I Divide – Last One Standing

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Expect the healthy buzz around UK melodic rock band I Divide to take on a stronger accelerated urgency as the band unleash their debut album Last One Standing. Containing eleven impassioned anthems crafted upon poetic melodies and stirring emotionally driven energy, the album lights up ears and imagination with consummate and accomplished ease. Whether the band is providing anything new to digest can be debated, comparisons to the likes of You Me At Six, Mallory Knox, and Deaf Havana very apt, but they create a thoroughly compelling and imaginative persuasion which cannot be denied or for the most resisted. It is an album destined to thrust the band into an intensive spotlight and recruit a fervour soaked increase in fans.

Out of Exeter and formed in 2011, the band first drew attention with their nine track release What’s Worth More that same year before pushing it wider by winning of the Red Bull Bedroom Jam in 2012. This led to numerous festival appearances at the likes of Download, Slam Dunk, and Hevy soon followed by a second Download appearance and playing the Reading and Leeds Festivals. It has been an impressive emergence helped further by touring with Funeral for a Friend and their own successful headline run. The release of the single Follow Me last year helped raise a strong anticipation for the band’s album, hopes and expectations now rewarded with a masterful collection of songs and imaginative enterprise.

The aforementioned single opens up the album; the emotive vocal cries of Tom Kavanagh, ably backed by those of guitarist Josh Wreford, LOS Packshotmoving in from a distance whilst keys caress the ears around them. It is a tempered but potent coaxing which soon launches its full energy through broad rhythmic punches from Dave Mooney and the increasing tempting sonic suasion of Wreford and Henry Selley. There is little time taken by Follow Me in hooking its contagious bait into the imagination, the dark bass of tones from Kristen Hughes more reserved in their presence but an equally dramatic colour to the impressive track. As is proven by all the songs, you need to settle and really dive into the track to fully unveil all of its mature and skilful essences with the surface gloss and attractive craft only half the story.

The following Tell Me Something has a similar feel and initial premise to its predecessor and if there is any nagging thing about the album it is the closeness some tracks are to each other in sound and structure, though again a closer detailed look reveals much more. The song wraps the ears in a finely textured and smoothly flowing breeze but against that there is a great snarl to the riffs and rhythmic intent which pleasingly complements and challenges the clean blaze of vocals and sonic endeavour. Once more the infectiousness of the track commands whilst the emotive expression of the vocals and guitar designs fully engage before making way for the new single from the album, I’m Not Leaving. Opening with a ballad kissed vocal and classical like keys, the song slowly bewitches the senses until bursting with a great chorus. There is something very familiar to the virulently catchy moment, whether from having heard the song previously and not realising, its closeness to other songs, or just evidence that the band is yet to find a unique voice for itself, but it is a magnetically captivating tempting which makes the whole song.

The sturdier Monster in Me shows the variety to the band’s invention , its sinews and towering rhythmic confrontation a welcome twist in the album though with the smooth and impressive vocal delivery, the track was going nowhere else than into another thoroughly pleasing melodic rock enticement. Arguably the first really open song of inventive adventure in its songwriting it is a major highlight on the album instantly matched by the rampant Cold at the Bottom, the song another to slowly unwind its body from an emotional slow caress before charging with purpose and colourful enticement across the passions. Again there is a richer adventurous invention to the song, marked by the swift and scorching solo which only pushes the album deeper into appreciation and the rather keen appetite sparked by the album.

Living in a Hurricane keeps heat and attraction from the album high, even if it slips back into that very agreeable but more familiar stance of songs before 27 Down, featuring the excellent tones of Rebecca Need-Menear from Anavae, explores another distractive variation. In many ways it is the vocal union which seals the honours but the song is a superbly crafted and creatively presented tempting from start to finish egging a hungry licking of the lips before both  Run Away and Say It Isn’t So take over and provide a feisty emotive anthem and mellow croon respectively.

The album comes to a close with firstly the bouncy energy and eagerness of Let Go, a track which brings another virulent lure to seduce feet and passions with, and lastly the excellent Look at Me Now. The final track is thick in drama, bass and guitars uncaging shadows for the melancholic tones of Kavanagh to lay his potent narrative. Tension builds across the song, rhythms adding their haunted drive before the song rather than exploding as expected relaxes into a stable continuation of that initial portentous enveloping. The climax of the song does increase in intensity and dramatic atmospheres, its closing hand almost early Cure like. It is a tremendous end to the release which almost alone shows the depths the band can still explore and its rich potential.

Last One Standing is an album you feel you already know and have heard before but it cannot stop itself and the band being one highly enjoyable and impressive proposition… and something to firmly recommend.

Last One Standing is out now via Destroy Everything Records

http://www.idivideband.com

8.5/10

RingMaster 14/04/2014

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Villains – Self Titled

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     Showing a heart as big as its melodic invention and with energy as attention grabbing as its enterprise, the self-titled debut album from UK band Villains easily shows why there has been a richly brewing fuss about the Essex quintet. Eleven songs which stomp, infect, and croon though not necessarily in that order, the album is a vibrant and appealing slab of alternative rock from a band the country is destined to embrace. At times it scintillates with an imagination which has you catching your breath and in others simply pleases without reserve, but always the release provides a satisfaction which is lingering and full.

     Villains rose from the ‘ashes’ of Chelmsford band Never Means Maybe in 2012, an outfit with acclaimed releases and appearances at events such as Download, Sonisphere, T In The Park, and the Hevy Festival, as well as shows with the likes of Bury Tomorrow, Mallory Knox, and Enter Shikari under its belt. The five members reinvented name and sound to emerge as Villains and last year released debut single Come Out And Play, a track which was soon recruiting eager attention and praise from fans and media alike. It inspired a certain anticipation for the band’s first full-length, a hunger which is undeniably fed across the body of the album with plenty of additional flavour and quality to impress and surprise. The release is not necessarily one to really knock the passions off their feet, its sound arguably seeded in some recognisable beds, but it is an encounter to certainly leave them hungry for more.

     The band gets things off to the strongest start with The Ways I Tell Them, romping rhythms from drummer Drew Steane Cover-(500x500)stirring up the senses as the guitars of Tom McCarthy and Matt Steane have a potent strike at the air. Settling into a pacey stride with rhythms continuing to incite and the bass of Bert Forster adding its individual virulent temptation, the song is in no time working on imagination and emotions as the expressive tones of Renz Byrne glide over the sinews and melodies parading their enticements. With rigorously rousing choruses and energy to lift crowds, the track is a masterful start, the excellent backing and assisting vocals of Forster and Steane only adding to the bait.

     The following Wicked Ways makes a less striking start though is no less dramatic, the smooth voice of Byrne stroking the ears whilst guitars caress his presence. A darker bass groan adds shadows to the emotive endeavour whilst guitars and keys dazzle and evoke thoughts with a craft and adventure that accentuates the passion of the song. Though not as instantly gripping as the first, it eventually unleashes a charge of rhythms and intensity for its own anthemic tempting which soon seals the deal with the emotions. Its fine offering is matched and surpassed by the next track, The Fall. The vocal combination takes little time in charming the appetite as the emotive texture and drive of the song builds into a crescendo of passionate melody drenched heat. As already shown on the previous songs, Villains is never afraid to evolve and twist its invention as here ensuring predictability and expectations go hungry.

     We Have Capture continues the pull of the album if without matching earlier heights, its smouldering melodic embrace graceful and welcoming but veined by a muscular intent which brings again a riveting drama, whilst the following Bleed offers not for the first or last time, a Manic Street Preachers essence to its contagious hook and anthem spawning intensity. Provocative and deceptively melancholic, the song easily engages and excites before the emotive part ballad/part anthem The Light Out Lives The Star next croons and seduces the imagination. Verging on a stadium rock grandeur but honed to be just as effectively intimate, the song is a slow burner which over time climbs to stand on equal levels to the more vivaciously delivered tracks, though none really match its passion.

     The best track on the album is without doubt the previously mentioned single. Come Out And Play is simply irresistible, guitars and the grouchy bass making the first potent lure before joining the feisty drums and charging riffs to converge on the passions with a fiery and infectious gait. The singular and dual vocal delivery is outstanding and only seems to incite the sound to greater urgency and voraciousness, again the use of the word anthemic unavoidable in the face of the track’s glorious romp and persuasion. The only problem which arises is it leaves an inevitable shadow over the very potent efforts of Visions and Sinners such its triumph. To be fair the enthralling enterprise and almost antagonistic breath of the first of this pair is exceptional and stands aside its predecessor, if maybe one step back, to help forge the strongest part of the release whilst the second is coated in melody rich sonic flames around that grizzled bass tone and again compelling vocals to raise temperature and emotional concentration. Like the album as a whole, the song is a skilful draw and for personal tastes the perfect end to the album. That position though is taken by The Hardest Part, a mellow ballad breeding heart driven fire as it proceeds. It does not light similar flames in the passions but with Byrne again showing the depth and power of his voice and the song enjoyably showing the accomplished craft of the band, it is still a rich and full suasion.

   Villains, band and album is an undeniable force in the making, one already creating a deserved spotlight which you suspect will only intensify over time, especially if the band can go even further with the excellent potency of this release.

https://www.facebook.com/villainsofficial

8.5/10

RingMaster 24/02/2014

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Keeping The Fires Raging: An Interview With Rimmy Sinclair of Huron

Huron

2012 has been a mighty year for UK metallers Huron, from an impressive release to open the year through major festival successes and ending with an intense tour with one of the best metal bands around, and that is just the highlights. So when we had the opportunity for an end of year report to find out more with guitarist Rimmy Sinclair  and see what the future may hold from the band we could not ask our questions fast enough.

Hi Rimmy and welcome to The Ringmaster Review

Thanks for taking time to speak with us on the eve of what will be a busy month for you.

Looking back this past year has been a hugely successful and busy year for the band; how has it been on the inside of things and have you been able to take stock and acknowledge inside what you have achieved over the last twelve months or will the realisation come in hindsight when things ‘calm‘ down?

After a blazing summer hitting the festivals, the last thing we wanted to do was wind down! We got straight back into the studio writing the next full-length, which is currently up to about 9 or 10 tracks. We’re currently in rehearsal mode for the upcoming tour with Skindred, so there’s been about zero down time in the Huron camp lately!

Following up your album Mary Celeste of 2011, you released the excellent War Party EP earlier this year and it is fair to say the new release, certainly for us, brings an even more intense and inventive Huron?

For sure! We’ve tried to keep the element of groove in the new material but as you say with more of an Intense and progressive melodic approach, is purely the way the band is evolving we like it raw, edgy and in your face so to speak.

What has brought the new twist to your already impressive sound; is it something that naturally happened from having a new line-up or was deliberately sought?

Pretty much I reckon! Everything was very natural; Rohan (bass) and I jumped ship from a death metal band, and the sound just evolved from there. We gigged a lot with the Mary Celeste material, putting together War Party behind the scenes, trying new songs out on the road. You know, feeling out what feels right in the set. But the songs came together pretty quickly. We’d jam out a song, mess around with it until the structure felt right, made sure the song worked the lyrics, and then we’d take it straight out on the road! Generally if it feels good we go with it!

Huron 2You are known for your grooves but with the new songs even that element has found another levels, again is that something you were extra vigilant over as other aspects of your sound found a new presence and invention?

My favourite thing about working with the other guys is how wide our respective taste in music is. Sean (vocals) and Neil (guitar) are the more old school guys; the groove, the grit! Rohan, Jim (drums) and I are more rooted in modern thrash and death metal, so there’s that more technical element too. Not technical for the sake of it. Again, everything has to feel natural and feel right. We don’t force a riff or a solo or something into a song if it doesn’t need it. Having new drummer Jim on board has made the writing process for the next one a lot easier – He’s an absolute monster of a player!

I believe the EP is the first of two and also was more a promotional tool then a full on release? If so what was its purpose and did it achieve its intent as well as delivering four stunning tracks?

At the time, the two EP thing was something we really wanted to do, because it meant we could focus on a handful of awesome tunes at a time, then get back out onto the live scene, and repeat. But the pace has really picked up for us this year, and what feels natural right now is to put out a new full length. War Party was a real fun project to do and I’m so glad we did it; I think it firmly marks the beginning of the evolution of Huron! But we’ve grown so much because of the experiences in the last year, and I don’t think we can sum that up in another four tracks. I think maybe down the line when it feels right we could bring out a ‘War Party II’, I’d like to for sure, but right now we’re focusing on a full-length.

One can presume the songs on the release give an insight to the creative intent and sound of Huron ahead, or are there still more surprises in store for us?

It’s only the beginning, haha! I think since Jim joined the fold bringing his incredible technical abilities, it’s inspired us to push ourselves, and that’s what we’re bringing to the table on the next album. We pushed up a level on War Party and we’re pushing further on the next one. Right now there’s no restrictions, right now everything is pretty much balls-to-the-wall metal. There’s some fast tunes, some real stompy tunes, and there’s some really-fucking-fast tunes! I think people will be surprised!

 We alluded to your busy month ahead at the start which refers of course as you mentioned earlier to your series of gigs around the UK with the brilliant Skindred, easily our fav band here, how did that come about and have excitement levels peaked yet?

It’s real exciting; we can’t wait to hit the road. We’re in the studio rehearsing rigorously to keep our chops hot! Ultimately as Huron was getting bigger and moving faster the next logical step was to get management. He’s helped push in the right direction and we’ve accomplished a lot under his guidance

Skindred appear to be a band that is eager to help out and support emerging underground bands, have you been fortunate to feel that Huron 3before?

We’ve opened for some awesome bands, the likes of Evile and Alestorm. Most recently was Onslaught, some of the true fathers of thrash! And that was a home town show too which made it more special. They’re a real sound bunch of guys, just doing what they love, just like everyone else in the game.

 Am I right in thinking most of the dates are already sold out?

They certainly are, but from what I’ve seen some venues are releasing extra tickets due to popular demand! I know for certain Plymouth’s ‘White Rabbit’ has, and that’s awesome because that’s our home town. The home town shows are always incredible. So act damn fast if you want to get a ticket!

What can those lucky enough to be seeing this great line-up expect to see and hear from Huron?

Ale-induced vomiting. Ha! Expect whiplash and bang-overs! Plenty of mosh pit anthems; we like watching people tear each other apart! It’s all about having a good time.

Returning to earlier in the year, you have also made major impressions, for great critical acclaim, with your live performances at the likes of the Download, Bloodstock and Bulldog Bash festivals. It has been a heady ride one guesses, what has been the biggest highlight personally, the one moment which sums up the great year for you?

For me it was Download. Just walking out on the stage, seeing that many people and getting such an awesome reaction… it was like, this is my dream. This is what I what I set out to do when I was 13 and I wanted to be Kirk Hammett! The festival run this summer was a blast; Bulldog and Bloodstock was a cracking weekend! On top of playing, we got to watch some great bands too!

As if this has not all been enough haha, you have also just released your video for the track Fight For Your Life which is taken from the War Party EP. Can you tell us about it, who you recorded it with, where it was recorded and the mixing in of live footage, etc…?

Huron have worked for some time now with Dandelion Wars on the production and editing of the music videos. They’re awesome guys, got great visions and they’re musicians themselves which always helps! It was filmed at the Devonport Amateur Boxing Academy in Plymouth. The manager and boxers from the club were all sound dudes, a little terrifying when you’re watching them spar up close, but yeah!

All the tracks on the EP are strong contenders for a video, what did you feel Fight For Your Life had over the other three?

I think the message behind the song is very powerful, you only have to listen to the lyrics to sort of get inside the story, but everyone is entitled to their own interpretation. Plus it’s the opener on the EP, it’s the track everybody hears first, so it’s got to be a good solid track that stands on its own two feet, and I think it does that.

After the Skindred tour, what is next up for Huron?

Probably a little break for Christmas, and then straight back into writing

Any plans so far you can announce for 2013?

The most important thing for us is going to be the new full length, but we’ve got a video for ‘Mercy Killing’ coming out and plans for more videos too. We’ve got a whole bunch of surprises but you’ll have to keep an eye out for those!

Again many thanks for sparing time to bring us up to date on a great year for Huron.

Thank you!

Any last words you would like to leave us with?

We’ll see you in the pit!!

And lastly what sounds have you lined up for the tour bus for the tour?

Personally, a whole load of new metal albums! The new Faceless, Periphery, Cattle Decapitation, Sylosis… on reflection 2012 has been a cracking year for metal!

The RingMaster Review 05/12/2012

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

The Morning After – Legacy

Before second and new album Legacy, UK Rock band The Morning After had already excited and drawn enthused acclaim and a fervent following from fans to the media, but with this release they will surely take classic rock/AOR to new heights amongst rock listening audiences. With sure exuberance, blatant teasing showmanship, and a definite confidence that their sounds will light up anyone’s day, the band and their album have rounded off a strong year of rock in distinctly fine style.

Fusing classic 80’s metal, melodic hard rock, and NWOBHM with shards of harsher metal and pop the Essex quartet create a sound that is buoyant, energetic and intriguing to any ear. For rock fans Legacy will be manna from heaven and even for the blacker more violently veined tastes as here there is more than enough substantial quality and dark veins running through much of the album to ensure solid attention and satisfaction.

Since their debut album of 2009 You Can’t Hurt Steel, the band has demanded and received impressive attention and support from the UK to even more immediate adulation in Japan. The UK was slower but in determined fashion caught on to the band too thanks to the release and the band’s explosive performances on tours and shows with the likes of Viking Skull and Blessed By A Broken Heart throughout the UK and Europe, plus a scorching performance at Download in 2010. Legacy released via Rising Records will thrust the band even further into the hearts of fans new and old as they take the melodic rock sounds that they have become known for and matured them with songwriting that is intelligent, engaging and captivating. 

The brief title track leads in the album with a glorious and immediately mesmerising harmony of voices before handing over to ‘Into The Fire’ and its vibrant classic rock/hair metal sounds. Addictive choruses, lively melodies and irrepressible energy thrust the song happily into the ear and though the song is not bursting with anything particularly unexpected the stabs of metal/hardcore intensity and coarse supporting vocals add substance that lifts the track. ‘Limit’ carries on in the same mould though stays firmly on the side of melodies with scorching guitar play and solo from Phil Maher and Sam Ryder. Vocally the blend of voices from the guitarists and bassist Gary Stone are a seamless union with the lead vocals of Ryder never less than impressive and of high quality.

The single from the album ‘America’ is another straight forward slice of melodic rock and though understandable why it is the lead track to draw people in it is probably the weakest and most predictable song on the Legacy. It certainly is not bad just a little dull, especially when in the context of the album against the likes of ‘The Witch Is In My Back’ with its creative variety and wonderful additional strings, the meaty and aggressive ‘Rest In Pieces’ and ‘These Hills Have Eyes’, plus by far the album’s best song ‘Stream Of Stars’. The last of these is worth checking out the album for alone, it being easily one of if not the best song to arise this year from anyone. Incisive guitars, probing basslines from Stone, and with drummer Jake Booth skilfully directing the affair this ten minute epic glory of metal and hypnotic melodies reveals there is so much more to the band creatively and in their ability to write stunning songs. In some ways it leaves a little taste of disappointment for the other songs on Legacy, in that though they are all fine and impressive creations they could have been much more on the evidence of ‘Stream Of Stars’.

Legacy is a joyful first rate album with a proud unbridled desire to bring rampant, verging on overblown, controlled glorious melodic rock to the senses. Even ears that crave intrusive pummelling will fall into its charms. The Morning After have created a masterpiece for classic/melodic rock fans that will have them drooling, and for the rest of us they have given one of the more agreeable and intriguing albums this year.

RingMaster 08/12/2011

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Betraeus – Towards the Sun

Since their formation in 2009 Manchester quartet Betraeus has beaten a strong and impressive path with their progressive death metal sounds and devastating live performances, pulling in ever increasing acclaim and eager support. The release of their debut EP Towards The Sun via Siege Of Amida Records should cement their already immense foundation and thrust the band far into the world with its unbridled destructive power and distinctive varied ingredients.

The two years since the young band started to unleash their creativity has seen Betraeus from laying waste to their local area going on to slay audiences on the New Blood Stage at the 2010 Bloodstock Open Air festival and this year inspire and impress with one of the events stunning performances on The Pepsi Max stage at Download Festival. Towards The Sun caps off a great year with its release across all digital platforms and is sure to get the pulse racing for not only fans of the likes of Opeth, Death, Unearth, and Insomnium but all metal fuelled enthusiasts.

The foursome of vocalist and guitarist Christian Sykes, lead guitarist Eddie Johnson, bassist Benjamin Edwards, and Paddy Monaghan on drums, strike hard and relentlessly with crippling riffs and menacing intensity. Their use and fusing of elaborate and intricate progressive guitars, tempered melodies, and emotive atmospheric sounds takes their music into a sphere of its own, giving the band a uniqueness that few come near to sound wise.

The title track opens up the EP, an epic in length and stature, the near ten minute length unveiling the band’s might and creative skills. A rampant array of punishing riffs, senses splitting rhythms, and haunting harmonies to immerse deep within, the track displays scant regard for mercy as it ruptures the ear with its diverse and intense sounds. Even the melodic passion led break where Sykes switches from his growls to an emotive clean attack twists the senses with its striking effect. The song is so varied that to be over critical one could accuse it of losing a little focus in its flow during its length especially when put against the edited version of Towards the Sun which closes the release which feels tighter, but that is being picky.  

Frustrate Recluse’ comes next with a slightly less varied approach and with a firmly favoured death metal assault. Ferocious and intent on damage Betraeus leave nothing standing in their wake with Sykes snarling out the lyrics over the bestial and angry sounds. Though maybe not the most creative of the tunes on show its urgent aggression and skilful powerful play sees it shine most of all.

The variety the band brings is openly evident on ‘Blossom Into The Void’, a partly acoustic track with engaging and unpredictable play against smooth and expressive clean vocals. With an Opeth flavouring the song shows the band is more than capable of making graceful sounds just as they are in breaking down walls, each direction and spice they use equally effective in commanding their audience.

Two lives tracks ‘Obsolete’ and ‘Locust’ complete the release. Taken from their 2010 performance at the Bloodstock Open Air festival it is no surprise listening to the songs how much they impressed at the event and Download this year, the evidence that if there is one metal show to attend its one with Betraeus on the bill.

Towards the Sun is one of the strongest debuts from any band this year, its diversity and extreme musical skill an essential investigation. The other great thing about the release is if Betraeus are this good now the future promises something very special.

RingMaster 11/11/2011

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