Blackwork – Impasse EP

Blackwork_RingMasterReview

There has been an increasingly loud whisper in recent times casting good things about Scottish metallers Blackwork and now with the release of their debut EP, you can expect it to become a more forceful roar. Impasse uncages five tracks of ferocious multi-flavoured metal which maybe falls slightly short of a dramatic startling of ears but easily sparks the imagination and incites a lingering appetite to hear more of the band’s inventive sound.

The Glasgow bred Blackwork was formed in 2014 and quickly lured local attention with a three-track demo and an uncompromising and invigorating live presence which over time has seen the quintet play with the likes of Xerath, Bloodshot Dawn, and Exist Immortal among many. Last year saw the band begin work on the writing and creation of the Impasse EP and its certainly memorable fusion of everything from groove, progressive, and varied strains of extreme metal to hardcore and other equally fierce flavourings. The result of the band’s intensive time crafting and honing their release and sound provides, from start to finish, a commanding and attention grabbing wide spread introduction to their mouth-watering potential and imagination fuelled exploits.

art_RingMasterReviewAlias opens up the EP, emerging on a melodic breeze within a warm atmospheric coaxing. In no time imposing rhythms and strands of wiry guitar badger and wrap ears as the track’s aggressive and intensive nature takes over. The growling tones of Josh Graham swiftly add their expressive weight to the proposal, whilst simultaneously a swinging swagger, led by the captivating bassline sprung by Tony Dunn, unveils its infectiousness as magnetic grooves and hooks inventively sculpted by guitarists Greig Cunningham and Chris Dunn align with their own caustic riffery. There is a touch of Lamb Of God to the track, maybe a whiff of Devildriver at times too, yet every twist and turn revels something if not majorly unique certainly individual to the writing and imagination of Blackwork

It is a great start matched by latest single Filthist, a similarly structured but instantly more volatile and antagonistic incitement for ears and appetite. There is a venomous toxicity to the grooves and melodic suggestiveness of the song; a belligerence as open in vocals and the barbarous nature of the rhythms too. Equally there is a punkish element to the track; that hardcore essence pleasing ears as it gets woven to the adventurous maelstrom of diverse sounds and intrusive textures.

Unguided needs barely a second to take its hold of ears and imagination; the initial hard rap of Chris Vezza’s beats breeding a predacious collection of hungry riffs and prowling grooves quickly straddled by the vocal animus of Graham, he in turn backed as potently by the band. With slithers of progressive and folkish resourcefulness within its rousing and cantankerous onslaught, the song is an irresistible tempest taking best track honours. Mellow emotive passages bound in poetic melodies only add to the fascination and intriguing nature of the track; merging perfectly with a tempestuous heart and the song’s vicious ferocity and touch.

The EP is completed by firstly the aggressively flirtatious Rust with its again great mix of metal styles and the releases’ title track which maybe made the least dramatic impression on personal tastes yet never allowed a moment to pass where ears and imagination were not fully involved in its creative blaze. The final pair were equally slow burners on ears compared to their successfully more instant predecessors but each only rose to captivate and reinforce the EP’s impressive persuasion.

Impasse is a powerful and increasingly enjoyable first look at Blackwork; a release stocked with the potential to stir up greater and broader attention the way of the band and set them off to greater creative heights.

The Impasse EP is out now @ http://blackworkband.bandcamp.com/releases

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Pete RingMaster 29/03/2016

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This Is Shark Country – Chances

This Is Shark Country - Promo Photo_RingMaster Review

As you would imagine from a band name like This Is Shark Country, there is a real bite and unbridled tenacity to their sound; voracity bred in the fusion of technical metal and hardcore which the Berkshire quintet is increasingly becoming more and more acclaimed for. New EP, Chances, is further evidence to that fact and of the growing potency and potential the band embraces in their striking creativity; it a roar of four tracks fuelled by ire and sculpted with imagination seeded craft.

Formed in 2011, This Is Shark Country has also become renowned for their live hunger and prowess, a presence taking in most of the UK whilst sharing stages with the likes of ‘68 (ex-Norma Jean), Nexilva, Palm Reader, Exist Immortal and many more. Their debut album Saviour was uncaged in 2013 to keen fan and in some quarters, potent media attention. Taking a year to make, the Newbury band now unleashes Chances, an encounter revealing greater strength and invention in the band’s sound and songwriting which suggests that This Is Shark Country is a band bringing new adventure and striking promise to the UK hardcore scene.

This Is Shark Country - Chances Artwork_RingMaster ReviewThe EP opens with Sitting Pretty and within a breath the guitars of Ben Mercer and Nick Blair are spinning a web of technical prowess and enticing expression, the bass of Jamie Holmes no slouch in gripping attention either with his lure of dark strings. Swiftly the song is a climatic affair, emotion and sound colluding as vocalist Oli Cole lays down an antagonism of voice and narrative within the blossoming tempest. Calm and elegant moments also add to the temptation of the song, their shining passages still prowled by the predatory tones of the bass within a constant rhythmic web swung by drummer Chris Sheen. The track is a potent and welcomingly unpredictable start to the EP but soon eclipsed by its successor.

Ghosting is reeled in on a punk infused hook, a bait of rock ‘n’ roll seared in gripping sonic endeavour. Continuing to entice, its lead in grows into a noise/alternative rock turbulence with rhythms a carnal attraction as the guitars create a virulently caustic rain of riveting enterprise. Though no lightweight when it comes to skills, the song is a more out and out rocker than the technical compulsion crafted by its predecessor, and in many ways, it is that impressively crafted punk ‘n’ roll fury which sees the release breach another plateau.

The EP’s title track is a similarly cultured blaze of hardcore contagion, though this time the djent sparked zeal of the band is entangled in the tendrils of melodic acidity and sonic imagination shaping the track. Of course Cole is straddling all with his undiluted bellow, his angst soaked delivery unafraid to tweak its attack to ensure even there some level of variety adds to the drama of the lively incitement. Becoming more antagonistic and bruising with every minute, its metal seeds gnawing at the senses as its punk heart roars, the song fiercely impresses before flowing into closing track Forever In Waiting.

Instantly an intimidating theatre lines the bait of riffs and bass, and almost as swiftly the guitars are wrapping it in a weave of rapacious invention and challenging intensity. More of a grower than the previous pair of offerings within Chances, the song blooms into another impressive provocation if one lacking that final decisive spark of others.

To go along with the press release for Chances, the EP is something fans of bands like Periphery, Every Time I Die, and Sikth will get a kick out of but there is plenty more to This Is Shark Country and their sound, some realised here and some as potential for their future maelstroms of imagination. What is very clear though is that the British hardcore/rock scene has another seriously stirring protagonist in the making.

The Chances EP is released November 13th through all stores and digital platforms.

https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsSharkCountry    https://twitter.com/tisharkcountry

Pete RingMaster 13/11/2015

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Exist Immortal – Darkness Of An Age

Exist Immortal

Build a majestic beast of a proposition from the predatory instincts of Meshuggah and Scar Symmetry, the rapacious technical instincts of Periphery, and the melodic poetry of Circles and you will most likely come up with UK metallers Exist Immortal, though this is not to say that the London quartet does not have its own distinct voice as superbly evidenced by new album Darkness Of An Age. The imposing release is a monster of an encounter, a gloriously adventurous and imaginative journey unafraid to align the darkest vicious shadows with the most radiant mesmeric beauty. Cast over ten explorations, the release alone makes the most compelling reasoning as to why the London quintet is so highly thought of.

Formed in 2011, Exist Immortal have taken little time in establishing a rigorous reputation for their mature and inventive sound as well as their ferocious live performances which has seen the band play UK Tech Metal fest alongside the likes of Textures and Sylosis, as well as making inroads across the UK, Europe, and Asia. The band first stole our eye and attention with their mini-album Dream Sequence at the tail of last year, a tantalising and incendiary fuse for the passions which left thoughts reeling and emotions full. Darkness Of An Age takes the imagination on a heavier and darker exploration than its predecessor, one so intense that first impressions asked questions in its success against the sensational previous release. With every listen revealing new depths, triumphs, and temptations within the brutally seductive offering though, Darkness Of An Age has proven to be another dramatically masterful treat from one of Britain’s most seriously inventive metal bands.

The album emerges through an evocative breeze of keys as opener Insanity Project makes its initial play for ears and imagination; the ei-artwork-hd-2engaging entrance swiftly joined by an equally inviting guitar coaxing. It is crystalline bait which continues to tempt as rhythms punch their rigorous weight within an expanding squall of intensive riffs and a portentous bass sound. Vocally raw growls align to excellent clean tones, the voice of Meyrick de la Fuente ably assisted by that of guitarist Tom Montgomery, just as uniquely impressive and expressive as on the last release. The track continues to twist and spread its inventive toxins around senses and thoughts, immediately feeling angrier and more venomous than those found upon Dream Sequence. The new release sees the band exploring new territory emotionally and lyrically in an impacting move which takes thoughts aback at first but only adds weight and intrigue to the immense start of the album.

The following Legions lays jagged riffery and sonic scythes across the air next, its entrance an acidically fuelled wall of barbarous intent. It soon evolves into a fiery prowl though, clean vocals taking over from the vicious roars as the guitars of Montgomery and Kurt Valencia sculpt a captivating design of uncompromising predation and sinew framed seduction. Flailing with strict muscles and caressing with sultry keys, the track brews a contagion which is as fearsome as it is virulently addictive for the first major pinnacle of the towering adventure. The finale burns like a raging fire before elegantly relenting and making way for the similarly crafted In Parallax. Though ultimately different in character the song is similar to its predecessor at its beginning before worming its way under the skin to develop its own identity with niggling and delicious sonic toxicity beneath potent clean vocals. Skirted by the animalistic voice of David Billote’s bass and the rapier thrusts of Fergus Gardiner’s rhythms, the track emerges as an irrepressible enticement.

There is a heavier involvement of the dark caustic vocal delivery on the album than upon Dream Sequence, a more fifty-fifty split with the mellow soars which works well but whether it brings the same success as the higher clean vocal percentage of the previous release, such the excellence of de la Fuente in that style, is still under debate. Darkness Of An Age has a more malevolent darkness across the board though so it is an understandable move which really shows its potential in the excellent Edge Of Infinity, the track a captivating swirl of progressive investigation within a tortuous metalcore causticity coated by a ravenous voracity speared by djent bred stabs.

Both the enthralling Imperator and the immensely riveting Desolace seize the imagination next, the first sparking greed in an already eager appetite through synths which bring perfectly orchestrated emotion and colour to the tempest before them. Its successor casts a warmer more temperate climate to its storm allowing de la Fuente to sing from the first breath as keys and melodies reinvent the scenery with beauty and startling ideation. It is a mouthwatering invention which courts perfectly the ever poised rabidity of guitars and rhythms which take their share of the plaudits on the album’s highest pinnacle so far. Vocally too, the mix of seduction and violence is spot on, bringing the heart and rich landscape of the song to bear on the listener.

Like a trigger the song seems to ignite the release to stronger adventure, The Participant next unveiling a maelstrom of sonic and vocal ingenuity which thrusts numerous styles into one tempestuously inventive tsunami. The track whips up the passions to an even greater pleasure with its explosive and intelligent ravishment, the song standing side by side with hands on the best track title with the previous glory, though both are soon under pressure for the honour from the excitingly abrasive Embrace The Cycle and the corrosively appealing Liberator which features Sam Rudderforth from The Colour Line. Neither manages to quite live up to the demands but still leave bloated satisfaction in their creative wake whilst the closing brilliance of The Omen Machine ensures the album leaves a final peak foraging senses and emotions with its suitably toxic and endlessly invigorating inventive ferocity.

Though Dream Sequence still just has the edge on the two albums, Darkness Of An Age is a dramatically refreshing and thunderously inventive incitement from a band easy to assume that will have a major say on the future of certainly progressive and technical metal in Europe. Exist Immortal has all the potential to be a major player; the evidence is all there in the album.

The self-released Darkness Of An Age is available now @ http://existimmortal.bandcamp.com/album/darkness-of-an-age

https://www.facebook.com/existimmortal

8.5/10

RingMaster 13/05/2014

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Nexilva – Eschatologies

Promo2

If Eschatologies is the portent or soundtrack to mankind’s ultimate destination as a species it is hard to know whether to be engulfed in bliss or unbridled fear. The new album from UK progressive death metallers Nexilva is a maelstrom of brutal invention and exhaustive experimentation, a tsunami of sound and vindictive intensity which is as excitingly unpredictable as it is frighteningly intrusive. It is an encounter which is almost too involved and adventurous for its own good, smothering the senses with so much imaginative mayhem and creative exploration that even after a dozen or so rampages through its hellacious depths new corners and facets are still emerging. The accompanying promo suggests the release is for fans of bands such as Born of Osiris, The Faceless, and Fleshgod Apocalypse, something you cannot disagree with and certainly it will not sit easy with every metal bred heart because of its vast experimentation but if technical violence and an unrelenting examination of senses, psyche, and imagination ignites fires for you than Eschatologies is a scintillating must.

Hailing from Sunderland and formed in 2009, Nexilva released their first demo The Viral Annihilation that same year before more dramatically stirring up attention with debut album The Trials of Mankind a year later. Followed by the Defile the Flesh of Innocence EP in 2011, the releases showed a band with not only massive potential but also the ability and bravery to cross pollinate numerous extremes of metal into one threatening yet compelling fascination. Their live presence was no less potent and exhausting either, the band gaining strong recognition as they shared stages and tours with the likes of Exist Immortal, Aliases, and The Algorithm as well as their own shows and festival appearances over time. Eighteen months in the making and mixed/produced by guitarist Andy Mallaby, Eschatologies is the next mighty step for Nexilva. It is a journey through scenery draped in technical, death, progressive, and black metal to simplify the landscape; climates of the fantastic, realistic, and portentous investigating the end/rebirth of man.

Released via Ghost, Eschatologies opens the first chapter with I: Teste Humanitatem Mori, a short piece which unveils an initial dark nexilva-coverand welcoming ambience soon lit by a wonderful caress of guitar, its classical melodic touch soothing and inviting. All the while shadows are converging adding their menace to the rising vocal harmonies and warm melodies. They eventually break through with roaring caustic growls and stabbing riffs though they still court the elegance which voiced the start. It is a respectfully dramatic piece bringing clouds and uncertainty into view ready for The Misdirection of God to erupt with seemingly insidious intent. Immediately the vocals impress; the diverse ever shifting style and delivery from Gary King, very ably backed by that of bassist Ryan Banks, magnetic within the equally revolving and evolving tempest around them. The rhythms of drummer Connor Jobes rampage with crippling sinews and ferocious agitation from their every beat whilst the guitars of Simon Atkinson, Rownan Tennet, and Mallaby cast a simultaneously vitriolic and enticing web of sound around ears and thoughts. As mentioned previously there is so much accosting and intriguing senses that you cannot at first take it all in over one song let alone the album, but as traverses of and time exploring the song unveils irresistible bait like the classically honed keys with at times stand to the fore and in others flirt from a hollowed distance, the adventure just gets stronger and more spellbinding.

Both Our Progenitor and This Is Humanity, distinct in their characters and offerings are bred from the same almost bedlamic onslaught, though it is all controlled and precisely sculpted. The first of the two again concocts a lethal and enchanted storm for the beleaguered senses to immerse within, its predacious intent as rabid as it is contagious. The keys again seduce from within the uncompromising voracity and not for the last time whilst slipping easily aside the malevolent raging they provide a wonderful discord fuelled friction which just lights the imagination and pleasure further. Its successor takes a more premeditated preying of its recipient, grooves and keys seducing whilst riffs and rhythms cause havoc within the irresistible caressing. Twisting and turning not only itself but the psyche, the song adds hardcore vocals and progressive flights to its savagery, like the album making expectations redundant.

The melancholic II: Scientaia Tenebris opens up the next movement of the album to provide a respite before the venomous Necromancer seizes control whilst still employing the emotive melodies of its predecessor within its serpentine toxicity and rapacious enslaving of ears and emotions. Like all tracks, the song leaves you gasping for breath in body and thought, every turn a new extensive exploration to be taken within its whole endeavour. The Collapse immediately proves to be the same and with equal potency and success before the outstanding title track raises a new pinnacle for the release. The track spews malice and hostility from its first vocal and rhythmic touch, aligning them to punishing sonic and rhythmic frenzies. As all tracks to describe everything within would need a page per song but needless to say Eschatologies is a nonstop bordering pestilential rampage.

Cybernetic Lucidity disorientates and lacerates the senses next, its flailing rhythms and riffs a welcome distraction to the intensive suffocating invention broiling synapses from within their cage whilst after the dark and wildly simmering peace of III: СКЕЛЕТ, the band unleash the classically walled, viciously vehement Premonitions which features a guest appearance from Ricky Lee Roper. The track parades riffs and rhythms with a horde like mentality and appetite upon ears whilst its successor Invasion, lashes and chews on the wounds with sonic invention and a combined riff and rhythmic rabidity.

The album closes with first the tremendous Evil Will Prevail featuring Exist Immortal vocalist Meyrick De La Fuente, the song a ferocious blaze of spite, antagonism, and creative imagination. The track bewitches as powerfully as it annihilates, the expressive clean vocals and melody crafted passage towards its end a seduction within the masterful turmoil that lingers long into the final instrumental IV: Non Magis Adrogantiam.

Eschatologies is a thoroughly demanding and intensive proposition which only expands and broadens its hold and depths with every listen. As said there is a multitude of inventive exploits within every twist and turn which at times makes it a difficult listen in regard to taking it all in but unrelentingly thrills and invigorates as it bewilders and exhausts. It is a glorious maze of sound and invention from Nexilva, simply a ravenous fascinating aural kaleidoscope.

https://www.facebook.com/nexilva

9/10

RingMaster 08/04/2014

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