Ashes You Leave: The Cure For Happiness

Croatian band Ashes You Leave as shown by their new album The Cure For Happiness, just get better and better. The release is their best to date and looks set to thrill many more new hearts with its muscular doom and gothic metal sounds. Following their acclaimed album Songs of the Lost of 2009, the new album sees the band unleashing their heaviest and arguably darkest collection of songs, reaping the energy and intensity of darker heart borne realms without losing the melodic invention and shadow fuelled passion they are renowned for. It is an impressive return for a band which is no stranger to strong applaud and enthusiastic attention.

Forming in 1995, the Rijeka band has risen from a time when music let alone metal had no expectations or credible chance of success in a worn torn country, to the biggest metal band in their homeland and leading force in the whole of the Eastern European region. Through the likes of Desperate Existence, Fire, and Songs of the Lost, all albums making big impacts, the band has forged itself as a name with wider recognition well beyond its borders but The Cure For Happiness, their sixth album, should be the one to thrust them to an even greater standing in world metal. It is a release which is as intriguing as it is immediately and forcibly engaging, offering new experiences and whispers with each and every journey within its imaginative sounds and melancholic breath.

Over the years the band has gone through line-up changes, especially with the position of lead vocalist, and the Rock N Growl Records released The Cure For Happiness is no exception. Despite having to search for a new voice three times, the band always has had the insight and skill to choose ladies which have added something different whilst contributing an impressive level of vocal craft and expression recognised with their sounds. The new album is the first with new singer Giada “Jada” Etro and again the result is openly rewarding for them and us. Italian songstress Etro has a riveting voice which can mesmerise whilst nipping at the senses within songs which do exactly the same, and alongside the snarling and ravenous additional vocals of guitarist Berislav Poje and bassist Luka Petrovic, makes the perfect enchanting conspirator and foil.

The first touch of the album comes with lone keys within a brewing atmosphere which soon expands into a busier yet still graceful presence. Opener Devil in Disguise again steps back into the shadows as the voice of Etro accompanied by the impacting piano begins the unveiling of the heart of the song. It is with the emotive violin of Marta Batinic though where one is truly inspired to accompany the song with personal feelings upon its journey in answer to his impassioned caress upon the ear. The track is soon evolving and moving through melodic enterprise, powerful energies and notable invention to escalate the engagement and as the song emerges as a stirring blend of metal and melodic rock with symphonic leanings and gothic intent it leaves on engrossed and open for the rampaging climax with the scything guitar riffs of Poje and Matija Rempesic pushing the intensity further to a thrilling finale. To be honest the first time the song played it did not capture the imagination as instantly as other songs further on but given time to make its persuasion it becomes one potent pleasure.

Only Ashes You Leave and For the Heart, Soul and Mind step up next and take the enjoyment even deeper, both a continuation of tone from the first song whilst bringing different shadows and depths into focus emotionally and musically. The first is a heated expression of melodic and sonic craft driven by charged riffs and the intimidating rhythms of drummer Sasa Vukosav. Again the strings of Batinic play with emotions whilst the keys of Darko Terlevic explore their deepest corners within the inciting creativity. The rabid ending of male vocals and riffs makes way for an irresistible bass welcome from Petrovic for the beginning of the second of the two, a track which delves into the black of life further and with relish.

As a whole the album flows perfectly with a linking atmosphere across its expanse though there as to be expected are particular peaks. The first is the just mentioned track which is equally matched by the glorious Summer’s End, a song where the band pus everything they have into an imaginative wrap of melodic beauty and triumphant enterprise. Both though are surpassed by easily the best track on the album, Reality Sad. This song opens up the shadows pervading the album to draw even darker energies and emotions forth. It is a haunting and almost insidiously seductive embrace which ignites the fullest passion. Rippling with danger and venomous essence the song is immense and a flavour one hopes the band use more of ahead.

Reality Sad does highlight that for personal tastes the album falls a little short of being the classic the track suggests was within their grasp, the other songs despite their might in the shadow of this particular magnificence, but without doubt The Cure For Happiness is a thoroughly enjoyable and openly impressive album which fans of bands such as Within Temptation, Epica, and Nightwish will eagerly welcome into their dark bosom.

RingMaster 29/11/2012

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Thirdsphere: Fire

The latest EP from Portuguese metalers Thirdsphere was one that we meant to take a look at a few weeks ago but it slipped by attention until now but better late than never especially with a release that shows a band with much promise and already strong ability. Fire is not without flaws and room for further improvement for a continuing firm progress but it does set the band as one to watch closely suggesting a potential to be a big addition to metal in the future.

Formed in February 2007 as a trio growing to a quintet the following year, the band has drawn attention and respect in the underground metal scene across Portugal and Spain from their live shows and first demo This Is A Thirdsphere CD in 2009. Fire is the follow up consisting of five strong and well crafted songs, showing the line-up of vocalist Nuno Cardoso, guitarists Joao Goncalves and Luke Felgueira, plus bassist Francisco Beato, and Francisco Carrico on drums, as a unit that knows how to write music that takes and deserves attention.

The EP opens with the piano led brief intro/track of Awakening The Soul, a piece that sets a peaceful place to start with the sound of happy playing children bringing a safe calm. This leads straight into Awakening The Dormant with its commanding drums and beckoning guitars. Within seconds the track erupts into a rampaging and potent mix of expressive melodic guitars, grumbling pulsating basslines and rhythms that lead one deeper into its depths and on to the excellent growls and caustic vocals of Cardoso. The mix is direct whilst meshing all elements of the band with a sure care and skill. As the song progresses the guitar play is razor sharp and clean, openly well crafted without going overboard and bringing a great balance to the harsh venomous vocals. At this point though the one and only real flaw with the EP and music becomes apparent, the clean vocals of Cardoso. The production contributes a little to this but unfortunately his smooth style is not a patch on his aggressive coarse delivery. Though not overtly bad the clean delivery just does not lie well within or feel an acceptable part of the songs, the singer not always in control or finding the notes he tries for.

The formidable From Ashes We Rise takes over next, the band continuing their very satisfying blends of metal/metalcore with veins of classic metal guitar creativity to be followed with equal quality by the stirring Soul Confined, both songs eagerly feeding the senses with intense riffs, attentive combative rhythms and an  energy that sweeps one up instantly. This is definitely a great band in the making and a release that is not far away from being very impressive but it is held back by the vocal dilemma. Actually there are only two options that make sense and would take the band up many levels from an already strong position.  Either fuel their music solely on the excellent harsh delivery of Cardoso or bring in a sixth member to take on the clean duties.

Take Fire as simply a step in the evolution of Thirdsphere and take into account all its many impressive elements and one can see a band that is going places with some fine tuning and reassessment in one area. It has to be said the EP despite the criticism is still very enjoyable with its song Awakening The Dormant finding many repeat plays. Keep an eye and ear on Thirdsphere they could one day be the next big metal thing from their homeland.

RingMaster 21/04/2012 Registered & Protected

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