October File – The Application of Loneliness, Ignorance, Misery, Love and Despair – An Introspective of the Human Condition

Ester Segarra

We have had a soft spot for UK protagonists October File ever since the unleashing of their How to Lose Friends and Alienate People EP and the soon following debut album A Long Walk on a Short Pier in 2004. It is a seemingly instinctive connection which has only increased over time and reached another pinnacle with the release of their new full-length The Application of Loneliness, Ignorance, Misery, Love and Despair – An Introspective of the Human Condition. A mouthful in name and an inspiring incitement in body, the Candlelight Records released album takes the imagination and passions on a tempestuous adventure throwing voracious riffs, rabid rhythms, and bordering on insidious grooves into evocative explorations of emotions and experiences. A concept album based on the aspects of its title in regard to the human state and its response to certain incitements, the nine track investigation is quite simply a riveting confrontation of highly flavoursome and esurient metal.

Formed in 2003 by guitarist Matt Lerwill and bassist Steve Beatty and finding specific inspiration in band such as Killing Joke, Amebix, Godflesh, and Gang Of Four as well as others within rock, punk, industrial, and underground metal, October File has created a presence which is distinctly uncompromising and unafraid to push its boundaries as shown by the new release. Completed by vocalist Ben Hollyer and drummer John Watt, the London based quartet soon left a deep mark through their opening album and even more so with the following Hallowed By Thy Army EP of 2006 and acclaimed second album Holy Armour from the Jaws of God a year later, the second of the two featuring Killing Joke frontman Jaz Coleman. Arguably even more rigorously potent live as on record, the band has savaged numerous festivals and a wealth of venues as well as touring with the likes of Killing Joke, Prong, Ministry, and Fear Factory over time. Third album Our Souls To You was unveiled to similarly potent responses and reviews on 2010 but with The Application of Loneliness, Ignorance, Misery, Love and Despair…. the band has sculpted and uncaged their most dramatically antagonistic and provocative exploration yet. Recorded with producer Jamie Gomez (Cathedral, Ulver, Altar of Plagues, Electric Wizard), it is a challenge armed with the all the intensive qualities and enthralling brilliance to feverishly ignite ears, thoughts, and emotions.

First track I Fuck The Day opens within a restrained but troubled melee of voice and brewing aggravation driven by a harsh guitar tone. It OctFile_Digi_Front_2014_old_logois a sonic portent which taunts as it encloses ears, building its oppressive coaxing until ready to unlock the tumultuous intensity and corrosive fury pent up inside. This it does with a tirade of rhythmic enslavement, vitriolic riffery, and a savage bass presence. This ferocity is soon led by the ever drama fuelled scowls of Hollyer, his delivery passionate and threatening. Just when you think you have a grip on the storm though it dips into a melodic detour, an elegant and emotive shift within a raw atmosphere. It is an intriguing movement before the track returns to its destructive sonic intent.

It is a tremendous start but soon left in the shadow of both Heroes Are Welcome and Reinvention. The first of the two thrusts its hungry sinews and rapacious energies at the senses from the first second, inviting grooves spiralling from within the impacting ferocity. The weight of the rhythms and riffs is as forceful and compelling as the intensity of the song’s heart, its presence like a mix of Mastodon and Prong in body and October File in sound. The synapse firing groove of the track is also delicious bait which simply accentuates the lure and veracity of the track, though it turns out once its successor steps forward to be just the appetiser for even more addiction crafting chastisement. The best track on the album, Reinvention lets the guitars score and abrase the senses first, softening up their victim before twisting out a groove which makes Ebola seem lightweight in virulence. The track soon has body, imagination, and soul crusading down its venomous landscape with greedy submission, its repetitive toxicity reminding of early Therapy? whilst the rhythmic manipulation of the senses and vocal poise of Hollyer leaning the way of equally early Killing Joke. It is a blistering escort for thoughts and emotions not forgetting passions into the inventive and evocative narrative of the release.

Following song, The Water takes longer to release all of its persuasion than the previous songs but ensures the journey is a riveting and thought stretching pleasure. Lasting over eleven minutes, the track slowly stretches and ambles from within a thick cascade of watery evocation before flexing its lumbering muscles and strolling causticity into a doom seeded march. Again that Coleman and co reference rears its unmissable head but only a flavour which accentuates the power and imposing majesty of the release. Chugging with incessant rhythmic hunger and breath stealing creative rabidity, the song consumes and seduces with the appetite of a deliberately stalking tsunami clad in epic dark intent within ruinous immersive depths.

The acoustic persuasion of Upon Reflection brings a break in the musical onslaught if not the emotive weight of the album, guitar and voice a potent spark before the exhausting Elation soars in with major intensity and a sonic endeavour winding tightly around the already rapturous appetite for the album. The order of these two songs may be reversed as the Bandcamp stream for the release had then the other way to the promo sent through to us.

As The Clouds Meet The Horizon pleasingly swamps air and senses next bringing a tidal wave of caustic almost pestilential seduction within a fierce rhythmic frame, grooves and hooks biting hard and digging deep for exhilarating expression and enticement. As with all the tracks there are twists and turns to the persistent repetition cored drive of the song which spellbinds and skilled guitar play which simply bewitches.

The album is closed by the equally thrilling All Rise All Fail, a track which sonically swaggers like a professional assassin and rages like a wounded bear, and finally the exceptional To Be Watched Upon. If the previous track was an angered animal, the last song is a bestial force of sound. Rhythms and riffs prowl, pound, and gnaw with incisive jaws whilst the bass discovers it’s most carnivorous voice yet. Danger and intimidation drips from every note as shadows and savage climates lurk ready to pounce and tear body and heart asunder. Leaning towards ten minutes of primal provocation, the sensational song is a charnel house of sonic acrimony drenched in venomous enterprise.

Released on 26th May, The Application of Loneliness, Ignorance, Misery, Love and Despair… is easily the finest and most dramatically imposing October File storm yet, a predator of sound and passion which leaves the majority of other bands and releases floundering in its turbulent wake.

http://octoberfile.bandcamp.com/

http://www.octoberfile.co.uk/

10/10

RingMaster 25/03/2014

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Cross Wires – Assembly EP

Cross Wires

     Hankering for a slice of post punk infused new wave with that irrepressible eighties originality? Then a healthy purchase of the exploration of the new Cross Wires EP is your next mission in life.  Assembly is a riotous stomp of energetic imagination and deliciously niggling invention, a quartet of songs bred in the birth of those genres but equally ripe with a modern psyche stirring mischief. It teases, taunts, and romps with the senses like a discord draped devil child to quite easily and unrelentingly stir up the passions.

     Hailing from Bethnal Green and Romford in the UK, the foursome of vocalist Jonathan Chapman, guitarist Peter Muller, bassist Pete Letch, and drummer Ian Clarke has been sculpting an impressive reputation for their sound and live performances since their debut at The Others in Stoke Newington in late 2010; subsequently playing across the capital and home county Essex at notable venues including the Camden Barfly, Sebright Arms, Queen of Hoxton, 93 Feet East, The Half Moon, and Hoxton Underbelly. Two EPs, Forward/Repeat and Animal Heat announced the band to a wider audience in 2011 whilst a third, Dark Water, the following year only helped cement and accelerate their emerging presence which the outstanding Assembly will surely add another enthusiastic gear to.

    Cross Wires bring inspirations from the likes of Buzzcocks, The Clash, The Cure, Gang Of Four, and Wire into their own coverinventive devilry as well as that of XTC whose song on the White Noise album, the band named themselves after. To be honest anyone reaping the influences of one of our eternally favourite bands is given a head start with us though their music obviously has to do the talking, which on Assembly it loudly does. From the beginning of the opener Stranger’s Bed, the band lays an infectious hand on the imagination and passions as they cavort with the relish of a maniacal puppeteer. Thumping anthemic drums seize instant attention, setting things up for the jangle of guitars to add their own bait around the expressive vocals of Chapman. Into its infectious stride soon after the track stomps with a rhythmic vivacity and range of hooks which the Buzzcocks would be proud of, indeed the overall sound has a rich essence of the Mancunian band as well as the discordant enterprise of Medway band Houdini. It is an undemanding and thoroughly giving slab of post punk pop with a fuzzy breath to increase the appeal.

     Acid Bath, like the first, makes the strongest entrance possible. This time it is the bass stroking the ears with a riff certainly Gang Of Four inspired, its carnivorous voice and suasion an irresistible lure which only increases with the scythes of guitar and unpolished enticing vocals. The chorus of the song loses some of that initial potency as the thrust of the track softens but replaces it with a virulent causticity which touches on The Fall. Once more band and song has feet lurching around with eagerness whilst voice and energy is seduced into action with ease, the same results achieved by the brilliant I Want To Be Your Man (Again). The best track on the EP swaggers in with a slow swerving of its hips and a persistent flexing of its sonic audacity, the track a hybrid of all the good things already gracing the release, taking those qualities and invention into a loftier frisking of the passions. It is an exhilarating exploit raising a lustful greed once thought lost to those times in the eighties.

   Final song White Dress makes a less dramatic entrance than previous songs but is soon, through a precise hook within thumping rhythms, unleashing another Shelly and co styled persuasion with the Cross Wires imprint. It traps satisfaction in a lustful romp of angular enterprise and refreshing adventure and though the weakest of the four songs, in that it does not unleash the demon inside as certainly the previous pair of tracks do, White Dress still provides a magnetic proposal to sell your dignity for and a delicious end to a thrilling release.

     If any of the bands mentioned or just simply punk, new wave, and post punk in general lifts your temperature then Cross Wires is a band to set a fire in your thoughts and emotions, though as Assembly shows, expect the unpredictable and something which is certainly seeded in those glorious older times but takes you on a new adventure. With the Assembly EP free at http://crosswires.bandcamp.com/album/assembly-ep there is little reason not to be part of this extremely promising and exciting band.

https://www.facebook.com/CrossWires

9/10

RingMaster 21/02/2014

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Tribazik – Data Warfare

 

TRIBAZIK

    Describing the sound of UK band Tribazik is easy, early Killing Joke meets Pendulum with healthy doses of the raw power of Pitchshifter, the fiery electro snarl of The Prodigy, and the rhythmic swagger of seventies band Red Beat, except as is loudly evident on new album Data Warfare, it is only part of the scintillating recipe. Forging something unique and irrepressibly contagious through the merging and rigorous gene altering of alternative rock, psychedelic metal, industrial, techno and much more, the London based trio rampage through the imagination like a sonic tornado, organic electro and rhythmic teasing entwined with hungry rapacious grooves and psyche igniting invention. It is a glorious pulsating confrontation which has already brought the band eager and potent attention though you suspect that will be nothing in comparison to the acclaim once the album reaches out and out.

     The band is the brainchild of Jerry Kandiah (vocals/guitar) and Hedge Seel (drums/samples), two musicians with a rich experience in metal based bands and having their own sound system on the underground rave scene. Linking up the pair explored styles which lit their own passions with a new and boundary pushing invention, the first results including the track Yang To Yin which caught the attention of Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven. His invitation to support his band led to two European tours alongside Killing Joke and Jaz Coleman guesting on a track from Tribazik’s Andy Gill (Gang of Four) mixed debut album All Blood is Red in 2009. Following its acclaimed release the band was then permanently joined by Syan whose previous band Interlock had released the critically acclaimed album Crisis//reinvention in 2004. The recording of the new album was hit by the death of the band’s manager Gary DS but such the force and energy to the breath-taking tempest you can only feel they used the loss to drive their creativity and passion in tribute to the man. Self-produced and mixed by Youth (Killing Joke, The Orb, The Verve), Data Warfare is a sumptuous kaleidoscope of sound and imagination, an inventive fury which transports the listener into lyrical skirmishes looking at ‘the imminent hostilities facing the human race’, and broiling sonic soundscapes woven with aggressively stirring imagination and voracious creative energy.

     A cyber enticement starts things off as Too Dead To Care emerges from an electronic cocoon to incinerate the air with a a2136431759_2furnace of sound and riffs before settling into a deliciously agitated yet perfectly poised enveloping of the ears. Immediately that Killing Joke and Pitchshifter reference coaxes thoughts as electro driven rhythms and pulsating energy fuses with the ravenous guitars. It is a senses dominating introduction to the album, one bold in its invention and unafraid in its dramatic and persistently evolving provocation.

    The intense and breath-taking start has lips of anticipation being licked and soon satisfied as Atom soon followed by Life Force Energy parade their ingenious contagion. The first of the two flirts with and peels away the surface of the senses with a skittish almost acidic electro irritant whilst behind riffs and rhythms carve out a formidable and incendiary canvas for the vocals of Kandiah to paint the lyrical narrative. His tones are very Jaz Coleman like across the whole release which only accentuates that Killing Joke resemblance, but never to the detriment of the adventure and distinctive Tribazik presence. The second of the pair from another subdued but sinister intro erupts into a blood pumping and exhaustive consumption of the senses, riffs growling with every heavy note and the beats of Seel reinforcing the tantalising damage with sharp and incisive animosity. As now expected it is just one facet of the enterprise escorting the emotions into a near rapture, melodic swarms and thought provoking craft washing and twisting around the uncompromising pulse and heart of the track.

     Without allowing the listener a breath unless they use the pause button, Tribazik keep the riveting creative pressure on with 12th Disclosure and Sonar Sumeria, the first a sonic bred incident filled experiment wailing with aural warning signs, caustic sirens, and perilous intimidation all filtered through a dangerously magnetic swamp of techno radiance and industrial predation. It is a masterful seduction taken to even greater heights by Sonar Sumeria, a celestial journey through rave spawned, psychedelic coloured, sonic romance. Throughout a vociferous energy equally brews up resulting in a sultry and elegant evocation which Pendulum would have loved to have sculpted.

    The album continues to fire up the passions and greed in an already gluttonous hunger as firstly the restrained but predatory Hacktivism with its unrelenting electro bait and metallic rabidity seduces and abrases the senses. Just as keenly a virulently addictive groove brings slavery to the imagination before the rhythmically toxic Spacetime Collapse takes over laying a wonderfully wanton and irresistible hand on the emotions as spirals of unpredictable transfixing ingenuity expand the already dexterous invention. With an additional dub coating to its expanse reminding at times of Ruts DC, the song provides another pinnacle on the lofty range of the album before the dark and menacing presence of Bloodline Crossbreed infects and magnetises an admittedly ready to drool over anything appetite for the album. Arguably not as colourfully imposing as previous tracks but with an evocative melody enriched ambience merging with the intensive atmosphere it is on the frontline of intriguing, sophisticated alchemy.

   That deliberately sculpted and thoughtfully layered turn of the album continues through the final two songs, though no song lacks invigorating intelligence and artful ingenuity in its makeup. The melancholic yet vibrantly rousing Absence Of Proof comes first with female calls lighting the surface of the emotive exploration lyrically and musically whilst the closing Tools Of Mass Creation delivers a world of sonic emprise all of its own, it a resourcefully elegant and vivaciously daring flight of moving imagination. The pair makes a mentally and emotionally mesmeric end to an exceptional encounter; Data Warfare a sensational dawning of Tribazik and their time to take the rock world by storm you suspect and hope.

http://www.tribazik.com

10/10

RingMaster 21/02/2014

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Monstre – Self Titled LP

 

Monstre @ Fête de la musique 2012

    With more flavours than a Cornish ice cream parlour and twists than a snow boarder on an Olympic half pipe, the debut album from French rock band Monstre is a startling and scintillating beast of a release. The self-titled ten track encounter challenges and treats the senses from the first second, a constantly evolving mix of metal and rock in numerous guises all colluding to infest the imagination and passions. With a suggested depth of potential that is still to be fully untapped by the band as their album thoroughly captivates and thrills from start to finish, Monstre is one of the most exciting propositions to tantalise the ears in recent years.

     The creation of Toulouse duo King Pilo (vocals/guitar/bass) and Seb (drums/backing vocals); the album was recorded in November of 2013 at the Meskine Records Studio with its release at the start of this year. List your favourite metal and rock styles and most likely Monstre will be employing their essences in the multi-faceted and voraciously inventive release. More unpredictable than an orgy in the dark and just as rabidly enterprising, the album works on the primal and creative wants of all with a rhythmic alchemy which leaves you exhausted and drooling alongside a sonic kaleidoscope of ingenuity which simply dazzles and enthrals.

    The album opens with Obey, the jaws of bass an instant intimidation on thoughts as the guitar lays a slow glaze of causticity coverover the senses. With vocal harmonies grazing air as expressively as the stalking sounds, the track subsequently expels a sludge toned weight and intensity on its recipient. Whilst circling and probing emotions with its lumbering and incisive predation, the track’s lyrical incitement as across most songs is a minimal but equally imposing and effective lure helping create a towering entrance for the release.

    The following Green Fish not only builds on its predecessor’s presence but thrusts the album to new heights with its fusion of noise and psyche rock aligned to menacing alternative metal. As in the first the bass has an irresistible savagery which immediately sets the passions beaming, but it is just part of the wonderfully toxic bait building a web of virulence. There is an early Killing Joke potency to the song but also slithers of invention which suggest bands like Melvins and Faith No More has added spice to the band’s artistically informative years. The track is a glorious slice of intrigue and adventure for the imagination, a tantalising and chilled enticement soon matched by the instrumental Mother. Revisiting a sludgy textured prowl with that metallic snarl of the bass and equally ravenous riffery amidst a sonic voracity, the track is an epidemic of rhythmic seduction and inventive endeavour.

    Both Prick and Less taunt and light up the ears, the first coating everything from rhythms and riffs to vocals and sonic weaves in a rapacious breath. The guitars scythe and sculpt a riveting maze of provocative ideas and textures whilst the bass scowls and leans heavily on the senses as the drums pummel their tender flesh. It is an absorbing and incendiary mix offering a Gang Of Four compulsion and Fugazi liking attitude and combativeness. Its successor provides eight minutes of cantering sonic hostility and rampant incessant rhythmic incitement, the track’s first half an instrumental taking of the imagination and its latter stretch providing a great vocal enticement and grunge bred expression to the relentlessly anthemic charge of rhythms. Both songs are formidably imposing and irrepressibly magnetic upon thoughts and emotions continuing the impressive stance of the album.

     Drunk blends a grunge and stoner persuasion into its hungry design, a Nirvana kiss smooching in some of the song’s punkier moments whilst the following What U Say takes that same punk essence and immerses it in a more hard rock brawl with again a Gang of Four post punk tempting. Without strolling along the same plateaus as set by previous songs, both tracks providing a healthy feeding for a greedy appetite before Song One thrusts its muscular and sonic grunge/rock swagger through the ear for another contagious trap for the passions.

    The album is brought to a close by firstly the niggling pressure and charm of Nothing, a track with a provoking adventure and inventive voracity which reminds of Wire at their most transfixing, and lastly by the persistently shifting Welcome, a song which between a top and tailing Middle Eastern seduction which is very similar to that of The Cure’s Killing An Arab, immerses the ears in every essence of sound it can conjure for a fluid and inspiring soundscape of incisive metal and heavily boned rock ‘n’ roll. The pair of tracks impressively concludes a tremendous album and introduction to Monstre, a band with all the imagination and flare to rise into the strongest spotlight. The anticipation of that is full and sure whilst pleasure now is fat and bloated on the excellence of Monstre.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/MONSTRE/285147271524380

https://monstremusic.bandcamp.com/

9/10

RingMaster 19/02/2014

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Passenger Peru- Self Titled

     Passenger Peru

    Startlingly immersive with the craft and ability to turn the listener into a castaway lost in an expansive seduction of suggestive pop majesty within a dreamy soundscape in its rawest breath, the debut album from Passenger Peru is an experience you cannot help licking your lips over before each and every encounter. It is a mouthwatering collection of warm and elegant persuasions bred in an exploration which is bold and bravely adventurous. The self-titled album is as mentioned pop in its rawest most potent form but with an inspiring scourge of creative devilry and melodic mesmerism twisted into a hypnotic and at times wonderfully demonic dance.

    Passenger Peru comes from the creative minds and passions of Justin Stivers (vocals, guitar, bass, synth, drums, drum machines) and Justin Gonzales (vocals, guitar, synth, piano, samples), the former one time bassist with The Antlers for their Hospice album. The seeds for the Brooklyn based project are said to have started four years ago when the two musicians met and evolved into the Stivers led band Pet Ghost Project. A year in preparation, Passenger Peru is mouthwatering sonic scenery composed into something unique from essences of garage rock and shoegaze, psychedelic, alternative rock and more. With plenty of peaks and very minimal lows, if any at all, the lo-fi, hi-quality flight is raucous spellbinding pop brought in its most primal and beauteous magnificence.

     The album immediately takes the listener to a scintillating pinnacle with its opening pair of songs, a height the album never passperucoverquite emulates again though it thrills consistently trying. First song Your Hunger emerges from a cinematic melodic swoon and following studio doodling launches one of the most exciting and impressively tempting starts to a song heard in a long time. Guitar and bass instantly secure the fullest attention as they virtually gnaw on the ears with the latter offering an almost carnivorous tone to its dark enticement. With mutually attractive rhythmic teasing alongside, the rapacious sound conjured by the pair continue to coax and lure in the strongest lustful reaction and hunger, a post punk essence bringing thoughts of Joy Division and Gang Of Four to mind prowling the imagination whilst framing the excellent mellow and soothing vocals. It is delicious mix with sinister spirals of cold sound amid glorious flames of melodic tenderness colliding and uniting for a quite stunning provocation. Complete with an irresistible repetitious gait to bass and rhythms alongside a quite saucy groove which also hardly veers from its prime intent, the song sets the highest plateau for the album to keep up.

    In the Absence of Snow steps up next to stroll that pedestal with ease, its opening acoustically sculpted guitar tantalising and the again snarling throaty bass tempting exceptionally addictive and successful in igniting even greater rapture in the imagination and emotions. Best described as the Jesus and Mary Chain meets House Of Love whilst the revelry of Ok Go! is at play, the bait laid down for the ears and emotions to partake in, is again virulently impossible to refuse or not find a greedy need for. Rock pop at its finest with a fiery solo and another spine of repetition kissed captivation, the track continues the album’s unassailable submission of the passions. With an impressive lyrical craft and insight also at work, which admittedly comes second best to the sound in attention taking over the first couple of plays, Passenger Peru at this point has already ignited an ardour which only a total car crash of a remaining body of songs could deflate.

    Pollen Season takes no time in showing no such disaster is on the cards though as mentioned before, the album never treads the same lofty levels again. To put that into context though the following tracks prey on and build their own benchmark which most bands would swap their grannies for, the third song on the release a beguiling proposition of organic beauty around once more a bass treat you can only enthuse over with a tendency to drool, and a percussive enterprise which does not steal focus but would leave a major whole with its absence. Seriously magnetic, the song departs the now raging appetite for the album for the epidemically engaging pop absorptions of Tiger Lilly and Heavy Drugs to take over. The first of the two has a swagger and melodic grin which teases and charms but an equally solicitous sonic and rhythmic bruising to its latter swing whilst the second is a sultry summer breeze of radiant melodies within an increasingly dark and unsettling premise.

     The second half of the album starts with Weak Numbers, again a track which ensnares thoughts and appreciation but marks a slightly less potent stretch for the album. The front five tracks leave the latter quintet in their shadow though once more in a context where Passenger Peru is on another realm with their artistry at the start of the album and a still immensely impressive level thereafter. A gentle and smouldering embrace, the song is a melancholic incitement with celestial elegance aligned to a tempestuous but contained emotive brawl. It is a transfixing companion immediately supported by the exotically imagined Memory Garden and the enthralling, intensive fascination of Health System, a song which merges heavy and light melodic and intimidating textures into a weave of emotion entangling beauty with XTC like alchemy.

     The new single from the album Dirt Nap comes next, emerging with a slight Celtic lilt to its sonic beckoning before a predominately acoustic caressing ensues with a sense of The Wonder Stuff to its snare. Initially thoughts were not over excited by the song but over time it works its way under the skin to seduce though personally not the right choice as the single to lure people into the outstanding album, a record holding back another major treat for its closing offering. Life and Death of a Band is a rowdy and antagonistic romp but equally a ridiculously endearing and alluring temptress from a maelstrom of invention and creative intrigue and a quite brilliant finale to a breath-taking slab of pop excellence.

    Passenger Peru will be massive at some point with all the evidence resting and burning away in their debut, a journey as unique and awe inspiring as their name hints at.

http://www.passengerperuband.com/

http://passengerperu.bandcamp.com/

9/10

RingMaster 05/02/2014

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GagReflex – Nails EP

Gagrelex

A release which passed us as probably it did a great many at the tail end of last year, Nails the debut EP from UK noise punks GagReflex is a release and introduction to its creators which undoubtedly still needs a bit of late retrospective investigation. Consisting of four tracks making for a stirring and intrusively provocative presence, the EP is an early marker for a band which has all the promise and inventive craft to evolve into an even more potent and gripping confrontation.

Hailing from Cheltenham, the band consists of bassist/vocalist Stu Hawkins and drummer Seb Goffe. Their sound as you might suspect from the line-up of instruments is a throaty and uncluttered enticement, a new direction for a pair of musicians used to a more conventional band situation. Bands such as Morkobot with their bass only attack has always sparked a strong hunger for us and GagReflex is no different, their sound intimidating and predacious whilst simultaneously captivating with an infectious enterprise and carnivorous imagination.

Opening track Cut To The Spike opens on a lure of sonic tempting with swift to join rampant rhythms, the combination instantly riveting coverand even more so once the darker heavier bass tone takes its place in the persuasion. A niggling groove taunts the ear in the background before sheltering behind the soon involved intensive walls of rhythmic narrative led by the punkish vocals of Hawkins. Magnetic and contagious the song is like the greatest evil, menacing, fiercely intrusive, and wholly seductive. Post punk whispers are a healthy by-product of the instrumentation and just as welcome as the caustic touch of the song, the whole inspired union a striking first encounter.

I’ll Be The Hyena offers a lighter again post punk tempting to start things off, thoughts of The Three Johns and in many ways Gang Of Four raising an appearance. It soon develops a sterner and darker riling which like the first song finds an eager appetite lying in wait for its concussive rhythmic juggling and darkly sonic narrative. As before there is plenty of imagination involved to keep the song fresh and intriguing whilst musically it works on the primal side of satisfaction.

Both Chew Myself and What’s The Deal, Kim Jong-il? to conclude the EP unveil distinctive and seditious incitements, the first with a melodic toast to the punk rock vocals wrapped by the guttural croon of the bass within another sculpted rhythmic cage and the closing track through its blaze of spiky rhythms and snarling bass painted sound. There is a more new wave like pop lure to the final song and throughout the Nails EP there is that almost taunting irresistible light charm or is that venom which leaves ear and imagination greedily contented.

Though their demo debut is raw and coarse around the edges, Nails is a thoroughly pleasing and adventurous encounter. GagReflex is a fresh animosity for noise rock and one which surely will gain stronger vitriolic depths ahead for all our benefits.

The Nails EP is available as a free download from http://gagreflex.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/gagreflexmusic

8.5/10

RingMaster 11/09/2013

 

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Disappears: Era

disappears2013A_zoran orlic 2

Over their five years of existence, Disappears has continually delved deep into their creative thoughts and stretched not only their limitations but the listeners, their recent abstract and challenging Kone EP a prime example. With Era, the fourth album from the Chicago band, there is not exactly a less adventurous experimentation going on but certainly a stripped down one which has a core seed driving its breath and intent. The seven track album is bred from early 80ʻs post punk, admittedly given the distinct rapaciously dark Disappears touch and a modern voraciousness but openly spawned from a suggested passion within the band for that period and aural bedding. It is a stunning release which has a foot in nostalgia and another in current noise artistry as it takes the senses on a chilling venture into light exhausting realms and emotive provocation.

Sculpting the album through an almost psychotically oppressive merger of dub, psyched fuelled repetition, and carnivorous post punk cold, the quartet of Brian Case, Damon Carruesco, Jonathan van Herik, and making his debut drummer Noah Leger, immediately throw a caustic web over the ear with Girl. Its slow dawning soon coaxed into greater life by the lone bass croon, which itself is soon immersed in a harsh sonic wash of guitar and effected vocals. There is an immediate sense of Public Image Limited to the stark and hoarse glaze which appeals strongly whilst the persistent haze of noise only adds to the concussive temptation, the repetitious squalling of vocals and sound furthering its strength yet again as the climax of the track scorches the air.

The following Power has a clearer sky to its presence, the tempestuous air of its predecessor replaced by a haunted blackened breath KRANK182_5x5_300dpiveined by a compelling bass narrative and the drum beats. Instantly riveting in this insistent design, the guitars bring an additional expressive hue to the provocative persuasion, their sonic colour pushing a sense of The Cure from around their second and third album to thoughts whilst the steely ice embrace caging it all seems bred from the heart of Joy Division.

Two tracks in and Era has already secured full physical and emotional involvement but an elevation of ardour is soon forced as both Ultra and the title track enslave and appease the now rife appetite further. The first of the pair from the off niggles with a steely stare from the guitars with a rhythmic beckoning which only enhances the thick lure. As the vocals slowly coat the engagement with gelid reserve, the repetitious stance of the track becomes a greater temptress, its minimalistic encroachment bringing a sense of Wire and early Killing Joke into play with the uniqueness of Disappears. Its successor continues in the same teasing persistently nagging way, riffs and hooks on repeat until they seduce down to the instinctive core without ever verging on annoyance though this time they are accompanied by a richer melodic colour dripping delicious discord and wrapped in a polar climate. Carrying a sense of Artery and Gene Love Jezebel to it, the track accentuates the diverse and enriching depths of the release. It may come with a frosty nature but works with resourcefulness on every aspect of the body and mind.

The exceptional Weird House steals top honours with its scintillating stroll of noise pop and pop punk revelry. Holding a swagger arguably missing on the other songs and equipped with a melodic sun that glistens off of the metallic sinews of the drums and compelling bass temptation, the song is a virulent infection on the senses. Again loaded with a singular course for its intent and with vocals that seem to swing with relish simultaneously to the slight wantonness of the song, there is an indefinable familiarity to the scintillating offering though once more you can suggest Wire as a source.

As Elite Typical rolls firmly through the ear with an early Gang Of Four cold scold and invention, and the closing stark expanse of the Joy Division/Colin Newmanesque New House invades every pore with its arctic noir kiss, Disappears ensures that Era is as potent and invasive at its tail as its head. There is a clarity and uncluttered voice to the album and all of its uniquely offered songs which alone sets the album apart from their other releases, but mostly it is the merciless entrancing presence and intensive suggestiveness which leaves no thought and emotion untouched. Rich in the essences of the past but stood rigorously in the present, the Kranky Records released Era is a stunning and exhilarating slice of tender desolation and melancholic joy. A definite album of the year contender too.

http://www.disappears.us/

9.5/10

RingMaster 26/08/2013

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Them Wolves – German For Duke EP

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Sounding like the softer spoken cousin of Coilguns, though with the same rapacious dissonance, and employing the snarling provocation of a Bishop and the turbulent fire of The Locust strapped to the abrasive beauty of The Jesus Lizard, UK noise rock disruptors Them Wolves make their debut with an EP which is as furious as it is compelling and as sonically destructive as it is caustically seductive. Five tracks of corrosive distrust and clangorous temptation, the German For Duke EP is a delicious cacophonous brawl created with a craft and imagination only those of unique synaptic disorientation could conjure.

Hailing from Birmingham, the trio of Greg Coates, Stuart-Lee Tovey, and Noel Campbell is another impressive encounter to emerge from a rising Midlands scene, a band carving out a startling individual presence within this wind of blossoming enterprise and now preparing to recruit more passions from prospective loyal fans with their first release as it sends twisted aural shapes into a waiting wider national awareness. The band has earned a strong reputation from their live storms which have seen them intimidate stages with the likes of Fucked Up, Trash Talk, Dope Body, Blacklisters, and Bats, but German For Duke as it manipulates and blasts the senses feels like the key to much more.

As soon as opening stings of guitar sonics accompanied by coarse riffs, subsequently joined by even more caustic vocals, brings The Wild Girl of Champagne into view senses and thoughts are ripped from their slumber. The track soon becomes a scything swipe of noise as rhythms tips the balance of intimidation into the favour of predation and the guitars cut through the air with acidic Errol Flynn like sabre swishes of noise. It is a magnetic tempest which draws out the passions with ease and ignites them further as it turns in on itself with a relatively peaceful aside, a kind of lull where bitchy riffs from both sets of stringed conspirators offer a Stinking Lizaveta captivation spiked by the Fall like rhythm and vocal punctuation. Raising to another crescendo it is a riveting blaze of punishing discord and frantic fascination, a potent blaze to mark the introduction of the band and EP that is unafraid to test and complicate things further with a sludgy breath of invention before one final riot of sound.

The following Folding a Napkin on Terminal Island, is of the same breeding seed, the song another crusading squall of synapse mining rhythmic provocation within a scorching shower of sonic industry crafted into an evocative narrative, an aural tale that scrapes and sears its leaden hues deeply into senses and thoughts whilst teasing the passions with enticing venomous grooves. The track is a brief yet contagiously busy piece of confrontation, guitars and rhythms enslaving with their respective serpentine seduction and muscular animosity.

Let’s You and Him Fight takes its time to impose its lethal toxins, beckoning in the listener at first with a Gang Of Four like weave before expanding it into a melodically washed maze of invention and rhythmic chastisement led by the again ear abrasing vocals. Complete with a dip of scuzz and vitriol, the track pushes release and band into another street rife with distinct and unique essences set to a canvas of brain frying intensity. Cutting and emotive, though always under the rein of concussive intent, the song leaves exhaustion and bliss in its place, as well as a lingering and disorientated rapture for the alignment of infection fuelled grooves and an almost funky underbelly to a raptorial stalking, the bass its most carnivorous sounding yet.

Once You’re More Like a Young Mary Bell staggers into the ear with staccato beats and pestilential riffing, the battle becomes even more deliciously intensive, the band fusing air and heat into a swamp of noise that eats away at the listener and chews their brain with a bestial suffocation of ruinous intent. A doom/sludge like intensity takes the track into its menacing finale though still sparking with schizophrenic imagination and a ravenous noise fuelled craft.

Final track Wolf Song preys on fears and the wounds already induced by the EP, guitars stalking with sonic saliva dripping from every note expelled and vocals a raucous chafing stealing any free emotion and breath for their own inciting ends. With the bass finding another depth to its gnarled throat, the track is a towering sinister embrace of mordancy wrapped in the beauty of noise. It is a triumphant end to an equally impressive release, the Distorted Tapes / It’s Just Noise released German For Duke the kind of raw animal you do not want to meet at night and Them Wolves its pack leader with no wish to leave you safe or unblemished. It is the entrance of a masterful sonic annoyance which will only get better and more stunning.

http://www.themwolves.co.uk

9/10

RingMaster 10/08/2013

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Frau Pouch – All Hail Space Chicken EP

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When we were first introduced to UK post punk meddlers Frau Pouch via their excellent split release with fellow Medway band Houdini, we called them ‘the bastard evil offspring  of an illicit intrusion between The Fall and The Victorian English Gentlemens Club with some fingering from The Cramps and Turbogeist.’ Their new EP, All Hail Space Chicken or it seems also just called the Space Chicken EP, shows that that description does not truly frame their distinctive sound so now we declare the trio to be the bastard evil offspring of a mutated alliance between The Fall, Swell Maps, and The Mekons with The Victorian English Gentlemens Club and The Cramps not forgetting Gang Of Four adding their dirty little digits into the mix.

The All Hail Space Chicken EP and band will not be for everyone but if those references mentioned play with your curiosity than Frau Pouch will tease out a lifelong passion for their unique presence. Consisting of Joe Wise (guitar/vocals), Ollie Crook (bass), and Suzanne Freeman (drums), the band has continued to impress and garner a fervent fanbase through their live performances around the middle of England spreading outward but the new release places them into another spotlight of individuality which deserves to find a corner in every punk and post punk lovers psyche.

Recorded and produced by Ben Sammon alongside the band, the release soon sets free its six track psychotic dance upon the ear with opener Krakthulhu. Immediately a carnivorous bass temptress snarls at the senses with delicious rabidity in its breath whilst beats punch the ear into shape ready for the expressively quarrelsome vocals and discord scowling riffs of Wise to play within. There is a Mark E. Smith lilt to his delivery at times which only adds to the drama of the attack whilst musically the song rampages with rhythms clamping their jaws tight and a raucous sonic distrust firing an encounter which is vintage like in flavour but equally driven by current day antagonism.

The production is as caustically raw as the sound and though it at first makes you stop and assess its merits certainly against previous releases with doubt, it does compliment the brashness of the release ultimately and the great start soon expanded by the gnarly presence of Podling Party. Again the bass of Crook is irresistible, it’s growling belligerence a mighty weapon in the sound and a defences splitting barb for the passions as it forms an irrepressible spine for the guitar to throw its acrid waltz around. That Swell Maps feel is ripe here whilst at times a further Nikki Sudden hint breaks through.

Both Don and Idiocracy reap the seeds set by the earlier songs to ignite even greater rapture for their disorientating infection, the first a rhythmic donkey punch on the ear leaving an unprotected canvas for its bruising grazes of sonic caressing and the concussive consumption from Freeman to defile the senses. It is another welcome riling but everything before is left in the shade of its successor. With a certain Gang Of Four bass framework being crafted from the off and the guitar of Wise adding a flesh which also recalls the Leeds post punk giants whether intentionally or by chance, the song is the biggest highlight of the release, the track marking Frau Pouch further as one of the brightest sparks in emerging music whilst emphasising the evolution in imagination and songwriting which is grips the release. There is also a very early Killing Joke call to the track which only adds to the incendiary power of the song and its carnally propelled stroll.

The track Space Chicken lurches its quick step of bedlamic energy and psychotic dance next, guitars and bass a scurrilous blur of riffs and movement across the drum puncturing punk plain of the song. The Fall in its heart and Joy Division in its unhinged mentality, the track is another limb disjointing joy which even Ian Curtis would find dancing to problematic.

The closing predatory Aqueducts provides the perfect uncompromising wiry and discomfort forging challenge to end and sum up this fine release. The track simply sweeps you away in its accomplished and technically sculpted hypnotic whirl leaving only sheer unbridled pleasure and hunger for more behind. With only the production to bear a little with as slight labour, Chicken Space EP is a post punk/noise rock treat and one genre fans ignore at their loss.

https://www.facebook.com/FrauPouch

8.5/10

RingMaster 29/07/2013

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Keys – Innocuous Beats EP

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The Innocuous Beats EP from UK band Keys is certainly not going to be for everyone, the distinctive and unrefined treats within destined to leave many confused and scared to take on the teasing unpredictable challenge on offer, but for those it does make a connection with there is the strong possibility of it being a long-term union. The three track release is a psyche sculpted mesh of indie, punk, noise, and colour soaked melodic enterprise bled into pastoral shades without losing vitality. It is not easy to truly describe in word but if any of the references it offers through the rest of the review up strike your ardour than Keys is an awaiting joy.

Formed in 2009, the Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk quartet of William Burns (vocals/synth), Jon Titcombe (guitar), Ed Pipe (bass), and Ben Ward (drums), according to the promo sheet accompanying the release started Keys ‘from a mutual sense of not fitting in.’ A term which describes the sounds on Innocuous Beats perfectly, their ability to not fall in with any established or dare one say accepted style but stride forward with their own unique DIY intent and flavouring refreshing.  The band has built up a good and devoted fanbase through their live performances which have flourished from a policy of showing up at as many gigs as possible in within a 60-mile radius and persuading promoters to put them on and their release can only bring further recruits to their aural cause.

The Sturm Und Drang released EP opens up its presence with the title track, a song which immediately encroaches on the senses with4063121115-1 a grouchy yet beckoning bass call. As beats muster their wares jangling guitars add a bright funk high stepping breath to proceedings, their vibrant and keen presence bringing an early Orange Juice flavour to the heavier tones of the enthralling bass persuasion. The vocals of Burns are expressive without blowing the cobwebs from the passions but fit perfectly in the teasing overall sound which suggests a major explosion but never does take the full leap though its riotous climax with a funk infused boisterousness which brings thoughts of eighties band Mouth, certainly energises and triggers a livelier escapade.

It is an infectious and compelling start easily matched by the following Hiding In Our Smirks, another song opening with the throaty call of the bass making the strongest beckoning. As vocals and guitars strut their hypnotic stuff with again understated intensity but enthused energy the track is a scuzzy trigger to an even stronger hunger for sound and release. The track seemingly has seeds found in the likes of World Domination Enterprises  as well as a tinge of early Gang Of Four to its gait and like its predecessor simply fires up the senses and emotions with its post punk and punk invention.

Communications Tower is the last contribution to Innocuous Beats and lives up to what came before with ease. It is a prowling blend of again the likes of Mouth and World Domination Enterprises with loud whispers of Swell Maps and The Fall which stomps and swaggers with uninhibited confidence and in the face disobedience. The melodic swell of the synths are also eighties borne with a Martha and The Muffins touch to their warm caress  and with its brief but potent offering the song completes an impressive and deeply persuasive encounter.

Recorded by Cambridge DIY supremo Richard Rose (of R*E*P*E*A*T Records fame), the Innocuous Beats EP marks the arrival of an exciting and hopefully boundary stretching if not breaking band of the future. Right now they simply offer an extremely pleasing and inciting encounter which if their quirkily inventive and unapologetically stand-alone sound ignites a connection will leave a big grin on the passions.

https://www.facebook.com/RustyKeysBand

8/10

RingMaster 05/05/2013

 

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