The Bendal Interlude – Reign of the Unblinking Eye


Attempting to build on the reputation and acclaim earned through their previous clutch of EPs, British metallers The Bendal Interlude unleash their debut album; a cauldron of sludge, stoner, and blues with psych and thrash metal to sear and ignite the senses. The release is a beast of a proposition; an attention grabber reinforcing and pushing the already firm stature of the Liverpool quartet but maybe one not quite seeing the band going far enough with the new bold elements of flavour and imagination to steer them away from similarly designed offerings over recent times. Nevertheless Reign of the Unblinking Eye is a fiercely enticing and enjoyably rousing slab of predacious riffs, salacious grooves, and thumping rhythmic aggression.

Drawing on inspirations from bands such as Melvins, Crowbar, and Cathedral, The Bendal Interlude have increasingly drawn fans and attention through a quartet of releases, starting with an early Demo followed by the Foal Recordings EP in 2010, a Self-Titled EP the following year, and the Odourama EP in 2013, as well as a ferocious live presence which has seen the band share stages with the likes of Sunn O))), Earth, Orange Goblin, COC, Church of Misery, Red Fang and more. They have also made highly successful appearances at festivals like Hammerfest, Sonisphere, and Desertfest to persistently lure keen spotlights to their emergence.

For Reign of the Unblinking Eye, The Bendal Interlude took a new tact in its creation; guitarist Stu Taylor explaining recently, “We took a shift in direction when writing for the album Reign of The Unblinking Eye. The songs are much more elaborate and have a lot more going on sound-wise than previous releases. We played with time signatures, guitar harmonies, key changes, even laying down a 10-part resonator guitar part. It is by far the heaviest but also most dynamic thing we’ve written to date.” His words are quickly backed up by the album and a collection of songs which in contrast to the “abstract collection of ideas and imagery based around loose themes” which coloured previous releases, lyrically carry a more “autobiographical approach”.

art_RingMasterReviewBuckfast For Breakfast opens the album, an easily relatable repetitive vocal sample the spark to a wall of cantankerous riffs and rapier like rhythms. It is a senses trespassing confrontation, swiftly bound and veined by wiry grooves with richly engaging toxicity to their wandering sonic hands. The raw vocal squalling of Nat Gavin adds to the intrusive hostility tempering the melodic flirtation and the instinctive swing to the track’s stalking gait. It is an ear gripping start firmly backed by the blues intoxication and fiery rock ‘n’ roll of Losing Things. With Gavin’s caustic delivery, tracks are inevitably going to challenge with attitude loaded animosity yet as proven here, The Bendal Interlude merge it skilfully with a melodic/stoner prowess and addictive sonic contagion which gives every assault a captivating and inviting personality.

Next up is The Unblinking Eye and its initial electronically atmospheric suggestiveness which the track evolves into its own individual stomp of classic/groove metal fuelled ferociousness. It recruits body and imagination with consummate ease, the virulence of the grooves and infectious swing and lead hook of the track swiftly installing it as a major highlight within the album. The Bendal Interlude are rocking like a beast on heat in song and album, sparking similar reactions in the instincts and spirit of the listener.

Efram’s Hands provides a brooding groove entangled landscape of ravenous shadows and barbarous energy straight after whilst Pint of Bodies grumbles and rumbles with sonic and rhythmic rabidity whilst infusing a scent of enterprise not too removed from glam rock. Subsequently descending on the senses with a Down meets Cathedral like animosity before shifting again into an evocative melodic calm, it and its predecessor both whip up more greed for the album’s trespass before Creeks Gigantic prowls in with a thunderous rhythmic swagger led by the bass groove of Tommy Lloyd quickly matched by the resourceful craft and adventure of Taylors’ invention on guitar strings. Given further incendiary bite by the spiky beats of Dave Archer, the track is an imposingly catchy and intrusive weave of contrasting and dynamic textures finding kinship in the tracks’ vocal irritability and tempestuous air.

Anthemic and tenaciously delivered rhythms again lead an addictive and predictably groove infested persuasion as Triumph of Fortitudo steps in with bruising intensity and Cancer Bats like punk lined antagonism before stepping aside for the more merciful but equally commanding rock ‘n roll of The Block. Drama fuels every crawling riff and the doom coated breath which soaks a track layered with acidic grooving and vocal rancor. Maybe not as striking on personal tastes as other tracks within Reign of the Unblinking Eye, it still leaves satisfaction full; success sought and easily found by the closing emotional and creative animus of R.I.P.  An at times corrosive venture through varied styles and flavours within a core heavy rock storm, the song is a fascinating and increasingly impressing end to a similarly impacting release.

As suggested earlier, The Bendal Interlude could have dared to push their imagination even further but every play of Reign of the Unblinking Eye certainly reveals new twists within the all-consuming invasion of sound. Time and attention only benefits an appreciation of an instantly pleasing album which has the psyche and passions enslaved by crucial grooves in no time; a success no one can avoid or dismiss.

Reign of the Unblinking Eye is out now via Black Bow Records @

Pete RingMaster 01/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Monsterworks – Universe


Universe Band

   It feels like just a mere breath ago that New Zealand metallers Monsterworks released the outstanding Earth, an album which took the listener on an enthralling journey through time and a continually expanding sound, in flavour and textures. Now the London, UK based quartet push the adventure and theme found on the last release to further absorbing depths with Universe, a seven track epic which assaults, seduces, and envelops the imagination.   

  Whereas previous album Earth took on the concept of our planet and its flight from birth to death, Monsterworks takes the next epic step and explores the lifecycle of the Universe in their new incitement. Vocalist/guitarist Jon gave a richer explanation about the release recently, “This is our follow up to Monsterworks :: Earth from last year.  We wanted to top ourselves conceptually, so how to surpass an album about the life cycle of Earth from birth to death?  It could only be an album about the life cycle of the Universe from birth to death.  At least it started out that way with lyrics exploring big bang to heat death, but it gets a little philosophical along the way considering the path mankind might take in its evolution.  It is a bloody long time until the last black hole evaporates.”  Like its predecessor the album provides a thick and complex presence and with each trip unveils more levels and corners to immerse within. Equally like Earth, the new release reaps the essences of a wealth of metal and heavy rock styles to create a tapestry of unpredictability and intrigue around a similarly creative narrative. Whether Universe rivals Earth’s triumph can be debated but as a sister companion in an epic adventure it leaves the imagination alive and passions engaged.

    The Eat Lead and Die released album opens up the journey with its title track, its emergence from a distant realm gentle and Universe Starchildinviting as the guitars unwind sonic tendrils and beats provide a forming heart for the piece. The vocals also come in a mellow and harmonic breeze which washes over and wraps around the ears until an explosion of passionate energy and rhythmic penetration brings everything into intensive focus. The vocals subsequently veer with almost wild abandon from clean to a Rob Halford like wail and then into a bestial predation, twisting and evolving from there on in like the music around them. As mentioned each song reveals more of its depths as numerous encounters are embraced, the first track seemingly having patience in its declaration to offer a fresh aspect to every immersion into its impressive flight. With the wealth of styles employed in its maze of invention and sound, song and album fluctuates in success depending on personal tastes, but never relinquishes the strength and potency of its initial temptation across the vast landscape.

    The following Grandiose is a tempestuous storm from its first seconds, guitars and rhythms a bruising enticement driven by equally rapacious vocals. As the first, it also flares up and twists with demonic efficiency to leave expectations a wasted exercise and imagination enflamed. The progressive core of the track provides a magnetic canvas but it is the almost carnivorous fire and heat of the cosmic hues which thrill as they lure the emotions on a provocative and satisfying plunge into celestial turbulence, even if the fade-out at the end is less pleasing though it does help suggest the unlimited expanse of the scenery.

     The touch of man brings a more intimate aspect to Voyager, its gorgeous entrance with beauty clad guitar and vocal harmonies mesmeric in its tempting. The imaginative hooks and twists of guitar invention add to the mystery and exploratory intent of the song as it soars through peaceful and more intensive realms. It is a scintillating ride bringing the album to a towering pinnacle which is never surpassed though The Bridge gives it a formidable go with its raw and fiery venture into the unknown. With a blackened air to its voracious malevolence, the track threatens and entices as it treads into new spatial waters. At times it is an uncomfortable but always a thoroughly riveting investigation which is as thrilling as it is intimidating.

     The collision of thrash and heavy metal at the first bluster of Extropy makes an instantly contagious ride, a rhythmic recruitment irresistible as guitars and bass carve a sinew driven torrent of enterprise and intensive endeavour. It is a song which at first pleased without much more, but given the time and companionship it turns into another major highlight which simply exhausts and scintillates. Its successor Heat Death is similar in that it too was not as instant in its persuasion compared to the earlier tracks but equally worked away to convince and excite, though not to the same potency and depth as the previous song. At ten minutes it is a slightly demanding coaxing but with elegant keys and melodic flames which lick at the senses with tenderness and hope reaped caresses, the song seizes keen attention and emotional companionship which never wavers especially as it expels acidic sonic scythes across a caustic energy in its latter half.

   The excellent Outside Time brings the album to a mighty close, its multi-flavoured ever turning body of sound and adventure pure captivation. With a skilled manipulation of thoughts and emotions, it is a towering incitement concluding another outstanding exploit from Monsterworks. Though personally the album misses igniting the depth of passion as Earth achieved, Universe is undeniably a piece of sonic alchemy which leaves the listener involved and excited on numerous levels; another journey from Monsterworks impossible to enthuse loudly over.


RingMaster 11/03/2014

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Monsterworks – Earth


Certainly not an album you can fully absorb and investigate on one, two, even a third listen, Earth the new release from New Zealand metallers Monsterworks is a towering enthralling journey through time and invention. Fusing almost every metal style you can imagine into fluid and seamless soundscapes which suggest and paint more imaginative portraits in a few minutes of descriptive notes than can be found in a thousand words, the band has come up with one of this year’s major evocations. It is a masterful release which reveals and rewards much more with each eager encounter.

Now London, UK based, Monsterworks has repeatedly stretched their and the listener’s boundaries since 2000 debut album Dimensional Urgency right through 5 further albums, with the latter releases especially The God Album and last year the sensational Man :: Instincts EP, which was our introduction to the band, venturing deeper into an ever expanding creative ingenuity. The EP, now listening to leading to this seventh full length release, was definitely a portent of things to come with Earth the stunning evolution of its craft. Released via Eat Lead and Die Music, the album to simplify things is progressive metal at its most imaginative and potent, but a release which fuses almost every essential essence of the vast realm of metal into a soundtrack covering the journey of our planet from the first union of rock and minerals left over from a supernova explosion forming a globe orbiting an infant star through to the entrance of man and beyond. The album provides a masterful sonic narrative to a chronologically progressing theme with all the melodic colours and sonic explication needed to captivate and incite the fullest imagination.

The album opens with From Dust and Gravity, the track from a quiet unbothered ambience slowly emerging to bring solid slabs of MW_Earth_album_coverroving rhythms and heated guitar beckoning together before scorching the air around them with great sonically squalling vocals and a heightened rise in intensity and energy. At this point of contact there is a heavy/classic metal mix with an almost post hardcore intensity, an At The Drive In fire wrapping the song before it explores a stronger progressive and melodic metal temptation. To be honest like with all the tracks it is hard if not impossible to keep account of all the irresistible twists and flavours employed, and would certainly take all day to present here for the whole album, but every turn and sweeping venture is skilled and a natural fit to what came before and is to come which really is all you need to know..

The following Late Heavy Bombardment is a heavily weighted confrontation, vocals and rhythms coarse and thunderous with a thrash lilt to the riffs and a predacious tone to the guitars and their sonic descripts. A mix of light and blackened shadows the track feels like it is a dawning from within the dark, dangers and foreboding still rife but being seeded with adventure and new beginnings. Its intensive provocation makes way for the wonder and melodic warmth of Last Universal Ancestor, its opening tender touch an evolution of the hints in its predecessor before erupting into a rigorous sonic jeopardy with the guitars sculpting a web of sonic intrigue and fire bred fervour licking around the tale of the song and ear with a classic metal fuelled tongue. The vocals are exceptional, a delivery and scope as diverse as the sounds being brewed and perfectly in league with their intent.

Both the scintillating call of Oxygenation with its black and progressive not forgetting heavy metal simmering cocktail of invention, and the rapacious aggressively impacting Powered by Fate impressively take thoughts and emotions through the widest range of sounds and experiences with the first of the pair arguably the highest pinnacle of the album. It is hard not to be further impressed by how each track expertly represents or at least suggests the state and climate of the growing world at the point they explore so powerfully and one assumes accurately, as shown further by the brief but destructive Bookended by Extinction and the excellent Aeon of Man, two songs which thrust the senses and imagination into a cauldron of the seemingly annihilatory transitions between stages of Earth’s growth and the emergence of the beauty of man and life respectively. The second of the two songs is another major highlight, the track a raging festival and dance of energy and enterprise with a stoner swagger and hard rock groove marking the ‘birth’ and a blacker metal suggesting the rabid hunger and shadows which equally come in tow.

The album is completed by the nine minute expanse of the title track, the song like a summary of all that came before and brought the planet to the completion of the previous song as well as a prelude to the next brewing chapter in evolution. It brings an outstanding album to the perfect close emotionally and creatively, leaving the listener the only option to learn more by taking Earth’s rangy exploration again…and again. In regard to being one of the albums of the year, it and Monsterworks certainly make a compelling case.


RingMaster 30/08/2013

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True Widow – Circumambulation


One of the strongly anticipated albums to be unveiled this year, Circumambulation the new release from US band True Widow, is just a masterful alchemy of shadows and light filtered through equally enveloping sounds. Towering in intensity, seductive in beauty, and consuming in atmospheric toxicity, the eight track album leaves the listener exhausted, invigorated, and submerged in its and their own emotional depths for a full aural and mental exercise.

The third album from the band has a sound which defies labelling, though True Widow themselves term it stonedaze. The trio merge a stirring mix of drone, post-rock, and shoegaze but continue to add further unique additives as their creativity evolves. The new release breeds further the essences of the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Baroness, and Earth into their own distinct flavour but into the brew also incorporates the pop warmth of a House Of Love and delicious distortions of a Sonic Youth. It is an irresistible alchemy that takes the listener on a journey musically and emotionally, a mesmeric and at times gnarly trip that explores the textures and extremes of thoughts and experiences.

The Relapse Records release in many ways follows on in the same vein of previous albums True Widow (2008) and As High As circumambulation_1400The Highest Heavens And From The Center To The Circumference Of The Earth (2011), but there is also a sense that the trio from Dallas is refining their imagination from deeper depths within their rich invention. As soon as opening track Creeper emergences from a destructive ambience with a wiry guitar groove twisting around the ear soon joined by the plodding thick bass call and crisp rhythms, the drift into undiscovered sinister realms is an evolving fresh encounter. The track is a slow stalking evocation teasing and intimidating around that almost fifties like groove call whilst the vocals of guitarist Dan Philips and aside him bassist Nicole Estill, bring a hue and warmth to the melodic persuasion that the senses just revel in. As the drums of Timothy Starks drive and cage the portentous breath of the guitar alongside the tenebrific air of the song wrapped in sultry heat and devouring ominousness, the track lies as a riveting contagion that works on every pore, sense, and thought.

The following S:H:S has a tall order to live up to the might of its predecessor but as the distressed ambience slowly swarms around scuzz lined guitar teasing and rhythmic evocation the band again has its recipient falling into a rich and thick weave of tempered aural fire. It is not as dramatic as the first song but walks the same plateau of temptation and potency as it creatively explores its sonic narrative on the way towards the best track on the album.

From its first sizzle of guitar beckoning there is a sweltering heat to Four Teeth. The song accosts the senses whilst simultaneously guiding them into a rapture which is truly ignited when the wonderful tones of Estill take the vocal lead and kiss the ear with harmonic beauty against the resonating flumes of sonic vapour pouring from every guitar note. It is a scintillating steamy embrace with roughened skin to its molten touch that simply leaves you lost in a pop inspired stifling haze. Another song which impacts on every facet of the emotions and body, it is a perfect slice of finely crafted inspirational rock pop brilliance.

As the imposing Numb Hand with its slowly burning grunge tinged labour and the equalling lumbering but darker brooding Trollstigen declare their testing intent and hypnotic stances, the album just sinks deeper and firmer into the passions, the second of the pair a predacious crawl into the psyche with the vocals of Estill again a merciless temptress. It uses repetition and doom spawned ambience as ripe sonic fruit within its bait and towers as another caliginous pinnacle on Circumambulation.

From the more than decent instrumental I:M:O, the release closes with the sweltering climes of firstly HW:R, a track coasting through southern rock heat with a tropical surf rock coaxing and melodic elegance, and finally the consuming and dense Lungr. The song slips into the darkest corners of mind and heart but lights the way with a beacon of melodic majesty and reverberating sonic imagination that leaves the listener immersed in enthrallment.

Circumambulation is sensational and though it arguably lacks the hunger to go to the very darkest places it is one of the most rewarding and thrilling albums to enwomb the senses this year.


RingMaster 23/07/2013

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Master Musicians Of Bukkake – Far West


This is our first venture with Master Musicians Of Bukkake but if their previous releases are as potent and exhilarating as Far West this will only be the beginning of a full and intimate adventure. Following on from their Totem series of albums, the six track expanse of sensually provocative and emotively empowering sounds is a mesmeric yet at times intimidating course through dramatic climes, perception enlightening landscapes, and an incitement to the exploration of personal  and emotional depths. It is meditative and challenging but most of all grippingly enthralling.

Master Musicians of Bukkake is a group of musicians from the Pacific Northwest shrouded in mystery but said to have been originally founded in 2003 and featuring members of Earth, Burning Witch, Grails, The Accüsed, and Asva. Their sounds are seeded and derived from ceremonial music which the band evolves into its own epically tantalising and emotion involving presence. Following their first release Visible Sign of the Invisible Order in 2005, the then septet explored the psyche with their Totem trilogy, Totem One emerging in 2009. We are told the three albums, Two out in 2010 and Three the following year, were different beasts to the new album yet equally as imagination stretching but without a personal experience thoughts can only suggest and tease to their grandeurs using the magnetic beauty of Far West as the template.

The new Important Records album is a merger of psychedelic coloured palettes with progressive sonic brushes all involving hues of atmospheric and soul enriched commentary to their designs. It is a startling and impossibly contagious tempest of inventive shamanistic textures all wrapping and encroaching heart and mind sculpting compelling and continually evolving feelings and narratives within their own creative arts. To be honest Far West is not that easy to portray in words certainly its intensive persuasion and effect on the emotive core of the listener, but bear with us as we do our best to relay the might and majesty of the encounter.

A fall through sinister and menacing sonic air brings opener White Mountain Return into view, its rasping breath soon speared and making way for a bone resonating call of repetitive drums and electronic niggling. With percussion adding inciting suggestions to the already hypnotic hold of the track, the guitars stroke coaxingly as a flight into wide and seductive endeavours beckons. The listener at this point is standing on the edge of an epic cliff top poised to take a leap of faith into the arms of the melodic winds and warm yet mysterious realms of the song. Once into the aerial tide of energy and creative breezes with hawk like sonic strikes keeping shadows a constant threat, thoughts and emotions are triggered into an almost exhausting stretch of imagination and visual evocation.

It is a stunning start seamlessly transforming into the equally compelling γη-νομος / Gnomi. Within a few melodic caresses mellow vocals add their masterful fascination to this new stance of adventure, the hot teasing air of the track kissing the senses along the sultry walk now being undertaken in the imagination. As the track plays with the listener’s invention, igniting further emprise within their simultaneously emerging story, the song graces the passions like a mix between The Doors, Caravan, and Helldorado. It is a western lilted submergence leading to the darker but no less intensively tempting fires to come.

Arche stalks the ear with a drone bred persuasion, the rhythmic framing and compulsion soon joined by the swarming intent and breath of scenery carving sounds. The narcotic call of the track is a virulent captivation, its hold and enticement increasing with every persistent energetic yet funereal beat and each melancholic but warm melodic beckon. It is a stroll through a menacing cavern of doubts and shadows but with a silent rich lure from Cave Of Light: The Prima Materia waiting ahead to envelope magnetised senses. Underground electronic bubbles of light breath energy into the cavernous ambience of the new song with again beats making their descriptive tale before the stunning mix of vocals, sky soaring harmonies, and Gregorian chant like flames court and sway with the equally irresistible guitar and brass fuelled beauty. It is a sensational piece within nothing but outstanding epics of songwriting and vision, a track which places its recipients into a hall of ‘gods’ visually whilst taking an inward tour of personal depths and emotions.

The album closes with firstly You Are A Dream Like Your Dreamer: The Dark Peace, a piece of music which stands within its own distinctly impacting conflict of dark and light, and lastly the enchanting Circular Ruins, a track based on the Jorge Louis Borges story of the same title. Far West is a deliciously evocative and emotionally incendiary piece of work which is intense and outstanding as a whole or as individual adventures, either having the same strength and impact on thoughts and passions…one of the albums of the year? We think so!

Master Musicians of Bukkake is:

David Abramson: percussion, drums, tef, shaman shakers, green fog

B.R.A.D: percussion, vocals, candles, sights unseen

Don McGreevy: percussion, drums, 12 string electric and acoustic guitar, mellotron, bass, brass arrangements

Randall Dunn: korg analog synths, mellotron, divining rod, water seeking foolishness

Milky: electric and acoustic guitar, synths, vocals, mossy fuzz

Timm Mason: electric guitar, serge modular synth, electric bass, insects


Additional “Far West ” Congregation and guests:

Samantha Boshnak: trumpet, flugelhorn

Naomi Siegal: trombone

White Mountian Voices: Nils Petterson, Rabia Quazi, Richie Rico

Keith Lowe: contra bass

Craig Flory: baritone and tenor saxophone


RingMaster 13/06/2013

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