Dead Retinas: Dawn Of The Dead Retinas EP

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If you are looking for niceties and sophisticated music to relax to then give UK punks Dead Retinas a wide berth as they only deal in abrasive antagonistic rock n roll which leaves you enflamed in attitude and sonic aggression. Earlier in the year the band impressed with their debut EP Dead Retinas vs. The World, the release a grazing and fiery treat of unbridled infection and invigorating adrenaline driven punk rock, but was a mere teaser for their mighty follow up, Dawn Of The Dead Retinas EP. Their debut left one fuelled by anticipation for what was to come from the Manchester quartet and they have those expectations not only quenched but seeming quite inadequate as an assumption now that the band has unleashed this sensational EP.

The first thing the release does is bring thoughts of The Dickies to mind simply from the titles of their two EPs, the band taking inspiration from movies just as the Americans did early on and both with a mischievous glint in their eyes. Musically though, despite both stirring up the senses with instinctive punk rock, they part company. Whereas the LA band were arguably the first pop punksters, Dead Retinas bitch slap the ear with a sound which is like brawl between Pinhead Gunpowder, Cancer Bats, The Hives, and Dead Kennedys. It is an irresistible brew which offers diversity within a uniform of middle finger defiance and tongue in cheek antagonism. Since forming the band has corrupted stages alongside the likes of Four Short Of A Miracle, Landmarks, Falter, The City Divided, Zsilent Z and many more, and all the time have been emerging as one of the most refreshing and promising punk bands around, the new EP only deepens that acclaim whilst showing the band is evolving and maturing as songwriters and musicians all the time and well on the way to being to the fore of UK punk.

Consisting of three tracks, the EP pounces on the ear drum with venomous spite and aggressive energy through LSD, a track ep 2 artworkshowing invention and psychotic imagination. It is a delicious psyche bruise which twists and turns into a bedlam touching sonic confrontation, an irrepressible captivation from start to finish. The song enters on grazing riffs, predatory bass leers, and thumping beats pounced upon by the coarse squalls of vocalist Sam Hendo. The track soon settles into a ferocious yet restrained form of sonic combat with Sex Pistols hooks from guitarist Jack Thompson latched to his ear scouring riffs and senses gnawing basslines from CJ Smith, the pair with Hendo combining for an anthemic gang shout chorus. It is a great rampage which is elevated further when the track slips into psychedelic tendencies soaked in a classic rock solo which loses sanity turning into a synapse scorching sonic acid. It is a ‘painful’ end which completes an outstanding song, though it is eclipsed by the even greater presence of Just Because You Drink Jack Daniels Doesn’t Mean You’re Rock and Roll.

The track is a fusion of psyche, noise, punk rock, and quite magnetic. Immediately the song is confronting the ear with a snarling bass, scything riffs, and the abusive rhythms of drummer Lee O’Connor which never let you off the hook from start to finish, those bass growls of Smith an eager devilish companion. There is a slight bluesy lilt to the guitar as Hendo sets one up for a fall with malevolent chuckles and challenging tones questioning the listener. With additional Dead Kennedys like riffs and the twin barracking of drums and bass the song just ignites rapture for its compelling sounds. With also a mix of Kabul Golf Club shagging Gallows to its breath, the track is a glorious riot of energy and sounds which fires up even greater expectations of the band ahead.

The release is completed by Swarm The Decks, an incendiary merger of enslaving rhythms, raw erosive riffs, and a scrap of vocals from all three vocalists. Like a quarrel with the Beastie Boys and Discharge it is an in your face agitator which without the contagious lures of the other pair still pulls up an equal satisfaction through its combative and challenging intensity.

You always expect and hope a band will improve release by release but Dead Retinas have taken big steps on from what was a strong and vibrant debut with Dawn Of The Dead Retinas. For all punk rock fans the band is a must.

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RingMaster 18/12/2012

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Acephalix: Deathless Master

What to say about Deathless Master the debut album from US death metallers Acephalix. It is singular in attack, sound, and intent, it is relatively unadventurous and it is unremarkable in changing the genre or thoughts of its followers, most of all it strikingly impressive and deeply satisfying. The album does nothing but stoke up the fires and passions that lurk in every dark recess of the heart and mind. It is a release that barely strays from its core and a blistering album uniformal in sound, quality, and enjoyment.

Out of San Francisco, Acephalix formed in 2007 with originally a crust punk surface to their death metal sounds. Taking influences such as the likes of Celtic Frost, Cro-Mags, Discharge, and Bolt Thrower to add to their ideas the band has evolved into what is bursting out from Deathless Master, a spiteful venomous old school tainted death metal band. Last year saw an upturn in attention their way with the bringing together of their two cassette demos in one limited edition CD called Interminable Night through Southern Lord. The 2,000 strong pressing sold out swiftly and brought them to the fore of underground metal. Shows in support of the release did them no harm either whilst their part in the Power of the Riff 2011 tour with the likes of Undergang, Black Breath, Winter, Noothgrush, Eyehategod, and Pentagram only increased the acclaim.

Again through Southern Lord, Deathless Master seals the full transformation of the band and their sound though there are still tones of their initial punk driven energies veining the tracks within. As heralding chords open up the album and starter Bastard Self and guitars blister the ear the sense of something powerful and vicious approaching is immediate. The track does not leave it long to bring confirmation as tumultuous riffs flatten all defences and the rhythms leave the ear quaking in the aftershock. The track is not a full on assault though, it is more premeditated and picks at the nerves with razor blade melodies and a groove to strangle all life it touches, and with the festering corruptive filth claiming to be vocals outstanding the track lays waste.

It is a staggering start from arguably one of the weaker songs on the album, if the word can be used in any context regarding a release this powerful and aggressive. Things do take a further upturn though with the following duo of the title track and Tomb Of Our Fathers. Deathless Master surges upon the senses like a rabid scourge, incessant and merciless it is a ravenous assault of thumping drums and malicious riffs. With a death knell ambience to the cleaner spoken vocals behind the full pit borne gutturals creations that lead, the track is a crushing pleasure. Tomb Of Our Fathers picks up where its predecessor left off, its raging rampage hypnotic and the caustic groove that follows in their wake vehement in intent and mesmeric effect. With an added solo which sears deep furrows within the senses it is an unstoppable joy.

Already one is aware that diversity is not the order of the day though each track offers something a little different to be numbed and violated by. Because the base and intensity of what the band does offer is so immense and gratifying it really is not an issue. Tracks like the outstanding On Wings and Raw Life just leave one a gleeful spent husk from their irrepressible consumption. The first of the two is a song staggeringly effective in simplicity of vocals and attack, its smothering fetid aural stench a contagion that reeks of malice and foul intentions. The latter is a mesmeric piece of putrefaction, its decomposing breath a smog of sonic evil. From an initial prowl and taunting air the song slowly shifts its muscular might into the expected charge that fuels each track but always it offers the tease of a respite to snatch it away with pure devilment.

Blood Of Desire, In Arms Of Nothing, and the great closer In Hunger ensure the album retains its high level from start to finish. The uniformal heart of the album means every second of the album is an incessant and very satisfying annihilation devoid of lulls. Obviously you have to have that level set at a high to make it work and Acephalix definitely achieve that. Like ordering eight slabs of quality steak for consecutive meals you know what you will get, there are no surprises, but it is a guaranteed feast of flavoursome and undeniably tasty pleasure each and every time. Deathless Master is the same, enjoy!

RingMaster 24/05/2012

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Toxic Holocaust – Conjure And Command

Those wishing the intricacies of meandering progressive sounds or the hypnotic yet unsettling discordance of djent wizardry or even the vast array of deliberately confused but masterfully conjured intensity of a Coilguns or Retox then look away. Oregon metalers Toxic Holocaust return with new album Conjure And Command and simply aggressive straight from the hip brutal metal that does what says on the tin. Exploding via Relapse Records the album just bristles and aggravates within the ear with the finest and rawest of heavy metal, thrash and punk energy. You know what you are going to get from the very first fierce uncomplicated note of the opening track and it never lets one down in satisfaction or stirring intimidating quality. Straight forward exhilarating metal for straight forward eager tastes.

Formed in 1999 by Joel Grind merging his love of classic punk and metal into a distinct and crushing sound, the band has kicked up a sonic storm with their previous three full lengths and Conjure And Command continue in similar vein. The trio of Joel Grind, Phil Gnaast (Zeller), and Nicholas T. Rage (Bellmore) have unleashed an album that shrugs belligerence as its muscular riffs and threatening sounds come forth angrier, heavier and with more spite than before but still is unmistakably Toxic Holocaust.  They do not offer anything vastly different from their previous releases and to some extent other like veined bands but you always know who you are letting loose when one of their tracks is bombarding the ear. As venomous as ever Grind’s swipes and attacks, his disgust at this poisonous world and the evil of man never veiled in any way. Conjure And Command is a very welcome no holds barred merciless attack on the senses.

Musically the band once more bring echoes of bands like Bathory, Venom, Municipal Waste and the likes of Total Fucking Destruction and Slayer, all toned and fused to their own impressive ideas to create metal that though abrasive is a joy to suffer. Opening track is ‘Judgment Awaits You’ and the title sums up the album’s sound. It judges with tumultuous riffs and caustic guitars challenging throughout the experience and very easy to ‘suffer’ when it sounds this good. 

The tracks come thick and fast never leaving a moment throughout the album for a breather. Each song is a distinct entity that offers variation and eager intent to punish though overall there is a similarity across the album that works, the similarity simply being Toxic Holocaust’s distinct sound. Tracks like the immense violence of the lead track and irresistible ‘Bitch’, ‘Nowhere To Run’ with dark intimidating riffs and vocal delivery reminding of early Killing Joke,  the menacing poisonous ‘I Am Disease’, and the punk thrash glory of ‘The Liars Are Burning’ with a groove that incites reactions stand out most impressively. The last of the four reminding predominantly of early punks and though not specifically the likes of Discharge and Agnostic Front come to mind.

Ending on the call to arms intent of ‘Sound The Charge’ the album is an enterprising demand on the ear with blissful chunks of thrash/metal aggression and a must for all who loves to be battered and bruised musically. Toxic Holocaust has returned to once more ignite the senses and release the primal instincts within.

RingMaster 21/12/2011

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