Bokassa – Divide & Conquer

The recent release of their single Walker Texas Danger suggested that the debut album from Norwegian punks Bokassa might be something a little bit special. The track was a relentless nag of their self-proclaimed stoner punk, a breath-taking tirade of sound and attitude simply demanding attention and lustful reactions. Its potential and promise is more than lived up to by Divide & Conquer, even left looking pale at times by the album’s unbridled tempest of hardcore ferocity, punk belligerence, and stoner bred grooving. Beyond being special, it is one of the essential listens of 2017 from a band you still feel is only just starting out on their creative journey.

Hailing from Trondheim, the trio of vocalist/guitarist Jørn Kaarstad, drummer Olav Dowkes, and bassist Bård Linga took little time in sparking eager ears and local bordering national support with the release of the three track strong EP, The Great Northern Roadkill in 2014. It was the following year though through a couple of singles and the War On Everything EP that their presence really began breaking borders, success enabling Bokassa to tour across their homeland with the likes of Hold Fast, The Dogs, Frk. Fryd, Johndoe, Exploding Head Syndrome, and Warp Riders. Released on Record Day 2016, the single Make Music Great Again pushed things again, with Walker Texas Danger their biggest triumph and pull yet. It is now easy to think and expect Divide & Conquer to be a game changer for the band, the trigger to bigger, even the biggest spotlights to pay dues to one of the truly exciting prospects around.

A lone melody brings opener Impending Doom into view, its rich coaxing soon seeing stormier clouds gathering above it as riffs and rhythms join its enticing groove. Its slow stroll and portentous air subsequently slips into the waiting tempest of Last Night (Was a Real Massacre). Instantly energy and aggression is turned right up; spiralling grooves and rabid riffs grabbing ears as rhythms angrily thump. Like a raw and dirty collusion from Red Tape and Fu Manchu, the track devours the senses, feverishly crawling over them with plague like hunger to powerfully feed the thick anticipation triggered by the band’s previous single.

It is that song which comes next, Walker Texas Danger slamming its bruising qualities upon the listener from its first breath. Kaarstad is a squall of vocal attitude and discontent backed with matching antipathy by the band in voice and sound. Grooves though spin an infectious web as rhythms give a primal examination and Linga’s bass provides a grumbling lilt to the song’s stoner fuelled swing. The whole mix is glorious, a reason to welcome exhaustion before Crocsodile Dundee shows no mercy with its antagonistic rumble. Metal seeded acidic melodies court the song’s punk ‘n’ roll catchiness whilst its heart is pure hardcore pushing a magnetic bluster lying somewhere between Ghost of a Thousand and fellow Norwegians Shevils.

After its rousing assault, Genocidal Tendencies brings greater restraint in its own raid though weight and spite is as full and unbridled as in its predecessors. Equally, the song shows more of the variety at the heart of the Bokassa sound and songwriting as dark harmonies and wiry grooves conspire with the inevitably punishing rhythmic and sonic incursion also escaping the band. As magnetic as it is merciless, the track is a tenderiser of the senses, their ravaging provided by Five Finger Fuckhead with its scourge of hardcore truculence bound in mouth-watering grooves as vocal dexterity plays within the band.

As each song’s final breath becomes the next track’s first, the album just flies by, never allowing the listener to regain balance or composure. Here Goes Nothing rises from its predecessor with a head-rush of violent tenacity and creative adventure. Arguably the album’s grooviest, most kindly catchy proposal, it still offers a cauldron of intensity in its emotive onslaught while any ‘lighter’ tones are boldly absent on the punk rock salvo unleashed by Retaliation straight after, the song an one minute ambush of appetite’s sweet spot.

The album is closed by the raw captivation of Immortal Space Pirate (The Stoner Anthem). The album’s longest proposition by a mile, the track is a volatile smoulder threatening to erupt with every passing second. It never really does but there is no lightweight essence to its groove woven canter and rhythmic swing, its scuzzy air and cosmic filth as much manna for a passion for raw rock ‘n’ roll as its melodic escapades and uncompromising tide of intensity. Across its seven minutes, Bokassa merge acoustic and harmonic prowess into their instinctive sonic blitz and stoner punk ferociousness, the song alone revealing the width and depth to the band’s imagination and potential.

The bottom-line is that Divide & Conquer is superb, a bewitching brute of an encounter only leaving sheer pleasure and a hunger for plenty more.

Divide & Conquer is out now digitally and on Ltd Ed vinyl via All Good Clean Records through http://www.allgoodcleanrecords.com/onlinestore/ or https://bokassaband.bandcamp.com/album/divide-conquer

https://www.facebook.com/BokassaBand

Pete RingMaster 28/03/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Boudain – Way of the Hoof

BOUDAIN_SPACELAB

For those with a lust for the groove and the fattiest slabs of heavy rock ‘n’ roll flavoured meat, the checking out of US stoners Boudain might just be the best order of the day. The quartet has just unleashed debut album Way of the Hoof,  a ravenous swamp of stoner and sludge infested waters  which preys on the psyche whilst feeding the appetite for dirty and fiery rock ‘n’ roll. Influences to the band include the likes of Sleep, Melvins, Kyuss, and Fu Manchu which their album does not shy away from bringing to the party in flavour across its eight thumping trespasses, especially the last of the four. To that though, Boudain add their own meaty sauce for something which mighty not be breaking the banks of originality but certainly feeds the soul and appetite for imposing metal and invasive rock.

Consisting of bassist/vocalist Chris Porter, guitarists Brian Lenard and David Karakash, and drummer Stephen Jester, Boudain released their first EP in 2013. The self-titled six-track offering caught the ears and attention of a great many which Way of the Hoof is now poised to escalate, to easily assumed, broader heights. Opener Sleazy Feats swiftly has ears wrapped in almost salacious grooves as rhythms badger and bear down on the senses with a hefty hand. Riffs and vocal swipes only add to the highly agreeable introduction, a potency which continues as the song swings with zeal and enterprise across its fiery body. Surprises are not an open proposal though a freshness to the familiar landscape is, and increasingly so as Lenard and Karakash incite their grooves and toxic melodies to breed an even stronger strain of temptation.

Boudain art _RingMasterReviewSome might suggest that the album is a touch muddy but as the opener and following Neptune alone show, it is a thick smothering which adds to the swampy, at times almost delta blues like, intensity and richness of songs and release. The second track brings a bit of punk to its contagious confrontation too, clashing percussion uniting with the predation of the rhythms as the song simultaneously swings and prowls. Quickly it eclipses the impressive strength of its predecessor, continuing to impress and inflame ears with its thickening web of grooves and sonic acidity before allowing CODA to share its own imposing wares. Whereas the first pair flew at the jugular and senses, this track prowls, almost stalks the listener as its tar thick sludge breeding consumes ears. Porter’s vocals, or Lenard’s as the two apparently share duties across the release, again provide a great mix of growl and dirt encrusted infectiousness as they match the textures of the sound around them.

A cosmic ambience lines the sweltering lure of guitar as 3 Man steps up next; that sultry invitation and suggestiveness lying upon a great rhythmic rumble led by the swinging throaty infectiousness of the bass. The song soon slips into a more expected stoner blaze though drums and bass continue to cast their rhythmic hex on ears and appetite as the guitars weave an intoxicating tapestry; a knit which continues right to the end even as the song becomes more aggressively volatile.

First Class rips into ears next, it taking the listener back to the more hellacious type of assault the album opened with as tangy grooves and scything beats take their share of attention along with the brooding bass and attitude soaked vocals. Once more, a recognisable air to the track is rife but only within that welcoming Boudain character that ensures nothing is as simple as being a copy of those earlier mentioned influences or others.

Through The Mighty Turn Around and its sonically spatial exploration, and the rawer bruising stroll of Disco Jimmy, ears and album continue to be bound together. The first of the two has some of the most mouth-watering bait in its grooves and psyche infesting rock ‘n’ roll whilst its successor is a psych rock igniting of the imagination which lights the flames of thorough enjoyment if not the major excitement some of its earlier companions provoked. Nevertheless both leave ears more than content with the closing cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s Godzilla adding its enjoyable feed; the band treating the track to its prowling strain of sludge and stoner predation.

It is a fine end to an album which might have provided its major moments in its first half but from start to finish only inspires a real want for more and the idea that Boudain have the potential to sculpt major temptations luring equal attention ahead. They have plenty to get a little lustful over right now too which Way Of The Hoof offers with relish.

 Way Of The Hoof is out now @ http://boudain.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/boudainla/   https://twitter.com/boudainmusic

Pete RingMaster 21/04/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Desert Suns – Self-Titled

Desert Suns band photo_RingMaster Review

Released in the Autumn of 2014, the self-titled debut album from San Diego quartet Desert Suns gets its deserved official worldwide re-release this January through a special collaboration between Ripple Music and HeviSike Records. For those missing that original limited run of 300 copies on vinyl through Birmingham-based HeviSike , its return is the chance to grab one highly flavoursome slab of stoner bred rock ‘n’ roll.

Formed late 2013, Desert Suns quickly drew attention with their first single Burning Temples which was released in the January of the following year. Seven months later and their six track debut album confirmed the initial potency of sound and imagination within that early single in a fiery and immersive blend of stoner and heavy metal, psyche and blues rock. The band’s sound, as at times their lyrics and song themes, demands attention without the heavy weight of it ever becoming invasively imposing, and within the Tony Reed (Mos Generator/Stone Axe) mastered album provides a powerful invitation to the listener, if without really wanting to take no for an answer.

DESERT-SUNS---DESERT-SUNS_RingMaster Review

Artwork-Jimmy Ovadia

Burning Temples starts things off, an initial sonic static the bed for heavier rumblings and clamorous energies before one hefty groove grows from within the low key tempest. It relaxes with an elegant shimmer to its lure and melodic spice to its touch as the dark bassline of David Russell aligns to his quickly alluring vocals though the forceful and agile beats of drummer Ben McDowell subsequently raises the intensity as the guitars of Woogie Maggard and Anthony Belluto twist and turn with magnetic grooves and riffs. As the track becomes a contagious blaze enslaving hips, ears, and imagination, it is easy to sense Black Sabbath and Deep Purple inspirations at play, the music masterfully and voraciously ebbing and flowing in energy whilst providing a continuous full-on sultry temptation.

After the incendiary climax of the first song has ignited ears and keen involvement further, the following Space Pussy shows it is even more ferociously enflamed with quick sonic and melodic intoxication. Raw and seductive flames soon live up to the suggested salacious exploits and skills of the song’s protagonist, their intensive heat casting a vociferous smoulder in sound and atmosphere which almost has the senses woozy, though sinew swung rhythms and a great gnarly bass tone provides a rapturous temper to that cosmic inebriety smothering ears.

The blues infested rock ‘n’ roll tempest of Passing Through gets ears excited all over again, its feisty swagger courting a virulent catchiness driven by tenacious rhythms and swinging grooves matched by the Ozzy-esque vocal temping of Russell. The track is irresistible, taking a great first impression of the album up another notch with its flirtatious enterprise and anthemic dexterity of music and craft. As across the album, there is something familiar to the Desert Suns sound but a hue only adding to the lure of its bordering on mischievous revelry.

A breath is allowed to be taken by the blues croon of Ten Feet Down as ears feast on a new twist in the landscape of the release. Blues and country rock merge to serenade as harmonica and guitar colour a salty portrait of suggestiveness around it, all colluding for a magnetic encounter before Memories of Home portentously pulsates into view and unfurls a lumbering beast of a stoner/heavy metal fuelled proposition. A scent of Fu Manchu meets Electric Wizard meets Kyuss looms up within the tantalising proposal, whilst mellow and soporific textures unite with the ravaging torrents stirred up by grooves and a hungry energy to create another hard to resist confrontation.

Run Through My Roots brings the album to a compelling close, its atmospheric soundscape and pungent rhythmic suggestiveness the prelude to another forceful and heavyweight enveloping of the senses. Once more romancing calms are seductive oases amidst increasingly volatile eruptions and predacious outbursts, their mesmeric caresses breaking ravenous outpourings of sound and emotion as the track offers a fascinating end to a thoroughly enthralling and enjoyable release.

Second time around, Desert Suns is not to be missed and already thoughts are eagerly turning to what comes next from the band, where they have imaginatively ventured since the creation of their album two years ago.

Desert Suns is out now through Ripple Music in North America on CD and Royal Blue vinyl and on Beer Brown vinyl in the UK through HeviSike Records with digital copies @ https://desertsuns.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/desertsunssd  http://www.desertsunsmusic.com/

Pete RingMaster 20/01/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Possessor – Electric Hell

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Hailing from London with a penchant for occult metal and with already the Wings of Fire EP under their belt this year, UK metallers Possessor have unleashed a rather tasty and impressive debut album in the stormy form of Electric Hell. There is not much more we can tell you about the band except that if you like a cocktail of sludge and stoner metal with thrash and varied metal rapacity, then this is an ear rioting album to whip up the juices. Consisting of nine tracks which simply flirt with the imagination whilst rigorously fondling the passions, Electric Hell is a treat for all fans of bands such as Black Sabbath, Slayer, and Fu Manchu through to Black Tusk, Gruntruck, and Kyuss with plenty more on offer. There is one band though which came to mind again and again as the release set to work on ears, and that is early Therapy?, the album vocally and in its predatory sounds holding a highly agreeable and uncanny essence of the Irish trio about them.

Unique in its own presence too, the album is a gloriously raw and irresistibly cantankerous encounter which makes an immediate and appetite igniting impression through the first rugged swipes of opener Chasms of Malice alone. From the first breath, sinew clad strikes of guitar courted by the bestial throaty charm of bass crowd ears to spark swift attention, the imagination following suit as an acidic groove and caustic riffing emerges to consume the senses. There is a punk vitality to the track too, especially once the effect surfaced vocals join the now rampaging stride of guitars and the punchy rhythms. It is a glorious enticement with the snarling bass stealing the limelight, but only just from the toxic groove and insatiable swagger of the song.

Its striking start is swiftly followed and matched by Invisible Face, again riffs setting down predatory bait which is coloured by stoner-esque hues and infectious grooves. With a haunted tone to the vocals and grumbling voracity to both bass and drums, the track bulges with rabid riffs and spiky hooks to inflame an already greed bitten appetite. It is a hunger soon fed a tasty morsel by Limb from Limb and spoilt by the outstanding Castle of Bastards. The first of the two is a more slowly intensive proposition, its acidic binding of sonic enterprise as restrained and flavoursome as the gentler expression of the vocals. It is deceptive though as at its core, the song is primed and driven by an incessant nagging of riffs and the ever incendiary bass sound. It is an underbelly which is fuelled with rabidity, a lure as potently predacious as the sounds around it are magnetically reserved. It is a fine encounter but soon left looking up at the might of its successor. Like most tracks on the album it is driven by thrash bred tenacity and muscular urgency which makes for a familiar and easily digestible spine, upon which the rest of the song expands and brings its creative devilry. Castle of Bastards is no exception but to this insatiable bait it unleashes a bestial breath and inventive sonic unpredictability which simply bewitches. The track is where that reference to Therapy? is first bred, though earlier tracks hint at it at times too. Far too short at less than two minutes long, the song is pure hostile drama and quite magnificent.

The sultry stoner grooving of Strange Summoning over a garage punk and heavy metal blended canvas makes its own sturdy claim for top track honours. Again brief in presence but rich on irrepressible adventure with riffs and grooves the prime addiction, it soon makes way for the Sabbath-esque Heavy Dreams. It is a song intensive in weight and primal structuring yet veined with a sonic intrigue and melodic causticity which would not be out of place in a Torche or Melvins treat. It is followed by the virulent contagion of the instrumental Skeletal Form, a corrosive dance of scathing riffs and inhospitable rhythms with an impossibly addictive groove, one again related to anything the previously mention Irish band uncaged on the Shortsharpshock EP or the Troublegum album. Equipped with sludge oppressiveness and acute stoner seeded sonic enticements, the piece is a deliciously enslaving encounter which reinforces the depth and devilish character of the band’s exhilarating sound.

The album is concluded by firstly the sonic grazing of Face the Possessor, a track which fails to find the same eagerness of reactions as its predecessors but still with intimidating jagged riffery and entrancing guitar endeavour leaves ears richly satisfied and the imagination enticed. The final song of the album is its title track, a hypnotic and unrelenting persuasion of doom spawned pressure and bordering on insidious temptation. It is a demonic slice of instrumental alchemy which shows that if ever their frontman lost his voice the band would not disappoint on stage thanks to their absorbing and spellbinding, not forgetting ingenious sonic adventure.

As Electric Hell seduces time and time again, it is hard to imagine that Possessor will go unnoticed for long by fans, media, or even label interest. Now is the time to submit to their diablerie we say, this raw and unpolished gem of an album a thrilling ticket to the start of their inevitable ascending ride.

Electric Hell is available now @ http://possessor.bandcamp.com/album/electric-hell

https://www.facebook.com/possessorband

9/10

RingMaster 10/08/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from

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Mongrel – Evolution

MONGREL - Evolution - front cover - scaled

Towards the end of last year US punk metallers Mongrel released the single Snakes to provide a very appetising taster for their next EP whilst simultaneously reconfirming themselves as unique and passionate provocateurs of antagonistic punk rock and dirty metal. The band now unleashes that highly anticipated Evolution EP, a release which surely places them on the precipice of a well-deserved intensive world spread spotlight. Sealing a spot on an impending cover mounted CD of the renowned Terrorizer magazine as well, The Boston quartet are poised to make the next big step in recognition. It is an ascent their releases have threatened to spark for the past couple of years but it is easy to feel and expect that Evolution will be the potent fuse that achieves the breakthrough.

Formed in 2003 by guitarist Adam Savage, Mongrel has earned themselves the reputation of one of the hardest working and increasingly acclaimed bands in the underground of metal and punk rock. Each one of their releases has thrust the band on another lofty step though it was the addition of vocalist Jessica Sierra in 2010 where things truly clicked into place and the arguably dormant fire in their already impressive sound and presence erupted. From The New Breed of Old School EP of that year through the following Declamation EP in 2011, there was a new potency and venom on the grooves, hooks, and rhythms which core Mongrels’ invention. Alongside these successes the band live has earned a reputation most bands could only dream of, their sharing of stages with the likes of GWAR, Korn, Otep, Sepultura, Prong, Halestorm, Wednesday13, Fu Manchu, Dizzy Reed, Misfits FEAR, Blitzkid, Trashlight Vision, Michale Graves, Mindset X and hordes more garnering tides of fans and recognition. The Reclamation album of 2012 saw the band ascend to new heights in songwriting and imagination which now Evolution pushes further forward. Recorded with Jim Foster (POD, Nullset, Sully Erna), mixed by Dave Fortman (Slipknot, Evanescence, Godsmack), and mastered by Howie Weinberg, (Metallica, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pantera), the EP is a stirring anthemic brawl which is as contagious and addictive as it is raw and lyrically uncompromising.

Snakes opens things up and as soon as the initial controlled blaze of guitar from Savage hits the ears there is a sense of impending infection which is soon confirmed by the crisp beats of drummer Mike Hogan and even more so by the riveting vocals of Sierra. With the pulsating bass groan from Michael Ariza added to the mix, the song is rapidly into a potent stride heading towards its virulently compelling chorus. The band takes little time in enslaving the imagination, treating it further with a seamless drift into a smouldering sultry passage with emotive guitar rubs and a glow to the voice of Sierra, a lady who seems to own ears, thoughts, and songs whether she is roaring with antagonism or seducing like a temptress. Building up its energy and passions throughout the lighter flight, the song creates a dramatic crescendo of a finale which leaves appetite licking lips and emotions looking at a lustful hunger.

Mongrel have a certain distinct sound which never deceives its source but within that the band with Evolution seems to be exploring their punk side this time around, the first song giving a major hint which the following Oxygen Mask elaborates on within a still heavily insatiable metal toxicity. An acidic groove hits ears first, though rhythms and a great gritty bassline is courting its coaxing. Pulled together by the commanding vocals, the track twists through a predatory intensity and gait, Savage spearing the air with metallic vines of sonic bait. Persistently turning with singular moments for the bass and guitars to flirt with ears, the song recalls essences of Siouxsie and the Banshees, certainly if they had embraced metal. Imposing but respectfully forceful the track backs up the immense start easily even if without matching its heady heights.

That first plateau is equalled by Consumed; a deliciously abrasive enticement of caustic hooks and senses burrowing grooves. Guitars worm under the skin within seconds with rhythms swinging punches soon after, the combination a hungry platform for the dark hearted bass sounds and rich vocals to colour their canvas. Unleashing a swagger to match the almost brutal energy, the song stomps with epidemic irresistibility, those spiteful grooves especially inescapable whilst sonic hues sculpted by Savage in an engrossing solo provide further rigorous colour to the outstanding incitement.

Best Revenge has the hard task to follow the triumph which it does with a rawer hostile punk enticement, the bass finding a carnivorous throat to its presence and the guitar a combative attitude to its riffs and squalling flames. Once again though it is caged by great controlled rhythm work by Hogan and led by the expressive might of Sierra. The track is not as immediate as others on Evolution but emerges as another pinnacle with punk nostrils flaring and metallic muscles challenging.

The release is concluded with another sizeable success with the riotously catchy Over And Over. An addiction forging bassline sparks ears first before riffs and rhythms cascade upon the lure to build a rampant canter of punk rock. Hooks and grooves from both stringed antagonists grip with a constant temptation whilst Sierra swings syllables and intent into their barbed scenery with the expected but never under-appreciated skill and passion she brews. It is an exhilarating conclusion to a tremendous encounter, leaving ears, thoughts, and passions bursting with greed for more.

Guiding their sound to a side step in many ways from that taking Reclamation to such heights, Evolution stands side by side with its predecessor’s undoubted success and quality, though with a heart for well-crafted punk rock if pushed the EP shades it. What is clear for all though is that Mongrel just goes from strength to strength whilst evolving with a constant flair and voraciously appetising enterprise. It really is about time the band was known worldwide and Evolution might just be the trigger.

Evolution is available on iTunes on May 20th and via all major online retailers and streaming services from June 3rd with physical copies available through Mongrel, Unable Records and Amazon.

http://www.MongrelBand.com

http://mongrel.bandcamp.com

9.5/10

RingMaster 16/05/2014

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Mongrel – Snakes

Mongrel

The first release since the outstanding Reclamation album of 2012, US punk metallers Mongrel unleash their new single Snakes and continue to set new standards for themselves and aspiring rock/metal bands. Taking from their upcoming Evolution EP which is slated for an early 2014 release, the new track employs all the renowned and expected inventive and addictive aspects of the band but gives them a new fire to burn explosively within further exploration from the band and their songwriting. As anthemic and contagious as you would expect from the Boston quartet, Snakes reinforces the hunger of their fans for their bruising, riotous sounds whilst laying down plenty of bait to recruit new greedy hearts.

Formed in 2003 by guitarist Adam Savage, Mongrel has over the years evolved into a highly sought after live band and a formidably potent studio encounter with a wealth of releases strikingly marking their steady and continual rise. Since forming the band has laid waste to stages alongside the like of GWAR, Korn, Otep, Sepultura, Prong, Halestorm, Wednesday13, Fu Manchu, Dizzy Reed, and the Misfits numerous times as well as touring with others such as FEAR, Blitzkid, Trashlight Vision, and Michale Graves, all the time continually drawing acclaim. Equally from the start their releases have lit up the passions of fans as well as the independent airwaves, the band a regular on the likes of shows at http://www.Audioburger.com and The Bone Orchard podcast, but it is fair to say that the full potency and heart of the band exploded when they enticed vocalist Jessica Sierra into the fold, her snarling vocal beauty igniting something lying dormant in the band with previous frontmen. Through The New Breed of Old School and Declamation EPs on to Reclamation, Mongrel has grown and evolved into an intensive and magnetic force which Snakes only elevates further.

The single wastes no time in tempting the ears as the guitar of Savage skilfully strokes the extremities with his inviting riffs, its call soon a0370760246_2joined by a pulsating bass call from Michael Ariza and the crisp beats provided by drummer Mike Hogan. Settling into an open temptation, the power and thrust of the song is taken up another level as Sierra punches the lyrical intent forcibly and melodically into the imagination. All the while there is a reserved but persistent groove which wages seduction upon the senses throughout the song, it enticing greater passion and hunger from the listener and it is fair to say that at this point the single has submission already in its hands. This is not enough though it seems as the instigator then shifts seamlessly into an evocative and intimidating yet smouldering flame of sonic endeavour and emotive persuasion which has the band pushing their boundaries and ideas without losing their core energy and intensity. The moment is brief but potent and makes for a building step for the final adrenaline lit finale. There is a certain pop punk element to Snakes which arguably has not appeared before with Mongrel and it is a refreshing move brought with craft and adventure which avoids eroding any of the band’s confrontation and  inciting invention.

It is hard not to be excited and full of impatient anticipation for the Evolution EP thanks to Snakes, but the wait will be relatively short and the single ensuring the time is well fed with its incendiary exploits. A name your own price release at Mongrel’s Bandcamp profile, the single is the perfect invitation for those new to one of metal’s best ‘undiscovered secrets’.

http://www.mongrelband.com/

http://mongrel.bandcamp.com/music

10/10

RingMaster 29/10/2013

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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Clashing sinews and sonic deities: an interview with Gregg Higgins of Venomous Maximus

Photo by Mark C. Austin

Photo by Mark C. Austin

 Rock/metal, however you wish to describe the enthralling leviathan of invading shadows and seriously addictive melodic alchemy that is the music of Venomous Maximus it is a confrontation which leaves you gasping and hungry for more. The recent worldwide re-release of their debut album Beg Upon The Light has slammed the quartet right in the midst of the most rapacious yet sonically rewarding bands today. Towering riffs and equally mountainous rhythms crowd maelstroms of irresistible grooves and an intensity which staggers within the impressive release backing up the almost fearsome reputation of their live performances. Given the welcome opportunity to quiz and dig deeper into the band with vocalist/guitarist Gregg Higgins, we soon realised this is much more than a band for the man and his colleagues.

Hi Gregg welcome to the RingMaster Review and many thanks for taking time to talk to us.

First of we will ask for the benefit of those yet to be fully acquainted with Venomous Maximus can you give us some background to the beginnings of the band and its members?

I am an artist and a tattooer. Our drummer Bongo builds motorcycles. Trevi is a math mathematician and a hot sauce master and Christian makes everything happen. I moved to Houston 6 years ago and had been planning for 4 or 5 years on starting the band. I was just waiting on the perfect time and the right people. Then everything fell into place…the end.

Was there an immediate connection musically and in thought about how the band would progress between you?

Yes of course. We weren’t getting anyone involved if they had to be taught anything. I think that’s important when putting together a band. Not just finding members that can just play the music. They have to understand the master plan.

Some bands have a ‘leader’, a founder who is the prime force behind the direction or creative input is that the same with Venomous Maximus or is it a more democratic process within the band?

It’s like being on a submarine. It’s a tight ship with not a lot of space to move around. Everyone has a role and job in the band and doesn’t have to be told what to do. I am the main creative force but it’s just a bunch of ideas. Everyone puts in their input but they are the ones that actually make it happen.

You are seemingly tagged as anything from an occult rock band to a doom or heavy rock. I am not sure any of those truly describe your intense flavoursome rock’ n’ roll, how would you describe your massive sounds?

The whole name game that is involved with underground music is getting pretty silly now days. None of it really matters it should be just for fun and a way to describe and communicate what bands sound like to friends. Our goal was if we play a metal show we are the rock band. If we play a rock show we are the metal band. A chameleon if you will.

I have to ask the about the seeds to the great band name, which alone raises images personally of an insidious dark unknown with

gladiatorial strength and purpose.

You have given the best description of the name. When I hear it that’s what I think of… A titan or god from the ancient world. It basically comes from a tattoo design from the 60s and 70s of a solider that has been away from home a little too long.

Lyrically your songs also approach and investigate the unknown and unspoken shadows. Is this an interest which goes beyond just writing songs?

Yes of course. All of the material comes from experiences or situations I have found myself in over the years. I am not signing about graphic novels or movies or religions. This shit is real man!

Your excellent originally self –released debut album Beg Upon The Light has just been given a re-release through Napalm Records, did they come to you with the offer or were you searching for a wider outlet for the release?

We have always had the attitude whatever happens… happens and Napalm was very interested immediately. Some other labels hit us up but we didn’t wanna get lost in the mix so we decided to go with our gut.

So they were not alone in showing interest over past months or so?

Yea I guess I don’t know what your idea of interested is. We can be pretty picky and choosy about dealings with our band. But most of the buzz has started again in the last couple months. The material on the record is getting old to us and time for some new tunes.

942460_10151622495054738_934875440_nBeg Upon The Light was very well received on its first unleashing, were you more confident with this world wide release or in some way more nervous than before?

Truthfully this band began with a spark and I have always known that we would grow into a flame. It’s kinda like when you meet a woman. Something is a little bit different about it…things just seems to work and flow naturally even when problems arise they seem to take care of themselves, almost guided if you will. When things seem to naturally work in life you shouldn’t question them. ..that’s arrogance to me.

The album follows your first EP The Mission of 2011, and though you are still young in terms of the time the band has been in existence how do you feel your music and songwriting has developed between releases and also what you are presumably coming up with as either new material or ideas now?

Yea I feel the material has grown light years. We spent a good two years just me and the drummer working on a set to finally scratch it when the band actually started playing. We spent damn near the 1st two years playing every week, there has been more time spent on stage than in a practice room now. When your material is written in a practice room compared to being written on the road and in a fully functioning band you really see what you’re made of. Right now we are in the process of writing the next record. I truly feel that it is a true interpretation of what we have wanted to sound like. Much more mature song writing with more of a classic approach to rock n roll than just metal or doom or fucking yea. Hopefully there will be a group of people that don’t like it because it’s not our old material… hahahaha…but they can live in the past and do nothing

How does the song writing process work within the band and are songs as good as completed before entering a studio or do you prefer evolving ideas within that environment more?

Its 3 parts me in my bedroom. Then brought to the practice room and then worked out for the stage. Once the kinks are worked out for performing the song, then the studio. All of the salt and pepper is put on in the studio through intense examination and then its dead to me.

Are you quite strict with yourselves over ideas and things that do or do not work when writing? Do you have a mound of elements discarded or shelved for another opportunity?

We treat the band as if it was a being. As if it’s a ghost. He has his own personality and own opinions and knows what he likes and if he wants to change or stay the same we have to respect his decision. We are just here for his voice to come through. He does half the work we do the other half, so not all the decisions are up to us.

Is it riffs or melodies which generally come first for songs, or do are more often triggered from the lyrical side of your invention?

Actually goes back and forth. A lot of times its lyrics and thoughts that really drive me to write a song, or it could be as simple as me jamming Fleetwood mac and going to the guys with we have to write a song like this our way. Which is normally slightly faster with a little bit of chuggy and a blues lick laid on top. If you got a sharp year you could relate every one of our songs to The Cure, Madonna, David Bowie, all the everyday music that elitist underground’s lie about how much they love. We don’t give a shit about any of that. One of my favorite bands is Enya and she ain’t even a band. hahahaha

Beg Upon The Light is an inventive and intensive ravishing which does not really allow any breaths to be taken within its leviathan like confrontation of towering riffs and equally mountainous rhythms as well as enthralling of invading shadows and seriously addictive melodic alchemy, well how we see and feel it anyway. Is it a deliberate intent to have the listener use every part of body, senses, and emotions within its encounter or just something which naturally evolves?

I believe that all artists that have suffered and given their lives up so that they could interpret their experiences to art hope that other people will pick up on what you’re putting down. What you’re explaining is pure projection. It’s the same as someone is lying to you. You can sense they are full of shit, but when people are truly disturbed and upset to their core you can literally feel. Their emotions are so strong and being amplified so much that they literately travel from your body to yours…that’s one of the 12 super powers humans are naturally born with. It’s a shame that people in this modern technology world of information don’t even know the 12 special powers that only human beings possess…or I could be lying about all this. All that really matters is what rings true to you.

You hail from Houston, how would you say the city and surroundings have impacted on you as musicians and band either positively or negatively, if at all?

Houston is my home and I have many friends here but Texas is where I am from. Houston itself is a hell hole of grime and multi cultures. It’s like the New York of the south. One thing that it has provided for us is all the many flavors of culture. So it’s helped us be a little more diverse and not seem like hippie grass eaters from Austin or Pantera rednecks from Dallas. We love all the cities here we just love to talk shit too. It’s a Texas thing. Fun loving shit talking.

Is it a supportive metal scene there for new and emerging bands?vm

Texas can be the easiest and the roughest crowd anywhere you go. People don’t care about the bullshit politics of what kind of band you are. All the crowd wants is for you to play your hardest and get off stage and have a beer and talk to them like a real person. Everybody in Texas thinks about themselves as a rock star on or off stage. So the crowd doesn’t give a shit who you think you are. They wanna drink a beer with you.

You have a great reputation for your live performances and have played with the likes of High on Fire, Down, Guns and Roses, Mastodon, Pentagram, Eyehategod, Fu Manchu, Torche, Black Tusk, Bison BC, the list goes on. Apart from great experience and recognition, what has playing with bands of this calibre brought to your own headlining shows now and in the future, again in a good or negative way?

From day one the bar has been set super high. More than 1/2 of the bands we have played with the members have been playing longer than I have been alive. The intimidation and self-consciousness got to a point of almost conquering me but I am not really one to fail. I will bite my own leg off to get out of a trap. So we had to really bear down and focus and stay out of the bar to figure out if we were gonna do this it’s gotta be all or nothing. But it was just a trial period. When things are forced to live up to a certain expectation after a while that’s just the level it becomes and then you get bored and you take it up a notch and up a notch and up a notch. It’s truly up to you if you ever want to stop progressing because the second you do. You can clearly hear it.

I sense you guys love the live side of the band intensely, more than the time and creative process involved in writing and recording new songs?

Our band is more than a band to us. It’s more like a cult. It’s taken over all of our lives and the wives of the band, but in a good way. It’s became something that brings us all together as people for birthdays, weddings, movie nights and just straight up weekend partying. Not everyone in the world still has the family they had when they were children but everyone needs a family whether they are blood or not. A band or anytime humans group together creativity and happiness should arise. so to answer your question yes this is way more than a band.

What has Venomous Maximus in store for the rest of the year and are we able to talk about a successor to Beg Upon The Light yet?

For the rest of year we are working on writing and recording the new record which will have videos, new line of merch, and a short film. We have a few shows sprinkled in the next couple months but we have worn ourselves thin so right now we are juggling our personal lives, writing and recording and planning most of next year.

Once again a big thanks for sparing time for us, anything you would like to say to the readers?

I wanna thank all the people that have taken their time to take a second glance at something and follow their gut when they feel that there’s a deeper meaning in things. If you ask the question is it going to happen to me that means it is and that’s the truth.

And finally what have been the five most potent inspirations on you musically or personally?

Music I would have to say Beethoven, Pink Floyd The Wall from 5th grade, The Crow and the Doors from 6th grade and for films that helped me get a visual for music. The lists can go on and on. I am the kinda of guy that’s good with lists. For some reason music from people who are sad or disturbed has always just made me happy. It’s the people who relish in superficial joys that make me angry and Kenneth Anger is the shit. Read books so you don’t have to wait

https://www.facebook.com/VenomousMaximus

Read the Beg Upon The Light review @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/venomous-maximus-beg-upon-the-light/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 26/07/2013

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