent start. Their first track Krąg grips ears with a sonic lancing before bulky rhythms twist over the senses. It is a tasty start added to by the melodic groove wrapping around the initial bait of the song. With a vocal sample adding to the emerging shadowed drama, the track flirts and intimidates with equal success, the guitars of Mateusz Szczurek and Kuba Leszko sculpting a captivating design within the increasingly darker and oppressive rhythmic provocation bred by drummer Szymon Łuczyński and bassist Łukasz Klamiński. The song continues to threaten and seduce, as the raw vocal squalls of Tytus Kalicki rage and spill venom across the bewitching consumption of ears and emotions. Acidic melodies and barbarous hooks are never far from the surface of the growing tempest though, it all making for a scintillating start to the release.

   The band’s other pair of songs never quite match up to the first such it’s might, but Pętla with its heavy resonating bass lure and similarly magnetic rhythmic enticement certainly comes close. It is a captivating entrance which spreads a blackened and caustic breath across its spine through evocative melodies from the guitar and a raw hostility to the vocals respectively. It emerges as a brooding and increasingly chilling erosive wash which leaves thoughts lost in a barren corrosive soundscape and emotions exposed to a stark sonic climate. Its successor Rezygnacja, which features guest vocals from Alex Stjernfeldt and Victor Wegeborn from The Moth Gatherer, is similarly drenched in uncompromising and oppressive textures within a destructive atmosphere, but again shape its scenery with an impressive and attention gripping display from drums and bass. The rawest uncomfortable track of the three, it reveals more of the immersive depths and skilled composing of Fleshworld and their ability to lock the listener willingly into a scarring embrace.

Hailing from Paris, the 2012 formed quintet of Gazers has also earned a potent reputation through their self-titled EP of last year and live shows where they have graced stages alongside the likes of The Rodeo Idiot Engine, Cowards, Loma Prieta, Code Orange Kids, and Twitching Tongues. There first contribution to the split comes in the intrigue drenched Rash, a track taking its time to seize the senses. From a cold and raw ambience also infused with sampled vocals, though a distant whisper here, the song erupts in a blaze of hardcore, crust surfaced animosity. Spiky hooks and cruel grooves emerge as vocals roar with malcontent, a greater anger and maliciousness coating each step of the song’s evolution. It is a potent track which makes for a keen but uneasy listen before the stronger weight and adventure of The Decline takes over. Firm beats and rugged scythes of guitar are met by a deranged flame of riffs, everything at odds but fitting masterfully to ensnare ears and appetite. Further in a mellower but no less stark and intimately imposing passage plays with the imagination too, it adding to the great unpredictability of song and the band’s engrossing enterprise.

     The following Epilogue is the same, a song never allowing thoughts and emotions rest as it roams and permeates the senses with a revolving rage of gripping rhythms, sonic abrasing, and vocal ferocity. The best of Gazers’ trio of offerings, the track is a maelstrom of creative spite and imaginative turbulence worrying and igniting the senses for an intensive and flavoursome examination.

The final two songs on the release comes from Viscera///, a band employing essences and experiences in styles like post hardcore, space rock, ambient, and drone, gained by members past and present of bands such as Morkobot, Blanca Division, Malasangre, The Drop Machine, Mount Piezein Circle, Edema, Wicked Minds, The Vendetta, and Self Human Combustion. With two albums, many splits, and tours all across Europe under their belt, the trio now turn their attention to the split and unleash their gripping mix of metal and psyche rock. Versus swiftly tightens its steely grip on ears with rigid beats and acerbic grooves, they a spring board for subsequent waves of rolling rhythms, ravenous blackened pestilence, and in turn voracious tsunamis of sound and malevolence. It is a hellacious mix but one where very turn is complete with sparking twists of invention and sonic radiance.

Its successor Nobody’s Diary, a cover of the Yazoo track, ignites ears and imagination with even more triumphant ingenuity next. The track instantly storms the psyche with virulent and scathing riffery as sonic blooms break out around its tempest, but it is the unexpected display of clean vocals which tips the balance and inspires a delicious multi-flavoured landscape of warped and imaginative endeavour to steal the passions. With its sound aligned to a thick sludgy furnace of hostility, the song is an outstanding end to a rather impressive and thoroughly enjoyable encounter.

Personal tastes dictates which songs stand above others but every track and each of the three bands, make a compelling and richly satisfying persuasion impossible to resist.

The Split release is available now via Unquiet Records @ www.unquietrecords.com/product/fleshworldgazersviscera-3-way-split/

https://www.facebook.com/fleshworld

https://www.facebook.com/Gazersband

https://www.facebook.com/viscera3stripes/

RingMaster 16/10/2104

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Riwen – Self Titled

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Making their debut with a furious three track self-titled EP, Riwen is the new hardcore fuelled project of Cult Of Luna guitarist/vocalist Johannes Persson. It is an encounter which prowls a whole new landscape for the musician but on the evidence of the band’s first release, one as passionately driven and explored as anything you would expect from his creative mind and craft. It is intensive and brutally imposing, and whilst the release is not breaking dramatic new ground for hardcore, its ferociously dark and heavy presence veined with sonic and melodic tenacity, makes it potently stand out.

Alongside Persson, Riwen’s line-up is completed by Totalt Jävla Mörker current and former members in respectively Christian Augustin and Fredrik Lindkvist. The band emerged from songs which Persson wrote last year, a clutch of tracks inspired by in his words, “the vein of music that I grew up to and was the influence when I learned to write music about 20 years ago. Think early 90’s hardcore like Integrity, Judge, Damnation AD, Battery, Amce and onward in that fashion.” The result is a presence and sound to the band which takes no prisoners and is ill-tempered in breath and touch but also emotionally transfixing and melancholically hostile.

The EP opens with Nature Calls Us Back, a sonic resonance the spring board for a colossal avalanche of beats and grievous predatory riffs. That wall of sound is soon into a heavily imposing stride blistered with an intermittent sonic 10491081_247638098767358_6414857369916074870_nenterprise. It is an uncompromising and intensive examination yet deceptively contagious, raw grooves and barbed hooks littering the tsunami of passion and intensity guided by coarse vocal squalls. It may not blow the senses from their safety but the track permeates and grows in strength and corrosive rabidity over time to linger and mark an impressive first attack from the band.

The following Values similarly flies at ears though it gets down to business with a quicker and more voracious viciousness from its opening breath. An acidic groove even in its short intrusions makes compelling bait within the sonic and impassioned fury raging around it, before making a longer and spicier impact as the brawl of vocals and rhythms spread their venom with energy and spite to match the rage of guitars. It is a relentless torrent of noise and anger which again grips the imagination with ease before making way for the closing track, Karlsgrundet.

Initially a slower, more lumbering protagonist but with a keen canter to its hungry predation, the song builds up its intimidating climate and intensity until it breaks and careers into a furnace of fleet footed rhythmic animosity and sonic savagery. There is still some rein on it all though which allows an adventurous tempest of enterprise from drums and guitars as the bass prowls with bestial purpose. Though the release is not exactly a ground-breaking exercise within hardcore, the track explores a blackened and heavily unleashed violation which certainly adds new flavoursome twists and endeavour to anything from the genre in 2014.

Ending with a shadowed stringed coaxing which still holds a portentous threat, the song is a drama drenched investigation of ears and emotions which, added to the first pair, provides something as riveting as it is imposing. Riwen, band and EP, leaves appetite and anticipation healthy and eager for more from the project ahead, whilst expectations are now high and greedier thanks to this impressive first offering.

Riwen has now added bassist Christoffer Röstlund Jonsson and guitarist Marita Jonsson Mätlik to the line-up.

The Riwen EP is available on CD and 10″ vinyl from October 13th on Indie Recordings @ http://www.omerch.eu/shop/indierecordings/search.php?pg=1&stext=Riwen&scat=2302&nobox=true

https://www.facebook.com/riwenhc/

RingMaster 13/10/2014

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Daggers – It’s Not Jazz, Its Blues

daggers

Hardcore right now seems to be one of the most adventurously explored genres, certainly going by the evidence gathered and unleashed by Throatruiner Records this month alone, with It’s Not Jazz, Its Blues by Daggers arguably the biggest slab of unquestionable proof. The new album from the Belgian quartet is a brute of an unleashing, twelve tracks of distinct inventiveness from a band which has never been slow on pushing their limits anyway. Whereas their previous array of releases have been an indignant fusion of crust and hardcore, Daggers upon their new fury pushes the walls down between hardcore and extreme metal noise for a wholly unique brew of rapaciously imaginative rock ‘n’ roll to them and scene. It is a raw maelstrom of inciting imagination and voracious intensity which provokes and violates senses through to thoughts, a ferociously uncompromising adventure which though it needs time to state its persuasion, is an irresistibly compelling bruising.

Hailing from Liège, the foursome of Yannick Tönnes, Gregory Mertz, Thierry Tönnes, and Thomas Fagny has left a trail of satisfaction and exhausted emotions with a clutch of imposing releases, starting with their 2008 self-titled EP through to second album Euphoria in 2011. Across their five years Daggers has always been a provocation which has earned an appetite here if not a raging fire towards them, each release making a lingering and potent scar in the hardcore scene but It’s Not Jazz, It’s Blues is another matter entirely, in presence and impact. The album is a real journey through cavernous sceneries and ruthlessly stark atmospheres but constantly poised to thrust its instinctive punk breeding and metallic causticity down the throats of emotions.

Recorded live by Ben Phillips at the Lightship studio and mastered by Magnus Lindberg from Cult of Luna, the album opens on a reflective accordion croon as Apex slowly unveils its emotive invitation. It is a sinister if restrained enveloping which hints but gives no real clue to the impending and sudden explosion of vocal antagonism within an intensive and hefty weight of snarling riffs and cantankerous rhythms. The track instantly switches character at the expulsion, prowling purposely and intimidatingly across the senses as the guitars entwine a spiral of sonic acidity around things and the bass adds an extra rapacious menace courted  by an inventive texture of lead and backing vocals, again their attack controlled but intrusive. Now that its heart is fully open, the song offers a true portent of the album’s intent and qualities, though not quite the maze of imagination and experimentation also to come.

The song’s closing riff is a bridge into the following Woolgatherer, the coarse link soon replicated with deeper hunger by bass and a Artworkgrittier guitar tone. The track is an instant snarl of vicious rock ‘n’ roll employing numerous textures from rock and metal in its pungent incitement; an infectious repetitive groove aligned to a harsh roar of vocals which even in the briefness of the track steals keen attention and incites a greedy appetite for more which is soon offered by the similarly corrosive yet contagiously welcoming brawl of Blues. Also too short for these greed infused desires, the slice of combative causticity is an imposing wall of melancholic indictment and almost warring accusations lyrically and musically, which only intensifies the impressive start and persuasion of the album.

Both Asunder and Beacon push thoughts and passions into stronger enjoyment, the first a feisty confrontation of punk abrasion and metallic ferociousness which skilfully wrong foots not long into the roar with a delicious sonic detour employing seductive if acidic melodies and an irresistible twang to its breath before heading back into a riotous engagement with addiction sparking grooves and stomping attitudes, the bass wonderfully bestial once again. Its successor is a minute touching purge of the senses, uncluttered with twists and ideas taking it from its core intent but still infusing subtle hooks and lures which entice and linger within and after its offering. Again the swiftness of the assault is possibly thirty seconds or more too short but when so memorable and incisive you have to think that Daggers have got it right.

Wanderlust encircles the ears next, grizzled vocals taking their animosity out on air and senses whilst a sonic weave and anger ebbs and flows with inventive enterprise around the provocation. Arguably it is at this point where the album really starts to unveil its new rich pattern of experimentation and adventure, though earlier songs all bring a new character and potency from the band. In its forceful embrace, the song’s narrative takes the listener into sultry climates and melodic pastures, all shadowed and coated by unpredictable intrigue and evocative mystique, an emotive climate explored further by the instrumental Labyrinth, a piece which brings beauty under the sinister scrutiny of shadows and dark temptations.

The pair of Evermore and Dormant unveil the dangers, threat, and bewitchment of these new landscapes, the first an exhaustive charge which magnetically and urgently entices before slipping into a slower and equally incendiary intensive smothering of invasive rabidity which than alternates with a lasting contagion, and the second a stalking heavy legged predator which threatens and tempts the imagination. As all songs there is an agitation which will have its say and here with the most stringent pressure yet.

It’s Not Jazz It’s Blues saves its most thrilling experiments until the end starting with Sovereign, a track with a coarse and almost rustic glaze to its riffs and vocals as well as a hypnotic bordering droning repetition of sonic toxicity. There is a Killing Joke feel to the song as it feverishly works away tempting its victim, the unrelenting venom irrepressible even when the excellent twist of vocal delivery and haunting ambience leaves its compelling colour on the brilliant ingenuity of thought and sculpting. That brilliance continues into Cultist, its hive of waspish toxins an instant burrowing under the skin and across the psyche before relaxing into another persistent nagging which is impossible to resist or not find a new ardour for. Again a haunting, eerie atmosphere embraces the imagination whilst the track presents its venomous and mouthwatering bait with inventive bedlam and vicious veracity.

The release closes with Citadel, a dirty bleak stew of rare sonic abrasion and naked emotion which is punk in its purest form. The track impressively completes a blistering treat of a release. It’s Not Jazz, Its Blues is without doubt the best thing to strike from the minds and hands of Daggers, maybe not quite the classic you feel is alive inside them but certainly an inspirational new instigation for the genre and noise. It also suggest that if the band pursues the realms ventured within the final three or four songs on the album, that imitable pinnacle is nigh.

https://www.facebook.com/daggersband

http://daggersband.bandcamp.com/album/its-not-jazz-its-blues

9/10

RingMaster 31/03/2014

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The Isolation Process – Self Titled

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    Thick in sound, textures, and emotional presence, the debut self-titled album from Swedish alternative metallers The Isolation Process is a transfixing adventure which catches the imagination and ignites the senses. Expectations for the album were slightly on the high side looking at the pedigree of its creators and it certainly does not let those hopes and assumptions down, instead leaving them an underestimation of what emerges from the riveting release.

      The Isolation Process was borne from the ashes of Scandinavian alternative rockers Lingua, vocalist/guitarist Thomas Henriksson, bassist Anders Carlström, and drummer  Patrik Rydbrand from the group (and also of sludge metallers Come Sleep), continuing to write and create together after the band’s recent demise. With a heavier, darker, and slightly more progressive sound emerging, the trio recorded their debut album with Michael Nordström (Switch Opens, Lingua, Jesaiah) last year. Mastered by Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna, Khoma) the resulting proposition is a mouth-watering incitement aurally and emotionally. Released via Version Studio Records the nine track evocative journey merges beauty and intimidation, shadows and flames into a creative landscape which immediately enthrals and continues to intensify its persuasion over every listen.

     Opener A Simple Gesture takes no time in casting a voracious presence over the ears, riffs gnawing the senses as they chug the-isolaton-process-cover-300dpiwith an intimidating predation alongside a bass sound which is bestial at its core and wonderfully ravenous at certain moments. It is just a teaser to the enterprise to follow though as just when you expect to be chewed up from start to finish unrelentingly the band swoops into a fire of melodic temptation and soaring sonic endeavour which aligned to the impressive rich vocals of Henriksson simply captivates. Merging and alternating between the breath-taking sounds and climbing intensity, it is a skilled and fluid union of diverse textures, a masterful suasion which by its end has alone seduced the fullest attention and appetite for what is on offer.

    The following Visions is a different kind of creature right away, it’s gentle entrance, in comparison to its predecessor, a melodically bred coaxing which canters across the imagination as guitars stroke out magnetic chords and firm but respectfully rhythms frame the potent welcome. Into its stride with again great vocals wrapping every word and emotion around the striking sounds, the track unveils its sinews to create crescendos of intense incitement with again the bass producing a throaty rapaciousness which only deepens the persuasion. It is an anthemic slab of a song which like the first only strips any stability from remaining reservations, if any are still remaining.

     Underneath It All steps forward next and with a melancholic air to its beckon provides an emotive canvas to reflect and immerse within but one unafraid to erupt with volcanic force and passionate ferociousness from within the sirenesque melodic narrative. Not for the first time on the album there is an element of Stabbing Westward and Cold about the song which though adding a familiarity only enhances the potency of the bewitchment. Initially not as instant in its strength as the first pair it a song which just gets better and better every time it evokes attention, again just like the album.

     From the pleasingly sculpted and intriguing instrumental Inhale the album is back to snarling with a voracious rabidity through Victims of the Masses; the track a mentally invasive and emotionally provocative tempest of aggressive hunger and elegant beauty forged into a sonic landscape which is as rugged as it is mellow and as reflective as it is feverishly intensive. An adrenaline raising evocation, the song makes way for the scowling beauty of The Dead End, a giant of a track which roars with melodic passion and growls with rigorous bearing before it departs for the second instrumental Exhale to provide a breathing space. Both pieces of music are perfectly enjoyable but to be honest more allow time to process and reflect on what has come before than reveal any addition to the album’s objective no matter their intent. It is not their failure but just the power around them.

     It Will Burn and Nothing To Collect complete the immense encounter, the first arguably the most bestial track but again in league with a melodic flaming and sonic invention which radiates and sublimely tempers any unbridled aggression which other bands might succumb to. It is not the strongest on the album but still a moment to lose one’s satisfaction to before the final emotionally fuelled fury brings the album to a dramatic conclusion. A slowly burning but wholly convincing and absorbing storm of sound and intensity, the song momentously completes an album which it is impossible not to find a torrent of time for physically and emotionally. The Isolation Process has for these humble ears and thoughts created the finest moment of its member’s artistic journey to date, a gem of a release and a long term engagement.

www.theisolationprocess.com

https://www.facebook.com/theisolationprocess

9.5/10

RingMaster 10/01/2014 

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Australasia – Vertebra

Australasia - Vertebra - Cover

Lifting the listener’s thoughts and imagination into an expansive and emotional almost visual flight through an ever evolving soundscape broken up into smaller evocative sceneries, Vertebra the new album from Italian band Australasia is one of those absorbing emprises you just cannot pull away. Ten tracks of predominantly instrumental merging of post rock, shoegaze, classic electronica, and enthralling ambience, the release is a masterful and compelling adventure. There is though much more substance than that description suggests, flavours and styles bred elsewhere seamlessly employed in the melodic web cast, and when vocals are rarely used they are more another texture to the creative narrative than any lyrical storytelling. The album as skilful and magnetic as it is equally suggests this is a project still in evolution with greater glories waiting on its horizon, something which just adds to the pleasure bred by Australasia.

The band is the creation of multi-instrumentalist Gian Spalluto who has linked up with Mina Carlucci and Giuseppe Argentiero of fellow Italian band Vostok. Touched by influences which include the likes of Red Sparowes, At the Gates, Joy Division, This Will Destroy You, Angelo Badalamenti, Mogwai, Pelican, Ennio Morricone, Cult of Luna and more, the band provides emotive landscapes and mesmeric incites which never restrain themselves musically or imaginatively to any singular intent or limiting frame. Australasia’s debut release, the Sin4tr4 EP of 2012, opened up the gateway to the band and its invention which the Immortal Frost Productions released Vertebra continues with striking strides into the awakening imagination and aural world of the band.

The journey opens with Aorta and a guitar cast melody which as the album progresses is a regular protagonist if in varying guises and intent. It is a mellow coaxing of a start to the song which gathers intensity in its breath as it opens up its creatively sinewed arms and melodic armoury. Hitting full stride early there is a tempestuous union of post rock provocation and metallic sculpting which flows and moves towards a stretch of sonic beauty and evocative reserve. Impressive rhythms and drums steer the enterprising exploration superbly and the guitar play is quite riveting across the body of the song. In its final thirty seconds or so the track unveils a union of male and female vocal harmonies which provides a last wash of warmth and elegance to the impressively crafted flight.

The following Vostok immediately offers a vintage electronica sound to thoughts though it is soon smothered by a strong cloud of sonic shadows and blackened emotion. The song undulates thrillingly as it progresses, big mountainous rhythms and textures mingled fluidly with tender elegance and those returning electronic caresses before dissipating for a lone acoustic guitar to wave the dark climes away. It is a track which seems to pass so quickly in time and though almost four minutes in length its successor Zero is soon feeding the senses and providing another heady structure of melodic imagination and rhythmic incitement. Not for the first or last time, the music reminds a little of The Cure around the time of the Seventeen Seconds /Faith albums, a shadowed energy coating the air of the song but speared by a melodic beauty which only raises the spirit and light.

Next up Aura roams through a more electro pop /shoegaze realm with eighties synth pop flavouring, though yet again there are intimidating resonances and dark clad tempting which tempers the radiance enough to add wonderful doubt and menace to the calm. The track also sees the captivating voice of Carlucci swarm siren like over the senses. Lyrically the track is uncluttered with effective repetition whilst gentle soaring harmonies make the prime successful persuasion. Like all the tracks, the song seems simple but holds a real deception as everything is so precisely and imaginatively woven together. The closing vocal scat does not quite work for personal tastes but it does not deflect from the smouldering piece of enjoyment.

Both the melodically flamed but intensively blackened Antenna, one of two tracks on the album taken from the earlier EP, and the excellent towering bulgingly muscular Volume continue the impressive height and stature of the album whilst the title track provides a pleasing short Spring respite with expressive tones and soft weaves, even if it feels a little like an anti-climax from the immense and lofty force and heights carved previously.

The second track from Sin4tr4 steps forward next. Apnea provides a reflective blend of imposing density and melancholic beauty wrapped in another bewitching vocal wash from Carlucci and an electro courting which pokes light through the cloudier ambience. It is a delicious embrace which makes way for the bordering on corrosive presence of Deficit. Scuzzy and thickly bonded to the ears, the track thrillingly riles up the senses but then before they can accept the intimidation the piece twists in on itself to lay a beauteous glaze of melodic endeavour on the incitement. It is a short but scintillating piece of composing and realisation waking up the appetite even further for the closing seven minute plus epic of Cinema. Arguably the track is a shade too long but it is a mere quibble when it makes such a compelling temptation across its emotionally clad presence.

Vertebra is a spellbinding release though to temper that slightly maybe it does not ignite a fire in the belly of the passions as often as it arguably could or should have, though again to put that into context, it is fair and easy to say that Australasia has created an adventure which is impossible to resist or stay away from. The band has the potential to create their own legacy you feel as their album permeates through thoughts and emotions, Vertebra a very striking start.

www.australasiamusic.com

www.facebook.com/australasiamusic

8.5/10

RingMaster 08/01/2014

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