Second To Sun – The First Chapter

STS_RingMaster Review

At the beginning of 2015, we had the opportunity to check out the Three Fairy Tales EP and a couple of singles around it from Russian metallers Second To Sun. It was an instrumental experience and adventure which just lit our ears and imagination. Now as the year begins to wind down, another proposition from the trio in the shape of a new album has ruffled the mental feathers and ruptured a rich vein of pleasure. The First Chapter is a nine track exploration of the broadest tapestry of metal styles and invention, carrying on from where the EP and certainly singles left off but breeding new experimental and ferocious captivation.

Second To Sun began back in 2012, formed by guitarist/keyboardist Vladimir Klimov-Lehtinen and drummer Artem Vishnyakov. The departure of the latter saw the band as a one man project for a while before bassist Anton Danilevsky and drummer Theodor Borovsky linked up with Klimov-Lehtinen. Debut album Based On A True Story was released in 2013 to welcoming ears and comments with the Three Fairy Tales EP coming towards the end of the following year, its unveiling drawing greater attention and in turn acclaim. Now the trio unleash The First Chapter, an encounter with a title suggesting it is a climax to the first part of the Second To Sun ascent, and tracks that are opening up a new soundscape and emprise of the band’s composing and sound.

Second To Sun - The First Chapter (2015) _RingMaster Review   As mentioned the Second To Sun sound is a ravenous kaleidoscope of sound described as “modern metal with the elements of black metal and ethnic Finno-Ugric music.” It is a thick and rich tapestry that draws on every strain of extreme and melodic hues you can wish for, creating immersive creative escapades inspired by the history and life of the Finno-Ugrian nations within Eurasia. It is also a highly evocative incitement as shown by album opener Spirit Of Kusoto. Inspired by a holy grove of the Mari people with very deep sacral meaning and serving as a “church”, the track places the imagination in the heart of the forest with the strains of Mari folk song Sun rises lighting ears. It is a potent suggestiveness which soon erupts into a more primal and rugged proposal, rhythms a predatory incitement as the guitar spews caustic hues. Almost as quickly a calm and beauty takes over as the bass continues to skilfully grumble; this another brief exploit in the evolving character and landscape of the track. The piece is riveting, an insight to a dark and bright place with danger and warmth almost fighting over themselves to dominate but ultimately uniting in one fluid enthralment as folkish as it is blackened, as mesmeric as it is intimidating.

Red Snow is an instantly more raw and carnivorous place, a torrent of hungry aggressive sound effectively representing the feel and climate of the tale of nine young men who died at the infamous Dyatlov Pass. You almost feel the cold, the starkness, and turmoil endured as rhythms and sonic imagination create a barbarous and compelling provocation throughout but the track is also as potent in its echo of the rural folkish landscape as voices and percussion amongst many flavours emerge. The track is as rousingly bewitching as its predecessor, a canvas for thoughts to interpret and use to cast their own take on events inspiring the piece before the dark, haunting beauty of Me or Him takes over to seduce and inflame the senses and imagination. Simultaneously mesmeric and bedlamic, each contrast superbly cultured and honed by the band, the track is a predator of sound with a gripping maelstrom of emotion and ideation woven into an irresistible trespass of diversely brewed incitement.

Through the djent, death metal twisted Land of the Fearless Birds and the oppressively enjoyable The Blood Libel, band and album only tighten their grip on body and appetite. The first is another fearsomely predacious offering with bloodied melodies and a psyche stirring atmosphere whilst its successor opens up a cauldron of black/death bred heresy with welcomingly invasive enterprise. Both tracks in their own way, impressively stalk ears and thoughts whilst casting an almost hypnotic lure through the scintillating invention and craft of all members. The imagination of guitar and keys from Klimov-Lehtinen is especially rousing, though arousal of instincts and passions are just as powerfully nurtured by the bass imagination of Danilevsky and the resourceful swings and beats of Borovsky.

Narčat in contrast to the previous pair bounds in like a warrior, bold and creatively tenacious like the young woman inspiring its heart. The track is an undiluted assault of energy, aggression, and a masterfully entwined diversity of metallic and melodic styles, all fused into a bracing tempest matched in its own individual storm by Virgo Mitt. Within the track though, an elegant beauty within a melodic oasis emerges to seduce and shape the tale being conjured in thoughts. The inspiration to the piece of music is as fascinating as the sound, and we suggest certainly checking out the background to all tracks via Second To Sun’s bandcamp to gain even more richness to the experience of the songs.

Completed by excellent bonus track Chokk Kapper, a spiny affair of riffs and rhythms branching out with intoxicating sonic and melodic intrigue and invention, and a demo version of Narčat, The First Chapter is a stirring and forcibly impressive provocateur of ears and thoughts, not forgetting pleasure. As progressive and avant-garde in as many ways as it is technical and extreme, the album confirms suggestions made by previous releases, that Second To Sun is one uniquely thrilling proposition.

The First Chapter is available now digitally and on CD via

Pete RingMaster 25/11/2105

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PICReputation Radio/RingMaster Review

It is time for the Underground Metal Alliance (UMA) compilation of some of the best underground metal bands in Italian, and once again UMA Compilation 2015 awakens ears and attention to a host of highly accomplished and thrilling encounters. With a line-up selected by fans and the UMA jury, which included members of Exilia, Sadist, Nanowar as well as managers of studios and festivals, plus other bands already part of the selected UMA roster, the album is an eclectic treat which is all the more sweeter through its availability as a free download for all.

It kicks off with Milan symphonic folk metallers Atlas Pain and their track Each Uisge, a rampant canter of rolling feisty rhythms and raw folk tenacity. It roars and bristles with magnetic persuasion lifting its potency further when allowing a Celtic influence to flirt with the aggressive heart of the excellent starter. It is a fine opening continued by Avoral, epic metallers from the same city, and the dramatic War Is Not Over. With nagging riffs, enjoyably theatrical vocals, and muscle-bound rhythms, the track is an attention grabbing bellow which even ears not quite enamoured with their seed genre can find plenty of resourceful and imaginative textures to enjoy and be involved in. In any large compilation you will always find some songs not quite fitting personal tastes but from start to finish it is fair to say that the compilation has little difficulty sparking a healthy appetite for the strengths and unique characters of all those involved.

Caelestis and Calico Jack are another example of the diversity across the release, the first a Naples duo creating provocative blends of post/progressive rock and shoegaze which immerse ears in captivating landscapes and the second pirate folk metallers from Milan who stomp over the senses and into the imagination with their busy and fiery adventures. The band’s songs are poles apart yet alongside each other, Ode Al Mare and House Of Jewelry make a highly satisfying union backed by the following punk folk metal of Evendim, their raucous temptation Whiskey On Fire an instinctive whipping up of energy and participation from those taking a swig of its rousing persuasion.

A web of nu and progressive metal cast by Pescara quintet Fake Heroes is next and quickly emerges as another keen favourite. The strong vocals in On The Hill are a mellow lure within skilfully conjured tempestuous sounds which busily twist and entice around them. Featuring Giacomo Castellano, the song is a compelling embrace of emotive and technical tempting, almost volatile at times though it is soon clear that GorganerA have that area cornered with their malevolent fusion of death and black metal. As shown by Veleno, The band embraces familiar inspirations yet though only one song, as it stalks and barbarously seduces ears there is an open variety of flavours and ideation ensuring the track stands out.

Away From My Fears from Edolo trio Hell’s Guardian is one of the songs which on first listen seem to lack the spark of others but with persistent listens begins revealing its eventful and increasingly enjoyable attributes, the vocals especially growing in stature and raw charm. It is a slow burn of persuasion, just like the following Falling Snow from avant-garde metallers Ideogram, but an increasingly impressing one. The latter’s offering from its first breath casts elegant melodies and evocative sounds in a masterful invitation, the track subsequently growing into an unpredictable and again persuasive offering as operatic and guttural growls bring their striking mix to an unrelenting maelstrom of musical enticement.

Como quartet Ignotum offer a slice of their enjoyable debut album Larvas Mortal God next, the atmospherically fiery and raucously trespassing Hecatomb Memories an intrusive and compelling insurgence of the band’s black/death enterprise. Its mighty incitement is matched by Kanseil and the excellent roar and devilment of their track Panevin, a song which leaps upon ears from its first breath inciting pleasure physical and emotional enjoyment from thereon in with its anthemic and melodic folk metal revelry.

Novara avant-garde metallers Locus Animæ is another band taking longer to get into, their startling sounds and minimalistic ambiences a pleasingly testing adventure with constant rewards ensuring their song, which also carries the band name, grows to be another welcome proposal over time. Similarly Insane Asylum from heavy rockers Mary Brain is a y less immediate tempting compared to other tracks but soon turns into a raucous highlight with its jagged riffs and predacious personality.

For personal appetite and ears, the album hits the sweet spot over the next handful of songs, starting with the excellent Mechanical God Creation and their slab of technical death metal brilliance, Shadow’s Falling. The song is a brutal beast of intensity and craft, a track making you stand up and pay attention with consummate ease. To be fair every song on the album does do that, though maybe few as commandingly as Milan quintet’s offering. It is followed by Lady Loneliness from Misteyes, the song a bewitching serenade of gothic metal led by a beauty clad caress of female vocals and keys. It gets darker and nastier over time but never loses its elegance and grace.

The outstanding rapper/masked guitarist Red Sky is next, his percussively lively and rhythmically compelling track I 7 Vizi Capitali, an undiluted temptation. The track is a quickstep of animated ideas and atmospheric shadows, a riveting jungle of stirring textures and shamanic tones kissed by the pipe seduction offered by guests Kanseil. Its enslaving persuasion makes way for Scum and their ferocious assault on the senses, Becoming Heavier. Thrash bred, punk infested, and woven with a host of metal essences, the song is a delicious and bracing onslaught, rich in craft and unbridled in fury, and quite thrilling.

Gallipoli heavy metallers Serial Vice provide a heftily flavoursome roar next with You Are Heroin, the song another inescapable anthem bellowing from within the album, whilst the blackened death metal fuelled Il Culto Della Pietra reveals its creators Veratrum to be a gripping and quickly intriguing prospect from Bergamo. Both songs are ripe with enterprise and craft, the latter of the two a broad expanse of textures within a mix of blistering hostility and alluring melodies.

The collection is brought to a close by a trio of tremendous creative outbursts, starting with Roma heavy metallers Whisperz and the rabid tempest of metal bait called Malicious Intent. Taken from their self-titled album, the track is a rugged and flirtatious lure of old school and modern metal, a rousing of attention and energy which the following Winterage takes on its own bold journey with The Harmonic Passage, a symphonic power metal recruitment of body and emotions, and yet another inescapable anthem bursting out. If there is still anyone yet to find their feet listening to the release, there is no chance of remaining uninvolved as Wolfang brings it all to a storming end with their fiery riot of Wild Forest. It is symphonic folk metal let loose to ravish air and ears with unbridled passion and energy.

It is a fine end to an invigorating and exciting release. Italian metal is blooming right now and the UMA Compilation provides all the evidence whilst shaping up to be one of the best collections of artists to thrill ears in recent times.

You can get your copy of UMA COMPILATION 2015 as a free download HERE.
RingMaster 24/06/2015

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Calico Jack – Panic In The Harbour


If you are planning to take to the high seas in order to undertake devilish pursuits, a check list will include a sturdy vessel, lush beard, a potent weapon and of course a jolly roger. You might also need a suitable soundtrack too and that is what Italian metallers Calico Jack can offer in highly enjoyable fashion. Recently signed to the Ronin Agency and working on their debut album for a release later this year, we thought a retrospective look at their previous EP Panic In The Harbour was in order, especially as it is now getting another thrust into the broader world and inspires potent anticipation for the band’s first full-length.

Hailing from Milan, Calico Jack was formed in 2011 by brothers Toto (rhythm guitar) and Caps (drums), the pair taking the band name from Captain John Rackham’s nickname, a notorious English sea raider who sailed across the Caribbean Sea during the Golden Age of Piracy and famed for inventing the pirate flag, the Jolly Roger, and for having two notorious pirate women is his crew: Anne Bonny and Mary Read. Fusing classic eighties heavy metal with Scandinavian folk metal and creating exploits inspired by Anglo-Saxon sea shanties and folk songs, the band swiftly grew in personnel, releasing their first demo Scum of the Seas in 2012. Panic In The Harbour was unleashed a year later to great responses at home and around Europe. Now with fresh interest in release and band, and that impending full-length, the line-up of Toto, Caps, Giò (vocals), Melo (lead guitar), and Dave (violin), is ready to had a very potent year.

COVER - Front     As soon as opener Where Hath th’ Rum Gone? whips up attention with a lure of bow across strings you get a rich inkling of what is in store, and once thumping beats hit and riffs gallop with riotous devilment, the Calico Jack sound and its character is in full blaze. There is no escaping an Alestorm reference or of Running Wild but equally there is a healthy spice of a Korpiklaani in its revelry, a dirty Adam Ant essence within its colourful nature, and the punkier metal of Kvelertak to its roar. The grouchy guttural vocals bring the intimidation whilst swashbuckling exploits are driven by violin, hooks, and anthemic rhythms, not forgetting just as magnetic group shouts. The dark addictive tones of the bass also only add to the compelling adventure and though it is fair to say that there is a great familiarity to the band’s sound, equally it makes for a fresh and feisty proposition.

The opening enjoyable contagion of the ale sodden proposal is immediately matched by House of Jewelry. It makes a more imposing entrance, riffs and that increasingly captivating throaty bass colluding for a magnetic and aggressive coaxing. Vocals and the heavy drum swipes built a hostile environment but one coloured by the spicy flame of violin and the instinctive swagger and swing of the emerging encounter. Again you basically know what you are going to get but it does not stop the blend of classic and folk metal creating an infectiously captivating escapade for ears to devour and the imagination to eagerly run with.

Grog Jolly Grog is another drinking song you just instinctively raise your tankard to whilst rocking your body with the raucous sway and volatile attitude of the addictive festivity. It also brings a whiff of old school punk to its hooks and raw abrasive riffery, nothing dramatic but an appealing scent explored more in the closing Deadly Day in Bounty Bay. The final song is the most adventurous and inventive on the EP though that imagination is certainly beginning to show its flair and temptation towards the end of its predecessor.

     Deadly Day in Bounty Bay opens with lapping waves on a shore and a single tempting of guitar. The ever alluring bass soon adds its voice to the emerging narrative of raw riffs, salty violin seduction, and melodic winery. The start of the track has ears and imagination gripped but it is when it takes a breath and returns with a virulent bait of lively beats and contagion fuelled bassline that the incitement really comes alive. Everything from the gruff vocal delivery to coarse riffs, the jab of rhythms to teasing hooks has an irresistible infectiousness to them, one bred with a post/punk tenacity which is more Clash/ Damned bred than anything. In fact at times it is easy to suggest the song is the folk metal equivalent of The B52s’ Rock Lobster.

Ending with its best track but only thrilling ears from start to finish, Panic In The Harbour with its re-emergence to fresh attention is a recommended appetiser to the upcoming album from the band. If it can live up to the anticipation now inspired we will see, but we will bet no gold against it.

The Panic In The Harbour EP is available now from most online stores.

RingMaster 12/04/2015

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Of warriors and hungry shadows: an interview with Jonas Albrektsson of King of Asgard


Since its start in 2008, Swedish metal band King of Asgard has grown in presence and ingenuity with an accompanying potency of acclaim brewing alongside their impressive endeavours. Previous albums Fi’mbulvintr of 2010 and …to North two years later, bred an impressed and continually strengthening recognition but new album Karg is where the band’s expressively flavoursome blend of blackened metal with folk instincts looks like drawing the widest canvas of ears and appetites. With a broad invention and sound which at times needs a focused attentiveness to discover all its unique qualities, the album easily pushes the band into a new spotlight. We had the pleasure to explore the roots and depths of King of Asgard, as well as the new proposition from the band with bassist Jonas Albrektsson who kindly spared time for us to talk about….

Hello Jonas and many thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Hi Pete, and thanks for supporting us. Cheers

Before we delve into new album Karg, can we ask about the beginnings of the band, its foundation and the intent behind its first steps?

King of Asgard was formed by Karl Beckman, joined by Karsten Larsson in short time as a continuation of their predecessor band Mithotyn, a band which both Karl and Karsten were in. The longing of getting back to the roots and close to where it all (Mithotyn) ended got King of Asgard started, preferably in a new shape and with a new approach. As time went and the band evolved, King of Asgard became a sole creation standing proud on its own foundation which probably also became more evident when I joined in on bass and as a creative force. Later on Lars Tängmark came into picture as well to fill in and strengthen the line-up. So King of Asgard has reminiscence of what once was but has taken its own turns and led to something of its own yet with the past still, for obvious reasons, present. That’s in short how it all got started and from there on our three albums guide the way. Also check our biography presented at the Metal Blade web page for further digging.

Norse mythology is an open inspiration to your music and lyrics, was this a determined aspect from day one with the band and what inspired your interest in it personally as well as creatively?

Yes it pretty much was as such. As said above this was at first thought a continuation of Karl and Karsten’s musical past which was derived from Norse mythology concepts, the Viking heritage and the overall ancestral past. So I would say the main concept for inspiration was a determined choice but we’ve loosened up during the years and are not that forced to stay within those frames, though our name suggests that at first glimpse of course. So this was the case, at least that’s how it was in the beginning but times change and so did our music and lyrical approach. Karg for example to some extent deals with what previous albums have done, Norse mythology, the sagas and the age it reflect, but not close to what was on the debut for example. On this one we went much closer to our own immediate historical presence and also totally out of subject and I think this will be more realised in the future to come. The actual interest and inspiration I think we just got natural through our upbringing so it’s there just to grab and pick it up. It’s a great treasure and indeed a great source of inspiration for what we do and create.

Was the emergence of King Of Asgard in 2008 a swift realisation from an idea or was it something which had been brewing in thoughts of Karl for a while even whilst in other projects? king-of-asgard_photo01

King of Asgard has long before realisation been present in Karl’s thoughts and he has always wanted to pick something like this up but for several reasons never been able to do so until 2008. We’re close friends, me and him, so I know before King of Asgard he’s been talking about it several times and I’m glad he finally got his shit together and made reality out of his longing. It wasn’t that serious to begin with but after the demo was recorded I know he really was focused and eager. This was also the period when he first started nagging on me to join which took some time but I’m glad I finally did. So, Karl really ‘brewed’ on this constellation for a long time, probably since the day Mithotyn shut their business down. To sum it up I would say King of Asgard was formed way before in Karl’s mind and is a project stained with devotion and heart.

How do you see the band now against those early days not only in sound and presence but in its direction and intent?

I think we just keep on working from where we left off of our past creations and further on into our own development without really looking back. What happens is probably that it turns more and more into our own style as we write what we personally gets satisfied doing, creating our own sound. This album took quite a while before we felt where to turn from whence things just automatically took shape. The sound and material on Karg is much more stripped down and riff based which makes a somewhat new approach for being King of Asgard but I really feel this is where we feel most safe and personally satisfied. We kind of step back and rely on power combined with epic moments. The development between all three albums and the time duration has been very natural and when thinking of it one can actually hear what’s going on and the direction is somewhat clear. We’ve accomplished much and conquered some and reached our own identity but more needs to be adjusted. What’s important is not to get stagnant and still feel we have a direction and intent for doing King of Asgard and I feel we still do.

We are mentioning your just released third album Karg, how has its realisation differed from its predecessors Fi’mbulvintr of 2010 and …To North two years later?

I guess the thing is we’ve found a good and safe way of working which feels really pleasant. We’re these days very confident on what we do and do our thing from the heart, not trying to please others expectations, though we of course appreciate it if people like what we do ha-ha. Karl and I put the material together of which he writes the most, we structure and record pre-productions and so forth so there’s really a lot of thought behind all our stuff but still there can come spontaneous ideas in the studio for example. So we’re much more focused and structured in the writing process these days than in say pre the debut album but I guess such is also natural and grows within a band as time goes. So speaking of Karg it all went very smooth at least when we got inspired and the creative force got started. We know how to deal with things these days and are fully prepared before entering the studio and such so that the recording also will be as focused and held on maximum grade. We always want to improve and do our very best even if it many times faces hard struggle.

What about its inspirations and its growth in sound compared to the earlier albums for you?

Guess much of this already been discussed more or less but I think what is most evident is that it is more true to ourselves. We obviously never tried to be the most progressive nor innovative act, not at all but rather looked back and paid tribute to our own heroes and influential sources. We create music we ourselves appreciate listening to which I believe has grown more into our sound and at the same time built our foundation. I think on Karg we reached the point where we are most personal in sound and that sound being King of Asgard with full force and with identity. We don’t think that much or plan on the direction we want to turn, we rather follow our own intuitions and the result is what comes out of it but run with a thorough and careful hand.

KingOfAsgard-KargThe album title Karg is the Swedish for barren; did the name come after its making as a reflection of the songs within the release or was it the seed from which ideas and the atmosphere of the album grew?

It started off in all sorts of directions but once the first say two songs were close to finish we knew where we were heading with the material for this album. By this time we also came up with the album title, Karg, which by its mere significance has formed and influenced the atmosphere through the whole process, musically, lyrically as well as when considering art and pictures etc. We wanted it to sound bare, sterile and infertile combined with what one usually associates King of Asgard with…the absence of bliss. So it was probably both ways, we went with the flow as it started in the beginning of the writing process as well as we were determined of a certain goal. It was mostly a seed which grew into Karg, an interesting way to work actually.

It is arguably a more challenging and raw proposition than its predecessors in many ways, is that something you see and deliberately worked for or it arose more organically?

I think it came intentionally with the approach we strived for and the atmospheres we wanted to build. Our previous albums have been much more accessible in terms of melodies and song structure. This time around it’s still there but takes quite a few more spins to get the grip and comprehend the material. It was not a sole purpose to come to but rather just went that way and it’s more a reflection of us as persons. Karg is a more mature and honest album than the other two and a proof we’ve somewhat reached an identity of our own. It’s both ways of what you aim for here, we wanted it to sound a specific way and thus we deliberately worked in such direction as well as having it come our way naturally, allowing it to happen.

Do you see this as a breath to your music which will continue certainly into the next release(s) or are you a band which allows each batch of songs to find their own character within your ideas and musical exploration?

I think it will continue as well as develop. We don’t plan much but rather follow our instincts though within the frames of King of Asgard of course. It’s always hard to predict the future but for how I feel the work for Karg went, we will most likely still follow this newly discovered path. I don’t think we did such a radical change though but as said before, we’re in the phase where we’ve found ourselves musically and conceptually and really enjoy what we do as well as what we achieve and generate.

Lyrically do you go looking for tales and myths to brew your ideas from or is it things leap out and demand attention more often than not.

It’s all different depending on occasion. But mainly I would say I come across a subject or whatever I want to illustrate and from there start digging in detail to obtain as much facts or information on it as possible. Further I recollect, pen it down and assemble, try to structure and make it rhythmic, on and of back and forth. But, on the other hand, the lyrics that Lars writes is rather the opposite I think, he just spews it out and what comes around goes around ‘til of course it has to somewhere connect to our conceptual worth. Also some things come easier as for this album where many songs are based on and around our own immediate surroundings. So in a way we’re then using our ancestral path as inspiration as well as we give it our reverence; we’ve heard the tales and seen the sites since early childhood so it comes natural for us to use to bring out to others.

How do you feel your songs relate to the modern world and its conflicts etc., and is that something the band bears in mind when writing lyrics or do you just concentrate on the landscape emerging across tracks and releases from their seed idea primarily?

We’re all about looking backwards, ha-ha, we concentrate and reflect upon myths and sagas and our own historical presence…our heritage and ancestral path. Sure there are once in a while some that relate to modern times which could be religious mockery or things that could be related to in modern society and the struggles in daily life. We don’t really have any plan on what and how things such as this are going to be like on the albums as the songs stand alone. We neither have frames we have to stay inside and that’s pretty clear when checking the variety out on the songs for Karg which is more wide spread than ever before. I think it’s good to leave it open and still be able to reflect upon other things than just Viking era or Norse mythology…this of course being a big part of us but not solely. For conflicts, political and what not, these are subjects I don’t see or think we’ll ever dig into as that’s not really our thing or something we’d like to bring into the concept of King of Asgard.

Did you approach the recording of Karg this time around compared to previous releases?

It more or less has been in the same way. We got much studio experience even before King of Asgard and know what needs to be taken care of to be able to get the stuff on tape in the most effective way. As we’ve now also worked with Andy and Sonic Train Studios for the third time we know how to be prepared and what to expect. Entering with Karg I guess the working process was pretty much the same as the predecessors but in a way more confident and even more prepared one. We know what we need to work more on and know how to face obstacles which we’ve learned on the two previous sessions. So things work the same just way more professional and effective and also we now feel safe and experiment more on the sound.

Does the band like to take finished songs into the recording process or like to give them room in that scenery to expand and develop further?

More or less everything is finished in detail before we get into the studio; even pre-productions of the songs are recorded. But sure we have them open for new ideas and interpretations which often come up when you are in the studio recording. The last song was finished just a few weeks before entering Sonic Train Studios but nothing’s set until it’s on the master and delivered. We constantly change things during the writing process going back and forth. Same goes for the recording, things that pop up like background choir, guitars in different harmonies and stuff like that are carefully taken care of. This is also much do to the fact we got limited studio time and thus we need everything done and planned to be able to reach our goal. It’s of course a pity and somewhat frustrating not being able to finalize all ideas and try new ones in the studio but that’s how it is when finances run the whip.

How does the songwriting generally play out within the band?king-of-asgard_photo02

Karl and I are responsible for the songwriting. We work close together on all ideas and put everything together from the first until the last stage. He writes the most and the main parts and I bring in the details and structure everything, along with him of course. It works really well as we know each other very well and complete each other with our slightly different background and musical directions. All in all it turns into King of Asgard. From there on we bring it to the rehearsal place and further adjustments are being made along with the other guys. It’s always under construction and nothing’s set until the day of recording but I would say the songs are close to album structure before we enter the studio with both music and the words put upon it.

You mentioned earlier that the album was recorded with Andy LaRocque at Sonic Train Studios, as your previous albums. Obviously you guys get on well with him and he understands something which brings your sounds alive as imagined?

I guess he does. It’s a steady relationship we’ve built up and it’s a comfortable and a somewhat safe choice to enter Sonic Train as we’ve got limited recording time in the studio. We have returned to Andy because it is very, as said, comfortable and great to work both with him as person, engineer and co-producer in his studio and also this time we also got to work with his co-worker Olof Berggren. We have built a strong partnership where both parties are pleased and work very effectively together. We are both driven to constantly take King of Asgard a step further and with Andy as co-producer it gives us a lot and we push ourselves constantly to the ultimate. It has never been said though that it is the only studio for King of Asgard. It’s just the way it has turned out and the future will show where the next turn will take us. Andy is an awesome dude who has the right tools for us as a band to use and thus to accomplish what we want to achieve. Our visits get more relaxed and at the same time more professional and more effective. We enjoy working with Andy, as does he with King of Asgard…a great combination and basic foundation for an even greater production where he makes realization of our visions.

Playing Devil’s Advocate and talking generally do you feel that possibly working with the same person in the same place runs the risk of familiarity and too safe a feel for a release? Not, we hasten to say, that this applies to Karg ha-ha.

Sure this could easily happen but we have considered it well before going on another round as we’ve returned to work with same studio, cover artist and photographer. For us it was rather strengthening us as we know somewhat where we end up and what we have to face as our frames are limited and thus we have to work hard to get the best result out of it and not run into mistakes. But for sure it’s a risk one takes and we know it is and up until now we’ve conquered it and also discussed this topic so we’ll see what will happen next on this matter. It’s a risky business, ha-ha.

What comes next for King of Asgard?

Unfortunately there are no tours nor festivals planned at this moment; not the best time of the year to release a new album. Anyway, right now we’re putting all our focus on the release of the album which was just around the past corner, a lot of promotion to be done and still coming in. We’ll hopefully get our shit together and do some shows in the short distance and so forth. Most likely we’ll also starting to write some new material as soon as we feel the time’s right and I know Karl’s already begun.

Once again thanks you for sharing your time and words with us; any last thoughts you would like to end with?

Our pleasure, thanks for the support! Keep checking in on our channels, make sure to pick up Karg which now is unleashed upon thee in all possible formats!

Horns up you all followers of the King and first and foremost, Pete and the Ringmaster Review. Cheers!


Read the review of Karg @

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 14/08/2014

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Bastion – Vremya borby

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Like a potent book you cannot put down, there is a magnetism and intensive lure to Vremya borby, the new album from Russian folk metallers Bastion, which is inescapable. Severely rugged and antagonistically muscular yet melodically mesmeric, the second album from the band is a striking and commanding enticement, folk metal at its instinctively formidable best.

Formed in 2002, Bastion began with a sound bred from heavy and power metal influences but through several line-up changes before and after, as well as natural evolution, their sound found its home in Pagan/Folk metal inspired by the ‘struggle for the revival of Pagan Ideology and Traditions of their Nation’. 2007 saw the release of the demo Remembering the Past but it was debut album The Dawn of Svarog in 2011 which awoken a richer attention upon the band. Before its release, Bastion was already looking ahead to its successor, working on its visual design with Peter Podkolzin before in the following year, laying down the drums for the next encounter. Created over two years, Vremya borby, translated as ‘The time to struggle’, was completed and unleashed to show a new intensity and aggressive to the Krasnoznamensk sextet’s sound in which they thrillingly employ an enthralling mix of varied folk flavours and instruments.

Released via Der Schwarze Tod, the album immediately makes an intensive impression with an attention grabbing flow of rhythms and a subsequent squall of riffs and sonic rapacity as opener Arkona 1168 consumes ears. It is a formidable and thick web of sound which alone potently coaxes but once the folk spawned melodies of pipes add their temptation, the track elevates to an even greater enticement. Riffs and rhythms continue to badger the senses, at times leaning intensely upon them and in other spaces pummelling their surface as the urgency and aggressive intent of the song continues to show its sinews and ferocity. The vocals make for an intriguing and pleasing aspect too, their raw and gruff attack at odds with the melodic side of the song whilst aligning to the hostile roar elsewhere but they make the perfect fit within the riveting mesh.

The title track steps up next with a similar intent and structure but a mellower tone within a still rabid tempest of attitude and sound. As it evolves the track spreads a distinctly different and adventurous charm to its predecessor, melodies CD coverand hooks an insatiable tempting within a restrained but keenly intrusive charge of sound. As all tracks it provides an adventure which is a tale of its own and even though the narrative is sung in Russian the imagination is pressed into shaping its own visions and interpretations. With a sonic invention and swirling acidic endeavour, the track soars and incites emotions with ease for another impressive step in the landscape of the album, one soon taken up another level by the pair of Zavety (Behest) and Boevaya (War Song). The first of the two is part stalking predator and part rabid horde as it surges upon ears and thoughts. Its body is never an outright fury or assault but certainly one which intimidates with instinctive predation, even as the delicious web of traditional folk wood instruments colour the imposing shadows of the song. It is a stirring encounter with the throaty bass prowess especially thrilling though it is soon left slightly in the shade of its successor. The second of the two calls with citric pipes initially before immersing in a thunderous charge of riffs and rhythms ridden by the lordly and raucous vocals. It is an enthralling call to arms, muscles clashing in the air as a melodic seduction, especially from keys and horns, brings hope fuelled hues and dawns to the building hostility as it thrusts thoughts right in the midst of sweat soaked, dirt clad warrior bonding.

The albums best track is followed by Moya Zemlya (My Land) which has the unenviable of trying to compete with its predecessor. Rawer and dirtier than the previous song, and even more hostile, the track rummages through the senses with a malicious vocal and caustic sonic voracity. It is a destructive engagement until the moment the song reins in its spite for another absorbing evocative passage of melodic imagination and emotion which in turn inflames the potency of the returning tenacious fury of the track. Though it does not manage to match earlier songs, it is a compelling and ravenous provocation which is soon a distant memory once the might of Bylina takes over. Though the group vocals with their tribal discord labour in their convincing the torrential and unrelenting nagging of riffs and punchy rhythms seduce ears and emotions with sublime ease. It is a lure which only tightens its grip as pipes dance and flirt with their rich tapestry of expression and sound over the merciless and scintillating surging of riffs and rhythms.

The album closes with V pesnyah dedov (In Songs Ancestors), an eleven minute epic which scars and seduces, ravishes and entices across its evolving soundscape of sound and lyrical emprise. It is a fine conclusion to an excellent release which has everything you wish from a folk metal release and more in a masterfully unrefined and honest encounter. Bastion is without doubt a band to take notice of.

Vremya borby is available via Der Schwarze Tod now @


Ringmaster 31/07/2014

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King of Asgard – Karg

King of Asgard 2014

With their new album our introduction to King of Asgard, expectations of Karg were bred from the influence and suggestion of others. The band’s third album follows the widely acclaimed debut Fi’mbulvintr of 2010 and the similarly well-received …to North two years later. The former especially is mentioned in lustful voices so hopes and anticipation for the bands new full-length was keenly high. What emerged is a release which initially did not completely convince. Certainly the band’s raw blackened death metal impressed in weight, craft, and malevolence yet it lay relatively dormant in the passions. As with all releases though the first couple of ventures were mere suggestions and subsequent listens began revealing a much broader and inventive proposition. It would be wrong to say that the album has managed to light a fire in our imagination and passions yet but it has become one tenaciously compelling protagonist over time. How it sits against the previous King of Asgard albums we will have to let others say for now but Karg is definitely an album worth a decent perusal.

The Swedish band was formed in 2008 by vocalist/guitarist Karl Beckman alongside drummer Karsten Larsson, the pair having played together in Viking metallers Mithotyn. Drawing on Norse heritage lyrically, the band released the demo Prince of Märings in 2009 before being joined that same year by bassist Jonas Albrektsson, once of Thy Primordial. The demo drew strong attention from labels and by the December of the same year King of Asgard has signed with Metal Blade Records. Fi’mbulvintr caused a big stir in the metal scene with its release the following year. Recorded with Andy LaRocque, as both the subsequent albums, it strongly thrust the band onto the folk/extreme metal map. Second guitarist Lars Tängmark was then recruited as the band hit the live side of things across 2010/11 before the band settled down to work on and create sophomore album …to North.

The dark and harshly lit soundscape of Karg is the next confrontation for ears and emotions from the band, its title meaning barren in English which is a perfect description of the stark atmosphere it carries, and to be honest of that first initial persuasion. As with all things closer inspection reveals creative nooks and crannies though; the unpredictable elements which breathe and tempt below the surface, and it is undeniable that Karg has a wealth of those lures.

The distant portentous storm of what feels like a brewing battle front makes way for the wonderfully nagging riffery of The Runes of Hel, the guitars calling invitingly from within the still rumbling scenery. Swiftly rampant rhythms are King of Asgard - Kargin league with the inciting guitars, as are soon after the gravelly growls of Beckman. There is virulence to the eventual charge of the track which has attention and appetite recruited keenly, more so as it expands its creative and lyrical narrative. Persistently guided by that niggle of a toxic groove which set it in motion, the track continues to enthral and impress with its at times subtle twists and caustic melodies within the overall intimidation of the song, making for an open attraction to greedily devour.

It is a mighty start which has hopes licking their lips for what is to follow. The Trickster comes next, striding in on imposing riffs to which shards of sonic enticement blazes. It is a magnetic entrance, especially with the group vocal calls, but despite prowling energetically loses its impetus. The grooving lures and crisp rhythms make a forcible draw whilst riffs and vocals roar pleasingly but the track feeds more than defies expectations, missing the inventive colouring of its predecessor. There are engaging twists within it to keep interest and satisfaction high though and make it an encounter you want to explore more, just like its successor Highland Rebellion. Aggression and antagonism is high from its first breath, the call to arms rhythmically and in atmosphere a potent coaxing within and around the menacing textures and attitude of the track. Again though, it lacks the spark to ignite the passions which disappoints, even if ears and imagination are admittedly quite content.

Remnant of the Past marks a shift in the strength of the album, the track returning its appeal to the levels of the first track with adventure and raw enterprise. Its coarse wind of riffs and punchy rhythms makes an intriguing beckoning but it is when the storm drops and the bass takes centre stage with its sinister tone as Beckman’s equally noir lilted vocals snarl out the lyrical bait, that there is a new potency to track and release. The song continues to stalk ears with roaming riffs and concussive rhythms but reined in by that threatening air. The song persistently surprises to incite a new hunger for the release, its winding melodic tempting and group vocals adding extra taste to the richly appetising proposition. It is soon left in the shade of the outstanding Omma though. From an elegant piano crafted caress the track builds a brooding dusty squall of sonic and rhythmic intimidation. It is not hostile but certainly warlike which is accentuated by the great vocal drone which comes in, its primal chant like a meditative tribal coming together in preparation for battle. That intensity erupts with warring rhythms and vocal causticity but bound again by delicious melodic straps of enterprise and emotively atmospheric textures. Ultimately barbarous in its intent there is also a seduction to the song which leaves thoughts and passions basking.

Both The Heritage Throne and Huldran keep things at a heightened level, the first especially contagious in its creative suasion. The track strolls in with rhythmic muscles poised and confident swaggering riffs. The bass finds a gutsier growl too which only adds to the captivating and bruising rapacity of the song. It is another track unafraid to explore different avenues, arguably too few of the songs doing so upon Karg. With slow moves into clean harmonies over melodic respites and equally restrained crawls of heavy weight predation veined by majestic sonic hues, the song is an enthralling offering. Its successor is pure vitriol in sound and presence, a furious rabidity but veined by irresistible grooves and intrigue clad ideation. Many of the songs on the album are slow burners in persuasion, this more than most but it evolves into one of the most eagerly digested incitements over time.

The album is concluded by firstly Rising, a brutally imposing and exciting encounter which also takes time to permeate thoughts and feelings but does so with a tenacity and tempest of sound and imagination which leads to a stealing of full praise, and lastly a brilliant cover of Bathory’s Total Destruction. I know this will upset a great many but with its punk/thrash fuel and urgency, and outright inhospitable infectiousness, the track takes the original to another level and along with Omma is the pinnacle of the album.

Karg has still not lit a fire in the belly but with each and every listen just grows and brings a stronger persuading and is easy to whole heartedly recommend.

Karg is available via Metal Blade Records now @


RingMaster 23/07/2014

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Falconer – Black Moon Rising

Falconer - Gruppbild 2014 I

Sure to please long-time fans of the band, Swedish folk power metallers Falconer return with their eight album and an embracing of the sound which bred their earliest presence. It is not as clear cut as it sounds though because the quintet also craft a compelling web of modern metal tenacity and at times hostility to create a varied, often unpredictable, and constantly rewarding proposition. Falconer has always been a band which either clicked with or missed our preferences up to this point but despite still elements which fall on our stony ground, Black Moon Rising surpasses all that came before and has little trouble leaving rich satisfaction in its wake to temper our difficult demands.

Formed in 1999 as a solo project by guitarist Stefan Weinerhall (ex-Mithotyn) with Mathias Blad stepping in as session vocalist, Falconer soon become a full band with the addition of drummer Karsten Larsson. From their self-titled debut album in 2001, the band had attention and passions falling over themselves as well as a wealth of acclaim. Its successor Chapters From A Vale Forlorn a year later marked another step forward for the band, though the year also saw Blad leave the band. With Kristoffer Göbel enlisted as the new singer, third album Sceptre of Deception in 2003 was unveiled to again strong reception whilst a year later another line-up change saw guitarist Jimmy Hedlund and bassist Magnus Linhardt joining Weinerhall, Larsson, and Göbel. A twist in style accompanied the next album before a more recognisable, and arguably wanted by fans, flavour returned as the next trio of albums lit up an ever increasing fanbase starting with Grime vs. Grandeur which marked the return of Blad. Recorded with Andy LaRocque at Sonic Train Studios, Black Moon Rising follows the entirely sung in Swedish Armod of 2011, taking those earlier ventures and sounds of the band on a brand new and rigorously captivating emprise.

Riffs and attention seeking rhythms open up first track Locust Swarm, which in turn awakens attention and an early appetite through Falconer - Black Moon Risingthe following energetic rabidity and deeply rooting hooks across a blazing sonic canvas. Soon settling into steady stroll as the narrative and Blad unveil their expressive tales, the song is swarming around and within the imagination whilst rhythms buffet ears. The song is a mix bag, the ravenous and predatory aspects of the track exhilarating and the mellower passages around the vocals slightly underwhelming in comparison. Nevertheless with the individual skills and combined enterprise, the track is a more than solid entrance into the emerging power metal landscape, setting up the listener nicely for the following Halls and Chambers. The haunting whispers within a cavernous hall is a great portentous introduction but not exploited fully as the song goes on a similar charge as in its predecessor. What emerges to take it another step forward though is an indefinable but open familiarity to the chorus and melodic tempting which flows as courageously as the breath and anthemic riffery through the track. Again it is not a song to lose full ardour to but with the delicious sculpting of guitar and a nagging persuasion it is an encounter to immerse in often, especially its great hard rock/folk metal finale, the beauty of melodies and vocals hand in hand with the beast of the bass.

The album truly erupts with the title track next, the song a muscular warrior of rapacious rhythms and eagerly roving grooves carrying the colours of infectious melodies and riveting imagination. By the first round of its anthemic chorus the track easily outweighs and outstrips its predecessors, enslaving thoughts and passions with a continually shifting aural scenery but never straying from the potent core which stole the plaudits within its opening breaths. Larsson impresses from first swiping jab to the last whilst the guitar ingenuity of Weinerhall perfectly assisted by Hedlund, bewitch and ignite a greater greedy appetite for the album.

The enchanting coaxing of folk stroll Scoundrel and the Squire has the misfortune of following such an epic but from its gentle initial caress builds a persistently expanding and tempting landscape of unpredictable beats and fiery guitar wrapped in poetic and melodic hues. Like its music its success and appeal grows and enriches ears the further it explores its premise before making way for the scintillating Wasteland, a track which attacks ears with a scourge mentality from the off before, and without losing its agile intimidation, grabbing its sonic steeds and galloping magnetically across the senses with rhythmic nostrils flaring and antagonistic riffs baring teeth. It is another major pinnacle within the album, feet and neck muscles as soon devoted to its suasion as ears and emotions.

Both In Ruins and At the Jester’s Ball keep things boiling nicely, even if they miss the lip of the previous plateau cast. The first borders on rock pop even within a tirade of blasting beats and exhaustive riffing, the song forging a great and enthralling mix of vivacious invention and raucous intensity, whilst its successor is a satisfying romp suiting the artistic revelry imagined by its title. Neither leaves thoughts awe struck but undeniably both add to the pleasure and fun being devoured by this point of the album before being shown the way by There’s a Crow on the Barrow, another insatiable gallop with melodic flanks over thunderous hoofs of rhythmic intent and heavily enticing riffs.

Dawning of a Sombre Age despite is open invention and masterful presentation leaves established heights alone though sculpting its own definitely pleasing level before the album concludes with the voracious and fascinating Age of Runes and the jubilant dance of The Priory. Each song brings the album to an impressive end, the first an absorbing proposition which never leaves expectations anything to truly feast upon whilst the last is just Falconer and their distinctive sound at their creative best.

Black Moon Rising has moments of brilliance and others where it merely pleases without much more but makes for an exciting and enthralling encounter overall proving Falconer have plenty left in their fire keep on setting power and folk metal new adventures to eagerly anticipate.

Black Moon Rising is available via Metal Blade Records now!


RingMaster 11/02/201

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