Harry Stafford – Gothic Urban Blues

photo by Richard Davis

Every sprawling city, each urban street it holds and the shadows that drape their households and corners provide a kaleidoscope of tales and drama and it is here that the new album from Harry Stafford sets its sights. Gothic Urban Blues is a collage of just some of the stories and secrets you may find within that sprawl, dark gothic tales smoked in equally tenebrific sounds and simply one gorgeous incitement for ears and imagination.

Stafford is no stranger to inspiring a hungry appetite for his sounds as frontman/guitarist founder of post-punk rockers Inca Babies but his solo venture is a whole new adventure drenched in intrigue and intimation. The Manchester hailing artist seeds his personal creativity in a love of blues piano and barroom ballads and as his 2017 debut album, Guitar Shaped Hammers (and the title of the band his has brought together around him), revealed it has quickly shaped its own identity fully proven by the even more irresistible Gothic Urban Blues. The new album feeds the interest we all share on what happens behind closed doors and in the lives of strangers, supping on possibilities within to breed its own suppositions. Every track within the album draws ears and thoughts into a myriad of intimately caliginous worlds whilst carrying a certain contagion, an instinctive swing swiftly proving as addictive as the narratives it harbours.

With the Guitar Shaped Hammers made up of Rob Haynes (The Membranes, Inca Babies), trumpeter Kevin Davy (Lamb, Cymande), guitarist/bassist Nick Brown (The Membranes) and Vincent O’Brien on Weisseborn slide guitar alongside, Stafford immediately uncages that almost primal infectiousness talked of with album opener, She Just Blew Me Away. Its initial caress of guitar is enough to provoke attention, an intrigue quickly escalated by Stafford’s fingers on piano keys and the swarthy shimmer of guitar beside him. In no time his distinctive voice is strolling through the imagination too, his dirt laced tones equipped with the catchiness equally infesting the surrounding sounds and accentuated by the slow but lively crawl of rhythms. As throughout the release, there is a Nick Cave meets Tom Wait meets The Filthy Tongues scent teasing away and inevitably just due to his unique voice a touch of the Inca Babies but in one track alone there is no disguising the individuality of the quickly potent incitement.

Cruel Set of Shades follows and just as eagerly infests ears and the psyche with its slow prowl of a saunter, one instantly wrapped in the inimitably spun strands of Brown’s guitar as the suggestive flames and lure of Davy’s horns, as in its predecessor, just escalates the evolving picture and emotions it bears. Haunting and rousing, the track hungrily wormed under the skin in no time, is rhythmic rove and sonic scintillation heightening the creative manna before the album’s title track delves deeper into the cinematic prowess and troubadour rapport that lines Stafford’s writing. It is another song which instinctively set feet, hips, and vocal chords to work, its jazz cured breath an almost feral protagonist to thoughts alongside Stafford’s ever descriptive and darkly poetic lyrics.

Across the piano driven urban waltz of Painted Ocean and the earnest balladry of Infinite Dust, the album only tightened its grip, the first as much an evocation to thoughts as to an eagerly swaying body whilst the second melancholically wraps its arms around the listener with sorrow and crepuscular beauty. The sonic tempestuousness lining its walls, Brown again creating a rare incitement which almost defies the sure craft behind it, provides a persistent taunting only adding to a compelling presence soon eclipsed slightly by new single Black Rain. It too is a heady seduction of a ballad with Stafford’s keys accentuating the pull of his words amidst another reserved yet illustratively potent tapestry of guitar and melody.

It has proven hard to choose a favourite moment within the album, many contenders but the irresistible stroll of Sideways Shuffle always makes a potent case, the track a jazz and blues nurtured amble lit by gothic shadows around lamplight bearing street corners with a great Bauhaus like hue to its emotive gaslight. The track is quite superb though straightaway matched in temptation by the magnetic and resonating observation of Man In a Bar, another slice of blues bearing suggestion as infectious as it is evocative.

The final pair of Disappearing and Into The Storm bring the release to as striking and enthralling a proposition as it unveiled itself as; the first of the two a fuzz luring, shadows and melody embroiling drift into the darkest corners of life and a despondency of it with its successor a physically swaying, temptation spraying canter which was so easy to get involved and wrapped up in.

In a world now in isolation and hours with little to do on our hands the mind might be wondering what is indeed going on behind those curtains in the streets outside of the glass. Harry Stafford has a host of suggestions within Gothic Urban Blues, one of the best distractions and albums you are likely to come across this year.

Gothic Urban Blues is out now via Black Lagoon Records; available @ https://harrystafford.bandcamp.com/album/gothic-urban-blues

https://www.facebook.com/harrystaffordUK/   https://twitter.com/harrystaf62

Pete RingMaster 23/04/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Dispel – Lore

photo by Novus Obscurum

In a world cast in increasing chaos and ravening shadows, the heart and determination of a warrior defines those that try to bring defiance and hope to the blackness. Maybe every century past and to come is wrapped in such respective darkness, but the spirit of ‘heroes and viragos’ certainly thrived in medieval times and now within the debut album from US dark electronic collective Dispel.

The fascinating Lore is a concept album embracing the “historic lore, mythology and mysticism” surrounding a hero’s journey in those Middle Ages but equally a tale as agile in inspiring thoughts and experiences echoing the now within an electronic soundscape of darkwave, Neo-Classical, and gothic rock just as primed to ignite ears and imagination. In sound and word, Lore is a captivation; a musical and lyrical tapestry which effortlessly grabbed attention from its very first breath to weave even greater intrigue and compulsion by the listen whether as a broad view and personally intimate incitement.

Dispel is the creation of drummer/keyboardist Scott Dispel, a founding member of old school hardcore band Face Value and currently the drummer for TEXTBEAK whose Mike Textbeak produced Lore. Alongside Scott, the band is completed by the richly magnetic tones of mezzo-soprano vocalist Ravensea and the potent presence of fellow vocalist Sean Gallows. The album also sees guitarist Sean Morrissey and bassist Jae Jones add their dark craft to the adventure , one which swiftly caught the imagination through album opener, Spiritual Warrior (The Hero).

The first track strides forth from an ecclesiastical dawn, its step confident and bold and matched in voice and swing. A tenebrous hue coats every electronic note and Cimmerian shaded syllable escaping Gallow’s throat, the track like a magnetic Clan of Xymox meets John Foxx era Ultravox enticement and quickly and thickly gripping.

(cover art by Scott ‘Wizardfool’ Stearns)

The Call (to Adventure) continues the album’s fine start; the just as swiftly enthralling voice of Ravensea radiating from within the song’s gloomier but no less tempting breath and embrace. The less defined fuzz of guitar adds a sinister almost toxic aspect to the track’s air yet is soon engulfed by the electro pop infectiousness of a chorus which had us keenly bouncing whilst prompting thoughts of March Violets  in their more synth ‘pop’ styled moments.

The light and romanticism of Ravensea’s voice and the crepuscular instincts of the sounds around her again provide an ear enthralling landscape within next up Modal Consequence (The Threshold).  Its melodic mist carries a great Visage-esque shade whilst its rhythmic gait, whether a sombre amble or elevated dance, is thick incitement for song and body before Abyssal Hammer (Chaos) with an instantly more imposing rhythmic swing driven by air splattering eats and the tantalising hum of the bass needs mere seconds to have us hooked. Emerging our favourite song, the track is a warning come declaration of darkness as virulently infectious as it is eagerly menacing and quite superb with the blend of Gallows and Ravensea’s voices pure harmonic charisma.

The first of a pair of “Sacred Choral pieces” is next in the evocative shape of Gift of the Goddess (Andante in Bb), later in the album  Atonement (Adagio in Bb)a similarly provocatively woven piece inspired by ‘Infelix ego,’ a Latin meditation composed by Girolamo Savonarola before he was burned at the stake. Each proved a seed for the imagination before the following likes of Hero’s Revelation (The Helper) with its overcast melodic and atmospheric beauty, again centred by the radiance that is Ravensea’s voice, and The Depth of Transformation (The Return) with its Tartarean arising from similarly infernal depths respectively had ears and imagination alive.

Slipping back across the album and between those two pairs of tracks sits Temptation (The Last Test), an enchanting and bewitching slice of electro intimation and vocal glamour as dark as it is lustrous and another song within Lore which got under the skin in an array of ways.

Though it captivated from the first moment it graced ears, enthralment only grew as the tale and melodic electronic adventure within Lore was further were explored and revealed play by play; an emprise sure to connect with your own personal journeys.

Lore is available for download and on CD with vinyl to follow via https://www.dispelmusic.com and https://dispelmusic.bandcamp.com/album/lore-lp

https://www.facebook.com/DispelMusicdotcom   https://twitter.com/Dispel_Music

Pete RingMaster 25/02/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

MONO INC. – The Book of Fire

Having been successfully teased by its first two tracks cast as a single a few weeks back anticipation for the new album from German alternative-gothic outfit MONO INC. was rife. In preparation for checking out The Book of Fire we leapt back into the first time we came across the Hamburg based band, that being seventh album Nimmermehr, to just remind ourselves of the evolution of their sound. It was a reminder that MONO INC. creates music which has always been wholly individual to them, one embracing a host of flavours and styles and the familiar essences within them but with a growth which never settles for a lack of exploration as proven by their outstanding eleventh studio album.

Formed back in 2000, the quartet of vocalist Martin Engler, drummer Katha Mia, guitarist Carl Fornia and bassist Manuel Antoni have created a bold new presence and adventure within the successor to their previous acclaimed album, Welcome to Hell. A concept album, The Book of Fire tells the complete story of young healer/witch Aellin in the era of inquisition told across 12 captivating chapters, the album an “earbook” for the senses and imagination exploring her ownership of the Book Of Fire as chosen by the mystical artefact containing the secret knowledge of centuries itself. Fair to say the story alone proved enough to captivate but it comes wrapped and entangled in songs and sounds which equally just fascinated.

The Book of Fire begins with its title track, a gentle engaging melody on a piano welcoming attention before the song breaks into its scene setting canter. Already lyrics through the fine tones of Engler cast a social landscape and teasing intrigue, its bold physical and picture setting urging an infestation of light and shadows, calm and beauty challenged by an impending threat and darkness.

The instinctive catchiness of the surging gothic rock/folk scented encounter even in its slower reflective moments is a potent trait across the whole of the album, the following Louder Than Hell similarly an infectiously stirring incitement this time embroiled in a great electronic rock/industrial bred wind across tenacious heavy rock nurtured textures. Vocally Engler and Mia combine to enthralling effect in a chorus which echoes the contagious dynamism of a song which swiftly had the body bouncing though too there is a siren like enchantment to it.

Warriors is next up, emerging on a keys woven string caressed calm and vocally understanding. From that elegance a rising of tribal confidence and arousing incitement sweeps song and ears alike, its nobility and muscle security and strength within the shadows bound proposal and approaching dark horizons. The band’s latest single, it effortlessly got under the skin as too its successor Shining Light which features Tilo Wolff of Lacrimosa. If the album already had us gripped, the fourth track simply had us enslaved. From its first second, the song’s virulent stroll swathed in golden harmonies ignited the imagination, every note and sound as haunting as they are magnetic. Engler’s vocals and the controlled but lively rhythms of Mia and Antoni simply induced thought and body too while its chorus was the spark for vocal participation, keys working on an instinctive body sway. The song is superb, one of the most potent tracks heard in a while and surely a great choice for next single.

There is no let-up in temptation and rousing exploits as Where The Raven Flies rides in, guitar and rhythms springing another invasive catchiness accentuated by the piano. Those keys continue to engage and inspire the imagination as the song relaxes, a thoughtful mellowness descending though quickly from its embrace senses stalking beats swing their muscle to emphasize the tempting rather than break it. Across its emerging body, the track epitomises the unpredictability and invention within the release shaping it with melodic craft and poetic intimation.

As the likes of The Last Crusade, with its anthemic breath and great bass nagging, and the dark folk metal scented Death or Life coat ears in thick craft, enterprise and stirring emprise, band and album only strengthened the temptation and pleasure, the following pair of Nemesis and Right for The Devil with their respective darkly soulful serenade and groove metal toned electro industrial exploits just as irrepressible and irresistible. The latter has Teufel of Tanzwut guesting within its almost predatory saunter, a fanfare of fire icing on its creative cake.

Though Run for Your Life with its classic metal lined character might not have sparked the lust of others it effortlessly had the body and spirit abound while The Gods of Love ignited those same elevated reactions with its rapacious march and predation steeled textures. It proved another major highlight within the continuing peaks of the album, voice and sound alike galvanic around just as potent words before in bringing things to a close, What Have We Done shares the rich drama and enterprise as well as eager imagination behind the whole of The Book of Fire. The finale is a roar of emotive realisation and dark rapacity honed into another exceptional adventure, an epilogue which haunts as it breeds the despair of those within.

The Book of Fire is a stunning encounter and the finest moment with MONO INC. to date. Every second had us enthralled and aroused, every moment in the narrative and presentation a theatre of craft and temptation within a sound as intrepidly bold and darkly valorous.

The Book of Fire is available now via SPV / NoCut and ADA / Entertainment One.

THE BOOK OF FIRE TOUR 2020

06.03.20 – Münster, Skaters Palace

07.03.20 – Köln, Carlswerk Victoria

12.03.20 – München, Backstage Werk

13.03.20 – Nürnberg, Z-Bau

14.03.20 – Wiesbaden, Schlachthof

15.03.20 – Pratteln, Z7

20.03.20 – Berlin, Columbia Halle

21.03.20 – Leipzig, Haus Auensee

27.03.20 – Oberhausen, Turbinenhalle

28.03.20 – Stuttgart, Im Wizemann

29.03.20 – Saarbrücken, Garage

03.04.20 – Hannover, Pavillon

http://mono-inc.com/   https://www.facebook.com/monoinc   https://twitter.com/mono_inc

Pete RingMaster 16/02/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Her Despair – Exorcisms of Eroticism

There is no escaping that UK dark rock outfit Her Despair made a major impression critically and on a new flood of fans with their last EP, Mournography. It was a striking and arousing affair built on open craft and imagination which thrust the band before a more international spotlight. Even so, its success will surely only be overshadowed as the ascent of the London band accelerates through the magnificent Exorcisms of Eroticism.

Her Despair’s new EP eclipses its predecessor in every department, the band’s sound a more mature and even more striking proposition as it continues to embrace the essences, drama, and melancholy of gothic rock, punk, and dark metal. Each song within Exorcisms of Eroticism aligns crepuscular gloom and intimate seduction, emotion ravishing shadows and heart bred passion; all within the dark recesses of a world in turmoil.

Pandaemonium opens up the release, the song looming from the dark in a mighty tide of sound which instantly shapes its stride and trespass through the melodic intimation of Toby’s keys. The guitars of Dan and Jord cast a more rapacious side in the emerging song, its voice already rich and broad before calming a touch for the ever magnetic tones of J. Every aspect of the encounter though proved a beacon for attention, the bass of Vikki a dark throaty tempting as the beats of Lee bite yet simultaneously incite. As in previous releases, there is no denying the inspiration of bands such as Fields of the Nephilim and Sisters of Mercy to Her Despair and maybe others like The March Violets in the instinctive infection loaded virulence which soaks every note and spring of imagination but the first track quickly sets the unique tone and individuality which defines the release and each song.

 As mentioned earlier, drama is in full force coating every note and syllable of the outstanding first track, The Exorcism soon following with an equal fertility in all its textures and enterprise. Similarly an inherent catchiness is as bold as the creative theatre shaping the tapestry of light and dark sparking the imagination of band and listener alike. The symphonic lure of keys provides a seductive rapture in the turbulent heart of the song, J’s voice managing to echo both sides in his ever alluring and potent presence.

Though there is open energy in its gait and emotive roar, In That Moment is a siren of temptation, the tempered roar haunting in its beauty and enthralling in its croon while Like A Crucifixion straight after is a cauldron of sonic and emotional tenacity. Akin to a fusion of Type O Negative and Dead Register, the track simply sets another momentous lure in the EP as virulently manipulative as it is emotively invasive.

Beyond The Veil is another gentle haunting, the ballad caressing the senses and thoughts yet with an undercurrent of fiery anguish which erupts enough to scorch the elegance and beauty of the bewitching incitement before Final Rest brings things to a just as captivating close. The funereal gait of the song beguiles alone, the vocals and the words it shares a fascination matched in sound across the whole band. Melancholy is as thick as the rhythms which prowl the senses, enchantment as potent as the melodic weaving of keys and guitars and rich pleasure the result of all.

Exorcisms of Eroticism is glorious; from sound to lyrics, voice to the imagination which fuels it, the seriously impressive EP declares Her Despair as one band the world should no longer ignore.

Exorcisms of Eroticism is available now digitally and on CD @ https://herdespair.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/herdespair/   https://twitter.com/herdespairband

Pete RingMaster 08/01/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Audra – Dear Tired Friends

photo by Jaymz

A decade is a long time to be without something but well worth the wait when it comes to the new album from post punks Audra. It is ten years since the Arizona hailing band released third album Everything Changes and it is fair to say a great many have been eagerly and patiently awaiting its successor and just as simple to assume they are going to greedily bask in the dark beauty of Dear Tired Friends.

Formed in 1991 and primarily brothers Bart and Bret Helm, Audra enfold the inspirations of post punk and its numerous shapers alongside the eclectic imagination found in the likes of the Velvet Underground, Jane’s Addiction, Joy Division, David Bowie, James, and Tom Waits within their sound. As Dear Tired Friends proves it emerges a riveting often haunting embrace of intimate shadows and bewitching melancholy framed in post punk starkness and gothic rock romanticism.

An album which “deals heavily with loss and letting go” and described as “a testimony of the effect the last decade had on each band member”, Dear Tired Friends opens up with the song Tired Friends and took barely a handful of seconds to seize attention with the sizzle of Bart’s guitar across the bold but controlled rhythms of the band’s drummer, Jason DeWolfe Barton. From there pure addiction grew as the track unveiled its post punk prowess around Bret’s potent tones, the imagination only further ensnared as a calmer passage of reflection bares the heart of the track. It is a compelling and irresistible start to the album and quickly followed and matched by the outstanding Wish No Harm.

This is a song which began back in the early nineties and reappeared on a cassette they found when the band was assembling demos for what originally was to be a 4-track EP. Completed last year, Bret adding lyrics and melody to the original demo, Wish No Harm became the lead single for Dear Tired Friends and there could be no finer invitation to the album. The opening bassline was immediate manna to the ears, its lure unapologetic flirtation echoing the core essence of eighties post punk and only enhanced by the swiftly following enticement of vocals and guitar. There is something of Bauhaus meets The Cure to the song with a just as flavoursome tease of bands such as Leitmotiv and Gene Loves Jezebel but nevertheless stands unique to Audra and their dark imagination.

Another Fallen Petal is next up, the song a slowly unfurling piece of emotive solemnity and melodic intimacy within the mournful yet radiant embrace of keys. With the pure captivation bred leaving a lingering presence in thoughts, the song simply beguiled as too its successor, Drinking Yourself To Sleep. Fuelled by an instinctive catchiness bred in all tracks however their darkness and character, the equally enthralling song bears a glam rock lining to its harmonic stroll with psych rock currents in its breath.

Sunglass provides another romance of ears, keys and vocals almost crawling over the senses with the subsequent blaze of guitar sparking a Bowie-esque hue to the soulful and atmospheric piece of dark rapture while Planet Of Me steps forward with a knowing swagger to its rousing virulence. Featuring Mike VanPortfleet of Lycia as guest on lead guitar, the track is a weave of contrasts and stirring imagination; it as striking in its calm as it is in its lively eddies of contagious enterprise.

Across the fertile almost invasive liveliness of Sliding Under Cars and its Numan-esque poppiness, through The Sound/The The styled bold rapture that is Fireflies, and over the doleful but enslaving fascination of 1987 we can only say that Dear Tired Friends engrained itself deeper under the skin and into the passions before Falling brought it all to a close with its dark wave nurtured seduction. Volatility lies in the heart of the song, never fully erupting but teasing fiery emissions to the surface as it adds to the inherent beauty and splendour which lines its shadowy magnificence.

We all may have lingered ten years for a new adventure with Audra but we can tell you that every long second was worth the wait and more.

Dear Tired Friends is out now digitally and on CD and vinyl; available @ https://audra.bandcamp.com/album/dear-tired-friends

https://www.audramusic.com/   https://www.facebook.com/audramusic   https://twitter.com/audramusiccom

Pete RingMaster 28/11/2019

Copyright RingMasterReview: MyFreeCopyright

Dead Register – Captive

It is two years since Atlanta outfit Dead Register not only thrilled but truly captivated us with debut album Fiber. It was a collection of tracks bred in the rich essences of doom, gothic, and post rock but equally embraced many more flavours to create something as unique as you could imagine or wish. Twenty four or so months on we still cannot truly define their sound or want to as that would be to sterilise its originality and fertility, both as rampant and captivating in the band’s new offering, Captive.

Every word in praise of Fiber by us and so many others can be echoed with zeal in regard to the Captive EP, but not only repeated but escalated as its five tracks venture to mouth-watering new heights in the imaginative craft and inventive prowess of Dead Register. The new EP sees percussionist/drummer Danny Ryann (ex-Gigan) alongside vocalist/bassist M. Chvasta and his wife, Avril Che on bass synth, keys, and backing vocals; Dan Dixon (Whores, The Life and Times, PLS PLS, Biters) recording, mixing, and mastering their now proposition.

Captive opens up with its title track, a dark mist springing the lumbering gait of the song but a funereal step soon wrapped in romancing melodies as a shadow bred atmosphere descends. Magnetic rhythms are swiftly courted by the ever potent and alluring tones of Chvasta, both in turn hugged by the heavy emotive doom gaze breath of the track. Haunting and mesmeric, the song continues to seduce and impose, drama soaking very brooding note and harmonic utterance trespassing and seducing the senses.

It is a highly tantalising and increasingly captivating beginning to the release and one as powerfully continued by next up Ender. A song exploring love and loss and “a reminder to savor even the most mundane idiosyncrasies that “make” our loved ones who they are”, a premise easy to relate to, it rousingly smoulders in ears and thoughts but a thick simmer with volatility which only enriches its emotional incitement and a sound with Type O Negative/Nine Inch Nails hues. There is also a breath to the track and its successors which reminds of eighties band, The Sound; an instinctively downbeat almost depressive yet rousing dark essence which is especially apparent in the fiercely infectious Heresy. From its predacious nagging bassline to the sonic tendrils and Chvasta’s transfixing vocals, the track is pure temptation as virulently catchy as it is melancholically consuming.

A riveting cover of the Dead and Gone track Blood from a Ghost follows, Dead Register infusing it with a voraciously dark elegance without defusing its raw heart and anguish. Few covers in our experience improve on the original but the threesome certainly flirts with that success before Monochrome completes the aural mastery of Captive with its own tenebrific majesty soaked in emotive dissonance. A breath-taking and arousing yet corrosive romance, the track is a maelstrom of destruction and tenderness and quite irresistible.

It is a spellbinding prowess which devours the whole of Captives and feeds the infatuation we have already found for the band. If in our words Fiber was “dark magic, emotional trespassing, and quite wonderful”, Captive is pure aural alchemy and one of the year’s essential encounters.

Captive is released November 2nd; available @ https://deadregister.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/deadregister

 Pete RingMaster 02/11/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Her Despair – Mournography

Mournography is an exploration into the mysteries of tragedy, blasphemy, death, and love; both literally and figuratively…The mourning of some, the lust of others. These songs praise and pervert the Word of God simultaneously: providing a deeply unsettling spiritual experience set to a bleak backdrop of melancholia.”

The words accompanying the new EP from UK goth/dark metallers Her Despair perfectly encapsulate its tone, heart, and seduction. It is a journey into dark places as broad as they are intimate through a sound as melancholic, thickly shadowed, and mesmeric as the emotion laden words within.

Formed in 2015, Berkshire hailing Her Despair began as the solo project of J; the album Hymns For the Hopeless its introduction that April. It set down the seeds and template for the rich fusion of atmospheric and emotive gothic and dark rock with the trespass of punk and metal. It was a captivating raw mix within that first encounter but now with Her Despair a fully-fledged band makes for one richly compelling proposition within the new encounter.

With guitarists Dan and Jord, bassist Vikki, and drummer Lee alongside vocalist J, and recorded with Matt Bew at Whitehouse Studios in Reading, Mournography immediately strikes the imagination as it opens up with Blaspheme With Me. Straight away there is a tenacity and controlled urgency in rhythms as the guitars entangle their lures; an energy which fuels every aspect of the emerging song until it hits a boisterous stroll behind the enticing tones of J. Hues of bands such as Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim collude with the uniqueness of Her Despair as the track grows, each essence adding to its captivation and seamlessly changeable gait. The outstanding song epitomises the band’s sound; it’s embracing of sturdier metal traits with its gothic instincts.

The following Valentine’s Mourning similarly has a raw energy and swing to its attack driven by the senses nagging boisterousness of rhythms with this time harsher punk essences infesting its character. Keys add to the melodic seduction and flames tempting within whilst as with the first track, an organic catchiness brings something akin to bands like Dommin to the imagination.

A darker calm caresses ears next with Within Tragedy; it’s almost funereal march an imposing yet rousing incitement matched in tone and intimation by the air and words escaping J’s vocals. The track is pure seduction with heavy drama in its tone and an immersive lure to its rich web of almost threatening romance.

Charming keys and harmonic calm opens up Damnation Tonight next, their coaxing soon immersed in the song’s thick theatre of sound and intimation. Though missing the final spark of imagination of its predecessors, the track simply tempted and embroiled ears and thoughts in its creative and emotive melodrama as the body instinctively swung to its virulent inclination.

In the Arms of a Sadist brings the EP to a close, it too making a calm entrance with reflection colouring word and sound. It is a dark brooding though which escalates throughout, sometimes ebbing as the track and J’s vocals reach deeper into the heart but always giving a magnetic shadow and trespass to the dark intoxication.

It is a fine conclusion to a release which fascinates from start to finish. Possibly there is a lack of individual surface uniqueness between the five tracks making up Mournography yet each enthrals in their own ways, more so with attention and time, and united ensures from start to finish the EP transfixes and impresses; increasingly so by the listen.

Mournography is released July 20th; available @ https://herdespair.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/herdespair/   https://twitter.com/herdespairband

Pete RingMaster 17/07/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

 

The Filthy Tongues – Back to Hell

Two years ago Scottish band, The Filthy Tongues released a debut album which quite simply blew us away. It was a striking and increasingly haunting incitement of “caliginous flavours and textures.” Such its gothic beauty and immersive intimation we wondered if the trio had already laid down their finest moment and would struggle to match let alone eclipse its majesty again. Oh fool us! The band has just unveiled its successor in Back To Hell, a web of instinctive drama and invasive magnetism which puts its predecessor and pretty much most things this year to date in the shade.

Edinburgh hailing, The Filthy Tongues consists of vocalist/guitarist Martin Metcalfe, bassist Fin Wilson, and drummer Derek Kelly; the three previously members of Goodbye Mr Mackenzie and Angelfish alongside Shirley Manson. After the demise of those bands, all ventured into different projects, musical and not, before Wilson and Metcalfe came together as acoustic duo The Filthy Tongues, named from a phrase from a Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie song. This project subsequently evolved, the three gents back creating together and vocalist Stacey Chavis joining what would become Isobel Gowdie & the Filthy Tongues (to become Isa & the Filthy Tongues). Moving on, the band became three again and The Filthy Tongues with the startling Jacob’s Ladder the irresistible wake-up call to their presence and dark world. That first album was a tapestry of sound and styles; everything from dark rock, garage punk, surf, dark folk and post punk aligned to plenty other rich flavours as the band created almost salacious realms of seductive craft and gothically shadowed deeds. Back To Hell is more of the same yet a whole new landscape of manipulative imagination, riveting sound, and lyrical weaving.

As its predecessor, Back To Hell ventures through the dark claustrophobic underbelly of the Old Town in Edinburgh yet equally it incites the imagination to broaden its landscape and conjuring. It opens up with the addiction sparking Come on Home, a track instantly sharing an electric mist of intrigue and dark suggestion before springing an infection fuelled stroll stalked by the vocal prowess of Metcalfe. Like the sounds, his voice has a dirt clad texture, a gravelly tone which just draws you into the narrative and atmosphere of the developing aural theatre. Keys similarly bring a teasing suggestion to the mix as rhythms and guitars openly simmer. Swiftly hips were swaying to its call, head rocking to its swing and voice aiding the wonderfully tainted harmonies. The band’s new single, it is just superb, that haunting quality in their music already seducing via keys and voice as guitars weave and rhythms coax.

It is an outstanding start reinforced by the senses transfixing tale of The Ghost of Rab McVie. Strings and their electronic counterparts quickly infest the imagination, the first from the suggestive touch and craft of Susannah Clark. Metcalfe is soon within their descriptive midst, voice similarly nurturing thoughts as the song leads the listener into its melancholic heart. There is a beauty to it though which just seduces ears and imagination but with an earthiness keeping the dark surroundings fully in view before the album’s title track provides the gateway into a nefarious journey. Feeling like being trapped in a Celtic Wickerman driven nightmare, the song simultaneously overwhelms, indeed suffocates, and seduces all with increasing intensity. It is quite superb with the craft of Clark simply irresistible.

Mother’s got a Knife follows, its animated shuffle also getting under the skin within the first dance of enterprise before slipping into a smouldering glide; repeating the captivating cycle in swift time. Like a mercurial fusion of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers, The Bad Seeds, and Wall Of Voodoo with a Josef K lining, the track was another which seduced and enslaved with ridiculous ease such its masterful imagination and virulent breath.

Next up Leper Town was just as persuasive, its pop infested rock ‘n’ roll reminding of a few  in some small ways but as ever, so unique to The Filthy Tongues as it had body and thoughts bouncing and appetite for their invention greedy. That individuality is never absent from a song as proven once more by Carlos the Jackal, menace and tenebrific elegance soaking its predacious yet infectious prowl while Who are you? is the band’s creative theatre at its most compelling and beguiling. It too has a threat in its air and beauty in its dark drawl; addiction for its creative alchemy once more inescapable.

The album goes out on the mesmeric croon of Take it, a song with a whisper of U2 meets Helldorado about it and a dirty laced grace which just fascinates as layers of sound seduce. It oozes beauty, loneliness, and temptation; a crepuscular radiance of sound and emotion which steals attention from the real world.

It is a glorious end to another extraordinary encounter with The Filthy Tongues. Their Jacob’s Ladder was one of the essential releases two years ago, Back to Hell is THE most vital release of this so far and hard to see being eclipsed too often over the months ahead.

Back to Hell is released May 25th through Neon Tetra / Blokshok Records.

http://www.filthytongues.com/   https://www.facebook.com/The-Filthy-Tongues-144934250476/   https://twitter.com/filthytongues

Pete RingMaster 21/05/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Sharone and The Wind – Enchiridion of Nightmares

Like a series of dark fairy tales, Enchiridion of Nightmares the new album from dark rockers Sharone and The Wind captivates, seduces, and haunts. Each of its notes, let alone songs, comes with a shadow to their beauty, melancholy to their light, and intimacy to their grandeur  with it all colluding in an adventure which just steals the imagination from everyday reality.

Hailing from Denver and emerging from the solo project of vocalist/songwriter Sharone (Borick), Sharone and The Wind is one of those propositions impossible to ignore or forget however their similarly striking songs appeal to personal tastes. Enchiridion of Nightmares is the successor to their well-received 2017 album Storm but sees an almost completely new line-up alongside Sharone. It was an emotionally traumatic time for the songwriter; the departure of her band inspiration within the new album fuelled by the emotions she became embroiled in; Sharone admitting “Writing this album was therapeutic to say the least. Before I began writing, I had just gone through one of the most difficult changes of my life and I felt more alone than ever. I felt angry, scared, and hurt, and I took everything I could from the experience as a lesson that allowed me to grow as a person as well as a songwriter.

There is a rich cinematic and theatre-esque feel to Enchiridion of Nightmares which equally adds to its captivation; indeed its songs entwine an influence of horror movies, vintage and modern, into their personal nightmares. With just as richly layered and dramatic sounds to its exploration, the album is a persistent unveiling of new twists and shadows listen by listen. On our first meeting intrigue soaked the pleasure, through a couple more captivation, each subsequent listen leading to the inescapable bewitchment these words spring from.

The album’s piano nurtured atmospherically chilling Intro sets the tone alongside Sharone’s painting of words; its poetic scene setting the portal into the dark charms and cold breath of the following Graveyard. Once more the piano of Michelle Bailey captures ears and imagination as richly as the powerful and imposingly graceful tones of Sharone, both aligned to the infectious rhythmic manipulation of bassist Zach Barerra and drummer Anthony Hester. With sonic flames from the strings of guitarist Alex Goldsmith adding to the captivation, the outstanding track immerses the listener in dark magnetic theatre where whether calm and seductive or aroused and burning the senses, it engulfs the senses and imagination.

It is a rich success repeated across the release the following Haunted House instantly transporting ears and thoughts into its foreboding setting, anticipation looking through its piano built windows to find the melodic and infectious weaving of the band dancing to the song’s rhythmic swing. Again fluid passages of energy and emotional intensity flow through ears, the band’s multi-flavoured rock simultaneously gothic, symphonic, and melodic woven into another entrapment of creative suggestion and emotional release.

The initially punchier presence of Demons lures the listener into even darker depths and self-exploration, to places we have all felt in degrees. It is an intimate proposal with broad arms, an invasive entrapment of seduction and agitation brought with real craft and creative animation before managing to still be eclipsed by the gorgeous Music Box. An innocence lined melody caresses ears first with unsurprisingly intimation lining its charm before piano and guitar set their individual threads to the song’s vocal and musical reflection.

Elegant smoulders and fiery flames arouse the haunting might of Mirror Ghost next, emotive intensity and melodic drama soaking successor Zombie, both songs creatively and emotionally enveloping body and mind masterfully while Fire twists and bursts like its namesake within its dark carousel of temptation and seduction. The track is like a mercurial lover, coaxing and seducing before igniting in primal intensity and quite superb as it provides the inimitable pinnacle of Enchiridion of Nightmares.

Throughout the album the whole band simply impresses, spinning a web of dark fantasy and close to home intimation with the dexterous fingers of Bailey and the vocal prowess and majesty of Sharone steering the creative emprise, the power ballad Cursed another basking in the songwriting imagination and the quintet’s invention.

The final pair of Exorcist and Death of a Clown brings their own cabaret of invention; the first, featuring guest vocals by Hannah Maddox, an instinctively catchy yet thickly dramatic maze of shadow woven enterprise and macabre kissed seduction, its successor a melancholy spun serenade with beguiles as it haunts. Both leave ears captivated and the imagination engrossed and as the album just getting further under the skin by the play.

A unique tapestry of varied shadow bred rock, Enchiridion of Nightmares is a one of a kind adventure and tempting awash with emotional turbulence turned into cathartic beauty as compelling as it is magnificent.

Enchiridion of Nightmares is released via Syndicol Music on April 13th, pre-ordering now available @

https://sharoneandthewind.bandcamp.com/album/enchiridion-of-nightmares

https://sharoneandthewind.com/    https://www.facebook.com/sharoneandthewind/    https://twitter.com/sharone_thewind/

Pete RingMaster 11/04/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Coburg -The Enchantress

If a title ever fitted an album and its lead protagonist then it is The Enchantress. The debut album from UK hailing symphonic rock outfit Coburg, the release is a riveting cauldron of adventure fuelled sound and melodic seduction; a fascination of imagination with a bite in its jaws and theatre in its flirtatious trespass.

Coburg is the creation of and led by singer songwriter/guitarist/actress/model Anastasia Coburg, an artist who has previously gripped attention through previous guise Jet Noir and as part of Naked Lunch. The London based band is completed by synth player Dean Baker and bassist Mark Spencer both of Galahad and Twelfth Night, rhythm guitarist Sarah Sanford, and drummer Pietro Coburg. Musically, Coburg embraces the gothic rock tones of Jet Noir into its grander and bolder symphonic rock soundscapes; a blending which simultaneously feels intimate and worldly around the emotively woven heart and expressively delivered lyrics of each individual adventure.

Straight away The Enchantress beguiles ears and thoughts, a tempting which only escalates track by track for a seriously potent lure starting from the first breaths of opener A Cold Day In Hell. As soon as the resonating touch of bass and keys fingers the senses the song, which was born in Anastasia’s Jet Noir exploits, has submission in its grasp. Swiftly, you can hear the growth and maturity which has blossomed in the song since its first impressive days a couple of years back, a new sense of drama and intensity fuelling stalking riffs and rhythms as Anastasia’s striking tones step forward. Erupting throughout with melodic flames, the song continues to prowl as that drama intensifies note by note. Apocalyptic in air, darkly romancing in character, the song is immense and unafraid to twist through unpredictable discord lined detours.

Its Middle Eastern spices are even richer within the following and equally exceptional Echoes In The Night. They emerge from the initial shadows of the song, dark corners and provocative ecclesiastical chants enticing as they are soon in union with the wiry tendrils of guitar. With Blancmange like qualities, those cosmopolitan essences dance seductively on the ear, keys and guitar weaving an entrancing beckon before the grittier tones of Anastasia walk the eager stroll. Her lead guitar prowess teases around and alongside too while rhythms share their excitable shuffle in a proposal which has the body as lustfully involved as the imagination.

Dark essences are never far from a Coburg song and coat the senses straight away as The Hall Of Ghosts steps forward next; its fiery and lively balladry a lithe saunter draped in flavourings hinting on the likes of Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission, and Vajra. Its melodies have a childlike innocence but encased in a dark tide of further melodic suggestion and raw power. With bewitching harmonies sealing the deal, the great track is matched in success by the tenebrous atmosphere of Into The Darkness. Gothic rock again flows openly through the symphonic nurtured tapestry of sound, bringing a noir lit intrigue and in turn virulent infectiousness to infest ear and imagination. As with every track, each listen reveals a new twist and layer, the song evolving and growing from its stirring introduction into another major moment within The Enchantress.

Each song also feels like an individual tale and fresh chapter in the album’s journey, Requiem no different as it romances ears next. Though not quite having the sparks of those before it, the track is a heated flame of melodic and lyrical invention which captivates with creative ease before the album’s title track spins its own crepuscular web woven with the fingering enterprise of synths and guitar around smouldering but direct vocals. With electro and progressive rock invention joining its drama, the song is an increasingly compelling proposition, an essence which applies to all songs to be honest as proven by next up Thy Dagger. Its union of intimidating scythes of guitar and electronic revelry instantly grabs full attention, a focus rewarded with vocal and melodic dexterity as the track blossoms note by note into a magnetic slice of cultured rock ‘n’ roll

A haunting realm of suggestion and sound brings Till The Bitter End into view, its shadowed melodic lighting and veiled threats encapsulating the intimate yet broad depths of song and words. Personal tastes did not take to the track as easily as with its companions within The Enchantress but instantly it nurtured a want to go deeper whilst embracing the siren like harmonies and undisguised imagination bringing it to life.

The album is completed by firstly Warrior’s Blood, a song with steel in its skeleton and rousing invention in its evolving character. There are moments which mix the bite of Otep with the melodic fire of Within Temptation but just flavoursome strains in the individual emprise of song and Coburg before Rise closes things with its inflamed hope graced ballad. As if further proof was needed, the song is an emotive declaration of Anastasia’s quality as a singer and songwriter as well as the band’s craft and individual imagination.

Song by song The Enchantress captivates and stirs, growing as mentioned with every listen into something even more impressive whilst announcing Coburg a striking addition to the European symphonic rock scene.

The Enchantress is released October 24th via Evolve Or Die Records and available @ https://coburg.bandcamp.com/album/the-enchantress

http://coburgband.com/    https://www.facebook.com/COBURGtheband/    https://twitter.com/COBURGband    http://www.anastasiacoburg.com/

Pete RingMaster 24/10/2017

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright