Scorching shadows: an interview with Nora Rogers of Solar Halos

Nora  Rogers

Barely two to three weeks in and one of the year’s most exciting and we suggest prominent albums has already been unveiled in the masterful temptation that is the Solar Halos self-titled debut. A beautifully crafted evocative expanse of heavy unrelenting rock created through a tantalising mesmeric core brew of stoner and psychedelic rock the release is a stunning and magnetic introduction to the North Carolina band.  Eager to find out more about Solar Halos we had the pleasure of talking with guitarist/vocalist Nora Rogers where we discussed the origins of the band and its member’s histories, lyrical inspirations, the influence of their home town and much more…

Hi Nora and thank you for sparing time to talk with us.

Tell us about the beginnings of Solar Halos to start things off and also how you all met originally.

The three of us all have known each other for years just from living and playing in a small music-oriented town. Our bands had played shows and toured together so we were already both friends and fans.  John and I first played together in Jenks Millers project, Horseback in 2010. We really enjoyed playing with each other so a year later John and I started another project.  We jammed for a few months putting some ideas together but decided that we wanted to add bass before things got too set in stone. We immediately thought of Eddie and were spot on; it felt really natural and clicked right from the first practice at the end of 2011.

Did you have a specific intent in forming the band?

Because we were aware of each other’s bands we wanted to do something collaborative with loose parameters. No one had a specific intent for the project so it came about casually. We all wanted to play heavy music with contrasts of light and dark, but that was really the only parameter that we started with.

I always wonder with bands that form from already experienced musicians coming together for the first time if there is a period of discussion and thought sharing about the project or if that comes after the first tempest of sound making; how was it with you guys with the band?

Our sound evolved very naturally just through jamming and finding how our individual strengths can be played for maximum effect.  I think we have a very collaborative band model where we see a journey for a song and trust each other to choose our own path with the greater good of the song in mind.  We all know what the others are capable of and know our taste is similar, so our discussions are mostly about arrangement and dynamics.

Solar halos-Photo by Justin Cook.

photo by Justin Cook

Our previous work in those bands was treated as more or less a reference point.  We all defaulted to bringing in our loud gear, but we also found ourselves focusing on different aspects that we weren’t in those bands.

Have you found people making assumptions about what your sound was like before hearing it because of your times in Horseback etc.?

I haven’t found that people make assumptions based on our past bands but they do remark on similarities.

How does working with new people impact your thoughts and ideas at first? With Solar Halos was it an instant spark which right away bred to strong ideas and seeds for songs or a more slow burning process?

There was definitely an instant spark, but we have learned in our song writing that even a strong idea can be a slow burning process to follow through to completion.

Listening to your stunning self-titled debut album there is a heavier breath to all aspects, the sound, textures etc. then maybe expected from your success in those other bands, a deliberate move?

Thank you, I think with heaviness as our only parameter this all came quite naturally; it wasn’t a deliberate contrast to our other works.

Also the album seems to have an almost evolving before the ears creative landscape which suggests the songs in many ways sculpted their drove their own path as they came to realisation. Give us an insight to how things developed in that respect and about the writing process in general.

Yes, that is the intention and how they were written. Songs usually start with a riff.  We record a bunch of permutations of it and the parts that instinctually follow over several weeks and pick out what works well. Once we have a good outline I’ll figure out the vocals and we might tweak the song some more.  It’s pretty time intensive but seems to produce interesting results.

We always write the music first then I go back and listen for the vocal melodies and lyrical imagery that the song provokes.  I think the movement and structures of our songs on this album coincide with how my mind thinks spatially and geographically.  The space each of us inhabits musically creates the landscape and our arrangement of the parts and the vocals create a path through the song.

The album is receiving impressed responses, and rightly so in our minds; has it surprised you the strength of the reaction to it even though I am sure you were fully confident of its potency?

It’s always great to see a positive response, you never really know what to expect when you put out a first record. I find it really satisfying to know that you have moved someone emotionally or creatively.

artworkWe called the album one of the first great adventures of 2014 and it does feel like an intensive and invigorating adventure. It also hints that this adventure was just as thrilling to create and at times a stepping into the unknown for you guys, was that how it felt?

Wow, thank you.  It was a really fun album to create and we were stepping into the unknown without guidelines.  As for adventure, there were definitely no mythical beasts to outrun or any wizards to fights, so I guess it was quite ordinary in that respect.

Is there any prime inspiration to the narrative and emotional feel of the songs and album?

All of the lyrical inspiration came from images of Earth and landscapes that the music evokes.  The narration is moving through those landscapes.  Sometimes the focus is on a small scale like ice dripping off leaves “leaves like daggers breathe inside” in “Frost” or on a grand scale like global electromagnetic waves excited by lightning in “Resonance.”

How much of the album is personal to the extent of revealing shadows and secrets, even if merely hinting, to the world?

When I was in The Curtains of Night I wrote a lot of personal lyrics under the cloak of myth, but now I try to paint with broader strokes.  I am always thinking of something very specific, but not necessarily from my personal life.  I want the lyrics to be evocative visually but vague and open-ended enough to be read in different ways.

Musically the songs on the album have an intensity and at times an almost guttural aggression to them whilst your vocals temper and almost tease that heaviness with mesmeric harmonies and melodic invention. Was there a concerted effort in forging the impressive union as shown on the release or again has it been a naturally bred success?

Both, the contrast comes quite naturally but we are also conscious of the play of light and dark that helps to give some depth and complexity to the music.

The album is released via Devouter Records. What was right about the UK label for you and were they one of those I believe you sent demos to of tracks recorded in a metal shop?

Yes, our friend, Scott Endres of the band MAKE sent a link of our demos to Phil Rhodes at Devouter who had released their awesome album, Trephine.  Scott had great things to say about working with Phil and we were impressed by Devouter’s roster of bands.

Your home state North Carolina is a constant hotbed of scintillating music and adventure driven bands, in all flavours. What is it like as an emerging and established band there and how has the place and your home town Chapel Hill impacted on or inspired on your creative process if at all?

The pace here is pretty laid back and cost of living relatively low so we can afford to be more adventurous.  Bands can rent cheap practice spaces or play at someone’s house.  Chapel Hill is a college town so lots of musicians own or work at bars which also put on shows.  The area is really supportive of musicians, so it has been a hub to lots of creative talent.  Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Durham have a range of venues to play at and great music festivals like Hopscotch which showcase local and international talent. There is an energy here that is pretty conducive to being a musician.

Is there a unity, comradeship amongst bands and the scene itself in NC or is it like other places a more self-centred environment?

photo by Jordan Haywood

photo by Jordan Haywood

There is a lot of overlap between band members and a continually growing number of bands of all genres. We do tend to play shows locally with heavier bands in the area like MAKE, Mourning Cloak, Black Skies, and Bitter Resolve, but I think people are supportive across the board.

What comes next for Solar Halos on the back of the album and ahead?

We recorded a long two part song for a split 10” with another NC band, Irata that should be out in the next few months.  Meanwhile we are writing material for another album and hope to do a bit of travelling later in the year.

Is the UK/Europe destined to see you live this year?

We would love to come over this year but nothing is booked right now.

Once again Nora many thanks for chatting with us, any last thought you would like to send the readers off pondering?

Do an image search for “Brocken spectre,” you won’t be disappointed!

Read the review of Solar Halos debut album @

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 20/01/2014

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Solar Halos – Self Titled

Solar Halos 3 HiResSmall

Setting the new musical year off to a stunning and potent  start, US rockers Solar Halos unleash their debut album, a release conjuring a tantalising mesmeric brew of stoner and psychedelic rock with further explorations which simply seduces the imagination and passions into hungry life. Out 20th January via Devouter Records, the self-titled album is a masterful temptation and beautifully crafted evocative expanse of heavy unrelenting rock leading the listener into one of the first great adventures of 2014.

Hailing from Chapel Hill, North Carolina the trio certainly comes with a rich pedigree to its line-up. Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Nora Rogers, formerly of Horseback and Curtains of Night, Caltrop and Horseback drummer John Crouch, and Fin Fang Foom bassist Eddie Sanchez, Solar Halos feed expectations bred from its line-up and then shows them another creative level through imagination and sonic invention. Soaked in a doom like weight yet finding a radiant and transfixing resourcefulness generally absent in the genre through varied textures and sounds, the band’s first album is an enthralling and intensive examination of and feast for senses and emotions. A travelogue of heated and dusty climes brought through an ever shifting provocative aural landscape.

The album opens with The Vast White Plains and immediately hits the appetite with a delicious grizzly bass sound within ear Artworkentwining sonic guitar lines, all caged by the hypnotic rhythmic sculpting of Crouch. Within its first seconds the song has attention rigidly glued to its magnetic lure, a hold which is only cemented further once the distinctive and absorbing vocals of Rogers begin the lyrical narrative. The combination is unstoppable as the track winds the passions around its rhythmic fingers, its sonic persuasion drifting into continual enterprise and bordering exhaustive intensity. With additional vocals from Sanchez as effective and pleasing as those of Rogers to further flavour the rich lure of the song, it is a mighty and riveting start.

The following Tunnels takes a more reserved approach as its entrance but one with melodic flames and a tempered rhythmic gait which only engages thoughts as eagerly as its predecessor. A crawling journey through seemingly doom seeded psychedelic waters, the track heavily leans on the ear yet with the warm life filled vocals and incendiary melodies cast by the guitar it feels like a plunge through dark emotional depths lit by a beacon of hope and warmth. As with the first track every aspect of the song coaxes out rapturous responses, its twisting and inventive enterprise reinforcing the lure and lingering beauty of the wonderfully intrusive feel of adventure. There is a definite Horseback tone to the music as well as elements of Kyuss and at times Jess and the Ancient Ones but as the second song finishes there is no denying that Solar Halos crafts a sound which is uniquely theirs.

Both the soaring rigorous flight of Migration and the atmospheric scenery of Frost continue the impressive presence of the album, the second especially with a carnivorous tone to the bass and another mouthwatering rhythmic taunting by Crouch igniting another wash of emotional rabidity within for its offering. Their triumphs are soon followed by the chilled touch of Wilderness, a song which builds mountainous sonic ranges and heavyweight rhythmic caverns to explore and spark the imagination within. The most doom washed track on the release but again one which teases and invites bright burning flames from within its dark shadows, it builds a thick tide of scuzz filled provocation and melodic heat provoking thoughts and emotions to delve only deeper with each excursion through its fascination.

Resonance brings the album to a close, the track eight minutes of sonic incitement and rhythmic enslaving. It is a glorious slowly invasive triumph to complete a breath-taking release. Everything from the great vocal blend of Rogers and Sanchez, the guitar’s senses encircling spirals of expressive melodic suasion, and the almost goading and certainly anthemic rhythmic bait of the bass and Crouch’s outstanding drum craft, enslaves ears and imagination. Like the album as a whole, the track just gets better and impresses more with each course through its striking landscape and steals top honours on the release though it is constantly challenged by the other tracks.

Solar Halos instantly stand aside the likes of Horseback and Royal Thunder through their debut and it is not hard to suspect that the threesome will be forging major heights in the future. 2014 could not be off to a better start.


RingMaster 01/01/2014

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Brujas del Sol – Moonliner

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Fusing the richest elements of psychedelic drone and surf rock into mesmerising and invigorating sounds with equally compelling ambience, Brujas del Sol is a band which captures and provokes the imagination with a potency that is hard to represent in words. Whether their debut album Moonliner proves to be a flame to your passions or just a flicker before your appetite, there is no escaping its rich and evocative touch. The six track release is a persuasive journey within sultry skies, colourful tides, and constantly evolving soundscapes, and ultimately a thrilling and bewitching experience.

Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, Brujas del Sol was formed in 2011 by Adrian Zambrano (guitar, vocals), Derrick White (bass), and Jason Green (drums). Recording every improvised jam session rather than pre-write songs, the trio spent months capturing ideas and sounds, elements of hypnotic krautrock, fuzz lilted blues, surf-rock, ambient, and drones all coming forward to add flavour and texture to their ideas with the result being something unique, and as the album shows quite scintillating. Entering the studio in the spring of last year the band recorded two EPs in the shape of Moonliner vol 1 and 2. The trio next brought in keyboardist Ryan Stivers to expand and add further depth to their now demanding writing process with the now quartet working on the final part of the Moonliner trilogy which had its release last December. The album is the outcome of the band reworking and re-recording the tracks which made up the EPs with the keys adding their fresh breath to them, and released via Devouter Records the album is a striking and richly enterprising treat.

The chilled yet smouldering opening ambience of Ships In The Distance brings the album into view, its magnetic touch a Moonlinerpsyched imbalance of harmonic discord and threatening atmosphere which has the strongest lure on intrigue and attention. As the enveloping breath of the song wraps firmly around the ear a fiery sonic dance from the guitar catches the eye whilst the low slung prowl of the bass engages with its distinct shadow. Into its full pace the track is a sultry rush of sweltering surf rock with psychedelic persuasion, the acidic touch of the sounds captivating and demanding of attention. At this point there is no resistance to its voice which swarms over the senses with restraint but fervour, yet when the track slips into a sudden new stance it finds another level of inciting rapture. The bass suddenly lifts its stroll with urgency whilst the surrounding sounds step into a tethered arena to allow the vocals to bring their emotive depth to proceedings. The bass and core drive of at this point is pure early The Cure whilst the rising expanse of sonic imagination sizzles with impassioned invention.

The impressive starter hands over to Satanic Surf Girls Love to Dance, a blues soaked coarsely ridged explosion of again open originality. From its abrasive but reserved beginning the song also offers an unexpected shift as it turns into a semi drone stoner grooved canter across the senses. Like its predecessor and tracks to follow, it is impossible to predict its intent or movements but everything it unveils is a seamless flow and temptation for the already enlivened passions. The repetitive bass and rhythmic spine is persistent and unrelenting yet tempered by the impressive melodic and sonic flames burning vibrantly around it. Though not as virulent as the first , the song drives deeper the now in place hook into the emotions from the album with contagious ease as does the following pair of Conquistadors and Noon On The Moon.

The first of the two drones a submission out of the senses within moments punctuated by heavy crescendos of downtuned force which finally takes a firm grip and drives the song forward with the punchy drums framing the premise like a predator. The vocals are partly smothered by the electric blues intensity permeating the air but it only adds to the lure of them and the layers of the piece. A lumbering stroll the song again fails to match what comes before in many ways but has expansive bulk of sound to explore and discovers corners within with each listen. The second of the pair emerges on a dark chilled ambience, its presence ebbing and flowing like an unlit tide until the bass steps forward with a line which echoes Psycho Killer by Talking Heads whilst treading its own shadowed path. The expressive and vivid heat of the guitars and keys sculpt imagery and emotion to soundtrack with rich invention and entrancing beauty, the brewing spellbinding mystique at the heart of the track.

The finest moment on the release comes with Baba Yaga, a dazzling surf rock seduction complete with swerving grooves and initially an exhausting confrontation which unsettles senses and thoughts for the impending melodic dance to exploit. The track has elements of The Cramps and The Bomboras to its passion inciting wonder and as always a sixties psychedelic kiss which ensures nothing is clean cut or predictable.

With Castles Upon Golden Gate just as strikingly closing up the album, Moonliner is a full on enticement with hex like mastery and temptation to its remarkable sounds and imagination. The outstanding album has plenty for all fans of surf, progressive, psychedelic and melodic rock, and just as much for those who are not sure what they want, no one should refuse its offerings without at least one immersion into its well of sonic beauty.



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Early Mammal – Horror at Pleasure

   Early Mammal 2

     Devouter Records has developed this knack, insight, skill whatever you wish to call it, in finding and releasing music from bands which offer something different and imaginatively impacting within what can be loosely termed as a stoner/psychedelic brief for the label. Horror at Pleasure, the debut release from UK band Early Mammal is no exception. It is a record which takes the senses and thoughts on an intensive sonic journey which is not always easy or pain free but is continually intriguing and exhausting in the most enjoyable way. Brewing a collision of stoner, blues, doom, and progressive invention into a psyche-out storm of sonic intensity and blistering, Early Mammal rides roughshod over the senses whilst rewarding them with weighty sonic enterprise and acid soaked erosive breath.

Formed in 2012, the Camberwell, South London trio of guitarists and vocalist Rob Herian (ex-Elks), drummer Ben Davis (ex-85 Bears), and Turkish born Deniz Belendir on organ and synth take their inspiration from bands across the likes of Captain Beefheart, High Rise, Peter Green, White Hills, Edgar Broughton Band, and Hawkwind, adding these rich spices to their own psyche fire of progressively carved and fuzzed textured burning. As mentioned the album is not always comfortable upon the ear but no pain no gain right!

Opening on the brief instrumental and shimmering air of Right Hand, its ambience sweltering in the sonic heat but restrained in itsArtwork touch, the release soon evolves into the harsher climes of Final Witch. Immediately raw on the ear with caustically surfaced vocals to match, the track grazes and sears the synapses with a compelling melodic glaze which is sonically heated until it scalds and bubbles upon the senses and a guitar acidity which exhausts and compromises the enterprise at play for even greater satisfaction. With the keys transporting instigated visuals into a spacey kaleidoscope of aural colours and imagery it is a strong start to the album, an unrelenting and unkind embrace which evokes good satisfaction.

Horror at Pleasure is undoubtedly an album you need to undertake the journey of numerous times to fully reap what it offers, the many encounters slowly but forcibly showing the impressive strengths of tracks like Demon or Saint and Coming Back. Admittedly the first of the pair made a mighty persuasion on its first meeting with the ear, its bluesy gait and ravaging intensity ridden by the raw vocal tone and expression of Herian to capture the imagination but after further companionship the song expands into one of the strongest emotion exploiting pinnacles on the album. The second of the two is a fire in an atmospheric wasteland, the chilled solitude soaked ambience the home to an alluring emotive guitar narrative which sparks more vivid feelings in its short but inciting instrumental life.

The further into the release the more impressive and irresistibly tempting it is, the likes of To Find Me Gone with its Stones like fiery breath and Checking The Bullshitter’s Queen, a song which flames around the ear with an inventive sonic script to light up the air with cascades of intrusive but enthralling cunning invention, the pair conspiring with many others to enflames and push the limits of passion on to greater responses. The finest moment on the giant soundscape that is Horror At Pleasure comes with Resurrection Men. The track canters along with feisty intent and energetic urgency without fully unleashing all its intensity, keeping some back to frequent and stalk the shadows which wrap the track, something the band does across the whole album in truth. It has to be said that though each track is certainly distinct to each other, this song especially ripe in originality it is not always clear why as all songs employ a similar surface abrasion and hellacious near on spiteful scuzzy energy and presence which is borne from the same sonic seed. They do stand apart though and Resurrection Man with the fullest furnace of transfixing brain warping ingenuity and mesmeric colours above the rest.

Closed by a companion instrumental in Uncle Scary’s Left Hand to the opening piece, Horror at Pleasure is a strongly impressive release. Though the album overall did not exactly ignite the strongest furnace inside for its endeavours, poking the dormant embers into inconsistent eruptions, one senses it is just a matter of time before Early Mammal do achieve that, but for many others they will have made that break through with this wholly pleasing feast of sonic alchemy one suspects.


RingMaster 03/04/2013

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Wiht: The Harrowing of the North


    Wiht was a UK band who built a formidable reputation for their impressive epic and evocative instrumentals but last March the Leeds trio called it a day much to the upset of a great many. Now the band through Devouter Records gets a deserved final farewell with the release of their final album The Harrowing of the North digitally and on coloured vinyl. Previously available in 2011 the re-release features an additional track to leave one lasting mark from one of Britain’s best underground experimental talents.

The band began in March 2009 and in their three years created a stirring and inciting blend of doom, stoner, and psychedelic rock which was rich and colourful in ambience and heavy and expressive in intensity. Together bassist Joe Hall, guitarist Chris Wayper, and drummer Rick Contini, explored and turned the widest array of aural colours into a unique and compelling canvas of descriptive sounds and emotive richness. It was driven by storming riffs which were as instinctive as breathing but as imaginative as life and rhythms which caged the senses with skill and power before rewarding them with their own hypnotic and creative slavery. The Harrowing of the North is the perfect last word with its three songs encapsulating everything which made the band so highly thought of, if also igniting a sadness they are no longer here to further their boundaries and vision. Across their years the band sparked a growing fan base with impressive performances supporting artists like Brant Bjork and the Bros, Yob, Corrosion of Conformity, Humanfly, Khuda, Dopefight, A Forest of Stars and Conan, and made their final appearance at Desertfest 2012, playing alongside Corrosion of Conformity, Orange Goblin, Ancestors and Black Cobra to name a few. With one song still unreleased, Devouter has stepped forward to give it a fitting introduction within the re-release of their excellent last album.

Thirty three minutes in length, the first two tracks which made up the original album are themed by William the Conqueror and his Front cover 1400subjugation of the North of England in the 11th century. The title track opens up its vast story in a slowly emerging presence with sonic teasing and a brewing intensity shaped by a singularly seductive guitar. The track scores the Norman raids and massacring of the Yorkshire people and their land and once in full vision the piece almost meanders into its first of eight movements bringing the events to emotive life. Leading one comfortingly with tender guitar caresses against the sense of an impending challenge from the drums, it feels like the lull before the storm, a misguided confident peace about to be shaken out of its restive complacency. The stoner riffs and psychedelic massaging now energising the senses equally and skilfully ignites thoughts and emotions whilst looking at the music outside of its themed context, the track is a sensational passage of styles and imagination which seamlessly has the passions and senses twisting and dancing to the ingenious and continually evolving aural painting.

Second track Orderic Vitalis is a grouchy encounter which is dedicated to the named outspoken chronicler in the title who stood loyal to his king but was outraged at his cruelty and condemned him in his writings. The piece conjures and moves through shadows set by the again compelling bass imagination of Hall, whilst the guitar of Wayper lights the way through the heavy oppressive dark tones with a sculpted elegance. It is a wholly mesmeric track which paints its own imagery for individual interpretation but with evident awareness of the emotions being instilled in the listener through the sensational sounds. It is at times overbearing and always intimidating but equally has a strength and determination to refuse full submission to the impending darkness whispering loudly throughout.

The final and brand new track End Of The Reign finds its place easily alongside the other two, its haunting ethereal piano kissed entrance dripping with a morose ambience. The track then evolves into a muscular giant with rampant yet restrained rhythms from the perpetually impressive Contini and a sonic gnawing of the ear from the fiery guitar narrative. Again the bass brings a daunting depth to the piece and with every element combined track and album easily sets the band apart from the rest and leaves one immersed in the near furnace like heat of irresistible enterprise.

The Harrowing of the North is simply outstanding and with the new track the perfect and greatest way to wave farewell to With.

RingMaster 04/02/2013

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Cultura Tres: El Mal Del Bien

Like crossing a disturbing and unpredictable landscape of sizzling heat and exhaustive oppressive atmospheres, El Mal Del Bien the new album from Venezuelan band Cultura Tres, is a stunning slab of corrosive invention. Brewing a sonically driven thick expanse of sludge metal soaked in grunge and noise essences, the release is a mighty uncompromising assault which makes every second of its inventive presence a challenging and deeply rewarding experience.

The band released El Mal Del Bien in their homeland last year but now through Devouter Records it gets its wider CD release whilst at the same time taking the already acclaimed recognition of the band to greater heights. Established as one of the big rock entities in Venezuela through their impressive live performance, as well as first EP Seis in 2007 and debut album La Cura the following year, the quartet of vocalist and guitarist Alejandro Londono, guitarist Juan Manuel de Ferrari, bassist Alonso Milano, and drummer David Abbink stand as one of the boundary pushing and inspiring bands worldwide. From El Mal Del Bien alone with its fusion of sludge and doom metal with varied strains of rock, Cultura Tres stand apart in their challenging yet magnetic world. Like a sonic fury borne from the ashes of an erosive confrontation between Deftones, Soundgarden, Coilguns, and Orange Goblin, the invasive sound which crawls and consumed from within the album is an inciting and vigorous endeavour which leaves thoughts frazzled, senses glowing, and passions bursting.

From opener Propiedad de Dios onwards, the album unleashes shadows and at times distressing soundscapes to leave a full and satisfied ardour beneath its staggering creativity and expressive sounds. The first song slowly builds up its presence through sharp blistered guitar manipulations and heavy prodding beats. It is a meandering crawl which twists and lurches through the ear to engage thoughts, the initial caustic Alice In Chains like drone in sound and vocals walking through harsher gates across the laboured and wholly compelling stalking brought by the song. It is a mighty start soon dismissed as a mere taster by the brilliant Purified, a track with the sting and incessant rapier rub of a giant sonic hornet. The track is a niggling confrontation which turns aggravation into a hypnotic charm. As melodically colourful as the fire within a furnace and as destructive, the song turns its merciless insistence into a hungry infection from which only blissful allegiance is forthcoming. The dour vocal harmonies and scarring guitar play are delicious whilst bass and drums offer a form of contempt to all merge for a totally irresistible mix.

The likes of instrumental Los Muertos De Mi Color with its distressed ambience and sinister breath and the towering El Sur De La Fe, a track simmering with rapier sonic teasing and raging burning melodic flames within its waspish encounter, fire up the heart. Both tracks are as distinct as night and day but scar the senses with a unity of quality and irreverence to the sanity of their recipients.

El Mal Del Bien is an album which offers essential incendiary and inspiring imagination from start to finish, no track or brief part of a song wasted on trivial or impact lacking invention. The release physically and mentally ensures a heavily provocative experience, usually with both aspects overwhelmed at once by the creative maelstrom of sound and textures as in The Grace, with its mesmeric blend of classic metal and sound distortion, and the sensational crunching violation of Voices. Both of these tracks alone numb and invigorate to leave a lingering corruption in their wake and a desperate longing for much more.

The songs come either in the mother tongue of the band or in English but all leave having caused the same deep and long lasting reaction, passionate adoration.  El Mal Del Bien is a masterful and colossal piece of skilled craft and invention, whilst Cultura Tres stand as one of the truly unique emerging giants in metal.

RingMaster 13/11/2012

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Galvano: Two Titans

Whether naming your debut album Two Titans when you are a duo announcing yourselves with your first release is just asking for trouble or a mark of confidence can be debated until the riffs fall quiet, but in the case of Swedish sludge metallers Galvano, it is pretty apt. Their album is a heavyweight behemoth of towering riffs and rich thick progressive might, a release which grabs you by the throat and feeds the juiciest choice slabs of sonic meat down the throat, and makes the title of their album look quite accurate.

Released on Devouter Records as a limited to 500 coloured vinyl double LP and download, Two Titans is an intense and formidable proposition which rewards fully whilst at times leaning towards numbing the senses. The Göteborg pair of guitarists and vocalist Mattias Nööjd and drummer Fredrik Käll unleash with the eight powerful and memorable tracks, an experience and soundscape which plays on the nerves and ignites the senses. The songs badger and bruise whilst simultaneously flaring up with tight fiery grooves and sonically grafted melodies which tease and please for the fullest satisfaction.

Opener Abysmal is a weighty onslaught of prowling rhythms and twisting enveloping grooves, a track which bewitches as it tramples over the senses with intense passion and giant energy. The vocals of Nööjd scowl with a guttural gait, his squalled growls spewing the heart of the track with formidable passion. Talking about the album the singer had said, “All these songs are personal, all the way throughout the record. They are about personal matters and demons. It’s about finding the darkest corners, the dark lord within and to show up for battle. Portrayed as two titans in constant battle: Good/Evil, Darkness/Light and so on. And sometimes wanting to embrace either side. It’s about knowing when your mind is pulling tricks and being able to stop it. It’s also celebrating our musical force as a duo.” The evidence of his words in the first song alone is open and easily backed up.

From the strong opener the album gets better and better. The following Bleeding Lamb crawls through an avalanche of tumbling rhythms and scarring riffs, its oppressive atmosphere sucking air from the lungs. Despite moments where the song verges on seemingly appearing to tip towards losing control, it is a crushing assault with a smart variation in pace and intensity to leave things perpetually intriguing. The likes of Destroyer with its lumbering doom expanse and the excellent emotive instrumental Hyperion continue to offer a diverse and compulsive turn of affairs, the first simply a mass of intensity and the second a magnetic and irresistible piece of restraint and brewing enterprise.

It can be argued that Two Titans does not offer anything outwardly new and it would be hard to disagree but with the likes of the storm of abrasion that is Ethereal Sword and Punisher with its gnawing and uncompromising intensity let alone creative incitement, the album is perpetually enthralling and heartily invigorating. It is a release which explores and stretches existing doom and sludge metal sonic palates without demanding anything beyond the limits of the genre. It makes for an energising and accomplished force of power and enjoyment, the least any album should offer.

Galvano is a band whose sound belies its compliment of two and leaves a bulging satisfaction with their impressive muscular sound and debut release.

RingMaster 08/11/2012

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